Part 5 – Reexamining the 1847 Colors

Reexamining the 1847 Colors – Part 5


Fifth Printing (December 7, 1850)

Your detailed recounting of the last print order for the 1847 stamps provides a snapshot of the logistical intricacies involved in stamp production and distribution in mid-19th century America. The specifics of the dates and the shipment records underscore the precision and scale of operations during this period in philatelic history.

Understanding the Dates and Shipments: The discrepancy in the dates recorded for the print order—December 7 as per Luff's notation and December 4 in the official records—suggests there may have been administrative delays or discrepancies in record-keeping, a common issue in the era before digital tracking. This kind of detail is crucial for philatelists and historians as they try to piece together the exact timeline of events.

Distribution Dynamics: The shipments made during December 1850, including 200 sheets to New York on the 4th and 50 sheets to Albany on the 9th, indicate a careful and strategic distribution of stamps to various locations. The fact that the first major shipment date after receipt of the order wasn't until December 18th suggests a lag time that might have been needed for organizational preparations or possibly even for the stamps to be printed and readied for distribution.

The Significance of the Ishikawa Cover: The Ishikawa cover, postmarked January 11, 1851, from Boston, is particularly noteworthy. It carried the red-orange 5-cent stamp from the new printing, confirming that the stamps issued on December 25th to Boston were indeed from the newly printed batch. Such covers are invaluable to philatelists not only for their rarity but also for the concrete evidence they provide about the timing of stamp issuance and use.

Implications for Philatelic Studies and Automation: In today’s context, managing such detailed information about stamp issues, distributions, and historical timelines can be significantly enhanced through automation. For example, a platform like Latenode could be used to digitize and manage these historical records. It could automate the process of aligning shipment dates with documented postal records, help in verifying the authenticity of specific issues like the Ishikawa cover, and provide a searchable database for philatelists and researchers. Such an application could also use AI to predict and analyze patterns in stamp printing and distribution, offering new insights into historical postal operations.

Moreover, automation tools could facilitate collaboration among historians and collectors by providing a platform for sharing findings and discussing interpretations of historical data, thereby enriching the collective understanding of philatelic history. This would not only streamline the research but also enhance the accessibility of valuable philatelic information, preserving it for future generations of collectors and scholars.

Fig. 13 shows a cover from the December 24th shipment to Mobile, AL, which was used on a ‘way’ letter to New Orleans, received there on February 2, 1851.  It is a stressed brownish orange and represents a letter put on board the steamboat from Mobile to New Orleans, for which the extra 1 cent way fee was charged.

Going into the fifth printing, there were some 200,000 stamps in stock from the earlier printings.  Some of these may have been used on the 18th of December.  The remainder continued to carry over into 1851.

As the total number of stamps shipped to post offices after receipt of the fifth printing was somewhat over 517,000 stamps, it is clear that there would be substantial remainders of this printing, as well as some carryover from the earlier printings.  After receipt of this printing, almost 60 percent of the shipments went to the five major user cities of the 5-cent 1847 ‑New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Albany.

Chase reported the colors of the December 1850 (185 1) printing under his 1851 listing, noting them as:

Chase colors   Ridgeway colors
Deep brownish orange  Hazel‑11’k
Dark brownish orange  Dark hazel 11′ 1


Chase’s orange (cinnamon‑rufous) was listed as an 1850 color. This is the Ridgeway color we now know as red orange.

In Pat Paragraphs (pgs. 1471‑1479), Elliott Perry comments upon the 1847 orange and orange brown shades. He notes that we are discussing both hue (yellowness and/or redness) and shade (darkness) of spectrum orange. Adding black to orange or gray orange you get brown. If you add red you get reddish brown and if you add yellow you get yellow brown. Adding gray dulls the color.

In hue terms, orange brown is orange, orange, black.  Brown orange is black, orange, orange.  Both might be called orange black orange.  Darkening the shade moves an orange to orange brown and then brown. Thus the key difference between brown orange and orange brown is more black in the latter.  When a touch of red is added as well, you move from red orange to reddish brown orange to reddish orange brown.  If the reddish hue gets overpowered, it can move from red orange to brown orange to orange brown.

Chase’s notes on the red orange were turned over to Ashbrook and can be found in Special Services, as well as in the Ashbrook files at the Philatelic Foundation.  He recorded three examples of the red orange.

