Identification guide for design numbers on United States stamped envelopes, wrappers, and letter sheets
three cents

(updated 6 March 2015)



There are 21 designs of indicia whose face value is three cents. One of these designs is distinctive enough that it can be identified by examining the image immediately below. The remaining 20 designs feature a bust of George Washington (16 designs), a pony express rider and a train (2), or a large numeral inside an oval (2).
   For a key to the Pony Express rider and train designs click here.
   For a key to the Washington designs click here.
   For a key to the large numeral designs click here.

Mount Vernon
design U95
 =  Scott #U526 (printed in violet on white paper)


- - - - -
Key to designs that show a pony express rider and train:
Question 1: How many lines immediately below the word "Postage"? (choose an answer below)

     one You have identified design U57, printed in red on white paper and diagnostic for Scott #U218, or printed in green on white paper and diagnostic for Scott #219.
design U57
 
 
     two You have identified design U58, printed in red on white paper and diagnostic for Scott #U220 (not regularly issued), or printed in green on white paper and diagnostic for Scott #221.
design U58


- - - - -
Key to designs that show a bust of Washington:
Question 1: Do the words "War Dept" appear near the top of the design? (choose an answer below)

     yes (go to Question 15)
 
     no (go to Question 2)


Question 2: How does the face value of the envelope appear? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#1) you answered)

     only as the words "three cents" (go to Question 3)
design U1

design U2

design U3

design U4

design U5

design U12
 
     as the numeral "3" (either once or twice) and sometimes as the words "three cents" also (go to Question 8)
design U13

design U21

design U25

design U44

design U45

design U46

design U93

design U97
 


Question 3: Are the words "three cents" enclosed in a "label"? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#2) you answered)

     no You have identified design U12, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U26 (white paper) and U27 (buff).
design U12
 
     yes (go to Question 4)
design U1

design U2

design U3

design U4

design U5
 


Question 4: Does the label have smoothly curved ends? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#3) you answered)

     yes (go to Question 5)
design U1

design U5
 
     no, they are straight or angled (go to Question 6)
design U2

design U3

design U4


Question 5: Do the ends of the labels enclose the words "three" and "cents" tightly? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#4) you answered)

     yes, the words almost touch the ends of the labels You have identified design U1, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U1 (white paper) and U2 (buff).
design U1
 
 
     no, there is as much space between the words and the ends of the labels as there is between the letters You have identified design U5, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U9 (white paper) and U10 (buff).
design U5
 


Question 6: What is the shape of the ends of the label? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#4) you answered)

     straight (go to Question 7)
design U2

design U4
 
     angled You have identified design U3, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U5 (white paper) and U6 (buff).
design U3


Question 7: Do the ends of the labels enclose the words "three" and "cents" tightly? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#6) you answered)

     yes, the words almost touch the ends of the labels You have identified design U2, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U3 (white paper) and U4 (buff).
design U2
 
 
     no, there is at least as much space between the words and the ends of the labels as there is between the letters You have identified design U4, printed in red and shared by Scott #s U7 (white paper) and U8 (buff).
design U4
 


Question 8: How many times does the numeral "3" appear? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#2) you answered)

     once You have identified design U97, printed in dark violet and shared by Scott #s U534 (die 4), U534a (die 1), U534b (die 2), U534c (die 3), and U534d (die 5).
design U97
 
     twice (go to Question 9)
design U13

design U21

design U25

design U44

design U45

design U46

design U93


Question 9: Are the numerals "3" enclosed (by a circle or oval) or not? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#8) you answered)

     yes, they are enclosed (go to Question 10)
design U13

design U25

design U44

design U45

design U46

design U93
 
     no, they are not enclosed You have identified design U21, printed in pink and shared by Scott #s U58 (white paper) and U59 (buff), or printed in brown and shared by Scott #s U60 (white paper) and U61 (buff).
design U21


