Arago: 5000-dollar Washington

5000-dollar Washington

$5,000 Documentary Second Issue revenue stamp trial color essay

Scott Catalogue USA: R133ATC

The $5,000 revenue essay is technically a proof of an un-issued value. The Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue approved the $5,000 revenue stamp's design on June 24, 1872. Its colors were to be red orange, dark green, and black. However, since there was no call for the $5,000 denomination, no stamps were printed from the die. A combined total of twenty-six proofs and trial color proofs exist, eleven of which reside at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Prior to 1871, the largest denomination revenue stamp was $200. This presented a problem for the very largest commercial transactions, generally railroad mortgages. In 1871, a $500 stamp was issued. The $500 value apparently satisfied the needs of commerce because only 204 copies of the stamp were issued before the majority of Civil War-era documentary taxes were repealed.

Joseph Carpenter, proprietor of the private company holding the printing contract, wrote to the Treasury Department, "I send you the $5,000 stamp approved in the colors in which it is to be printed in case we have an order for this stamp - a very improbable contingency." The $5,000 stamp would have paid the tax on a $5,000,000 mortgage, an enormous sum of money in the 1870s.

This copy of the essay is printed in yellow-orange, light green, and black, and it still has the full manufacturer's imprints intact. It is mounted on a gilt-edged card.


Kingsley, T.C., 1993. The Legendary Persian Rug: And The Other High-Value Civil War Revenue Stamps. Pacific Palisades: Castenholz & Sons.

Toppan, G.L., H.E. Deats and A. Holland. 1899. An Historical Reference List of the Revenue Stamps of the United States. Boston: Boston Philatelic Society. Reprinted as The Boston Revenue Book. Lawrence, MA: Quarterman Publications, 1979.

Deats / WMM. (pencil mark on verso of page)
paper; ink (yellow orange, green, black) / engraved
Height x Width: 6 3/8 x 4 3/16 in. (16.2 x 10.7 cm)
Museum ID:

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