Part 6- Reexamining the 1847 Colors

Reexamining the 1847 Colors – Part 6


The Double Transfers

Brookman assumed that there was extensive reentry made by transfer at the time of the cleaning.  One result would be the ‘C’ and ‘D’ double transfers that he reports are quite scarce.

It is possible that some reentry was done at the time the plate was reconditioned.  Perry noted in regard to the plating of the 10-cent 1847 that he found some 212 different stamps out of the 200 positions on the plate.  The additional items were those where there was a sufficient change in characteristics between the early and late state to create what seemed to be a different stamp.  It is probable that a similar change will be found in the 5-cent stamp.

Brookman’s comments upon both the scarcity of the ‘C’ and ‘D’ double transfers and the probability that they were generated in the reconditioning process need to be challenged.  Perry found six ‘double transfers’ in the 10-cent plating, of which four were remarkable enough to win them catalog status.  In the 5-cent 1847 we find five double transfers of which four are cataloged.  The Scott catalog illustrations are adequate to identify the A, B, C, and D transfers, although better illustrations can be found in Brookman.

The 10-cent shifts or double transfers are positions 1R, 2R, 31R, 41R, and 6R as well as 2L.  It will be noted that they appear to come in pairs, which is a result of the way in which entries are made onto the plate.  The 5-cent double transfers are labeled with letters A through E and an unidentified and unlettered one.  Double transfer A is position 80R and recognizable from the double transfer line of the frame at the top right and bottom right.  There is an extra line curved into the design from the frameline at the upper right opposite the letters ‘CE’ of OFFICE.  Both 5’s and the ‘O’s show traces of shift.  Double transfer B is position 90R, immediately below A and probably the first entered.  It is a twisted double transfer with the doubling evident at the upper right frameline and lower left.  Particularly characteristic is a dramatic vertical line in the margin outside the frameline opposite the left ‘5’.  However, positions 24R1 and 34R1 have similar lines in the same position.  Both 5’s show strong doubling lines while the upper left portion of the ‘U’ shows the shift.

Both the A and B shifts are known to have been present during the initial print run.  In the Pope II sale, Fox May 4, 1985, lot 113 is a cover postmarked Philadelphia July 21, 1847 to Mt. Lebanon, OH with an 80R1 ‘A’ shift.  This should be a 10-cent rate and there is a stamp missing for the over-300 mile rate.  Lot 112 is a 9OR1 Type B shift postmarked at New York August 14, 1847 on a cover going to Liverpool.  There are other examples to substantiate these.  Lot 151 is a vertical pair of 90-100R1 from Baltimore to Pittsburgh February 8, 18?, probably the fifth printing (see figure 15 earlier).  A late impression 80R1 was previously reported postmarked January 3, 1851 showing that this double transfer survived the reworking of the plate.

Another double transfer that has generally been conceded to be from before the reconditioning of the plate is the ‘Mower’ shift ‘E’ transfer. It is not catalogued but Ashbrook noted,

“Some of the lines may be scratches but the principal ones are evidently traces of a former entry.  Note the curve in the left ‘5’.

Ashbrook reported locating five examples of this shift, while Duane Garrett reported 10 examples identifiable by a double line scratch next to the left trefoil, as well as a heavy position dot at the tip of the mid‑trefoil.  There is a small double line across the right side of the ‘U’, as well as across the top of the ‘T’ of POST (see drawing, Fig. 17).  A cover is known postmarked November 12, 1848 so that this can be dated to at least the second printing.  An off‑cover example in gray-brown with red grid is seen as lot 78 of Pope II (Fox May 4, 1985).  The left stamp of the Gore lot 21 brown pair is this position.  Another copy is recorded from New York City January 6 to Rensselaerville, NY with pale brown shade, so use is 1848-49; presumably the second printing, Fig. 18.  The ‘Elite’ sale had a brown example with an orange cross-weave grid as lot 99, figure 19.

Double transfer ‘C’ is one that students have suggested was introduced when the plate was reworked in 1849-50.  It is a twisted transfer with elements of all four framelines showing traces of the shift. These twisted framelines are particularly notable at the bottom. Both ‘5’ figures show traces of doubling, as does the ‘S’ of U.S.  Like the Mower, it is currently unplated, but it may well exist in a multiple with one of the other transfers.  I record at least six examples, one of which is on a cover from New York to Canada postmarked November 1847 so we know it came from the first printing. 

