Arago: 5000-dollar Washington

5000-dollar Washington

$5,000 Documenatary 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commerce because only 204 copies of the stamp were issued before the majority of Civil War-era documentary taxes were repealed.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 red orange, dark green, and black. As with most examples of the essay, the manufacturer's imprints have been trimmed. The essay has been mounted on cardboard.


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 An Historical Reference List of the Revenue Stamps of the United States.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.

Nassau ??? 11/12 / NW. / Think from Stanton & Whitehead colln (pencil mark on verso)
india paper; ink (red orange, dark green, black ) / engraved
Height x Width: 7 7/8 x 5 11/16 in. (20 x 14.4 cm)
Museum ID:

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