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United States Postage Stamps
Regular, Commementive, Memorial Issues
Air Mail Stamps
United States Postage Stamps
1847 through 1947 ~ The first 100 years
REGULAR POSTAGE STAMPS-ISSUE OF 1912
CHANGES IN DESIGN AND COLOR
The postage stamps of the 1908-9 issue, while possessing high artistic merit, gave considerable trouble to the public and to the Postal Service on account of the similarity of designs of the different denominations. All of the 12 stamps are of identical design, except that the 1-cent denomination bears the portrait of Franklin, while the others bear the portrait of Washington. There was not a sufficient number of distinctive colors for all the stamps, making it necessary above the 6-cent to use different shades of the same colors given the lower denominations. Thus, the 1-cent and 8-cent are different shades of green; the 3cent and 50-cent are different shades of purple; the 5-cent and 15-cent are different shades of blue. In the rapid handling of mail matter one denomination was very apt to be mistaken for another, particularly under artificial light. The first six stamps are of sufficiently contrasting colors, but it was decided to change the subject of the 1-cent from Franklin to Washington and to change the 1-cent and 2-cent so as to express the denomination in numerals instead of in words, thus conforming to the other stamps of the series. No change was made in the 3-, 4-, 5-, or 6-cent stamps from those of the 1908 issue, but to give more marked contrast to the remaining five denominations (the 13-cent stamp having been discontinued) a change was made in the border design. The stamps of the 1912 issue combine utility with art and harmony, presenting the head of the first President on the first six denominations and that of the first Postmaster General, with a different border design, on the last five.
The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-,5-, and 6-cent stamps bear the head of Washington in profile, from Houdon's bust, looking to the left. The borders of the first six denominations are identical, and of the same design as the series of 1908. The portrait of Washington appears within a plain ellipse on end, with branches of laurelon either side. Above the head in a straight line are the words "U.S. Postage"; in capital letters below it the word "Cents", with the denomination in numerals in both lower corners.
The colors of the five higher denominations are: 8-cent, olive; 10-cent, dark yellow; 15cent, gray; 50-cent, lavender; $1, dark brown. The subject of these stamps is a portrait of Franklin in profile, from Houdon's bust, looking to the left, within an ellipse on end. In the upper corners are plain panels in the form of right angles; above the ellipse and following it in a curved line are the words "U.S. Postage" in capital letters; on either side of the lower part of the ellipse are branches of oak leaves; in the two lower corners the denomination appears in numerals, and between them is the word "Cents" (or "Dollar") in a horizontal panel which breaks the base of the ellipse.
The Department's supply of 13-cent stamps became exhausted and the denomination was discontinued, its primary purpose to prepay postage and registry fee on foreign mailings having ceased to exist when the registry fee was increased to 10 cents.
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