Red orange‑The three Chase examples are (a) a ‘bright orange’ postmarked New York May 6, 1851 and addressed to New Haven‑this item would be from the April 15, 1851 shipment to New York which is the fifth printing, shown in Hart’s Ameripex Court of Honor exhibit; (b) a brilliant orange on cover from New York to Albany, postmarked April 21‑that would also appear to be from the same shipment; (c) a cover with a blue thumbprint ‘killer’ and an Oberlin, 0 blue circular date stamp postmarked April 10, 1851‑this should be from the fifth printing shipment sent to Oberlin January 17, 1851.

To the Chase three we can add the previously mentioned red orange in the Ishikawa collection postmarked Boston January 11, 1851 from the fifth printing.  There is also a red orange postmarked New York April 7, 1851 that should be from the fifth printing March shipment to that city (lot 176 Keller sale, Siegel October 22‑25 1968).  Two off‑cover examples can be seen in color plate 1, items 26 and 27.  We also have a brilliant example used at Troy, NY with an April date, color plate II, no. 18 that is near the true orange in shade, but doesn’t quite make it.

Mentioned earlier was the ‘almost red orange’ with a blue circled 5‑bar grid (Matthies lot 52) addressed to Norwich, CT and ascribed to 1850.  If the dateline is early in the year, it may well be a misdated 1851 use with the stamp originating at Worcester, MA that received a fifth printing shipment January 4, 1851.  Elliott Perry (Pat Paragraphs, pg. 699) notes the killer is one found on the Norwich & Worcester R.R. in blue.

There are a number of items described in auction catalogs as ‘orange,’ which are probably red orange.  For convenience these will be discussed under the oranges.

Orange‑The most celebrated of the orange hue stamps is the so‑called Slater orange, figure 14.  We first note it in the Worthington sale of August 21, 1917 where it sold to Slater as lot no. 19.  It next appears in the Slater sale as lot no. 20 (Kelleher March 23, 1935) where it was described as ‘town cancel, tiny tear, faint crease’.  It may well be the example offered for private treaty sale by Elliott Perry in April 1935 (Pat Paragraphs, pg. 537) with the description ‘orange, ‘glorious color’ two color cancel, (mighty rare thus)’.  It has a blue OCT date stamp and can be seen on color plate II, no. 15.  It is either a late use after demonetization or an 1850 printing.  It was this example that caused Chase to report the oranges as 1850 use (fourth printing).

The Slater orange next appears in the Emerson sale as lot 193 (Kelleher November 16, 1946) where it was sold to Edson Fifield for Norcross.  The photo shows there may be two town markings on it.  It was described as ‘extremely fine’.  Ashbrook noted the color was similar to that of the peel of a ripe orange and, on the basis of the several occasions that he examined it, reports the color as ‘dark orange, Rufous II-J- Plate 2’ according to Ridgeway.

In regard to the Slater copy, Perry reported he had carefully compared it with some 1,200 examples in the Ackerman collection and that the Ackerman holding included every color variety or shade that had been in the Chase, McDaniel, and other collections.  He added, ‘there were only two or three close enough to have come from the same sheet’. It is those two or three examples, which are likely to constitute what we call ‘orange’ today.  One of these is the ‘Putnam’ orange used at New York, color plate II, no. 16.

Perry in Pat Paragraphs May 1945 pg. 1596 offered one such example 1596 described as ‘so-called orange shade, fine.’  Likewise we find Ashbrook certifying an orange example in the 1950s, which is the example sold in the Frajola McInroy sale of February 1985.  It is seen on color plate II, no. 5.  A similar shade and blue grid example was lot 76 in the Pope II sale (Fox May 5, 1985).  It is a double transfer A, position 80R, showing the late impression style.

Ashbrook’s reference files show a possible orange on cover in the Jessup collection that he helped assemble.  This item, ex-Stephen Brown (lot 156, Harmer Rooke October 30, 1939) was noted in the Brown sale as ‘orange, an extremely fine shade and copy, tied by blue Philadelphia grid cancellation.’  Lot 2204 of the Knapp sale where a ‘brown orange, magnificent shade, quite close to the true orange, tied by blue grid, Philadelphia to Amsterdam’ was sold confirms that Philadelphia did have a sheet similar to the orange shade.

Several unused ‘orange’ examples are recorded.  First is an unused vertical strip of three sold in the H.C. Brook sale (Siegel March 12, 1943).  As Siegel subsequently sold another copy as the ‘only known’, it would appear there is doubt about the color of the Brook item.

