Newspaper Stamps

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Prior to the issuance of the first newspaper stamps, the distribution of newspapers and periodicals had always been undertaken by the post office at rates that did not pay for the expense of the service, in the intention of encouraging these publications, the Department always found a great rival in the express companies.
Those sent by the express companies being transferred at the depot, often finished their journey before the government mails could be made up and started.
This service assisted the express companies in those violations of the postal laws which each year the Postmaster General called to the attention of Congress, and Congress endeavored to reach by new laws. The government got the expensive service, the express companies the paying business partly because of their more liberal rates, but particularly because of their more expeditious service.

The attempt was therefore made to so frame the law that the post office might successfully compete for the carriage of newspapers. The Act of the XXXVII Congress, III Session, Chapter 71, Section 38, approved the 3rd of March, 1863 reads:
“And be it further enacted that the Postmaster General may, from time to time, provide by order the rates and terms upon which route agents may receive and deliver, at the mail car or steamer, packages of newspapers and periodicals, delivered to them for that purpose by the publishers or any news agent in charge thereof, and not received from or designed for delivery at any post office.”

The report of the Postmaster General dated November 15th, 1865, states:
“New stamps have been adopted of the denominations of 5, 10, and 25 cents for prepaying postage on packages of newspapers forwarded by publishers or news dealers under the authority of law, whereby a revenue will be secured, hitherto lost to the Department.”

The initial printing included
5c – 20,140
10c – 215,600
25c – 31,488
In 1868-69 another 35,420 of the 5c were printed (PR4)

1865 PR1 & PR1a
Typographed and Embossed Unwmk.
Thin hard paper without gum
Size of design: 51 x 95 mm Perf. 12

The forgers of note included, Fournier, Senf Bros. Kohl & Co. and Freidl of France and possibly a few less talented forgers.

PR2 & PR3

PR 3a


2 common forgeries with cancels of “New York” & “Boston” to increase their value.
As these were used to bundle newsprint, they were generally thrown out with the wrapper after use.
However virtually all of these were cancelled by hand and not stamped.

This would be a very good forgery were it not for the “LICHTDRUCK” imprint.

2 more forgeries with fake cancel & LICHTDRUCK

A pair from the same forger – lots of incorrect details.
Lettering is noticeably different.
Based on the accent on the “E” of FACSIMILE, they may be of French origin (Fournier?)

PR 4 & PR 5

Right, PR 5 1875 Reprint
Printed by the Continental Bank Note Co. using the original National Bank Note Co. plates
1875 Perf. 12
Hard White paper, without gum
5c White Border, 10c and 25c Colored Border


Most forgeries are fairly easy to spot.
The embossing id lacking, particularly in the head.
The letters are not distinct, particularly the bottom ones which should be clearly readable.

The forgery on the left is a good one. Originally it would have had the letters “Lichtdruck” (shown earlier above) above the head but this was removed. The paper type and lack of embossing would be the keys.
The one on the right is of poor quality and thankfully noted (Fac-Simile) as such.

The next forgery is by far the most excellent one I have seen and it would fool many collectors

It lacks in overall sharpness, the bottom lettering is difficult to read.
The background, particularly around the head is lacking.

PR 6 & 7 – 1875 Reprints

Only an expert with samples to test the paper and other minute variations would be able to distinguish these.

Other Forgeries

Many forgeries were printed in various colors and offered as “rare varieties”

PR 8

This was the last of this series.
It can be distinguished from the PR 5 by the shading in the frame.

Left PR 5, right PR 8