Identification guide for design numbers of United States stamped envelopes, wrappers, and letter sheets
one cent


There are 17 designs of indicia whose face value (i.e., before any surcharge has been added) is one cent. Three of the 17 designs are distinctive enough that they can be identified by examining the images immediately below. The remaining 14 designs feature a bust of Benjamin Franklin. For a key to the Franklin designs, shown below, click here.

Busts of Columbus and Liberty
stamp image
design U76
= Scott #U348 (printed in deep blue on white paper). For a guide to identifying the various dies, click here.
 
Mount Vernon
stamp image
design U95
= Scott #U523 (printed in olive-green on white paper)
 
Postal Savings
stamp image
design UO25
printed in green and shared by Scott #s UO70 (white paper) and UO71 (oriental buff)

Key to designs that show a bust of Benjamin Franklin

Question 1: Do the words "WAR DEPT" appear near the top of the design?

no (go to Question 2)    yes (go to Question 13)

Question 2: Which way (from your perspective, not Franklin's) is the bust of Benjamin Franklin facing?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#1) you answered).

left (go to Question 3)    right (go to Question 11)

Question 3: How many times does the numeral "1" appear on the stamp?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#2) you answered)

once
(go to Question 4
for further details)
stamp image
design U69
stamp image
design U77
stamp image
design U85
stamp image
design U96
 
twice
(go to Question 7
for further details)
stamp image
design U23
stamp image
design U34
stamp image
design U35
stamp image
design U90
stamp image
design U92
 


Question 4: What is the numeral "1" enclosed by?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#3) you answered)

a shield
(go to Question 5
for further details)
stamp image
design U69
stamp image
design U77
 
 
an oval or circle
(go to Question 6
for further details)
stamp image
design U85
stamp image
design U96


Question 5: What is the color of the design?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#4) you answered)

blue or dark blue
stamp image
design U69
You have identified design U69, printed in blue and shared by Scott #s U294 (white paper), U296 (amber), U298 (oriental buff; not regularly issued), U299 (blue; not regularly issued), U300 (manila), W301 (manila), and U304 (amber-manila); or printed in dark blue and shared by Scott #s U295 (white paper), U297 (amber), U302 (manila), and W303 (manila).
 
green
stamp image
design U77
You have identified design U77, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U352 (white paper), U353 (amber), U354 (oriental buff), U355 (blue), U356 (manila), and W357 (manila).


Question 6: Are Franklin's birth and death dates (1708–1790) shown?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#4) you answered)

yes
stamp image
design U85
You have identified design U85, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U379 (white paper), U380 (amber), U381 (oriental buff), U382 (blue), U383 (manila), and W384 (manila).  
 
no
stamp image
design U96
You have identified design U96, printed in green on white paper and shared by Scott #s U532 (die 1), U532a (die 2), and U532b (die 3). For a guide to identifying the various dies, click here


Question 7: Is the numeral "1" enclosed (either by a circle or by an oval)?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#3) you answered)

yes
(go to Question 8
for further details)
stamp image
design U23
stamp image
design U34
stamp image
design U35
stamp image
design U92
no
stamp image
design U90
You have identified design U90, printed in green on white paper and shared by Scott #s U400 (die 1), U400a (die 2), U400b (die 3), and U400c (die 4); or printed in green on amber paper and shared by Scott #s U401 (die 1), U401a (die 2), U401b (die 3), and U401c (die 4); or printed in green on oriental buff paper and shared by Scott #s U402 (die 1), U402a (die 2), U402b (die 3), and U402c (die 4); or printed in green on blue paper and shared by Scott #s U403 (die 1), U403a (die 2), U403b (die 3), and U403c (die 4); or printed in green on manila paper and shared by Scott #s U404 (die 1) and U404a (die 3); or printed in green on a manila wrapper and shared by Scott #s W405 (design 1), W405a (die 2), W405b (die 3), and W405c (die r). For a guide to identifying the various dies, click here.


