On the first day of July 1851, the stamps of the 1847 Issue were demonetized. They could not, therefore, be used to pre-pay postage. As a result, three new stamps came into use—a 1-cent, 3-cent, and 12-cent denomination. There were no 10-cent stamps available (or perhaps needed) to pre-pay postage in the United States. That changed in April 1855. A fee hike in the ‘over 3,000 mile rate’ increased the cost from six cents to ten cents. There was then an immediate need for a 10-cent stamp. [Bear in mind that the 5-cent Jefferson was not issued until spring 1856; otherwise, it would have required three 3-cent stamps and one 1-cent to pay the rate.]
It may have been the short notice, but Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. reused the vignette of the 12-cent George Washington (1851 Issue) for this new 10-cent stamp. Henry Earle engraved the frame and lettering. He had worked with Charles Toppan since 1840. Earle engraved all the lettering for the 1851-1861 Issue, and then he left the company.
The stamps of the 10-cent 1855 issue are of four types, which are differentiated by certain lines and recuts on the sides of the stamps. All four types appeared on each sheet of two hundred stamps: twenty stamps were Type I; ninety-three, Type II; seventy-nine, Type III; and eight stamps, Type IV. These same proportions were repeated when the sheets were perforated in 1857.
In 1859 an entirely new plate was created. Its stamps would be known as Type V and would only be released in a perforated format. The design on this plate was slightly cut away at the sides so that it was more uniform and would fit onto the sheet. These cuts, though slight, were greater than those performed on most of the previous four types. The stamp typically paid the half-ounce, over-3,000-mile rate, but it was also used, in combination with other denominations, to pay a plethora of rates to foreign destinations. Approximately 5,025,000 imperforate stamps and 16-18 million perforate stamps of the 10-cent issue were printed by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co.