Cinderellas - Mrs. Stewart's Bluing Stamps

Sooner or later, most stamp collectors come across one of the Mrs. Stewart's Bluing cinderella stamps,
and some, like me, want to know who created them, and how many different designs there are.
Philatelic publications like Linn's Stamp News print articles about them occasionally,
but the best article I've found is the one below, from during the period when the stamps were first produced.

Philatelist Combines Business With Pleasure

By L. G. Brookman

By slyly poking fun at Uncle Sam's commemoratives, A. P. S. member Allyn Ford of Minneapolis has managed to put his philatelic knowledge to good use in his business, and has had a lot of fun to boot.  

When Uncle' Sam came out with the "Wash Line Stamp," Scott No. 858, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the admission of the states of Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota, that was right up Allyn's alley, because what he manufactures is bluing used in home washing.  So he got out a "souvenir sheet" showing those states hanging down from the 49th parallel like clothes on Monday's washline .

A year later during the centenary of the Penny Black, Ford conceived the idea of commemorating a group of "Famous Queens," including Victoria, Eve (Queen of Eden, who didn't even have a postage stamp!), the Queen of Hearts etc.

Collectors howled for more, so out came " Famous Blues," including the "Blue Eagle" (can we ever forget it?), the "Connecticut Blues" (a take-off on Connecticut's blue laws,) the "Rhapsody in Blue," and "the blue that drives away all other blues," according to Ford.

When the Kentucky stamp was announced last year, Ford managed to unearth four " rejected designs" for it, the reasons for rejection being obvious.  

And now he has produced " Ford's Follies of '44" which whacks the Railroad, Telegraph and Savannah stamps and their 75th, l00th and l25th anniversaries, by including another "commemorative" for the 61st anniversary of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing!

From all over the world collectors have written for these crazy stamps to mount in their albums on the same page as the real ones they caricature.  They certainly do liven up the page, and whenever the collection is shown they always bring a good laugh.  Ford may never get a trophy for serious philatelic research, but he has certainly made a real contribution by showing us that we needn't take philately too seriously.

That's a good start, but when I looked for examples of all five souvenir sheets, I found variations Mr. Brookman doesn't mention, and looked further.
Good old Google led me to the Fields-Picklo catalog on Roger and Bonnie Riga's web site, Rigastamps, where I found a complete list.
At least it includes every variety I have encountered (plus a few I'm still looking for) - twelve so far. Below are all the varieties I know.
If you can add to this, please write me at .

1/2/2015 - I have added a new section at the bottom - COVERS - a few examples of the Mrs. Stewarts stamps added to mailings as decoration.
Be sure to check out the last one!

(Note: all the images below were scanned at the same resolution, so the relative sizes of the images are accurate)

Version # Fields-Picklo Description Comments Image
I - a 1939 label: Mrs. Stewart hanging out states on a washline.

- Top marginal inscription "Mrs. Stewart gets a stamp".

- Black on white.

- Printed in sheetlets of two stamps, horizontal, size 216mm x 76mm.


To my knowledge this version was not distributed like the others, Ford gave it to friends and associates.

Roger Riga supplied the image, and the size. He says it is quite scarce, which explains why I had never seen it.

NOTE the differences in the design and text, especially the state abbreviations - Ford hadn't thought of the "Monday is washday" pun yet.

This stamp is huge!

108 x 76mm = 4.55 x 2.99 inches!

216 x 76mm = 8.5" x 2.99 inches!
(Full sheet, from eBay, Ocotber, 2020)

I - b

1939 s/s: 4 labels showing Mrs. Stewart hanging out states on a washline.

- Marginal inscriptions at top & bottom of sheet,

"Wherever you live, NORTH or SOUTH - WASH. MON. with Mrs. Stewarts Bluing".

- Black on bright white. Perfed thru margins. Gummed. - 153 x 109 mm


The design is a parody of the "Wash Line Stamp," Scott No. 858.

