In summer 1873 the Continental Bank Note Company produced two stamps for the same series—two depictions of Thomas Jefferson, one in old age and one in his prime—that were printed in identical brown ink. The 2-cent stamp was released in dark brown in the special 1875 printing, but in subsequent regular issues, it was printed in vermilion. The color for the 10-cent Jefferson always remained brown.
Though the various 10-cent Jefferson issues can be difficult to differentiate from each other, Continental Bank Note Company added a secret mark to the design of its stamp frames, specifically in the area of the white frameline outlining ‘U.S. POSTAGE’. This secret mark—a small bottom semi-circle—is in the curling scroll at the right of the frame line. The paper chosen by CBNCo was a white wove paper, which also distinguished its 10-cent Jefferson from the later American Bank Note issue.
Over its years of use, the 10-cent stamp paid various postal rates—from 1873 onward it paid the ten-cent registered mail fee and the Universal Postal Union single-weight five-cent rate to any country. CBNCo printed approximately 30,000,000 stamps of the 1873 10-cent issue.