The Types of the Two Cent Triangle of 1894 - 1898

The 2¢ Washington of the First Bureau Issues of 1894 were retouched in the area of the triangles, resulting in three distinct varieties. These varieties are listed as Types I, II and III. There is a fourth type, listed as Type IV, with the same characteristics as the Type III in the area of the triangles, but with many other areas of the design recut. The Type IV stamps are listed as 279b and sub-varieties.

Distinguishing the type of triangle on this stamp is relatively straightforward and should not present a problem. Distinguishing the Type III from the Type IV stamps can be a little more difficult, but becomes easier with practice.

Side-by-Side Comparison of the Triangle Types of the Two Cent Washington of 1894-1898
Type I
Solid Lines Through Triangle Frame

The horizontal lines are solid all the way through the triangle frame. The same is true for the right triangle.

Type II
Lighter Lines Through Triangle Frame

As Type I, the lines run through the triangle frame, but get noticeably thinner inside the triangle proper. The same is true for the right triangle.

Types III & IV
No Lines Through Triangle Frame

There is an absence of lines in the frame surrounding the triangle. The same is true for the right triangle.

Six Areas that Distinguish Types III and IV of the 2¢ Triangle
Area on Map Part of Design 267 Type III 279b Type IV
1 Line in Hair line is short line has been lengthened
2 Toga Button button is taller than wide button is wider than tall
3 Dots in Ear dots are weaker dots are usually stronger
4 Portrait Oval few if any jagged edges jagged to very jagged edges
5 "T" of "TWO" inner right edge curved inner right edge straight
6 Line in Acanthus often well-defined rarely well-defined

Separate Type III from Type IV 2¢ Triangles
The following applies only to stamps that have no lines running through the frame of the triangle and stamps that are on double-line watermarked paper.

The line in the hair is the most distinguishing feature. This distinction is reminiscent of the type II 1922 2¢ rotary stamp and is easily recognizable if not obscured by a cancellaiton. The toga button is also of major importance. If the toga button is taller than it is wide, the stamp is almost certainly a Type III Scott 267 of 1895. Conversely, if there is added shading in the toga button (wider than tall), the stamp is almost certainly a Type IV Scott 279b of 1898.

In a 1955 article in "The Bureau Specialist" Brett and Southgate propose 17 areas that distinguish the Type III and IV stamps and in fact there are many other distinctions. We have noted that many of the Type IV stamps are of poorer quality, not quite as bad, but reminiscent of the poor quality of the offset Washington Franklins. For this reason, many of the Type III stamps have much clearer definition in the line in the acanthus, often enough to be included in our top six distinctions. Notably, we did not observe a consistent enough difference in the lines of shading on Washington's sleeve, a distinction made by Scott, to include it in this list.

There are other criteria that will enable immediate identification of Type. If the watermarked stamp is cancelled or on cover with a date stamp prior to November of 1897, the earliest known usage of the Type IV stamp, the stamp is certainly the 267.

If the stamp is part of a block or strip with a plate number, identification is immediate. According to the "Durland Standard Plate Number Catalog" the plate numbers on the Type III range from 141 up to 503 and the plate numbers on the Type IV range from 505 up to 1493. Thus if the plate number on the watermarked stamp is 505 or higher it must be Scott 279b.

Finally, the idea that color may be the determining factor in distinguishing Scott 267 from 279b holds no merit. True, the issues of 1898 reflect color changes to conform with the UPU guidelines, but the 2¢ stamp was already the proper "red" color and no color change was necessary. For practical purposes the same variations in shades of color occur on both the 267 and the 279b and should not be considered in making the determination.

Further reading:
"Durland Standard Plate Number Catalog" - Compiled and edited by Kim D. Johnson with assistance from W. Wallace Cleland and John L. Larson
"Two-Cent Series of 1894, Type IV", George W. Brett and H. M. Southgate, The Bureau Specialist, Vol. 27, No. 10 (October, 1955) pp. 283-293
"The Two-Cent 1894: An Uncatalogued Major Variety" , George W. Brett, The United States Specialist, Vol. 64, No. 9 (September, 1993) pp. 390-395
Kenneth Diehl, The United States Specialist, Vol. 65, Dec. 1994 - Vol. 68, Aug. 1997, a 23-part article