Identification guide for design numbers on 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 click here.

busts of Columbus and Liberty X
design U76
= Scott #U348 (printed in deep blue on white paper). For a guide to identifying the various dies, click here.
 
Mount Vernon X
design U95
= Scott #U523 (printed in olive-green on white paper)
 
Postal Savings
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)

design U69

design U77

design U85

design U96
 
twice
(go to Question 7 for further details)

design U23

design U34

design U35

design U90

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)

design U69

design U77
 
 
an oval or circle
(go to Question 6 for further details)

design U85

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 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).
design U69
 
 
green 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).
design U77


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 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).
design U85
 
 
no 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
design U96


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)

design U23

design U34

design U35

design U92
 
no 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.
design U90
 


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)

design U23

design U34

design U35
 
 
cent 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.
design U92
 


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 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).
design U34
 
is more or less parallel with the oval
(go to Question 10 for further details)

design U23

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   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.
design U35
 
 
no,
there is a very slight angle

  
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).
design U23


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)

design U10
 
 
no You have identified design U11, printed in blue
and shared by Scott #s U24 (amber paper) and W25 (manila; rare).

design U11


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 You have identified design U10, printed in blue on orange paper and diagnostic for Scott #U23.
design U10
 
 
no 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).
design U9


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 You have identified design UO17, printed in red and shared by Scott #s UO44 (white paper), UO45 (amber), UO45A (orange), and WO46 (manila).
design UO17
 
 
no, there is a slight angle 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).
design UO8

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