The 1-cent Franklin stamp was first printed in 1894 in ultramarine on unwatermarked paper. Uneven inking of the plates and the moisture content of the paper at the time of printing resulted in many shades of the ultramarine color, so soon after the introduction of the 1-cent ultramarine, the color was changed to blue. Like its predecessor, the 1-cent blue is found in many shades, which are easily distinguishable from the ultramarine shades. A 1-cent stamp with triangles in ultramarine can be readily identified as the 1894 printing.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing decided in 1895 to use a watermarked paper for production of all the stamps of this issue. Since all stamps printed on watermarked paper are the same shades of blue as the 1894 printings on unwatermarked paper, each stamp must be examined for the watermark. The size and layout of the watermark is such that at least a portion of one of the letters U, S, or P can found on every 1895 stamp.
To assist postal workers in all countries signatory to the Universal Postal Union in identifying stamps of equal postage value, the 1-cent stamp color was changed from blue to green in 1898. The Bureau continued printing the stamp on the same watermarked paper, however.
The 1-cent stamp paid primarily the domestic third-class rate and the domestic postal card rate. It was also used in multiples or in combination with other stamps to pay other rates.