EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS IS ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMPLES OF THE PERFORATED 12-CENT 1857 ISSUE FROM PLATE 3. THIS STAMP HAS BEEN AWARDED THE GRADE OF SUPERB 98 BY P.S.E. -- THIS IS THE HIGHEST GRADE AWARDED TO DATE IN ANY CATEGORY, AND THE ONLY EXAMPLE TO ACHIEVE THIS GRADE.
The most recent scholarship regarding the Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. plates used to print the 12c 1851-57 Issue is clearly articulated by James A. Allen in "The 1851 Imperforate (Scott U.S. #17): Plating Updated and Additional New Findings" (The 1851 Issue of United States Stamps: a Sesquicentennial Retrospective, U.S. Philatelic Classics Society). Traditionally, the 12c plates are identified as Plate 1 (from which all imperforate and some perforated stamps were printed), Plate 2 (evidently never used) and Plate 3 (which produced stamps that were only regularly issued with perforations). It is highly probable that Plate "3" was the first one made in 1851, but it was put aside and not used until 1859.
Plate 3 stamps (Scott 36B) are characterized primarily by uneven or broken outer framelines of the design. The subjects on Plate 1, which produced Scott Nos. 17 and 36, have even framelines that were extensively recut. Plate 3 stamps with the centering and wide margins evident in this example are very scarce.
Ex Drucker. With 1982 P.F. and 2009 P.S.E. certificates (Superb 98; SMQ $5,500.00). This is the highest grade awarded to date and the only example to achieve this grade.