The large-format Newspaper stamps issued in 1865 were unsatisfactory for
collecting postage on the bulk mailing of newspapers and periodicals. Starting
January 1, 1875, the rate was fixed at 2c per pound for weekly or more frequent
publications, and 3c per pound for less frequent publications. A total of 24
denominations were created, ranging from 2c to $60, so that payment could be
made on mailing weight from one pound to one ton without using more than five
stamps in any transaction. They could not be used for any other purpose.
The $36.00 design depicts a figure representing Commerce. Fully clothed, she
holds the caduceus, or winged rod of Mercury, in her left hand and a miniature
ship in the other. The regular-issue stamps were sent to postmasters on December
11, 1874, for use starting on the first day of the new year.
In a separate development, in 1875 stamps from previous issues to the current
date were made for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and were intended
both for sale and also to showcase examples of every U.S. stamp printed. Stamps
which were no longer valid for postage were called Reprints (those which were
demonetized -- Scott Nos. 3, 4, 40-47, PR5-PR7 and LO3-LO6). Those still valid
for use were called Re-Issues. Those printed concurrently with contemporary
designs were called Special Printings.
Special Printings were created for Bank Note Company regular postage issues
(Scott 167-177 and 180-181), Officials and Newspapers and Periodicals. The
Officials received "Specimen" (or "Sepcimen") overprints. Continental Bank Note
Company produced the Special Printings, because they held the current
The Reprints, Re-Issues and Special Printings were only available for purchase
through the Third Assistant Postmaster General, who maintained a small office to
fill requests from over the counter and mail order sales. This office remained
open from 1875 to 1883, and all remaining stamps on hand were destroyed under
close supervision on July 3, 1884. Invoices were prepared for all sales
transactions, listing the denomination, quantity sold and name of purchaser.
For the $36.00 Newspaper stamp, the records show that two were sold, both to
Paul Lietzow of Berlin, Germany, but on different dates. The first sale was
entered on December 29, 1879. The second $36.00 sold was entered on July 26,
1880. There were no other purchasers -- apparently the number of people in the
1870's and early 1880's willing to pay $36 for a stamp that could never be used
was limited to one person in Europe. Lietzow was also the purchaser of the only
copies sold of the $24.00 (two), $48.00 (one) and $60.00 (one) denominations, as
well as two each of the $9.00 and $12.00 values.