Part 4- Reexamining the 1847 Colors

Reexamining the 1847 Colors – Part 4


The Ink Composition Change of 1850

An important new color in 1850 is the brownish orange, which Chase calls one of the basic shades of the 1850 use. However, it is fairly scarce today. In the Color Encyclopaedia, Roy White states,

“There were probably more brown orange 5¢ specimens in existence in the ten to twenty years immediately following their first issuance, than exist today. It has been explained how little it takes in the way of chemical stress to make an orange into a brown‑orange, or even a brown. The recreation of the mineral orange is not possible by the application of a reversing chemical process.”

We do know that the brownish orange or red orange of the fifth printing (December 1851) uses chrome orange pigment rather than the lead orthoplumbate compound of the earlier issues. In Color in Philately White reports the following regarding an analysis of the fifth printing red orange,

“This data establishes conclusively that lead chromate (chrome orange) was one of the ingredients of the ink. Many examples of the brownish‑orange or orange‑brown shades do not contain chromium and should not be classified as the orange variety … The presence of the chrome orange colorant is the criterion for the scarce categories: orange, reddish‑orange, orange‑red.  Chrome orange can be altered chemically to produce a variety of redder or darker shades.”

If we accept White’s statement literally, it would appear that a different ink formulation was used for one or two days in the fifth printing.  This does not seem reasonable. More likely the chrome orange component was used throughout the printing with the oranges and red oranges being items that got less stirring or were better preserved.

There is an unusual shade that is found with the 1851 issues and is fairly common.  It can be seen in color plate IV at the middle right. I term it a reduced or stressed brownish orange, for it is normally not classed as a brownish orange by catalogs or expert committees.  Because of the price differential between brownish orange and orange brown, it should go with the latter group.

One can see the similarity with the brownish orange vertical pair in color plate I, no. 22, which shows much less reduction, or stress.  That item is classed as brownish orange.  The stressed brownish orange is also found in the fourth printing on a number of covers.  I would not be surprised to find that both the fourth and fifth printings have chrome orange as a colorant.

Fig. 10 shows a cover with this stressed brownish orange used from Elyria, 0 posted there August 13, 1850 with a red grid that sold as lot 258 in a Kelleher sale.  It is from the April 18, 1850 fourth printing shipment to that city.

Another example with the same shade can be found on a cover posted on September 19, 1850 at Chicopee, MA to West Newton, MA.  The stamp is untied but has a six‑bar grid in the same color as the town marking, Fig. 11  There was only one shipment of 1847s to this city, from the fourth printing on April 25, 1850.

Brown orange ‑The earliest cover I record that is truly brown orange is an example postmarked New Haven February 4, 1850 on very blue paper (Knapp lot 2218).  As this is prior to the fourth printing and the color cannot be from the earlier printings, it would appear to be a misdating. I should like to propose the writer mis year‑dated his letter and that it is actually February 4, 1851, which would make it a brown orange of the fourth printing.  The fifth printing was not supposedly sent to New Haven until the following day, February 5, 1851 with a receipt acknowledged on the 8th.  An off‑cover example of the brown orange, pos. 1L1, on the very blue paper of the 1850s was sold as lot 333 in the Matthies sale.  Another brown orange is known from Greensburgh, PA postmarked May 20, 1850.  A delivery of two sheets of the 5-cent stamp was made to that town that day.  This item was discussed earlier, as evidence of the early brown oranges of the fourth printing.

The Knapp sale, lot 2186, had a brownish orange adhesive postmarked Rockville, CT ‑23 or 26, 1850‑the month is hard to read in my copy of the cover.  We know this town received a fourth printing shipment on both April 18 and December 3, 1850. There is also a brownish orange reported used at Boston with the U.S. Express Mail cds in 1850 (Keller lot 193, Siegel October 22‑25, 1968).

A brown orange pair with rich color, postmarked at Pittsburgh, PA, January 4, 1851 (Matthies lot 129) with a clear ‘late impression’ and almost red orange shade is apparently fourth printing from the shipment of July 16, 1850 unless it was carried in.  The first delivery of the fifth printing was not until January 17, 1851.  The closeness to the red orange color suggests that chrome orange was used in the fourth and fifth printing.

One of the more famous brown orange fourth printing covers is one postmarked Baltimore July 16, 1850 with the stamp tied by a red “5” and addressed to Austrian Silesia (Knapp lot 2190).  It is currently in the Kapiloff holding, and is one of a group mailed to Silesia.  In the Krug sale (Siegel May 21, 1958), it sold as lot 83 described as ‘orange brown’.  The four vertical pairs (nos. 22‑25) in color plate I show how the brown orange grades into orange brown.  I would only term the first brownish orange, and it is bright brownish orange.

