Arago: Exhibits

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Error, Printers' Waste, and Excess

4c Fleet of Columbus error of color single

A significant color error occurred with the 4-cent stamp. The error, which produced two shades of blue, took place when the American Bank Note Company used the 1-cent stamp’s deeper blue ink for a small press run of the 4-cent value, the standard color of which is ultramarine. Stamps from at least two panes reached the public.

8c magenta Columbus Restored to Favor single

Though Benjamin K. Miller believed this 8-cent Columbian was "offset" (a reverse impression from the face of a sheet of stamps onto the back of another sheet), it is more likely printers' waste. During the printing process flawed sheets known as "printers’ waste" were sometimes produced and subsequently destroyed. However, the material occasionally slipped into the marketplace though not bona fide postage. The person who “liberated” the printers’ waste and mailed this registered envelope with the 8-cent Columbian paying the registration fee may have also been responsible for the removal of the address to conceal a connection.

$1 salmon Queen Isabella Pledging Her Jewels single

1-dollar Columbian on December 1893 cover to a prominent stamp dealer in Washington, D.C. Though the first-class postage rate in 1893 was only two cents, collectors wanting postmarks on stamps of higher values often paid postage far in excess of that necessary just to secure the postmark.