Scott #1 was never a planned
issue. The Imperial Postal Service had committed to releasing its
first ever adhesive stamps at the end of 1857, to be used from 1 January
1858. They were to be perforated, but there were delays in
receiving the perforating equipment and making it operational.
Accordingly, in late 1857 the decision was made to release a limited
number of sheets of unperforated 10k stamps so that at least a partial
implementation of adhesive stamps would still be in place in time for
the 1 January 1858 date. These unperforated 10k stamps were on
sale for approximately one month before being replaced by properly
perforated 10k stamps as well as two new values - a 20k and 30k stamp.
Today we know the unperforated
stamp as Scott #1 and its perforated cousin as Scott #2.
Anytime that a stamp is issued in
both perforated and imperforate versions there is a temptation for
people to trim a perforated issue and then claim it to be the
imperforate version. In the case of Scott 1 & 2 the difference
in value is considerable (using Scott's 2001 catalog, a #1 mint lists
for $4500 and a #2 for $1750; a #1 used lists for $550 and a #2 for
$125) and so it is relatively common to see stamps with very small
margins being described as a Scott #1 when in all probability, it is
more likely to be a Scott #2.
The only way to be absolutely
certain is to get a pair of stamps showing no perfs on the outside and
also no perfs between the two stamps.
Failing that, look for a stamp
which completely covers and obscures a comparable #2 or other stamp of
that time. If the apparently imperf stamp is bigger than the perf
stamp, then it probably is not a trimmed #2; but if it is smaller, it
may well be a trimmed #2.
I've seen some scandalous examples
of very narrow margined stamps being offered for sale as a #1 when it is
much more likely that they are actually a trimmed #2.
Note also that mint #1s are
extremely rare. One expert claims knowledge of only perhaps five
in existence in the entire world. The chance of stumbling across a
mint #1 in an eBay auction is about as close to nil as possible.
Here are some examples for your
edification and amusement.