Question 10: Are the numerals "3" enclosed in a circle or in an oval? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#9) you answered)

     in a circle (go to Question 11)
design U13

design U25

design U93
 
     in an oval (go to Question 13)
design U44

design U45

design U46


Question 11: Where are the circles located? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#10) you answered)

     in the lower half of the design You have identified design U93, printed in purple on white paper and shared by Scott #s U436 (die 1), U436e (die 7), and U436f (die 9); or printed in dark violet on white paper and shared by Scott #s U436a (die 1), U436b (die 5), U436c (die 6), and U436d (die 7); or printed in carmine (erroneously) and shared by Scott #s U436g (die 1) and U436h (die 5); or printed in purple on amber paper and shared by Scott #s U437 (die 1), U437e (die 7), and U437f (die 9); or printed in dark violet on amber paper and shared by Scott #s U437a (die 1), U437b (die 5), U437c (die 6), and U437d (die 7); or printed in carmine (erroneously) on amber paper and diagnostic for Scott #U437g (die 5); or printed in black (erroneously) on amber paper and diagnostic for Scott #U437h (die 1); or printed in dark violet on oriental buff paper and shared by Scott #s U438 (die 1), U438a (die 5), U438b (die 6), and U438c (die 7); or printed in purple on blue paper and shared by Scott #s U439 (die 1), U439e (die 7), and U439f (die 9); or printed in dark violet on blue paper and shared by Scott #s U439a (die 1), U439b (die 5), U439c (die 6), and U439d (die 7); or printed in carmine (erroneously) on blue paper and diagnostic for Scott #U439g (die 5).
design U93
 
 
     halfway between the top and bottom of the design (go to Question 12)
design U13

design U25


Question 12: Is the design printed in green or pink? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#11) you answered)

     green You have identified design U25, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U82 (white paper), U83 (amber), and U84 (cream), or printed in brown (erroneously) on white paper and diagnostic for Scott #U82a.
design U25
 
 
     pink You have identified design U13, printed in pink and shared by Scott #s U34 (white paper), U35 (buff), U36 (blue), and U37 (orange; not regularly issued).
design U13
 


Question 13: Are the two crescent-shaped portions of the numeral "3" relatively thin or thick? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#10) you answered)

     thin   You have identified design U44, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U159 (white paper), U160 (amber), U161 (cream), and U162 (blue; not regularly issued).
design U44
 
 
     thick  
     (go to Question 14)

design U45

design U46


Question 14: Does the knot on the queue at the back of the neck project as a triangle? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#13) you answered)

     yes You have identified design U46, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U168 (white paper), U169 (amber), U170 (blue; rare), and U171 (fawn; rare).
design U46
 
 
     no You have identified design U45, printed in green and shared by Scott #s U163 (white paper), U164 (amber), U165 (cream), U166 (blue), and U167 (fawn).
design U45
 


Question 15: Does the queue project below the bust? (choose an answer below or return to the previous question (#1) you answered)

     yes You have identified design UO10, printed in dark red and shared by Scott #s UO20 (white paper), UO21 (amber), and UO22 (cream), or printed in vermilion and shared by Scott #s UO34 (white paper), UO35 (amber), and UO36 (cream).
design UO10
 
 
     no You have identified design UO19, printed in red and shared by Scott #s UO51 (white paper), UO52 (amber), UO53 (cream), UO54 (blue), and UO55 (fawn).
design UO19
 


- - - - -
Key to designs that show a large numeral in an oval:
Question 1: How high is the numeral 3? (choose an answer below)

     9 mm You have identified design UO2, printed in black and shared by Scott #s UO2 (lemon paper) and UO3 (white).
design UO2
 
     91/4 mm You have identified design UO5, printed in black and shared by Scott #s UO7 (lemon paper), UO8 (white), UO9 (amber), and U10 (blue), or printed in blue and diagnostic for UO11 (blue paper).
design UO5

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