Large Banknote Stamps

Mint Fifteen cent Webster Banknote stamps like this one are quite scarce and show off a bright orange color choice used during the heyday of private stamp printing.

Large Banknote stamps are postage stamps of the United States issued from 1870-1888 displaying portraits of famous Americans.

This set of stamps was issued in a brilliant range of colors during an experimental period including orange, purple, vermilion and dozens of others.

To add intrigue to beauty, there are some stamps that can only be identified through slight differences in color of the inks used.

This 90 cent stamp from 1873 was produced by the Continental Bank Note Company and is the third Banknote stamp showing this profile of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
The 90 cent Oliver Hazard Perry Banknote stamps can only be differentiated from one another by experts that can identify the various color shades of these stamps produced during the 1870s.

The best example of this is the 90 cent stamp of Oliver Hazard Perry with two stamps only an expert can differentiate as one is Carmine in color and the other is Carmine Rose in color. 

 Which does sound relatively straight forward until you start thinking about how much the color may have faded or changed over the past 150 years.  

Is that Carmine stamp really Carmine Rose or is the paper just slightly toned after a century and a half of exposure to air and light?  

Questions like these are key to both identifying a stamp correctly and determining Stamp Values.

Large Banknotes were produced by three private companies, in chronological order

  • National Bank Note Company
  • Continental Bank Note Company
  • American Bank Note Company

These gorgeous stamps were first issued in 1870 in denominations from 1 cent to 90 cents by the National Bank Note Company.

Initially they were produced with experimental grills as small ridges impressed into the stamp paper to prevent illegal reuse of postage stamps.  Now, grilled examples of the higher denomination stamps are scarce and hard to identify with steep stamp values if genuine.

The Alexander Hamilton Banknote stamps are starkly beautiful in the deep black and grey printings of the 1870s.

The same designs were produced through much of the next 20 years, with only a few minor design changes and a couple of new design additions, by the Continental Bank Note Company and then finally the American Bank Note Company.

This was the heyday of private stamp printing in the United States and the Banknotes are in high demand by stamp collectors.  This, combined with the fact that many of the surviving higher denominations are scarce and usually damaged or off-center, continues to drive prices upwards for the highest quality stamps.

This four cent Andrew Jackson postage stamp was issued by the American Bank Note Company in 1883 - it is surprisingly difficult to find well centered examples like this one.

The designed honored famous Americans

  • Benjamin Franklin (1 cent)
  • Andrew Jackson (2 cent)
  • George Washington (3 cent)
  • Abraham Lincoln (6 cent)
  • Edwin Stanton (7 cent)
  • Thomas Jefferson (10 cent)
  • Henry Clay (12 cent)
  • Daniel Webster (15 cent)
  • General Winfield Scott (24 cent)
  • Alexander Hamilton (30 cent)
  • Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (90 cent)

Click to return to the US Stamps page from this Large Banknote Stamps page.

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