The other unused item is the Gibson/Pichel copy (color plate II, no. 17). It was described as an unused stamp ‘with full original gum’ that resides in the same collection as the Slater copy (e.g. the Norcross holding).  Ward who sold it to Col. Pichel purchased it from the Gibson collection.  In the Pichel sale it sold as lot 55 ‘unused, true orange, mint fresh, V.F.’  We next find it as lot 46 in the Lilly sale (Siegel February 2, 1967), where it was called ‘red orange’ and was described as having a,

“faint horiz. crease and minute black speck on forehead, signed Ashbrook and Purple Handstamp Guarantee of Schlesinger, only known unused copy.”

More recently this item shows up as lot 12 in the 1975 Siegel Rarities where it was described as ‘red orange, rich brilliant color’ selling for $5,500.  There is some dispute as to whether the stamp may have been regummed and had a pen cancel removed, according to reference notes of some who examined it.

A ‘horizontal pair’ of the 5-cent 1847 orange was sold as lot 20 in the Worthington sale, which was where the Slater orange first appears.  As this was before the 1922 examination of the Ackerman and Slater oranges there may be a question about the hue.  Ashbrook, who had not yet examined the Slater but did examine this pair, concluded it was not ‘orange’.  That comment probably implies it was not red orange as well.

Bright brownish orange ‑An example with this shade was reported on cover postmarked March 1851 at Boston (lot 1554 Blake sale, Siegel December 9‑12, 1969).  Boston received a second shipment presumably from the fifth printing on February 25, 1851.

Brownish orange ‑This was a basic shade of the fifth printing.  A Boston cover from the February 1851 shipment with a brownish orange shade is the strip of four, ex‑Gibson, sold as lot 142 in the Matthies sale, postmarked June 18.  I earlier referred to the New Haven brownish orange postmarked February 4, 1850 on ‘very blue paper’, which may well be a misdated 1851 item, as the very blue paper is associated with 1851 in other cases.  A New York brownish orange postmarked April 15, 1851 sold as lot 175 in the Keller sale (Siegel October 22‑25, 1958) that would appear to come from delivery of that same day to New York, although it could be from the March 1851 delivery.  Another New York brownish orange was postmarked April 23, 1851. This was a horizontal pair on ‘very blue paper’ on a cover addressed to Lockport, NY (Knapp sale 2226).

It is clear that several of the 1851 shipments to Philadelphia included the brownish orange examples.  These are shipments of January 5, February 10, April 12, and June 4.  The Wunderlich sale has a number of examples that presumably date from 1851 although not all are so specified.  Lots 14, 61, 81 (Due 5 example) are undated blue Philadelphia grid copies.  Lot 16 is an example postmarked May 1, 1851 to Bellefonte, PA from the ‘reworked plate’.  Lot 95 is a vertical pair with grayish cast from the left sheet margin postmarked April 3, 1851.  In addition, the Matthies sale lot 215 is a January 1851 example used with a carrier while lot 170 is a blue ‑5″ R.R. type cancel with ‘fine’ impression used in 1851.

Baltimore is represented by a brownish orange position 80R1 (Knapp lot 2177) postmarked May 14, 185‑.  It is on piece and is presumably from the February 15, 1851 shipment that is the fifth printing. In addition, a nice corner margin piece, 1L1, in bright brown orange tied by a red grid and blue Baltimore cds is found as Knapp lot 2219.  This is postmarked April 24, 1851 and is addressed to Mt. Lebanon, OH.  There is a manuscript ‘Paid 5’ as well.

Several brown oranges are noted from Detroit.  One is a horizontal pair with blue grids postmarked April 29, 1851 (Haas lot 324) from the February 5, 1851 shipment.  The other, signed by Ashbrook, and described as ‘rich color light impression’ is postmarked January 10, 1851 (lot 21, Wunderlich sale).  This is a bit too early for the fifth printing to have arrived and Detroit was still using the October 1850 fourth printing.  However, the stamp might have been carried in from nearby Ann Arbor which had received the fifth printing.

