Arago: Large Bank Note Issues (1870-1871)

Large Bank Note Issues (1870-1871)

The public heartily disliked the 1869 Pictorial Issue, and this accounts for its short lifespan. Difficulties, mentioned earlier, included the stamps' size and the poor quality of the gum. The conflict between the Butler & Carpenter firm of Philadelphia and the National Bank Note Company over the contract award had not been resolved when Postmaster General John Creswell assumed his position in 1869. This offered him an opportunity to change the order for the 1869 Issue, but he let the order stand, not anticipating the problems the Pictorial Issue would face when released in the spring of 1869. The shift back to the tall-portrait format of the 1861 National issues was Creswell's directive. In his annual report, he noted, “The adhesive stamps adopted by my predecessor in 1869, having failed to give satisfaction to the public . . . .”

National Bank Note Company was the only company to employ grills on many of its stamp issues. Beginning with the 1870-1871 Issue, due to difficulty with the grilling machines and realization that the grills were ineffective in fulfilling their original purpose, stamps were printed both with grills and without. Grilling stamps was completely eliminated from U.S. stamps with the 1870-1871 Issue.

The 1870-1871 Issue was the first series to include stamps of non-presidents other than Benjamin Franklin.