Before the 1869 Issue went into circulation, a total of twenty different, major stamp designs had been created by the three federally contracted printing firms—Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson (two designs); Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. (eight designs); and National Bank Note Company (eight designs). Eleven of these designs depicted George Washington as commander of the Continental Army (Revolutionary War), presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, and the first president of the United States. From 1847 to 1869, every stamp series carried the image of Washington on at least one stamp.
The image of George Washington for the 6-cent stamp 1869 Issue was inspired by a Gilbert Stuart painting, very similar to the 10-cent 1847 Issue. Use of the stamp on cover paid the double-weight, first-class domestic postage rate. A total of 4,882,750 stamps were printed by the National Bank Note Company for the 6-cent issue.