Blue with a double line "USPS" watermark, the first 5-cent Washington was printed in 1908. Over time it underwent seventeen renditions, differentiated by a variety of papers, coils, watermarks, and perforations. The two rarest 5-cent Washington stamps are the Bluish Paper issue, released in 1910, and the Compound Perforations stamps of 1914. Also rare, two 5-cent Washington renditions were printed in error with the 2-cent Washington stamps in 1917.
As a single stamp, the 5-cent Washington most often paid the Universal Postal Union international rate. Patrons also used the stamp with other denominations to fulfill large weight and foreign destination rates. By the time the last 5-cent Washington stamps were sold, over 2.6 billion had been issued.