Bright brown orange ‑A ‘fine’ impression sheet margin pair can be found in this shade postmarked on cover at Charleston, SC October (2)1, 1850, (Matthies lot 128).  It should be from the fourth printing shipment of July 27, 1850 to that city.

Light brown orange ‑The only catalog example I record in this shade is one canceled by a red ‘5’ on a cover postmarked July 5, 1850 at Albion, NY (Knapp lot 2210). The impression is described as ‘fairly late’, e.g., cleaned plate.  The stamp had to reach Albion via a sub‑office order as the post office never received a direct shipment.

                                             The 1850 Orange Browns

A large number of the orange brown stamps reported used in 1850 come from the first two printings in late uses.  However, there are some items that may be from the fourth printing in that they are found used after fourth printing shipments to their towns were made.  It is also possible that these are stressed brownish oranges.

Among the items found after shipments from the fourth printing could be made to their towns are a Buffalo, NY use of an orange brown postmarked April 17, 1850 (Haas lot 269, Siegel March 15, 1983).  A shipment to that town was made February 20, 1850 that could contain fourth printings.  The same sale had a Baltimore use postmarked May 10, 1850 (Haas lot 269) that could have come from the shipment of April 24.

There is an orange brown pair, postmarked Montreal May 10, 1850 (Krug lot 10, Siegel May 21‑22, 1958) and used to New York, which should be from a supply sent by the New York postmaster to Montreal.  Two ‘fine’ impression examples postmarked Boston August 6, 1850 appear to come from the shipment of May 11, 1850 (Matthies lot 109).  A cover with the orange brown adhesive postmarked New York May 8, 1850 (Wunderlich lot 84) probably involved a stamp from the May 2, 1850 delivery at New York.

An ex‑Emerson cover postmarked at Cambridge, MA August 22, 1850 (Haas sale lot 311, Siegel March 15, 1983) logically had a stamp from the April 11 shipment to that city.  A cover postmarked at Detroit July 4, 1850 (H. Baker sale lot 103, Siegel May 5‑7, 1970) also seems to have come from the shipment of April 11, 1850.  An untied example on a cover to Canada, postmarked Lockport N.Y. July 12, 1850 (Downing sale lot 762) probably involves the shipment of May 16, 1850 to that city.

There is an orange brown pair postmarked New Orleans November 14, 1850 (Haas lot 323), which probably involved the September 4, 1850 shipment to that city.  The orange brown on an Elmira, NY cover postmarked October 2 7, 1850 with a ‘sharp impression’ (Matthies lot 66) seems to be from the shipment of October 15, 1850 to that city.  However, the example from New London postmarked July 1, 1850 and reported ‘untied’ but from the reworked plate (Matthies lot 73) requires expertization, for the preceding shipment of January 18, 1850 is too early to have a ‘reworked plate’.

An orange brown on cover postmarked Greenfield, MA December 6, 1850 (Downing sale lot 762, Siegel September 20‑24, 1974) probably involves the shipment to Greenfield of July 18, 1850.  The 1850 Waukegan, IL example (Wunderlich lot 89) may be from the July 16, 1850 shipment to that city.  It suggests some of the more famous, but undated, Waukegan covers, such as the red grid one in the Caspary pair, have to be from 1851 or else late use of a first or second printing earlier in 1850.

The Matthies sale (lot 75) has a ‘fine impression’ example of the orange brown on a cover postmarked Syracuse September 26, 1850, probably from the April 29, 1850 shipment there.  There is an example with a ‘nice’ impression postmarked Saxtons River, VT (Matthies lot 76) June 11, 1850 that represents either a carried‑in stamp or a suborder from another office, as this town never got a direct shipment.  The logical office would be Bellows Falls, which got a shipment June 1, 1850 and is only a few miles away.  An orange brown pair, postmarked Providence, RI in April 1850 (Matthies lot 127) probably came from the April 25, 1850 shipment there.

A Baltimore carrier cover with a 5-cent orange brown postmarked May 8, 1850 (Matthies lot 214) appears to involve the April 24, 1850 shipment to Baltimore.  The Port Huron, MI pair with light impression postmarked March 13 (Matthies lot 138) is probably dated 1851 and comes from the November 20, 1850 fourth shipment delivery to that city.

