EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A SUPERB MINT NEVER-HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE $2.00 ORANGE RED & BLACK 1918 FRANKLIN ISSUE, WHICH HAS BEEN AWARDED THE GRADE OF SUPERB 98 BY P.S.E. -- ONLY ONE HAS GRADED HIGHER.
The $2.00 and $5.00 1918 Issue are the first bi-colored dollar-denominated postage stamps issued by the United States. Both were released just three months after the famous 1918 24c Inverted Jenny, but the early printings were issued in small quantities, since stocks of the 1902 $2.00 and $5.00 1917 issue were still on hand.
According to Johl, the $2.00 Orange Red & Black was a color error on the part of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. The official description and order for the bi-color stamps specified "Red and Black" for the $2.00. When subsequent printings appeared in 1920 and philatelists brought the matter to the attention of the Bureau, they were told "this stamp has always been this color" (Johl, p. 306). From studies of Bureau and Post Office records, it is clear that the originally-intended color was not issued until November 1920 (Scott 547), and that the earlier Orange Red stamps were mistakes. The quantity issued has been variously estimated at between 47,000 and 68,000.
With 1994 and 2000 P.F. and 2007 P.S.E. certificates (Superb 98; SMQ $8,000.00). Only two others have achieved this grade, and only one has graded higher.