Home     ·     Literature

All of 1847us
One Cent Franklin U.S. Bank Note Identifier

The Secret Mark on the 1¢ Franklin U.S. Bank Note Postage Stamp

1¢ Bank Note without Secret Mark

US 134 and 145 - There is absolutely no blue in the ball left of the numeral "ONE". Even the slightest hint of a blue dash will relegate this stamp to Continental or American status, since the secret mark often is very light.

1¢ Bank Note with Secret Mark

US 156, 182 and 206  - If there is even the slightest hint of blue in the ball left of the numeral "ONE", this stamp must be considered a Continental or American Bank Note printing.

Distinguishing Marks on the Re-engraved Design of the 1¢ Franklin Bank Note


Original Vs Re-engraved Design - Side-by-side comparison of the 1¢ American Bank Note of 1879 (left) Vs the 1¢ Re-engraved stamp of 1881. Note the color difference, US 206 (right) is usually a grayer, paler shade of blue.

Close-up of the distinguishing areas of the original 1¢ design (left) Vs the 1¢ Re-engraved stamp of 1881. Note the line of shading in the ball of the arabesque in the US 206 (right), as well as the much heavier shading in the area above "U.S."

Follow these steps in the identification of your One Cent Bank Notes:

Determine the type of paper the stamp was printed on. If it was printed on the "hard white" paper it is either a National or Continental printing. If it was printed on the "soft porous" paper, it is an American printing.

If it is an American Bank Note printing, compare the area near the arabesque with the illustrations above to determine whether it is US 182 or US 206.

If it is either a National or Continental Bank Note printing, check for the "secret" mark. If it has the "secret" mark it is the Continental Bank Note stamp,  US 156.

If the stamp was printed on the "hard white" paper and does not have the "secret mark", it was printed by the National Bank Note Company. If the stamp has a grill, it may be US 134. If it does not have a grill it is US 145. Care must be taken when authenticating the grill. Many fake grills have been added over the years in an attempt to increase the value of the stamp. US 134 is common enough that it may not be necessary to certify all copies, but nicely centered, fault-free, and particularly unused stamps should be certified.

If you are unsure of the type of paper used or, more likely, of the secret mark, you MUST assume that the stamp is the more common variety. 

Watch also for  removal of the secret mark by scraping, for re-perforation (to fake a more well-centered stamp), for re-gumming (a major problem with the Bank Notes), and even for bleaching of the cancellation (to remove the cancel). 

We include the "Special" printings in this identification guide merely for completeness. Only 388 copies, total, of US 167 and 192 were sold, and they were never issued for postal use. All were printed without gum. We occasionally see uncertified copies of these stamps offered for sale at ridiculously low prices. You can rest assured that the stamp being offered is not genuine. These stamps are so rare, only 70 copies are known,  they rarely come up for sale, except in the sale of a major U.S. Collection. 



1847 us.com ©2017 All rights reserved.