Question 8: What word(s) designating the denomination appear?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#7) you answered)


one cent
(go to Question 9
for further details)
stamp image
design U23
stamp image
design U34
stamp image
design U35
 
cent
stamp image
design U92
You have identified design U92, printed in green on white paper and shared by Scott #s U420 (die 1), U420a (die 2), U420b (die 3), U420c (die 4), and U420d (die 5); or printed in green on amber paper and shared by Scott #s U421 (die 1), U421a (die 2), U421b (die 3), U421c (die 4), and U421d (die 5); or printed in green on oriental buff paper and shared by Scott #s U422 (die 1) and U422a (die 4); or printed in green on blue paper and shared by Scott #s U423 (die 1), U423a (die 3), U423b (die 4), and U423c (die 5); or printed in green on unglazed manila paper and diagnostic for Scott #U424 (die 1); or printed in green on an unglazed manila wrapper and shared by W425 (die 1) and W425a (die 3); or printed in green on glazed brown paper and diagnostic for Scott #U426 (die 1); or printed in green on a glazed brown wrapper and diagnostic for Scott #W427 (die 1); or printed in green on the unglazed side of a glazed brown wrapper and diagnostic for Scott #W427a (die 1); or printed in green on unglazed brown paper and diagnostic for Scott #U428 (die 1); or printed in green on an unglazed brown wrapper and diagnostic for Scott #W428A (die 1). For a guide to identifying the various dies, click here.


Question 9: Does the back of the bust clearly point to the inner oval that encloses the bust, or is it more or less parallel with the oval (either straight or with a slight angle)?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#8) you answered)

points to the oval
stamp image
design U34
You have identified design U34, printed in dark blue and shared by Scott #s U108 (white paper), U109 (amber), U110 (cream; not regularly issued), U111 (orange), and W112 (manila); or printed in light blue and shared by Scott #s U108a (white paper) and U111a (orange).
is more or less parallel with the oval
(go to Question 10 for further details)
stamp image
design U23
stamp image
design U35


Question 10: Is the back of the bust straight?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#9) you answered)

yes
stamp image
stamp image
design U35
You have identified design U35, printed in light blue and shared by Scott #s U113 (white paper), U114 (amber), U116 (orange), U117 (blue), U118 (fawn), U119 (manila), W120 (manila), and U121 (amber manila); or printed in dark blue and shared by Scott #s U113a (white paper), U114a (amber), U115a (cream), U116a (orange), and U120a (manila); or printed in blue on cream paper and diagnostic for Scott #U115.
 
no,
there is a very slight angle

  stamp image
stamp image
design U23
You have identified design U23, printed in blue and shared by Scott #s U74 (white paper), U75 (amber), U76 (orange), and W77 (manila); or printed in ultramarine and shared by Scott #s U74a (white paper) and U75a (amber).


Question 11: Is there a period at the end of the word "postage"?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#2) you answered)

yes
(go to Question 12 for further details)
stamp image
design U10
stamp image
design U9
no
stamp image
design U11
You have identified design U11, printed in blue
and shared by Scott #s U24 (amber paper) and W25 (manila; rare).


Question 12: Does the lower front tip of Franklin's bust touch the inner oval of the design?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#11) you answered)

yes
stamp image
design U10
You have identified design U10, printed in blue on orange paper<br>and diagnostic for Scott #U23.
 
no
stamp image
design U9
You have identified design U9, printed in blue and shared by
Scott #s W18B (white paper; rare), U19 (buff), W20 (buff), W21 (manila),
U21A (orange; rare, and W22 (orange; rare).


Question 13: Is the back of the bust more or less straight?
(choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#1) you answered)

yes
stamp image
design UO17
You have identified design UO17, printed in red and shared by Scott #s UO44 (white paper), UO45 (amber), UO45A (orange), and WO46 (manila).
 
no, there is a slight angle
stamp image
design UO8
You have identified design UO8, printed in dark red and shared by Scott #s UO18 (white paper) and UO18A (manila); or printed in vermilion and shared by UO30 (white paper) and UO31 (manila).

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