It would take additional research into local history to determine whether the Walpole, NH valentine postmarked February 17 with a vertical pair of orange brown 5-cent stamps is from the second printing used in 1849 or the fourth printing shipment of April 11, 1850 used in 1851 (lot 28A, Siegel 1980 Rarities).  There is a similar problem involved with the Turner St. Louis covers (lots 26, 27, Siegel 1980 Rarities).  The 5-cent brown pair shows a late break that was not known in the handstamp in July 1848, so it is probably a late use of the early shipments in 1849 because of the ‘sharp impression’, while the orange brown is handstamped with the later handstamp, the breaks of which suggest the June 17 date is 1851 if not 1850.  It might be from the May 11, 1850 shipment there or the March 1851 shipment.

Bright orange brown‑The only bright orange brown dated cover that I can conveniently put into the 1850 fourth printing is an example from Philadelphia postmarked September 3, 1850 (Wunderlich lot 64).  If not a late use it would be from the July shipment to Philadelphia.

Earlier printings orange browns‑Of the numerous orange browns found postmarked in 1850, a number represent late uses of earlier printings.

A late use from the January 18, 1850 shipment to Troy, NY is found postmarked there January 27, 1850 (Wunderlich lot 12).  This is before the fourth printing was available and at a time when first or second printing copies might surface.  A second late use of the orange brown is one postmarked Springfield, MA January 6, 1850 (Keller lot 174, Siegel October 22‑25, 1968).  It should be from the October 9, 1849 shipment.  The two orange brown pairs on very blue paper postmarked New York October 4, 1850 (Knapp lot 2191) are described as being from the ‘first plate’.  The orange brown on cover postmarked Mobile, AL March 16, 1850 (Knapp lot 2189) could be from no later than the February 6, 1850 shipment‑just prior to the order for the fourth printing.

Two late uses of the orange brown from Boston are noted.  An example postmarked at Boston April 5, 1850 is described as having a ‘beautiful shade and impression from the reworked plate’ (Jacobs sale lot 803, Siegel September 26‑28, 1972) must be misdescribed, for the fourth printing was not sent to Boston until May 11.  This is from the January 31, 1850 shipment, which would be a late use of an early plate.  There is another Boston example with an ‘indeterminate impression’ postmarked May 15? 1850 (Wunderlich sale lot 61) which is late enough for the fourth printing, barely, but which appears to be another late use, probably from the second or third printing.

Bright orange brown ‑A late use of this shade from an earlier printing is postmarked Wilkes-Barre, PA March 27, 1850 (Downing sale lot 764, Siegel September 20‑24, 1974).  The first shipment of the fourth printing did not reach Wilkes-Barre until May 1850.

Deep orange brown ‑A cover postmarked at New York February 22, 1850 with a deep orange brown from the ‘second plate’ was sold as Knapp lot 2231.  While this may have the clear but fuzzy look of the cleaned plate it cannot be from the fourth printing, which was not distributed to New York until March.  The January 25, 1850 shipment was of earlier printings.

                                                   The 1850 Browns

Pale brown ‑Chase did not mention a pale brown for the 1850 colors; however, numerous covers make it clear that this was a basic shade in this printing. A number of examples are found used in May 1850.

There is an example postmarked at New Haven May 27, 1850 with the pale brown shade that probably originated in the March 16, 1850 shipment to that town (lot 812 Earnest Jacobs sale, Siegel September 26‑28, 1972).  Another pale brown copy is on a cover postmarked Richmond May 25, 1850 (lot 479 Siegel October 7‑8, 1980), that presumably was part of the April 18, 1850 shipment to that city.

At Cincinnati we have two covers that appear to be from the April 18, 1850 shipment to that city.  The first is a ‘late impression’ postmarked Cincinnati June 11, 1850 (Matthies lot 232), while the second is postmarked June 28, 1850 with half the payment in cash (Matthies lot 233).  It is also called a ‘late impression’. There is a ‘late impression’ pale brown postmarked Nunda, NY February 10, 1851 but as the last shipment to that town was November 18, 1850, it should be a fourth printing example (Matthies lot 102).

The Wenk collection has a pale brown from the April 11, 1850 shipment to Cambridge, MA postmarked August 16, 18(50).  The shipment of August 3, 1850 to Cuyahoga Falls, 0 apparently had pale browns, for one was postmarked there August 23, 1850 (lot 169, Siegel October 22, 1968 sale).  An example from the Bedford, PA shipment of November 22, 1850 was postmarked at that town January 3, 1851 (Matthies sale lot 106), while a ‘very late impression’ copy from the August 20, 1850 shipment, identified as position 80R1, sent to Great Barrington, MA, was postmarked there January 3, 18(51).  Another 1850 ‘dry impression’ example was postmarked at Middlebury, VT April 27, 1850 (lot 854 in the Tracy Simpson sale Siegel February 14‑16 1973).

