90¢ Blue (72), horizontal strip of four (no gum) with "ENGRAVED BY THE NATIONAL BANK NOTE COMPANY CITY OF NEW YORK" imprint and "No. 18 Plate." plate number at bottom, dark shade and intense impression, bright and fresh, centered to left
Henry G. Lapham (noted in article on display at The Collectors Club of New York, 10/6/1937, Collectors Club Philatelist)
Siegel Auction Galleries, 1975 Rarities of the World, 3/25/1975, Sale 468, lot 72
"Country Gentleman," Siegel Auction Galleries, 11/29-30/1972, Sale 422, lot 190
Daniel F. Kelleher sale, 1/30/1976, lot 271
John C. Chapin (collection sold privately to Shreves and then to William H. Gross, 2002)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
John C. Chapin, A Census of United States Classic Plate Blocks 1851-1882, census no. 255 (illustrated on page 13)
The Philatelic Foundation (1975)
Fine-Very Fine; few slightly short perfs at left
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$25,000.00 for this strip, which is the only one recorded, but it has not sold publicly for 43 years
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The First and Second Designs of the 1861 Issue
When the National Bank Note Company won the contract to print stamps, they had already designed the 1861 Issue, engraved the dies and made eight plates for each denomination, and printed sheets of "sample labels" to submit as part of the competitive bidding process.
The First Designs (1¢, 3¢, 5¢, 10¢, 12¢ and 90¢) and First Colors (24¢ and 30¢) were followed by a second set of stamps made from modified dies and plates. The differences between the first and second designs are very noticeable on the 3¢ and 12¢, but more subtle for the other four denominations. The 24¢ Dark Violet and 30¢ Red Orange colors are unlike any of the issued stamps. All were printed on a thin semitransparent stamp paper--some were gummed with a dark brownish gum and perforated. These stamps and the associated trial printings are listed in the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue in a separate section (pages 913-915 in the 2019 edition).
Only the 10¢ First Design (Type I) was issued through post offices. The others from the trial printing were distributed through other channels. The 3¢ exists in a much larger number than the others, and comes in various shades, which indicates that a cache was released from the printer's files. The 1¢, 5¢, 12¢, 24¢, 30¢ and 90¢ are great rarities, and the discoveries of examples in other countries suggests they were released through government Post Office notices of the new issue. For example, one complete set was discovered in Europe and sold in a 3/15/1906 Morgenthau auction of the Scholle collection.
The design of the 90¢ 1861 adopted the previous issue's Trumbull portrait of a youthful General Washington in uniform, but added "90" numerals to make the denomination more obvious. The same deep blue color was chosen for the top value, but the perforation gauge was changed from 15 to 12, and the holes were enlarged. It is believed that the new plates were made to widen the spaces between stamps to accommodate the larger perforation holes.
Two 90¢ plates were made: Plate 8 from the First Design die, and Plate 18 from the modified die. To the best of our knowledge, not a single example of the Plate 8 imprint exists in any form (proof, specimen or stamp). Only two Plate 18 stamp multiples are known: the strip of Scott 72 offered here and a plate block of eight with the "Specimen" overprint. Plate proofs on card with the imprint and plate number 18 are also known.