Continental Bank Note Company (CBNCo) won the federal contract from the Post Office Department for stamp production, ousting National Bank Note Company (NBNCo). Starting May 1, 1873, NBNCo plates for the 1870-1871 Issue were transferred to CBNCo, and the company decided to reuse them. However, CBNCo made the decision to distinguish its issues from those of NBNCo by engraving small, secret marks on these original printing plates for the 1- to 15-cent stamps. The plates for the 24-, 30-, and 90-cent stamps were not altered. CBNCo decided to only use ink color and minor paper varieties as distinguishing features for these denominations.
Continental Bank Note printed these stamp designs for six years, twice the length of time that National Bank Note had used them. And, not surprisingly, in the 1873 Issue alone, CBNCo more than doubled the number of stamps that NBNCo had printed. Continental Bank Note produced almost 3.6 billion stamps.