Did you ever question yourself – what exactly draws people to collect stamps? What is so special about them that makes people feel thrilled? Well, there is maybe one possible explanation – they represent some kind of unique artistic direction. I get that many people won’t understand this, but in fact, they are miniature pieces of art that represent our history.

On the other hand, they are antique items that are worth a lot of money. This means it motivates people to compete with others on who has the most valuable one. Those most devoted are philatelists who take such pride in owning golden grails among the postage stamps. We already mentioned how Germany is one of the countries with rich postage stamp history and the one that still prints very interesting and valuable stamps.

However, the US also has a great collection of very rare and valuable stamps to offer. In fact, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington keeps and displays a large collection of American stamps that were in possession of private stamp collectors until recently.

One of the most sought-after and valuable US stamps is 1 cent Benjamin Franklin, the interesting thing about this stamp is that its value varies with the date of printing and origin. Naturally, we felt the need to investigate this so here it is – the list of the most valuable 1 cent Benjamin Franklin Stamp value.

History Of The US Postal Service And Stamps

History Of The US Postal Service And Stamps

The postal service in the US was formed in the first half of the 17th century. The main purpose was communication between America and her first colonies of Britain and France. At that time they still didn’t print the stamps and the recipient of the mail paid the cost of postage, instead of the sender. They would pay the fee directly to the postman when he delivers.

There were two major problems with this system. First, collecting money significantly slowed the postman. The second thing is that some recipients occasionally refused to pay for the mail, which means the postman was obligated to return it back to the Post Office.

Benjamin Franklin and William Goddard were colonial postmasters in the middle of the 18th century. They managed the mail deliveries among the colonies and noticed that this system need a reformation and an upgrade. Luckily, they created the postal system which is the foundation of the postal system we use nowadays.

The US’s first postage stamp

In May 1840 the Great Britain postal service went through reforms and introduced the postage stamp system. This great change was well received all over the world, especially in the US. By the end of the 1840, the US introduced standardized rates and the use of postage stamps into their mailing system. On February 1, 1842, the US printed the first adhesive postage stamp that clients used for all mail. The design of this stamp was not so good, it was a 3¢ postage stamp with a drawing of George Washington.

Since America was a large country, they soon invented the provisional postmarks. There were eleven different provisions and every provision printed its own stamps between 1845 and 1846. These stamps are very rare and valuable nowadays. Alexandria’s provisional postmark that portrays a Blue Boy was sold for $1,18 million!

The first US national postage stamp was printed on July 1, 1847. In honor of their first postmaster, this stamp featured Benjamine Franklin’s portrait. The design was printed in red and brown color and the value was 5¢. The second national postal stamp was George Washington’s black 10¢ value postmark.

At that time, about 3,7 million of the 5¢ and about 1 million of the 10¢ stamps were sold. A lot of them survived, in used and not used condition. The demand for these stamps isn’t so high but you should know that a 5¢ used stamp in a good condition can be sold for around $500, and the 10¢ in a good condition (without the cancellation marking) can be worth around $1,500. On the other hand, these two stamps in unused condition can fetch you from  $3,000 up to $20,000.

The Civil War and the creation of new national postage stamps

However, the postage stamp that is our main topic in this article was created after the civil war in America. In April 1861 all national postage stamps were returned to Washington D.C., and in May most of them were withdrawn and destroyed.

The new ones were printed with the letters “U S” in their design so people can easily recognize them from the old ones. Also, all stamps had their values expressed in Arabic numerals such as 1¢, 3¢, 5¢, 10¢, 12¢, 24¢, 30¢ and 90¢ stamps.

At this time the post officials were concerned about the reuse of postage stamps so they adopted grill printing. The grill was a device that featured a tiny pyramidal bump pattern that would emboss the stamp. This was very helpful since the ink that was used to cancel the post stamp would soak in more deeply, and couldn’t be cleaned off. There were eleven types of the grill in use, depending on the size and shape. The grilled stamps are golden grails of US philately.

The United States Benjamine Franklin 1¢ Z grill stamp is one of the rarest U.S. stamps, there are only two known to exist. This 1-cent Franklin stamp was designed by James Macdonough of the National Bank Note Company. The image of Franklin depicted on the stamp was printed in blue. Also, a 15¢ stamp with the Z grill pattern was discovered and there are also only two examples available.

The List Of The Most Valuable 1 Cent Benjamin Franklin Stamp Value

History Of The US Postal Service And Stamps (1)

One of the most prominent Founding Fathers of the US nation was Benjamin Franklin. Naturally, he has been placed in many political roles and official positions during his life. However, as you noticed from the text above, he was mostly praised for the evolution of the postal system in the United States.

Since he was one of the most important men in US history logically he was the subject of many portraits, sculptures, coins, paper money, and postage stamps. One of the main reasons why he was commemorated on so many postage stamp designs was his long relationship with the Post Office.

There are numerous stamps that feature the same design of the portrait of Ben Franklin, however, every single one has a different value. Some are extremely rare, yet some are worth less than a dollar. Unfortunately, if you aren’t very experienced and don’t have the eye for the details, they may all look the same to you.

The main difference is in the printing method, color shades, dimensions, and date of origin. In the table below I will try to explain to you the differences as much as I can. Also, you’ll be able to see their value estimation, and find out if and where are they available for purchase.

