Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
The United States First Bureau Issue of regular postage stamps is attractive to general U.S. collectors as well as to specialists. Produced from 1894 to 1898, these definitives received their nickname because they are the first postage stamp series printed by U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which was also responsible for producing U.S. currency.
Previous U.S. postage stamps had been produced by contract printers.
The 2¢ carmine George Washington stamp, type III, perforated gauge 12 on unwatermarked paper (Scott 252), issued March 1895, is in demand and hard to find in grades of very fine or better in mint never-hinged condition, unused hinged condition and used condition. The 2018 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values it in those conditions at $375, $125 and $13, respectively.
Stamps in the grade of very fine without faults are a good buy at full Scott catalog value. Stamps in the grade of fine-very fine are a good buy at about 65 percent of catalog value.
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Perforation on stamps of the 1894-1898 series was a problem, so many stamps are found with blind perforations. Perforation improved with the subsequent issues on watermarked paper. When buying, make sure that the stamp is on unwatermarked paper and is not its counterpart on watermarked paper.