There has been multiple conversations about distinguishing #500 vs the common #499. I've been looking into this myself, and am going to try to put what I've read together in one spot. Credit goes fully to the much more experienced and knowledgeable members who have shared these great details. My disclaimer is that I am only an amateur collector and do not yet even own a #500. For some reason, between my wife and my daughter, the money keeps disappearing. Please correct anything you feel is inaccurate.
The difficulty here seems to be that although there are obvious #499s and obvious #500s, there also is an overlap that seems somewhat subjective. The color is Deep Rose. However, colors are near impossible to nail down with certainty over the internet, and there are multiple shades of #499s. I will not be using color in the considerations below.
We will start with the obvious:http://www.stampsmarter.com/1847usa...cType1a.html
provides a great primer on the traits of Type Ia. It boils down to: Same as Type 1, EXCEPT:
1. "The line at the top of the toga rope is well defined and sharp. The lines of the rope are consistent and do not seem to change in width from the toga rope into the toga itself. This is a defining feature of the Type Ia"
2. "The lines in the toga button are well defined and sharp. In particular, the top outline of the toga button is complete. This is a defining feature of the Type Ia stamp"
They also mention the white line under the ear being less distinct than Type 1, but I don't include that because my review of multiple certified #500s (courtesy of Siegel Auctions website) shows many that are just as prominent as #499s.
They also mention "The line to the immediate right of the fold in the ribbon appears either solid or partially broken" in Type Ia. Types II and III have broken or dashed line there, and in Type I the line is very faint and seems to usually be absent.
Now some photos. These are all off the internet, so I cannot control the quality.
Clear #500 example. Certified.
Clear #499 example. Certified.
The areas that seem to differentiate Type I vs Ia are highlighted in the #500 example:
1. Single line in curve of ribbon (same in both types)
2. Upper line of rope and vertical lines in rope are heavy and consistent
3. Border of toga button is heavy
4. Vertical line after first curve in right ribbon is visible and is solid or nearly so
5. Partial mark of a 2nd line in the curve of the left ribbon.
#2&3 are what most people seem to base their ID of a #500. But this is where I've seen subjectivity, especially with the rope marks. See below.
#5 was talked about in a very informative link below:http://srailstamps.com/scott-500-2c...sitions.html
(click on the photos below the stamps to read the text) Basically, the author argued that the #500s have a tiny dot or dash in this position (the line is complete in Type III). There is no trace of this in the #499s. I do not have the expertise to say whether any #500s DON'T have this.
Certified #500. Note the inconsistent vertical lines in the rope, and weaker appearance of the top line of the rope (#2). BUT the button outline is relatively heavy (#3) and there seems to be a faint dot in the curve of the left ribbon (#5).
Certified #500. Note the rope lines again are inconsistent, BUT the rope button outline is RELATIVELY solid (relative to the rest of the rope)(#3), the vertical line in first curve of the left ribbon is solid (#4), and a dot is visible in the space of the 2nd line in the left ribbon 2nd curve (#5).
To confound things, there is what some call a "Full Type I", which can mimic a Type Ia. Below is a photo courtesy of Disi123 from a previous post:
Note the toga button outline is less prominent than the rope lines (#3), the vertical line in the left ribbon 1st curve is broken (#4), and there is no hint of a mark in the 2nd line space of the 2nd curve of the left ribbon (#5).
So, to me it seems that the most consistent traits of Type Ia vs I are:
#3: Toga button outline is heavy RELATIVE to the heaviness of the rope lines
#5: Presence of a mark in the 2nd line space of the 2nd curve of the left ribbon
Slightly less consistent are:
#2: Toga rope lines are heavy and consistent
#4: Vertical line after 1st curve of the left ribbon is solid
All Type Ia will have a solid top rope line (but some Type I appear to as well)
Just to finish with confusion, here is a certified #500 that using the above criteria seems to be a #499 except that the Toga button outline is solid comparable to the other markings. It also has the overall "deeper lines" consistent with a Type Ia. If I saw this one online, I would assume it was #499 and pass it up...but that's why I don't offer expertizing.