Notes from the Past

Perforated Initials in Stamps

A reader, E. J. Gustafson, Sanford, Fla., complains of the large number of firms who mutilate so many stamps with perforated initials, stamps which might otherwise have considerable collectors' value.

It is well known that the primary purpose of this initialing is to check the theft of stamps  and to provide a method of identification at the same time rendering them somewhat unsalable.  Initially of stamps was first permitted during the administration of Postmaster-General George Von L. Meyer (1907-08). after agitation by the Merchants' Assn. of New York for such a ruling.  The order provided that unused postage stamps might be perforated with letters, numbers or other devices but the identifying device was not to exceed half an inch square and each perforated hole was not to exceed 1/32nd of an inch, while use of ink or coloring matter was prohibited.  Many concerns had devices worked up and the practice grew.

As an interesting side line, many collectors from time to time have gathered small lots of these perforated designs in stamps for a page in their albums, but on the other hand the stamps have frequently been a source of disappointment on incoming mail.

What to do about it?  Well, stamp collecting at the present time has assumed large proportions, and I believe if enough collectors wrote some of these concerns setting forth their feeling in the matter, many firms might discontinue the practice as a gesture of good will.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
June 6, 1936
Posted November 4, 1999

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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