When Postmaster General Alvah Clark ordered a fresh supply of 5¢ stamps in November,
1860, he inquired about obtaining 1¢ and 2¢ stamps in sheets of twenty-five. In
response, the Holland Printing establishment made a die and sent samples of a design.
The samples were done up in several colors, lithographed on pale buff card or white
card of medium thickness and imperforate. Instead of just 1¢ and 2¢ values, the
samples were for values of 1¢, 2¢ and 3¢.
Clark rejected the essays in March, 1861. Apparently, he was dissatisfied because the
word "Honolulu" rather than "Hawaii" appeared in the design. Another problem must
have been the use of Kamehameha III's image as he had been dead for nearly seven
years. Given the depressed Hawaiian economy, Clark probably also was pressured to
limit expenses. He soon changed his mind partially and ordered 2¢ stamps but sent
along design specifications to his liking. The 2¢ "Boston Lithograph" resulted.
Holland's samples thus are classed as essays.
Colors used in producing the essays are difficult to describe. Using basic colors, we
see Green, Carmine, Orange, Brown, Purple and Blue. Some colors are found in only two
values. Beyond the basic colors, complications set in because of shades. The carmine
shades range from a dark red to a light red. Brown comes in dark brown, red brown,
brown and gray brown. Orange is really an orange-yellow and some examples are more
yellow than orange. Green shades run from dark green to green to a deep bluish-green.
The purple examples are a dull purple and some are a gray purple - purple examples can
look quite similar to the light brown shade. Blue shades go from a gray blue (somewhat
ultramarine) to blue to deep blue.
These essays are seen on the market from time to time. Care should be taken to avoid
examples with condition problems - or at least to avoid paying top dollar for them.
The essays are often seen stained, closely clipped, with thins, creased or having
other problems. Clean examples with good margins exist, but are tougher to find.
When clean examples are found, the cost ranges from around $750 to nearly $1,000
depending upon the type of color, size of the margins and freshness of color. Examples
with faults or other serious problems can be found for much less money.