Robert H. Morris, New York City postmaster, received permission from Postmaster General Cave Johnson to issue stamps that could prepay postage on letters sent from New York City. The New York stamps, which depict George Washington, were issued in July 1845.
The New York City Postmasters' Provisionals had a face value of five cents and were issued in sheets of forty. As a precaution against theft or fraud, a post office clerk initialed each stamp in ink before selling it to the public.
The stamps were printed on various types of paper and signed by several different postal clerks, including Postmaster Morris himself. However, copies are known to exist without a signature. Although authorized for mail from the New York City post office, a few covers from other cities are known to exist with cancelled New York Postmaster Provisionals attached to them.
The New York Postmasters' Provisionals proved to be popular among patrons, just as Great Britain's Penny Black had. Its success helped Congress decide to issue government stamps, which were approved on July 1, 1847. The New York Postmasters' Provisionals was in use for less than two years.