The 1861 Issue 90-cent Washington has many similarities to its 1851-1861 Issue counterpart. Though printed by two different companies, Joseph I. Pease engraved both stamps, using John Trumbull’s portrait of Washington as inspiration. The 1861 stamp was supposed to be issued with a change in design and color to differentiate it from the previous issue, but the color remained blue. The major difference between the two issues was the amount of time they were in use. The first 90-cent Washington was in use less than a year, explaining why used examples are considerably scarcer than mint copies. The 1861 Issue 90-cent Washington was in use over seven years, and consequently the 90-cent Washington of the 1861 Issue had a printing more than ten times greater than its earlier counterpart. That ten-to-one ratio also holds true for use on cover (61:6).
Throughout the 1860s there was not one single-weight rate that the 90-cent stamp could pay. The 90-cent Washington of the 1861 Issue instead fulfilled the double-weight rate to India, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, and several other countries and, in combination with other denominations, larger weight and foreign destination rates. A total of over 380,000 stamps of the 90-cent Washington were printed by National Bank Note Company. In 1869 the 90-cent Washington was replaced by the 90-cent Lincoln.