In the Lester Downing collection we have a pale brown postmarked at Philadelphia August 27, 1850 on a cover to France (lot 773, Siegel September 20‑24, 1974).  It was sold to Dr. Kapiloff and is apparently from the July 6, 1850 shipment to that city.  In the Wunderlich sale we have an example postmarked Chicago November 28, 1850, presumably from the August 8, 1850 shipment (lot 70).  In the same sale there is a light brown adhesive postmarked Syracuse September 12? 1850, presumably from the April 29, 1850 shipment (Wunderlich lot 28, Siegel January 29, 1976).

Brown‑The same printing daily runs that produced the late impression pale browns also generated a regular brown, for shipments of the same period contain this shade.  A brown postmarked at Savannah July 6, 1850 (Matthies lot 133) apparently came from the May 8, 1850 shipment to that city.  The Wenk collection has a brown on cover postmarked May 9, 1850 at Lititz, PA that would appear to come from the first shipment to that town on April 11, 1850, while Wenk also has a Newton, NJ brown postmarked September 24, 18(50) with a brown cancel that seems to have come from the April 25, 1850 shipment.

New York is represented by a brown postmarked along with a carrier stamp on May 14, 1850 (Matthies lot 217), that probably was in the shipment received on May 2, 1850.  An August 22, 1850 example postmarked at Troy, NY (lot 22 in the Siegel 1981 Rarities) probably came from the August 14, 1850 shipment to that city.  A brown was also postmarked October 4, 1850 at Springfield, MA (lot 309 Haas, Siegel March 15, 1983).  This was part of the May 21, 1850 shipment, as it is postmarked before the October 4, 1850 shipment was delivered.

The pair of browns postmarked March 14, 1850 at Charleston, SC on a cover to Cuba (lot 519, Siegel October 7‑8, 1980) is too early for the fourth delivery and has to be a delivery from the third printing that arrived February 5, 1850 or an earlier printing.

Dark brown‑The previously mentioned April 25, 1850 shipment to Newton, NJ apparently had a dark brown sheet as well as the brown, for one with a ‘gorgeous impression’ was postmarked there August 10, 1850 (Matthies lot 154).  In the Wenk holding there is a dark brown on cover, postmarked Salina, NY August 19, 1850.  This is before that town received a direct shipment of stamps.  If not carried in, this presumably was a suborder from nearby Syracuse’s shipment of April 29, 1850.

It might be noted the dark browns are sufficiently scarce in 1850 that they may represent late shipments or late uses of the first or second printings, rather than fourth printings.

Yellowish brown ‑Dated covers enabling me to pin this shade down to a specific printing have not been located, but it is probably akin to the pale brown of 1850.  Chase does not report the color and the closest example in the Color Encyclopaedia is a dark yellowish brown.

The color is not reported in most major 1847 holdings; however, the Emerson sale included a number of yellowish browns.  There were five off-cover examples in the Emerson sale held at Kelleher November 16, 1946 (lots 90, 109, 116, 145 and 191).  The last had a town circular date stamp so that we know the color was available at Troy, NY in midyear.  (There was a July 2(?) date.)  A cover, unillustrated, with a yellowish brown was offered as lot 30 in the Kelleher Emerson sale of February 23, 1939.  It was postmarked at New York and directed to New Orleans.

                                           1850 Red Browns

Reddish brown‑A number of covers support the thesis that red brown hues were distributed in 1850.  It is less clear that these came from the 1850 printing rather than being late shipments of earlier printings, Fig. 12 is an example postmarked at New York June 14, 1850 with red New York grid from the shipment of April 29th.  It is the double transfer B variety (90R1) on strongly bluish paper.

The 1979 Siegel Rarities, lot 23, represents a red brown pair used from New York to Coloma, CA and there forwarded to San Francisco.  It was postmarked first at New York October 25, 1850 and should be part of the October 12, 1850 shipment to that city.  A horizontal pair of red browns was postmarked at Lockport, NY September 3, 1850 (Haas lot 325, Siegel March 15, 1983).  The closest previous shipment to Lockport was May 20, 1850.

Another New York City example is a ‘worn plate’ postmarked October 27, 1850 (lot 486, Siegel October 7‑8, 1980).  Although just after the October 20, 1850 shipment to New York, the ‘worn plate’ suggests it is from the 1849 printing.  Another example of the red brown cannot be fully dated.  It is on a circular postmarked New York ‑7, 1850 (Knapp lot 2286).  The month is indistinct.