The ‘C’ transfers that I record are: (1) the brown Doane copy with parts of two grids illustrated as Fig. 44 in Brookman on a cover posted May 24th at Boston to Houston, Texas; (2) a pair in the brownish orange shade showing it came from the reconditioned state of the plate (lot 78 in the Caspary sale, January 16‑18, 1956) where the left stamp is the ‘C’ transfer; also ex-Stollnitz lot 121; (3) the example from the Pope collection shown as lot 76 in the Fox sale of May 4, 1985, with a blue grid; (Wagshal indicates doubt as to whether it is a ‘C’ double transfer), (4) the brown orange ex-Emerson Hammett (discovery) copy illustrated in Stamp Specialist article by Ashbrook on double transfers; (5) the aforementioned pair on cover in the red brown shade used to Canada and postmarked at New York (lot 868 of the Simpson sale, Siegel February 14, 1973).  The right stamp of this is the ‘C’ transfer; 6/ per canceled example sold as lot 13 in the Steve Ivy May 26, 1986 auction.  6) (The Stanley Ashbrook-Elliott Perry correspondence records a ‘C’ double transfer half stamp, which is the right of a 3½ stamp strip, ex-Emerson, Newbury lot 56, with a clear impression in the gray brown shade, so that it can be concluded it is a first or second printing and not the third. 

Mr. Wagshal adds a number of other examples to the list in his cited article including: 7) the Hibbard/Rust copy on cover postmarked Fayetteville, NC May 2(6), 8) the Sampson/Mel Brown off-cover example, 9) the off-cover pen-killed with an X Dr. Silsby copy, 10) the Sheriff sale copy used with a New York square grid which also sold as ‘Elite’ lot 96, figure 19, 11) the Creighton Hart off-cover copy, 12) the Saadi pair, 13) the Mel Brown copy (PFC #286,865), 14) the Madison copy with a lower left corner missing, and 15) the unused copy.

From these six examples we know that the ‘C’ is not only consistent from the early to late state of the plate but that it is not from the border area of either side of the left or right pane and that it is not from the last four vertical rows of the left pane as neither it nor the stamp to left or right of it contains the dot in ‘S’.  We can thus eliminate at least half of the left pane.  The Emerson/Burroughs block of 30 does not show this variety and thus eliminates another ten positions from the left pane, making it likely that the ‘C’ transfer is a right pane position.  As none of the examples I have seen show stamps above or below, it is not possible to completely eliminate the sheet margin examples, but as students have attempted to put together sheet margin examples, and none has reported a double transfer, we can probably eliminate those positions on both panes as contenders for the location of the ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’ transfers.

I have not yet been able to locate a cover with a tied ‘D’ transfer, but the reports that only one or two are known are incorrect, for I record at least six.  It also appears to be from the first state of the plate, for the colors ‑in the few cases where color is described‑are those associated with the early state rather than the reconditioned plate.

The ‘D’ transfer is a twist transfer with all four framelines showing evidence of the doubling.  It is particularly detectable at the lower left and upper right.  Also the ‘U’ of US and the two ‘5’ figures show evidence of the doubling.  Unlike the other transfers discussed, there is also doubling in the background behind Franklin’s head under the word OFFICE, which has a dot at the top of the ‘O’.  The right frameline is quite weak.

Perhaps the most significant of the ‘D’ transfers is the block of four found by (1) Lambert Gerber of which it is the upper left.  It can be seen in Ashbrook’s Stamp Specialistarticle.  As this block shows two stamps below, we can be sure it does not come from the bottom two rows of the plate.  We also know from the lack of a dot in S in it or the copy to the right that it does not come from the last three vertical rows of the left pane.  The Gerber block shows it is level to the stamp on its right like the ‘F’ double transfer, as is the pair below it.  There is also a trace of a line down from the right side of the ‘D’ transfer.

The other five ‘D’ transfers I record are: (2) lot 10 in Daniel sale 1/5/53, a dark brown 4-margin example killed by a pen squiggle that was lot 98 in the Elite sale, figure 19, (3) the example illustrated as Fig. 46 in Brookman; (4) a red brown example with red grid offered as lot 77 in the John Fox Pope sale May 4, 1985, (5) a brown untied example in the Newbury II sale as lot 66 postmarked Chicago March 23 addressed to Joliet, Ill. 7) a copy signed Ashbrook with red grid at right that sold as lot 6 in the Heiman sale of 2/27/53.

Having examined the recorded double transfers of the 5-cent stamp, I conclude that there are none that can be definitely assigned to the reworking of the plate.  The current evidence is that all were there in the first state if not the first printing.

In discussing his plating of the 10-cent 1847, Perry noted that stamps from many positions had weak or broken frame lines.  A similar comment might be made about the 5-cent, although the adjective ‘many’ may not apply.  Perry found that all the stamp designs of the 10-cent were re-cut to some extent as regards the frameline.  Examination of a number of the 5-cent stamps suggests that at least some recutting can be detected upon a number of them.  Unfortunately, only sharp impressions permit one to classify the stamps by this recutting, so not as much work has been done toward the plating as might have been.  It is not clear whether additional recutting of the frames was done at the time of reconditioning the plate.  Owners of the brownish orange and late orange brown shades of the stamp need to examine their copies to see whether there are strong re-cuts on any of the framelines.

