Issued in 1908, the 3-cent Washington design served no purpose as a single stamp until 1917, when the three-cent domestic first-class rate was instituted as the war rate. Before this increase, the 3-cent Washington presumably would have best been used with a two-cent denomination stamp to pay the Universal Postal Union rate.
The 3-cent Washington went through twenty-three renditions. A variety of papers, coils, watermarks, and perforations distinguish these versions.
The rarest 3-cent Washington is the Bluish Paper issue, released in 1910. After 1917 the 3-cent Washington paid the first-class domestic rate. Patrons also used the stamp with other denominations to fulfill large weight and foreign destination rates. By the time the last 3-cent Washington stamps were sold, more than 10 billion had been issued.