  Scott # Year Printing Methode Dimensions Color Variations Value
Benjamine Franklin 1 cent Z Grill #85A 1868 Z grill embossed pattern 11x14mm

Shorther and narrow compared to standard Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Blue Sold for $900,000
Current value $3 million
There is only 2 in the world and not available for purchase
Benjamine Franklin 1 cent Stamp #596 1923 Rotary Press 19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Green Sold for $190,000

Available for purchase here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #316 1908 Flate Plate

It has double-lined watermark

19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Blue-green Estimated value $115,000 for single stamp

No sale is recorded

Available here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #594 1923 Rotary Press 19.75×22.25mm

Wider than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Green Estimated value is around $35,000

Sold for $10,000

Available here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp Unknown 1936 Engraved

It has double-lined watermark

19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Pale green Estimated value is unknown

Sold for $25,000

Available here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #192 1880 Special printing 19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Ultramarine Estimated value is $16,000 – $23,000

No purchase recorded

Available for purchase here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #21 1857 Engraved 19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Blue Estimated value $11,000

Sold for $6,195

Available for purchase here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #167 1857 Special printing on wove paper 19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Bright blue Estimated value $7,600 – $9,500

No sales are recorded

Available for purchase here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #318 1908 Flate Plate

It has double-lined watermark

19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Blue-green Estimated value $ 6,000 – $8,000

No sales are recorded yet

Available for purchase here

Benjamin Franklin 1 cent Stamp #19 1857 Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process 19.25×22.5 mm

Taller than first Ben Franklin 1 cent stamp

Deep blue Estimated value $4,500 – $5,750

No sales recorded yet

Available for purchase here

How To Identify A Rare 1 Cent Benjamine Franklin Postage Stamp

Identify A Rare 1 Cent Benjamine Franklin Postage Stamp

Since there are billions of different 1 cent Benjamin Franklin stamps available on the market. When I say billions I literally mean billions, since #522 Benjamine Franklin’s 1 cent stamp was printed in 4 billion pieces, and that is just one model.

Therefore, you need to know what to look for when searching for those rare #594 and #596 models. Why just these two models?

Well because they are the ones that can still be found, they are valuable, and there are records of them actually being sold. Here is the list of the main characteristics of these two different yet very similar postage stamps.

  • Printing method – Make sure you inspect your stamp well. Your research should start at the back of your stamp. Take a good look and if you notice traces of green paint that means the printing method was a flat plate. Remember #594 and #596 are always printed with the rotary method!
  • Coil stamp waste – Check for vertical and horizontal coil stamps, and check if the image is well centered. All stamps that were produced after 1922 had improved centering to reduce stamp waste.
  • Perforations – You must measure precisely! The #594, has a gauge of 11 perforations in both dimensions. The printed design of the coil waste stamp is slightly wider in #594 than in #596. An exact difference in width is less than one millimeter, meaning that #596 has 10 ½ gauge in the width.

Where can I look for Benjamine Franklin’s 1 cent stamps?

Trying to find a rare valuable postage stamp, no matter which sought-after model you are after is mission almost impossible. Moreover, looking for a rare Benjamine Franklin 1 cent stamp among all those billions of already printed ones is like trying to find the needle in a haystack.

If you know your grandparents have a large collection of pre-war and war-dated mail make sure you thoroughly check them. You might not find the Benjamine Franklin stamp, but you can come across some other very valuable stamps that originate from the US and that time.

However, if you are determined to own a rare Benjamine Franklin 1 cent stamp you can always purchase it on the Internet. Look for specialized web pages such as USPhila, Etsy, eBay, Live Auctioneers, and many more. Also, join some philatelist community or philatelic trader society.


Which Benjamine Franklin 1 cent stamps are rare?

There are a few models of this postage stamp that are very rare finds and very valuable. The first one is Benjamine Franklin 1 cent #85A Grill Z stamp, there are only two specimens discovered until today.

The second one is Benjamine Franklin 1 cent stamp #596. Experts presume that there are around 1000 copies available, yet they only discovered 15 used ones. The third rare Benjamine Franklin 1 cent stamp is #594. The estimation is that this one was issued in 10,000 copies. Until today, only 17 unused and 88 used copies are found.

Are used stamps still valuable?

That mainly depends on their condition, as well as if there is an unused copy available, which is logically more valuable and reduces the value of the used one. However, in some cases like with issue #596 only used copies are found, and they still reach a very high-value tag.

What is the most rarest and valuable 1 cent stamp?

The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta was sold in a New York auction for $9.5 million. That is the price for a single stamp! Experts assumed that this stamp can even reach $20 million. The owner is anonymous, and the stamp can’t be seen anywhere.

Which places are the best for selling vintage postage stamps?

Until now you realized that vintage stamps can hold great value. There are two different markets if we can say so. The stamps that are issued before the 1930s and the stamps that are issued after the 1930s. Keep in mind that the year of production does not necessarily mean higher value.

If you want to get your stamps valued and sell them the best places to do so are

Should You Invest In Rare Postage Stamps?

There are a number of reasons why you should start collecting and investing money in vintage stamps. As you know some extraordinary rare pieces already achieve six-figure prices, and as time goes by, their value will only increase.

Stamps are a reasonable alternative for a good investment if you don’t like spending your money on company shares, gold, art pieces, or anything like that. The only thing that you’ll need, besides the money, is good storage with the optimal condition or a vault in the bank where you will keep your precious investment.

If you are at the beginning of your philatelist career don’t fret to ask for advice in the comment section below. On the other hand, if you are well experienced in this field, make sure you share some good knowledge with the rest of us.

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