Postage Stamps of the United States First Issued in 1861

See also: All Designs of the 1861-1868 Regular Issues

Printed by the National Bank Note Company · Designs by James Macdonough

Frames by Cyrus Durand (intricate lathwork) and William D. Nichols – Lettering by Wm. Nichols and David M. Cooper.

1¢ Franklin Engraver: Joseph Pease 3¢ Rose Washington Engraver: Joseph Pease 5¢ Brown Jefferson Engraver: William Marshall 10¢ Washington Engraver: William Marshall
12¢ Washington Engraver: William Marshall 24¢ Lilac Washington Engraver: William Marshall 30¢ Franklin Engraver: Joseph P. Pease 90¢ Washington Engraver: Joseph P. Pease

The examples shown are proofs of the 1861-1868 designs.
Presidents: Jan.1-Mar.3: James Buchanan · Mar.4-Dec.31: Abraham Lincoln.
Postmasters General: 1/1-2/11: Joseph Holt · 2/12-3/4: Horatio King · 3/5-12/31: M. Blair.
Domestic Letter Rate*: under 3000 mi. per ½ oz.: 3¢.
Domestic Letter Rate: over 3000 mi. per ½ oz.: 10¢ – Prepayment compulsory, stamp required.
Foreign Letter Rate: under 2500 mi. per ½ oz.: 10¢.
Foreign Letter Rate: over 2500 mi. per ½ oz.: 20¢ – except where otherwise adjusted by treaty.
Drop Letters: 1¢ – prepayment required after February 27.
Newspapers and Circulars up to 3 oz.: 1¢, with one added cent for each additional oz.
Carrier Fee (not available in all cities): 1¢.
Registry Fee: 5¢ – no return receipt to sender – paid in cash – stamp not required.
Admitted to the Union: Kansas on January 29, 1861.

Important Events in U.S. Postal History: The Pony Express officially quit delivering letters on Oct. 24, 1861, made partially obsolete by the completion of the trans-continental telegraph. From Nov. 1861 until the end of the year, the stamps of the 1851 issue were gradually demonetized by region.

* On May 1, 1861 the letter rate was 3¢ if it stayed East of the Rockies, and 10¢ if it crossed the Rockies, both regardless of distance, effectively eliminating the 3000 mi. distinction. This distinction was dropped as of July 1, 1863.
The following postage stamp varieties were first issued by the U.S. in 1861:

Designs of 1851-1860 – Perforated 15.5 – First Issued in 1861

Scott 18 – 1¢ Blue Franklin (Plate 12) – 1851 Design – Type I – EDU: Jan. 25, 1861.
Scott 20 – 1¢ Blue Franklin (Plate 11) – 1851 Design – Type II – EDU: Jan. 12, 1861.
Scott 20 – 1¢ Blue Franklin (Plate 12) – 1851 Design – Type II – EDU: Jan. 21, 1861.
Scott 22 – 1¢ Blue Franklin (Plate 11) – 1851 Design – Type IIIa – EKU: Dec. ?, 1860.
Scott 22 – 1¢ Blue Franklin (Plate 12) – 1851 Design – Type IIIa – EDU: Jan. 25, 1861.
Scott 30 – 5¢ Orange to deep orange brown Jefferson – Type II – EDU: May 8, 1861 – about 570,000 issued.

Designs of 1861-1867 · No Grills · Perf 12

Scott 63 – 1¢ Blue Franklin – EDU: Aug. 17 (off cover); Aug. 21, 1861 (on cover) – about 138 million issued.
Scott 63a – 1¢ Ultramarine Franklin.
Scott 63b – 1¢ Dark Blue Franklin.
Scott 64 – 3¢ Pink Washington – EDU: Aug. 17, 1861 (FDC) – about 100,000 issued.
Scott 64a – 3¢ Pigeon Blood Pink – Washington EDU: Aug. 21, 1861.
Scott 64b – 3¢ Rose Pink Washington – EDU: Aug. 17 (FDC), 1861.
Scott 65 – 3¢ Rose Washington – EDU: Aug. 19, 1861 – about 1.8 billion issued.
Scott 67 – 5¢ Buff Jefferson – EDU: Aug. 19, 1861 – about 175,000 issued.
Scott 67a – 5¢ Brown Yellow Jefferson – EDU: Aug. 21, 1861.
Scott 67b – 5¢ Olive Yellow Jefferson – EDU: Sep. 18, 1861.
Scott 68 – 10¢ Yellow Green Washington – EDU: Aug. 20, 1861 – about 27 million issued.
Scott 68a – 10¢ Dark Green Washington.
Scott 69 – 12¢ Black Washington – EDU: Aug. 30, 1861 – about 7.3 million issued.
The EDU of the 1861 24¢ is for the violet stamp on thin paper – see issues of 1862 for the red lilac Scott 70.
Scott 70b – 24¢ Steel Blue Washington – EDU: Sep. 21, 1861.
Scott 70c – 24¢ Violet Thin Paper Washington – EDU: Aug. 20, 1861.
Scott 70d – 24¢ Thin Paper – Pale Gray Lilac Washington – EDU: Sep. 10, 1861.
Scott 71 – 30¢ Orange Franklin – EDU: Aug. 20, 1861 – about 3.3 million issued.
Scott 72 – 90¢ Blue Washington – EDU: Nov. 27, 1861 – about 388,700 issued.

See also: Designs of the 1861-1868 Regular Issues

Commemoratives: The first Commemorative stamps were not issued until 1893.
Special Delivery: The first Special Delivery stamps were not issued until 1885.
Postage Dues: The first Postage Due Stamps were not issued until 1879.

Sidebar