There is a brownish-orange postmarked April 3, 1851 at Columbus, OH, which probably came from the March 24, 1851 shipment there (Matthies lot 88).  We also find an example postmarked Portsmouth, NH June 4, 185‑ with an oily red grid (Haas lot 301, Siegel March 15, 1983) probably from the April 15, 1851 delivery.  A brownish orange stamp with late worn impression is used with an Eastern R.R. postmark of May 20, 1851 (Matthies lot 190) on Heard correspondence from Ipswich, MA, suggesting that after the initial distribution to route agents they got stamps from nearby towns.  A second Ipswich, MA ‘dark brown-orange’ is seen at the bottom of color plate I, no. 29.

One of the more spectacular 1847 covers is the block of four, postmarked Fredonia, NY April 27, 185‑ (Knapp lot 2193) that is now in the Ishikawa collection.  Although the Ishikawa book suggests that brown orange is found at Louisville, KY in 1847, from the first printing, I find no other documentation that this color existed before the fourth printing.  Knapp describes this block as brown-orange but the Ishikawa photo suggests there is considerable sulphurization so that it is not clear if the stamps can be called brownish-orange rather than orange brown.  The orange Fredonia circular date stamp is recorded otherwise only in October 1850.  As Fredonia received its last shipment of 5-cent 1847s in December 1850, just before the fifth printing, this would have to be an 1850 fourth printing use in 1851 to be brownish-orange.  It could not be brownish-orange used in 1850, as the preceding 1850 shipment was from the third or earlier printings.

Fig. 15 shows a vertical pair of the ‘stressed brown orange’, Pos. 90‑100 R1, tied by red ’10’ handstamps to a cover posted to Baltimore February 8, 185‑.  The accompanying Philatelic Foundation certificate notes the color as ‘red brown’ to show the effect of the stressing.  It should be from the Baltimore shipment arriving February 7, 1851.  This also shows the ‘B’ double transfer.

Orange brown‑A basic color of the fifth printing is orange brown.  The shade is different from the earlier orange brown as can be seen by the color plate IV example used from Mineral Springs, W.T. April 10, 1851.  Ashbrook’s close-up photo, Fig. 16, shows the cleaned plate impression.  We find this shade used at New York in 1851 (Wunderlich lot 71) as well as with a ‘late impression’ at Philadelphia (Matthies lot 131).  Philadelphia is also known with a light orange brown shade (Wunderlich lot 41), probably March 15, 1851 use.

Boston is represented by a ‘fine impression’ example of orange brown postmarked May 6, 1851 from the February 21, 1851 shipment (Matthies lot 18) as well as by a ‘deep color, gorgeous impression’ example with a black grid killer used May 17, 1851 (Wunderlich lot 39).  A late use of the orange brown at Boston is in the Wenk holding.  It is postmarked July 26, 1852.

There is a Baltimore orange brown postmarked April 24, 1851, ex‑Gibson, and ex‑Knapp from the February 19, 1851 shipment.  It sold as lot 21 in the Siegel 1974 Rarities (March 27, 1974).  Troy is represented by a cover of the fifth printing received January 17, 1851 and postmarked January 18, 1851 (Matthies lot 30).  Several fifth printing examples from Nashville exist from the shipment of December 19, 1850.  Matthies lot 126 shows a February? 13, 1851 use while Matthies lot 130 is an example postmarked January 26, 1851.  A fifth printing example from the delivery of January 8, 1851 is postmarked at Oxford, NY March 12, 1851 (Matthies lot 77).

Turner correspondence from St. Louis bears an overlapped set of orange browns postmarked June 2, 1851, probably from the March 13, 1851 shipment.  This example was in the Wenk collection.  Two singles on an ad cover to Canada are postmarked Albany, NY May 24, 1851 (Knapp lot 2209), probably from the February 19, 1851 shipment to that city.

An 1851 orange brown is found postmarked Warren, OH (lot 198 Keller sale, Siegel October 22‑25, 1968) with a dark blue grid not tying the stamp but matching the shade of the circular date stamp.  It probably came from the shipment received February 24, 1851.  North Adams, MA is represented by a bright orange brown, ex‑Emerson example postmarked March 15, 1851 (Matthies lot 57).  As the town never received a direct shipment, this is ordered from an office such as Boston or carried in.

A deep orange brown shade is reported from LaSalle , IN postmarked May 26, 1851 and tied by a black grid (lot 490, Siegel October 7, 1980).  As this town never had a direct shipment, this cover should represent a suborder from another office or a stamp carried in.

