Follow these steps in the
identification of your three cent Bank Note:
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, either US 184 or US 207. See the diagram above to
distinguish the American printings once the stamp has been
determined to be on soft paper.
If it is on the hard paper, i.e. 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. 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 136. If it
does not have a grill it is US 147. 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. A used US
136 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 it is an American Bank Note printed on the soft porous paper, compare the
line of shading around the vignette with the illustrations above to
determine whether it is US 184 or US 207. Check for the
strong added line of shading added underneath the "T" and
"S" of "CENTS" on the re-engraved stamp, the
original design does not have this single strong line.
If you are unsure of the type of paper used or, more likely, of the secret mark, you
should assume that the stamp is the more common variety. It is
sometimes difficult to determine whether there is shading in the
Watch also for removal of the
secret mark by scraping and for re-perforation (to fake a more well-centered
stamp), for re-gumming (a major problem with the Bank Notes), and even
bleaching of the cancellation (to remove the cancel).
We include the "Special" printings in the identification
guide merely for completeness. Only 267 copies total, of US 169
and 194, were sold and they were never issued for postal use. All
were issued 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 60 copies are known, they seldom come up for sale, except in
the sale of a major U.S. Collection.