In the 1988 Philatelic Foundation publication Opinions V, Mr. Wagshal announced the discovery of the ‘F’ double transfer, which he named for himself and which is now cataloged.  In Chronicle #165 he notes there are three examples and that, in his opinion, it is a triple transfer.  One of this is the Emerson pair listed under the ‘D’ double transfer above which has now been severed and sold as a single ‘D’ double transfer in the Robert Kaufmann ‘Elite’ sale of part of the Duane Garrett holding.  It is a red brown example with a New York grid offered as lot 16 in the Siegel 1976 Rarities as from ‘a new find’, also ‘Elite’ sale lot 97, figure 19, where Wagshal bought it and determined it was an ‘F’ double transfer.  He describes it has having the upper sections of both left and right framelines doubled, with doubling of the curved vertical line to the left of the ‘U’ and diagonal shading lines in the right side of the ‘U’. 

Because the top frameline of the Wagshal shift is parallel with its neighbor to the left, there are only 17 possible positions for it to be in the right pane; both it and the stamp to the left have single position dots that do not stick out so that 25R, 29R, 42R, 50R, 54R, 58R, 64R, 73R, 89R, 93R, 95R, 96R can be eliminated.  This leaves only positions 9R, 10R, 48R, 59R, 75R, and 94R for both the ‘D’ and ‘F’ transfers in the right pane of which 48R has an irregular lower left corner eliminating it.

Subsequent to the original publication of this article, Wade Saadi discovered a cracked plate variety characterized by a break in the upper left part of the ‘T’ of POST.  It is found in the chestnut brown first printing shade on cover postmarked October 23 (1847) tied by a blue octagonal PAID and is from Philadelphia on a cover to Hon. D. A. J. Upham, Milwaukee, WI as well as in a pale red brown shade from the 2nd printing on piece with a blue Philadelphia ‘5’. It has been identified as position 69R1. Mr. Saadi also noted there are two ‘straddle’ margin copies, one of which is position 20R1, confirming the 5-cent like the 10-cent was printed in sheets of 200.

The appearance of the two specimen panes of 100 including the right pane of the 5-cent, that were recently auctioned in 2002 by the Manning firm and made available to me by Rex Bishop gives an opportunity to note that position 46Rl has a damaged left frameline in the vicinity of the left trefoil.  If the ‘C’ double transfer is a right pane position it could only be position 84R.  This is the one position that fits the criteria of the Caspary and Saadi pairs and the Newbury strip in terms of relative height.  The stamps to both the right and left are positioned higher.  This position also shows a weakness in the left frameline at the eye level that is found on the ‘C’ double transfer.  Positions 9R-10R has the even top of the ‘D’ transfer and the pair below it (19R-20R) also have the even top characteristic of this block, while there is a trace of a line down from the right of position 9R to 19R that matches the Gerber block.  The specimen pane of 100 position 9R also shows traces of doubling in the bottom frameline just under the ‘&E’ of the printer’s initials suggesting this may be the proper plate position for the ‘D’ double transfer.  These characteristics are also seen on the sheet margin pen killed red brown 9R-10R pair that sold as lot 43 in the Harmer sale of January 18, 1966.  Of the remaining positions, 94R seems to be the most likely candidate for the ‘F’ double transfer, which Wagshal holds is a triple transfer.  There are minor indications on the Specimen sheet that it already had a double transfer.


I should like to dedicate this to Duane Garrett, without whose support this would never have been written.  My thanks also go to those collectors and dealers who have selflessly given of their collections, time and advice.  While some prefer to remain anonymous, the following should be particularly noted: Henry Stollnitz, Louis Grunin, Stephen Karbo, Scott Trepel, John Griffiths, Henry Wenk III, Daniel Seigle, Christie’s/Robson Lowe, Rex Bishop, Harvey Warm, Jack Molesworth, Bill Johnson, and, of course, those 1847 students who have gone before me.  What merit this piece has reflects their assistance; the errors are reserved to the author and one gremlin in the printing process.

 I should also like to thank Jeff Purser and Michael Heller for scanning my published article in Collectors Club Philatelist to bring it to this web site.

