Stamp Information, Images, and Values

Scott 1 - True or False

Beware of trimmed Scott 2

Note - in most cases, clicking on the image may open a larger copy of the image for better inspection. 

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.



Offered as a mint #1.  The left and right margins are narrow; the top and bottom ones look reasonably generous.  Note that 'mint' #1s can also sometimes be cancelled #1s with the cancel 'cleaned' off.
Four very narrow margins.  Most probably a trimmed #2.
These margins look okay.  Plenty of room outside of the outer frame.
Very marginal, although the ms cancel does make it more likely to be a #1 than a #2.
A nice #2 dot cancel, but appalling margins (and a suspiciously bad scan to make it hard to evaluate).  Almost certainly a #2 not a #1.

For comparison purposes, here are some images of a #2.  As you can see, the perfs tend to start just a little outside of the outer frame, allowing of course for variable centering.

This page last modified on October 12, 2013