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Navigating the challenge of re-issued stamps

Let me start by explaining what a re-issued stamp is.

Identifying an exact stamp can be a bit tricky. Particularly if you are dealing with 19th century stamps as I do often. And the problem mostly stems from the fact that the US postal service issued stamps in one year. And then a few years later issued the same stamp with some very small changes.

It can be tricky to recognize the difference between the stamps. But it is also very important because sometimes one of the two stamps, whether it be the original or the re-issue, can be significantly more valuable than the other.


This problem of identifying stamps correctly can incur financial risk. Because it is possible to get a stamp that has been misidentifed as the wrong one.

In this article I am going to take a look at some of the common re-issues and how to identify the differences between them.

(112, 123 and 133)

Let's take a look at three stamps. These two stamps are Scott #112 and #123. They are almost identical. The one on the left is 112 and it was issued in 1869 then it was re-issued in 1875 and is Scott #123. On the right.

And to amplify the problem this same design stamp was re-issued again in 1880 and is Scott # 133. (I don't have one of those)



The design is exactly the same. So, how do you tell the difference between the three issues?

In the case of this particular stamp the Scott 112 is usually easy to identify. It is a grilled stamp. Flipping it over reveals this. See the grill on it? Hey and look. Can you see the pencil writing on that stamp? Somebody, at some point in the past mis-identified this stamp as Scott 114. But it is a 112.



Okay, we can easily identify Scott 112. But this still leaves us the problem of figuring the difference between the Scott #123 (1875 ) and Scott #133 (1880).

This problem is a little bit trickier. The difference between these two stamps is the paper they were printed on. The 123 was printed on hard white paper. And the 133 was printed on soft porous paper. It can be a bit tricky telling the difference between those two and mistakes are often made. But that's what we have to work with in this case.

In Summary:

Scott #112: Grill on back
Scott #123: No grill, hard white paper
Scott #133 No grill, soft porous paper


Let's look at some more re-issues and how to differentiate between them.

This is the Andrew Jackson 2c stamp. It is often referred to as "The Black Jack".

This stamp design was issued five different times! So, it can be a bit tricky to identify it correctly.

The issues are Scott: 73, 84, 85b, 87 and 93.

And again, grills play a factor in determining which stamp you have. But in this case it is a bit different. The Scott 73 has no grill on the back. So, no grill then it is the 73. But if it has a grill it could be any of the other four. And the way we determine which one is by the type of grill. Each issued stamp has a different grill pattern!

This next picture shows the back of a Scott #93. You can see the grill pattern.


In Summary:

Grills are a series of embossed impressions on the stamps. They form a rectangle. Here are the sizes of these grills:

Stamp Grill Type Grill size in MM Number of Points
Scott #73 No Grill n/a n/a
Scott # 84 D 12x14 mm 15 x 17 to 18
Scott #87 E 11x13 mm 14 x 15 to 17
Scott #93 F 9x13 mm 11 to 12 x 15 to 17
Scott # 85b Z 11x14 mm 13 to 14 x 18

If you are unfamiliar with grills and want to learn more I have more about Grills on Stamps here



A Note from Will: I am going to be expanding this article to cover more re-issued stamps. And my plan is to do a series of articles that covers all reissues. So, stay tuned, and book mark this page. Otherwise, do your research when purchasing and identifying stamps. The reissues can be a real sticking point. Misidentifying a stamp can mean a very large disparity in its valuation.