Both the 2-cent Columbian Issue stamp and the 15-cent 1869 Pictorial Issue stamp were inspired by the same painting, "Landing of Columbus," by John Vanderlyn. Though Douglas Ronaldson engraved the frames for both stamps, there are differences. An interesting example is the ‘broken hat’ variety. In the regular stamp, the man immediately to Columbus’s left in the image has a solid form hat; in the variety, a small ‘v’ appears cut from the hat’s top. Given the style of the day, the variety might have been intentional. Philatelist Lester G. Brookman remarked, "Much amusement has been given collectors by the fact that this stamp shows Columbus with a beard whereas the one cent stamp, which purports to show Columbus one day earlier, shows him to be clean shaven!" [Brookman, Lester G. The 19th Century Postage Stamps of the United States, Vol. II. New York: H. L. Lindquist, 1947, p. 152.] The stamp is the most common of the entire issue. There are two major reasons for this. The first is that the stamp paid the first-class rate for domestic mail. The second is that a total of over two billion stamps were issued among all the denominations of the Columbian Issue, and seventy-two percent of these were 2-cent stamps.
Alexander T. Haimann, National Postal Museum
May 16, 2006
Scott Catalogue USA: 231
Museum ID: 1980.2493.1609