When Congress failed to authorize the issuance of postage stamps to pre-pay postage rates that had been authorized on May 3, 1845, Welcome B. Sayles, postmaster of Providence, Rhode Island, received permission from Postmaster General Cave Johnson to issue provisional stamps. These stamps, which were printed in sheets of twelve (3x4) with the upper right rated at ten cents and the others at five cents, were issued August 24, 1846. Postmaster Johnson had granted the same permission to Robert H. Morris, postmaster of New York.
At the end of their authorized usage on July 1, 1847, many sheets remained at the Providence post office. Stamp dealers purchased a large number of these sheets. Bogert & Durbin, dealers from Philadelphia, also purchased the original engraved plate, and around 1898 the firm issued reprint sheets. Most of these reprint sheets are marked "BOGERTDURBIN" on the back.