Inspired by John Vanderlyn's painting of the same name, the 15-cent Landing of Columbus was printed in two types: the first simply had a single thin line framing the vignette; the second had a larger grouping of frame lines with a diamond above the vignette in the frame.
Printing technology in 1869 was not perfect. The vignette was printed before the frame. Maintaining registry proved difficult, and the vignette was often misaligned with the frame. In his famous book on nineteenth century United States stamps, Lester Brookman, indicates that the extra frame lines in Type II helped to make this misalignment less obvious. With a brown frame and blue center vignette, the 15-cent Landing of Columbus was the first bi-color stamp issued by the United States. Type II was one of the first stamps to have an inverted image. Though it is described as having an inverted vignette, it is the frame that is inverted because it was printed last.
The 15-cent stamp typically paid certain rates to countries such as France, Germany, and Italy or the domestic registered fee for mail. National Bank Note Company printed approximately 200,000 Type I and 1,238,940 Type II stamps.
Vanderlyn's painted was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in the same year that the first U.S. adhesive postage stamps were issued-1847.