American Bank Note Company printed two versions of the 10-cent Jefferson stamp, one with and one without the Continental Bank Note ‘secret mark’. Perhaps some of the 10-cent Jefferson printing plates, transferred by Continental Bank Note when it consolidated with ABNCo in 1879, had the design re-entered using the National Bank Note transfer rolls (this could have caused stamps with and without secret marks to appear on the same plate and proof), or perhaps the secret mark wore-off, the printing plates having received extensive use into 1880. This second theory seems likely since there are very strong secret marks on some issues and much lighter and less distinct marks on others.
CBNCo’s secret mark, a small bottom semi-circle, appears at the top of the stamp where the words “U.S. POSTAGE” are outlined by a white frameline. The secret mark has been inserted in the scroll to the right of the frameline.
The American Bank Note stamps are differentiated from the earlier issues by their soft, porous paper.
The 10-cent Jefferson could have paid the registered mail fee or, more frequently, the U.P.U. international double-weight rate. Approximately 16 million stamps without the CBNCo secret mark and approximately 22 million stamps of the 10-cent Jefferson with the secret mark were printed by American Bank Note Company.