A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, November 22, 2021

United States 19th Century: Most attractive stamps

U.S. 1898 Scott 292 $1 black
"Western Cattle in Storm"
Into the Deep Blue

Is this the most beautiful stamp ever issued by the United States during the classical stamp era? How about ever in the world? In 1934, the "Western Cattle in Storm" stamp was voted a close second by readers of Stamps magazine, just edged out by the Canadian "Bluenose". 

My example (above) thankfully does not show a heavy killer cancel.

And the design with the cattle caught in a storm? Iconic!

1897 "The Vanguard" by James McWhirter 
Western Highlands of Scotland

It turns out the original painting by James McWhirter depicts not the American West at all, but the Western Highlands of Scotland! 

Nevertheless, I agree it is an extremely attractive stamp. Should we look for other contenders in my 19th century U.S. collection? One has to remember, though, that I have a general WW 1840-1940 collection, and do not specialize in the U.S., although it is my home country. 

1847 Scott 2 10c black 
"George Washington"

This Scott 2 stamp, with a blue "PAID" cancel and ample margins, is very attractive indeed. 

1857 Scott 24 1c blue, Type V

The "large head" blue Franklins of 1851-57 are lovely, and offer the collector five types of cut or recut lines in the frame ($--$$$$). U.S. stamps during the 19th century (and also the first half of the 20th century) are all essentially engraved, and offer exquisite detail within the design. 

1861 Scott 69 12c black

Although the design and presentation is very important, certainly an unused or lightly cancelled specimen that is well centered enhances the appeal. This specimen does cut into the perfs at the bottom: not unusual for the era.

1862 Scott 70a 24c brown lilac

Let's admit it: a rarer or more valuable stamp is going to appear more attractive. That is why I am showing this 24c stamp, rather than the 3c rose in the set that has a 100x less CV. ;-)

1863 Scott 73 2c black
"Andrew Jackson"

The large head "Black Jack" stamp is iconic within the U.S. 19th century issues, and here is mine.

1869 Scott 113 2c brown
"Post Horse and Rider"

It is hard to get a well centered and lightly cancelled specimen within the 1869 set. Nevertheless, fairly attractive. Note the legs of the horse while galloping: a physical impossibility.

1869 Scott 119 15c brown & blue TII 
"Landing of Columbus"

Bi-colors are not common for U.S. 19th century stamps. 

1870 Scott 153 24c purple
"Gen. Winfield Scott"

Fancy Cancels by the NYC Foreign Mail Office (NYFM) : attractive or no?

1870 Scott 155 90c carmine
"Commodore O. H. Perry"

An example of an off center moderately cancelled specimen made attractive by the high denomination.

1873 Scott O61 7c dark green
State Department Official
"Edwin M. Stanton"

Official stamps used by the various departments of government- here the State Department. 

1890 Scott 219D 2c lake

I chose this 2c because I love the "lake" color, compared to the more typical "carmine" color.

1893 Scott 233 4c ultramarine
"Fleet of Columbus"

I must admit - I really like designs illustrating sailing ships.

1895 Scott 274a 50c red orange

An unusual or bold color stands out.

1898 Scott 292 $1 black
"Western Cattle in Storm"
Out of the Blue

For me, the "Western Cattle in Storm" stamp edges out the Scott 2 10c black "Washington" stamp as my current favorite. What is your favorite U.S. stamp? Favorite World stamp?

Note: "The Vanguard" 1897 painting illustration by James McWhirter is shown here for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Without a doubt ,my “Western Cattle in a Storm.” I had no idea about the source for the image, All of the Trans-Mississippi issues are splendid.

  2. For me the black Andrew Jackson is the most outstanding
    design,extremely fine engraved and printed.

  3. I will be interested to see what your choices are for US stamps released between 1900 and 1940!

  4. US - the 1871 internal revenue (R130 esp.) & the Persian Rugs
    WW - lots here, maybe the Austria Schwind B110 coach stamp
    But the Bluenose is hard to beat

  5. Hey Jim, I'll take the stamp that you passed by in favor of the Jackson 2c, since I've specialized in the 50+ shades of the 3c 1861, but my favorite that I own wasn't issued, but is still in many of the U.S. albums as #66, Lake. No way I know of to attach an image, but the Lake, which is actually 66TC3 now, re-indexed by Scott as a Trial Color Proof is the most beautiful impression of any stamp I've ever owned. Since you've always been a fan of beautiful engravings, you'd LOVE this one!!