The stamp is named after the unique “Z” pattern that is embossed onto the back of the stamp, which makes it one of the most distinctive and recognizable stamps in history. In this article, we will explore the history and significance of the Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp, including its design, production, and legacy.
Design and Production
The Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp was designed by the United States Post Office Department in 1868 as a part of their regular issue stamps. The stamp features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, who was also a renowned scientist, diplomat, and writer. The portrait was engraved by James Smillie, an artist and engraver who worked for the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The Z-Grill pattern was added to the stamp during the printing process, using a process called grilling. Grilling involved embossing a pattern onto the back of the stamp, which was intended to make it more difficult to reuse or counterfeit the stamp. The Z-Grill pattern was unique because it was the only grill pattern that was applied diagonally to the stamp, creating a distinctive and highly visible “Z” pattern.
The production of the Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp was highly labor-intensive and required a great deal of precision and skill. The grilling process was done by hand, using a special machine that applied pressure to the back of the stamp to emboss the pattern onto the paper. The process was so delicate that only a limited number of stamps could be produced at a time, making the Z-Grill stamp one of the scarcest stamps in history.
Legacy and Significance
The Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp was issued in 1868, but it was not immediately popular among the public. The high cost of producing the stamp meant that it was not widely distributed, and many of the stamps that were printed were used for official government business, rather than being sold to the public.
It wasn’t until several years later that collectors began to recognize the rarity and significance of the Z-Grill stamp. In the 1870s, a group of stamp collectors called the National Philatelic Society began to actively seek out and collect rare stamps, including the Z-Grill stamp. The society’s efforts helped to increase the demand for rare postage stamps, and the Z-Grill stamp quickly became one of the most sought-after stamps in the world.
Today, the Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp is considered one of the most valuable and prestigious stamps in the world. Only a few dozen examples of the Z-Grill stamp are known to exist, and they are prized by collectors for their rarity, historical significance, and unique design. In 2010, a Z-Grill stamp sold for over $3 million at auction, making it one of the most expensive stamps ever sold.
The Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp is a remarkable piece of American history and a testament to the skill and artistry of the engravers and printers who created it. Although it was not widely recognized or appreciated when it was first issued, the Z-Grill stamp has since become one of the most sought-after and valuable postage stamps in the world, cherished by stamp collectors for its rarity, unique design and especially its value.
As we continue to look back on the history of postage stamps, the Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp will always hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and philatelists alike, as a symbol of the enduring legacy of one of the founding fathers of the United States and the artistry and innovation of the postage stamp-making industry.