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The 1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue

Did you know that this classic U.S. stamp series was originally planned to be printed in two colors?  However, due to the Spanish-American War and increased demand for revenue stamps, printing resources were reallocated and the stamp designs were modified and printed in one color.  The original two-color versions are very scarce collectibles and never sold to the public, having been printed only as artist's proofs before the change to single-color dies.

In 1998, the U.S. Post Office, repeating its successful reprinting of the 1893 Columbian series, decided to reprint the complete Trans-Mississippi classic series, from the original dies stored at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for 100 years, and in the two-color format as originally intended in 1898.

While the two-color versions retain the original denominations and central vignettes, the designs of the 2-cent and $2 stamps were swapped, and minor changes were made to the inscriptions below the vignettes.  Two sheets of 9 stamps were issued in 1998, a sheet containing the complete series, and a second sheet containing 9 of the popular $1 "Western Cattle in Storm" stamp.

Below you can compare the original 1898 released versions to the 1998 bi-colored versions.

 1898 Issue    1998 Reissue