The first U.S. stamp not depicting Benjamin Franklin or George Washington, this breakaway 5-cent stamp of the 1851-1861 Issue depicts Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president. Designed and engraved by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co., Gilbert Stuart's portrait of Jefferson inspired the issue. The last imperforate stamp released by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co., it was in use from spring 1856 to summer 1857. When issued in 1856, the stamp served almost no purpose for domestic mail except payment of multiple-weight rates or, in a few cases, the registered mail fee. It was used primarily on mail to foreign destinations, especially France, since it fulfilled the several different rates.
While Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. printed the imperforate 5-cent Jefferson in only one color (red brown), the perforated issues the firm produced by mid-1857 were printed in at least six major colors. These color varieties of the perforate 5-cent 1856-1861 Issue expose a level of sophistication and degree of difficulty unique to Toppan, Carpenter issues. It is also important to note that the perforated issues were printed with two types of frames. The first, as in the imperforate stamp, has full projections at the top and bottom; the second, which only appears on perforated stamps, has those projections cut away. These later perforated issues fulfilled the same rates.
Approximately 150,000 imperforate stamps and 2,310,000 perforated stamps of the 5-cent Jefferson were printed by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co.