The Postmaster General’s Collection holds full panes of U.S. stamps from many periods, from very common to extremely scarce issues. Full panes are somewhat unusual for any stamp, since panes are often broken up for sale into blocks and pairs. These full panes of high-value stamps from the early 20th century are some of the rarest in the collection.
The stamps belong to a larger series of 28 stamps issued between 1908 and 1921 and known to collectors as the “Washington Franklins.” Each stamp depicts either George Washington or the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin. Their portraits are based on busts completed in the men’s own lifetimes by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon.
Most of the Washington Franklins were printed and sold in small values such as 1, 2, or 5 cents. These stamps with high values of $1, $2, and $5 were most typically used on registered shipments of money between banks, and comparatively few were sold. Today, full panes of these stamps are almost unknown.