                                5 CENT 1847 COLORS BY PRINTING

First Printing

  Dark brown                                   Deep orange brown

  Chocolate                                   Red brown

  Deep chocolate                             Bright red brown

  Black brown                                 Deep or dark red brown

  Seal brown                                   Brown

  Walnut                                   Olive brown

  Orange brown                              Gray brown

Second printing

Red brown                                  Orange brown

Dark or deep red brown              Gray brown

Pale brown


Deep brown

Third printing (Worn Plate)

Reddish brown                             Bright brown

Pale or light red brown                 Pale brown

Bright reddish brown                   Brown

Dark reddish brown                     Gray brown

Orange brown                              Purple or olive brown

Fourth printing (Cleaned Plate)

  Pale brown, light brown                Bright orange brown

  Brown                                            Orange brown

  Yellowish brown?                          Reddish brown

  Brown orange                                 Light or pale reddish brown

  Stressed brown orange                   Dark reddish brown ?

Fifth printing

  Brown orange                                  Orange brown

  Reddish orange                               Bright orange brown

  Bright brownish orange                  Deep orange brown

  Orange                                            Light orange brown

  Stressed brown orange


Ashbrook, Stanley B. “The United States Five Cent Stamp of 1847,” The Stamp Specialist, Vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 39‑50,1939.

   Special Services.

Baxter, James. Printing Postage Stamps by Line Engraving, 1939, Quarterman Publications, 1981.

Boggs, Winthrop S. Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada, vol, 1, reprint, Quarterman Publications, MA, pp. 119‑133.

Brazier, Clarence. Stamps, June 11, 1949.

Brookman, Lester. 19th Century Postage Stamps of the United States, vol. 1, 1947, H.L. Lindquist Publications, NY.

Chase, Dr. Carroll. “The U.S. 1847 Issue,” Philatelic Gazette, Vol. VI, no. 5, May 1916, vol. VII, no. 1, June 1917.

Hart, Creighton C. “Dark Brown, The Earliest 50 Shade,” USPCS Chronicle, no. 46, December 1963, p. 6.

Luff, John. Postage Stamps of the United States, Scott Stamp & Coin Co., NY, 1937, pp. 41‑49.

Perry, Elliott. “Plating the 10 cent 1847,” Collectors Club Philatelist, preliminary notes vol. 3, no. 2, April 1924 thru vol. 5, no. 3, July 1926.

  Pat Paragraphs, no. 46, March 1944, pp. 1469‑79, no. 47, April 1945, pp. 1543‑45.

Wenk, Henry III. A Transcription of the Official Record Book of the Post Office Department July 1, 1847 to June 20, 1851, Garden City, NY, 1975.

White, Roy. Color Encyclopaedia, vol. 1, Germantown, MD 1981. Plates 11, 12, pp. 5‑7, pp. 117‑120.

Color in Philately, New York, 1979.

deWorms, Percy, Perkins Bacon Records, vol. I, Extracted With Comments, Royal Philatelic Society, London, 1953.


Fox, John.   

John Pope Sales I & II. December 1, 1984, May 4, 1985.

Frajola, Richard.

McInroy Sale. February 1985.

Kelleher, Daniel F.

A.B. Slater Sale. March 23, 1935, no. 381.

Judge Roberts Emerson Sales. February 23, 1939,

no. 402; October 19, 1937,

no. 394; June 11, 1938,

no. 398; November 16, 1946,

no. 438.

William 0. Sweet Sale, October 21, 1944,

 no. 432; November 10, 1945,

 no. 435; February 3,1982.

Harmer, H.R. 

Alfred Caspary Sale, January 16‑18, 1956.

Louis Grunin Sale, December 15‑16, 1976.

Harmer Rooke, Inc.

Stephen Brown Sale. October 30, 1939.

Parke Bernet.

 Knapp Sale I. May 5‑10, 1941.

Siegel, Robert A.

Rarities. 1970, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983.

H.C. Brooke Sale. March 12, 1943.

Krug Sale. May 21‑22, 1958.

Eli Lilly Sale. February 2, 1967.

Keller Sale. October 22‑25, 1968.

Katherine Matthies Sale. May 28‑29, 1969.

Blake Sale. December 9‑12, 1969.

Hugh Baker Sale. May 7, 1970.

Mortimer Neinken Sale. November 19, 1970.

Ernest Jacobs/Donald Malcolm Sale. September 27, 1972.

Tracy Simpson Sale. February 15, 1973.

Lester Downing Sale. September 20‑24, 1974.

Rudolf Wunderlich Sale. January 29, 1976.

Sale. April 21, 1976. October 7, 1980.

Marc Haas Sale. March 15, 1983.

Ward, Philip, Jr. 

Henry P. Gibson Sale. June 14‑15, 1944.


One thought on “Part 6- Reexamining the 1847 Colors

  1. Peter LaPlaca says:

    Very interesting article on the 1847 colors (all six parts). It is a shame that none of the links (to tables, figures, etc.) are working. It would have enhanced the article.

  2. Douglas Andrew Willinger says:

    My collection of imprint-plate number stamps includes a bottom capture copy of the 24 cent 1869 #120 with the top of a number “21” or “24”.


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