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 The Seven Cent U.S. Bank Note Identification Guide

National Bank Note Company
No secret mark 

US 138 & 149 - There is no "C" in the top corner of the lower right ball. 

Continental Bank Note Company
Secret Mark

US 160 - There is a shaded "C" in the top corner of the lower right ball. This is one of the easier "secret" marks to identify.

Follow these steps in the identification of your seven cent Bank Note:

There is no need to check for paper type on this stamp since it was not issued on the soft porous paper of the American Bank Note Company for general postage, but you must still check for the "secret" mark. If it has the "secret" mark it is the Continental Bank Note, US 160. This stamp is one of the easier to identify unless a cancellation covers the area in question. The secret mark is quite distinct. 

If it does not have the "secret" mark it is the National Bank Note printing. If the stamp has a grill, it may be US 138. If it does not have a grill it is US 149. 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.

Watch 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). Unused copies carry a substantial premium over the used stamp.

We include the "Special" printings in this identification guide merely for completeness. Only 473 copies total of US 171 and 196  were sold, and they were never issued for postal use. They 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 150 copies are known,  they rarely come up for sale, except in the sale of a major U.S. Collection.

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