Three items are recorded from Boston with red browns used in 1850.  One with a ‘sharp impression’ is postmarked May 9, 1850 (lot 761 Downing sale, Siegel September 20‑24, 1974) that may be the same item sold as lot 181 in the Keller sale (Siegel May 22‑25, 1968) as both are to New Hampshire with similar postmarks.  This use is just prior to the first Boston shipment that could include the fourth printing and has to come from the January 31, 1850 shipment.  It represents a ‘late use’ of the first or second printing.

The second Boston item was postmarked Boston February 10, 1851 (lot 22, Siegel 1979 Rarities).  This should be from the January 15, 1851 delivery, which may involve the fifth printing or be a late use.  The third red brown is postmarked Boston August 26, 1850 (Haas lot 312, Siegel March 15, 1983), and was presumably from the May 11, 1850 shipment to Boston, which should have been fourth printing.

Other red brown uses in 1850 include use on a cover postmarked Bethlehem, PA, which received a shipment March 27, 1850 (lot 185 Keller sale, Siegel October 22‑25, 1968).  Another is postmarked Portland, ME September 14, 1850 (Haas lot 313, Siegel March 15, 1983) that is probably from the August 14, 1850 shipment.  There is also an example postmarked at Taunton, MA December 23, 1850 (Haas lot 299, Siegel March 15, 1983).  Taunton received only one 5-cent shipment, sent March 28, 1850 and presumably of the fourth printing.

Two items that represent earlier printings come from Philadelphia and Oswego, NY. A ‘short rate’ letter from Oswego to Canada, postmarked March 15, 1850 (Matthies lot 181) could not be a fourth printing, as the first 1850 shipment was March 23, 1850, so it had to come from the October 16, 1849 printing.  The Philadelphia red brown is postmarked February 28, 1850 (Haas lot 320, Siegel March 15, 1983).  The 1850 shipment of January 5, 1850, from which this presumably came, was supplied from third or earlier printings as the fourth print order had not yet been given when this was shipped.  Four covers with red brown stamps used from Baltimore to Freiwalden, Upper Silesia from December 1850 to mid‑May 1851 (lot 24, 1970 Siegel Rarities) are from the same find as the Knapp/Krug brown orange discussed earlier.

Pale reddish brown ‑The only example I record of this shade in 1850 on dated cover is postmarked Wilkes-Barre, PA September 24, 1850 (Matthies lot 27).  This is one day after the shipment of September 18, 1850 arrived at Wilkes-Barre.  While the ‘fine sharp late impression’ tends to confirm this is from the fourth printing, it is always possible to be a late shipment from an early printing.

Dark red brown ‑While several examples used in 1850 are recorded, most can be traced to printings earlier than the fourth.  Two singles are known on cover postmarked Mobile, May 16, 1850 (lot 141, Siegel 1981 Rarities).  This item, now in the Kapiloff collection, is dated just prior to the first 1850 printing shipment to Mobile and should be from the February 6, 1850 shipment representing an earlier printing.

The Wunderlich sale, lot 42, has a deep red brown, postmarked Syracuse, NY April 22, 1850.  This is just prior to the fourth printing shipment of April 29, 1850 and presumably comes from the previous December 5, 1849 shipment. It is described as having a ‘fine’ impression, which may suggest it comes from the 1849 printing.

Finally, there is a dark red brown postmarked Philadelphia December (2?)7, 1850 that logically comes from the November 22, 1850 shipment.  This example (lot 22, Siegel 1979 Rarities) is the only dark red brown that appears to be from the fourth printing.  It is unique in having a hotel forwarder use in Philadelphia from the Columbia House.

Fourth printing summary: The fourth printing was produced on a cleaned plate so that sharp but fuzzy prints resulted.  It is probable that a new chrome orange ink formulation was used, but additional research is needed spectrographically on this point.  There was an ink that gives us a definitely recognizable ‘stressed brown orange’ as well as the new brown orange.  At least part of the printing was on paper with an unusually high blue tint.

The new printing did have a group of brown (pale brown, brown, deep brown and probably yellowish brown) hues that do not appear to be chemically stressed orange browns or brownish oranges.  We also find a number of reddish browns, although there is a somewhat reduced look to a number of these, possibly suggesting they are reduced red oranges or red brownish oranges.

A number of stamps from earlier printings were released during 1850, notably the third printing poor impression gray browns.  However, we also find a number of older orange browns that confuses the picture on orange browns that should be from the fourth printing.  Thus, careful examination of impression is needed on the orange browns to see if they are from the cleaned plate or an earlier condition.  Older stock was most notable in the April and September shipments.


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