Franklin-Washington - Taming the Beast Part 5: 3c Type Identifiers

The FW Matrix that I have made with the previous 4 steps (Taming the Beast part 1 to 4) will identify your FW 90% of the time. But when we get to the 2c and 3c issues, we have to be able to identify type.

One of the confusing points about the Scott Catalog is it almost gives too many variations. I'm going to start with the 3c identifier first, because it's actually very simple.

There are 4 types. Type I and Type II are found only on flat plate and rotary printings, and type III and IV are found only on offset press.

Each of the 4 types has a unique identifier. So the point here is, you only need to check one thing to determine the type. Look at the Toga button. If the button has 5 lines in it, it's a Type I or II. If there is a dot in the middle of the center line, it's Type III or Type IV.

3c Type I - Small

The image above show the Toga Button of a Type I. Type II is very similar, but the lines are stronger. The green arrow indicates the Toga button, and the red arrow points to the 5th line in the toga rope, which will identify the Type I over Type II.

3c Type III Button - Small

The image above show the Toga Button of a Type III. Type IV is similar, thought the dot at center may be fainter in some Type IV examples.

So, armed with this bit of data, you now have narrowed the type by 50%. It's either going to be a Type I or Type II if it's not an offset printed issue. If it is, you know it's a Type III or IV.

You will then instantly be able to ID it as a type I if the 5th line in the toga rope is missing or incomplete. It often times looks like a thick blob of ink that reaches about 1/2 way and then is either scantly thin or not there at all. (from the left, these are the slightly diagonal lines at the base of Washington's throat the lead up to the button). If the rope lines are complete, it's a Type II.

For the offset printing, one need only look at the "PO" in postage at the top. (In fact, a very quick way to determine if it's a Type IV is to look here first. If the P and O touch (no line between them) it's a type IV. If they don't check the button... if it's got a dot in it, it's a Type III.

3c Type IV Postage - Small

Note in the image above there is no gap between the P and O and they are touching. This is a Type IV. Type III then, is with the full line between. The red arrow indicates where to look, but the gap where the two letters touch is just above the arrow tip (I didn't want to obscure the image by having it overlay into the area to be identified).

So let's do a quick recap on how fast you can ID a 3c Washington.
1. If the button has 5 lines in the button and the 5th line of the rope missing - It's a Type I
2. If the button has 5 lines in the button and all the lines in the rope are complete - It's a Type II
3. If the button has a dot in the center and the P and O of postage don't touch - It's a Type III
4. If the button has a dot in the center and the P and O of postage are touching - It's a Type IV

That's all you actually need to know in order to ID any 3c Washington. you don't actually even need to understand paper types. You can go straight to Typing the 3c and narrow down very fast which issue you have.

By looking at this thread you might get the impression that you can ID them by shade. I don't recommend this. Color is the least reliable identifier in any stamp, and is subject to great scrutiny. Also if photographed, color will never match what the actual item is, as effects of light, quality of camera, other influences when taking the photo (including humidity) can all affect how photographed color appears. This is then compounded by the screen used to view it. I have 4 monitors on my machine, all "calibrated" to color and brightness/contrast, and when I move a stamp image around the 4 different monitors, it appears slightly different on each one. So there is no need to use color to ID these.

I've decided to do 2c separately, as the thread is getting a bit long already. The 2c is where most people really tussle. And may need 2 threads (there is a word count limit, and I've hit it before on one of the other articles). So stay tuned.


  • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Scott , that. is a perfect use of these forums. I wish Hipstamp would clip your posts and re-post them under a heading for those looking to help decipher the GW's. I am being inspired to go back and look at mine. Thank you, thank you....Godspeed!
  • edited October 10 0 LikesVote Down
    Thanks for the kind words Rene.
    The Two cents are coming. Just hope I can get it into one post.

    After the FW's I'm thinking of doing the LBNs, or PRs... or open to other suggestions.
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