Monday used to be "wash day" in the US, so Ford punned with the abbreviations of Washington and Montana.

These are still oversize stamps for the time, but a lot smaller than the first version.

Note the changes in the design, mainly the inscriptions on the states.

150 x 106mm = 5.91 x 4.17 inches
I - c

Same as above, but on off white.

151 x 109 mm
II - a

1940 s/s: "Mrs. Stewarts series of famous women".

- 4 labels: black Queen Victoria; Eve; Queen of Hearts; Mrs. Stewart.

- Perfed thru margins.

- Gummed. - 121 x 85 mm


Which was printed first, this or the next one? This version is more "correct" - it reproduces the Penny Black in the proper color.

OR perhaps this was printed in reaction to protests that the other version was wrong?

The stamps are closer in size to the actual stamps of the time.

121 x 84
II - b

Same as above: but blue Queen Victoria.


Or perhaps this version came second, because it was too expensive to print three colors.

121 x 84
II - c

Same as above: but missing Queen Victoria (blank).


I have not seen this version, but it sounds like more silliness on Ford's part. I assume it was produced at the same time as the version with the Queen Victoria stamp in black. By leaving off the black image, he created a "missing color" error. Cute.

I faked the image here, by blanking out the Penny Black on the one above.

121 x 84
III - a

1941 s/s: Series 3, series of famous blues.

- Has 4 labels: NRA eagle; Connecticut charter oak; Gershwin; Mrs. Stewarts blue.

- Blue & red on white. Perfed center.

- Gummed.

- 140 x 85 mm


I think this version was printed first, because its blue is the same as that on the earlier stamps.

More about the Connecticut Blue Laws

139 x 85
III - b

Same as above: but paler blue, on yellowish paper.


I think this version was printed after the one above, because "GERSHWIN" was practically invisible against the darker blue.

138 x 85
IV - a

1942 June 1; s/s "Silly Series #4"; with blue & red printing of rejected designs for the Kentucky stamp.

- Has 4 labels, all to do with Kentucky, perfed center. Gummed.

- 138 x 86 mm


138 x 85
    This isn't really a different version, I just wonder if the handwritten notation in the right margin is by Ford himself, to a friend or philatelic reporter - "Brand new just issued" - Could be.
138 x 85
IV - b

(Not mentioned in Fields-Picklo)


Roger Riga supplied this image. Note the changed inscription - On the original version, the availability of sheets from Series I through IV is noted. On this later version, Series V is also mentioned., and a request for the use of commemorative stamps when writing has been added. This revised text is identical to that used for the Series V sheet and the blue map reprint.

Is the difference in color just a result of age/light? Or is this the way it was printed?

138 x 85

1944 July 1; s/s: Series 5, "Follies of 44". Concerning various anniversaries.

- Blue & red on white.

- Perfed center. Gummed.

- 139 x 85 mm


Parodies of Scott US 922, 923 and 924.

Lots more about trains on stamps HERE.

More about Samuel Morse and the Telegraph.

The steamship Savannah.

138 x 85
I - d

1945 s/s: re-issue. Same design as 1939 s/s, but smaller, and with an information tab at right. Blue on white.


Note the inscriptions on the states, which are the same as the very first stamp at the top, not the revised version below it.

My theory is that he ran out of the first version and decided to reprint it like this - fits into a smaller envelope!

137 x 85

If you read the text in the tabs on the right-hand side of the sheetlets shown above,
it is clear that Ford kept sending these out for several years, and must have had to reprint the earlier designs.
Some of the variations were by choice, others perhaps just routine changes in the papers or inks used.


Below are some covers I have accumulated, showing the Mrs. Stewarts stamps used to decorate mailings.

There's nothing special about any of these first three - just collectors dressing up their mail.
All are contemporary with the issue of the stamps, at least.



An example of how they were mailed out - two sheetlets and a letter in an envelope from Ford himself.


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All text Copyright © 2007, 2015 William M. Senkus

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Created -- 01/27/2007
Revised -- 02/18/2020