US Stamps

Markings on the reverse of early stamps raise questions

May 5, 2021, 10 AM
The handstamped markings on the back of these early United States stamps are at present unexplained. Howard Relles is looking for explanations and additional markings with the intention of writing a monograph. Can you help? In order, the stamps shown here are two examples of the 1861 10¢ green Washington (Scott 68), and single examples of the 1866 15¢ black Abraham Lincoln (77) and the 1873 15¢ orange redrawn Daniel Webster (163).

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Linn’s reader Howard Relles posed a question that has stumped me, so I’m turning it over to the readers as I often do when that happens.

Relles has four early U.S. stamps with markings on the back, as shown here. Are these owner’s marks? Expertizing marks? Or something else entirely? We would like to be able to identify these marks and hope you can help.

Relles would also like to gather other markings of this type on stamps of 1847 to 1894 that Linn’s readers may have in their collections.

Relles’ objective is to write a monograph on the subject. All those who contribute examples will be recognized.

If you can help with this project, please contact me, John Hotchner, at, or you can get in touch with Relles directly at

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments