More on U.S. Coil Waste

More on U.S. Coil Waste
By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.

In an earlier column we spoke about the coil waste issues. Now we’ll conclude the story as we talk about the 1923 and 1924 coil waste issues which have been assigned the Scott Catalogue numbers of 578-9 and 594-6.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing being elated at the savings accrued a few years earlier when they applied the horizontal perforation 11 to some rotary press 170 subject coil sheets that had already received the vertical perforation 10, decided to put their money saving technique to good use once again.

The first two stamps to receive the treatment this time were the 1¢ Franklin and 2¢ Washington designs of 1923, unwatermarked. They were produced from the 170 subject horizontal coil plates which had been put to use for the rotary coils, Scott #s 597 and 599.

Beware of spurious perforations running horizontally for the expert faker can easily alter Scott #s 597 and 599. The simplest means of detection is to take a normal fl at plate stamp perforated 11 and match up the perforations to these coil waste stamps. The top and bottom holes must match exactly. Another key point is the gum if the stamp is unused. The coil gum is very smooth and fl at and there is almost always a horizontal gum skip running across the stamp. The coil waste sheets did not receive these gum breakers. So if someone offers you a purported Scott #578 or 579 with a horizontal gum skip, avoid it at any cost.

These two stamps are extremely difficult to find well centered with any kind of margins to speak of. [Editor’s Note: However, a very nice copy of both No. 578 and No. 595 are shown here.] A true very fi ne example can easily fetch at least double the Scott Catalogue value while an extremely fi ne example can cost the collector four or  five times the book value. The latter must display nice margins all around. Such  outstanding copies are to be found very rarely.

Once again, in 1924, the Bureau decided to make use of their scrap coil waste sheets. There is one major difference in these stamps and their earlier counterparts and that is that this time the coil waste sheets had not been perforated previously. When it came time to perforate them prior to their issue, they were placed on the flat plate perforator and received the 11 x 11 gauge.

The Bureau did not consider these stamps to be a different issue thus no formal nnouncement was made before their release. We owe the discovery of the 1¢ stamp (Scott #594) to a sharp-eyed philatelist who thought that the stamps looked a bit different. Most, if not all, of the one-centers originated in the Madison Square Station Post Office in New York. Since some 60 sheets of 170 subjects were released (or 10,200 stamps) and less than three dozen are accounted for today. The possibility of finding one of these rarities on a cover or post card is still not impossible some 80 years later.

The 2¢ stamp (Scott #595) had been discovered while still on sale at the Philadelphia and New York City post offi ces. While a good number of these were set aside the centering was so off center that ample supplies were not laid in. The estimated printing total of 100,000 examples is not inconsiderable.

Without a doubt the rarest 20th century stamp of the U.S. is Scott #596, also the result of coil waste. It was discovered in 1962, almost 40 years after its issuance. This 1¢ Franklin was printed from vertical coil waste, not the horizontal coil waste of the four stamps just spoken about. The difference between the Scott #s 594 and 596 is in the measurements. The former measures 19 ¾ mm x 22 ¼ mm while the latter measures 19 ¼ mm x 22 ½ mm. As of this date just 13 examples are known. Five carry a machine cancel and the others are precancelled Kansas City, MO. No unused example has been certified. The Bureau did not release any production figures for this rarity but educated guesses place the number at 10,000. Opportunities abound in this series of coil waste stamps. Perhaps you’ll be the next fortunate collector to make a major discovery.