There are several 1851 orange browns that probably represent earlier printings.  One is an orange brown with ‘rich color, sharp impression’ tied by red grid on an 1851 Providence, RI cover (Matthies lot 74).  While it may be a fifth printing, received April 8, it is more likely a late use from the immediate previous shipment.  Cleveland has an example of such a late use with two singles, both on very blue paper, postmarked May 5, 1851 (Knapp lot 2225).  However, Cleveland had no shipment after the fourth printing one of November 18, 1850, and there were very blue papers used in the fourth printing.

Late Uses of Other Earlier Printing Colors ‑It seems clear from the color patterns found on 1851 postmarked covers that shipments included earlier printings contrary to the logic that suggests the new fifth printing went on top of the older and was distributed first.  This is particularly true of the February-March 1851 shipments.

The last shipment to Boston, received February 25, 1851, contained a number of earlier shades.  There is a gray brown postmarked September 6, 1851 from the Blake sale (lot 115 2, Siegel December 9‑12, 1969) while browns are reported postmarked May 21, 1851 (Jacobs sale lot 811, Siegel September 26‑28, 1972) with a ‘fine color, intermediate impression’.  A pale brown shade can be found on a Boston March 1851 cover (lot 861 Simpson sale, Siegel February 15, 1973) as well as one postmarked July 24, 1851 (lot 827 Jacobs sale) for a late use.  Another late Boston use is a brown tied by a bold small black Boston grid PAID (lot 495 Siegel October 7‑8, 1980) that is a post‑demonitization marking.

A late use of the pale brown can be found at Troy in 1851 (lot 197 Keller sale October 22‑25, 1968) while a black brown is reported used at Pittsburgh April 6, 1851 (Knapp 2212) with a description that makes it sound like a first printing example.

The February 10th shipment to Philadelphia also apparently included earlier printings.  We find a red brown postmarked there February 28, 1851 (Haas sale lot 320).  The March 3rd shipment to Cincinnati also had red browns for we find one postmarked May 16, 1851 in that city (lot 28 of the Krug sale, Siegel May 21-22, 1958).  At the same time the February 5, 1851 shipment to New Haven had a brown sheet for we find a late used example postmarked December 3, 1851 in that city (Haas lot 307).  The February 5, 1851 shipment to Chicago also contained ‘late impression’ browns for an example is found postmarked there April 7, 1851 (Matthies lot 87).

It is probable that the January, March, and May deliveries to New York consisted primarily of earlier printings than the fifth.  We find a red brown example postmarked at New York February 4, 1851 (lot 140, Siegel 1982 Rarities), while an ‘intermediate impression’ red brown, probably originating at New York, is found in June 1851 in conjunction with the Troy steamboat marking, tied by a blue grid (Matthies lot 211).  As New York normally supplied the Montreal office, it is probable that the dark gray brown pair on very blue paper postmarked Montreal May 2, 1851 came from New York (Caspary lot 119, Harmer January 16‑18, 1956).  A late use brown postmarked September 6, 1851 at New York is found as lot 496 in the Siegel October 7, 1980 sale.  This has a slug date in the circular date stamp.

A red brown is found used at Quincy, IL, March 28, 1851 (Matthies lot 48) that is an apparent hangover from the fourth printing shipment received there June 3, 1850.  Another fourth printing example is a ‘late impression’ red brown postmarked Columbus, OH March 19, 1851 which had to come from the previous November 5, 1850 shipment (Matthies lot 32).  An orange brown, postmarked Taunton, MA May 8, 1851 (Matthies lot 159) is also presumably from the fourth printing, which was the last to that city, shipped March 28, 1850.  The ‘untied chocolate’ postmarked at Scitico, CT May 1851 (Siegel April 20, 1976, lot 527) would also appear to represent an earlier printing, if the stamp belongs.

Fifth printing summary–Looking at the above fifth printing data in total, it appears that that printing consisted of orange or orange red stamps in hue, with shades ranging from bright brownish orange to brown orange on to light orange brown, bright orange brown, to orange brown and deep orange brown depending upon the quantity of black in the printing ink.  All seem to come from the chrome orange or chrome yellow dyestuffs.

While there are browns and red browns as well as some other colors, their concentration in the February-March shipments suggests that they come from earlier printings rather than the 1850 fifth printing.  A spectroscopic test to see if chrome orange is a component would confirm this.

The use of earlier printings for much of the shipments made in 1851 is a partial explanation of the comparative rarity of the brown orange and red orange shades despite the fact that the fifth printing was a large one.  It is also probable that the remainders that were destroyed were heavily of the rare orangish shades.

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