Notes from the Past

Notes on the Development of the Electric Eye Perforator - Part I

From the outset of the [Bureau of Engraving and Printing]'s production of postage stamps a major problem confronting the Bureau was waste.  Badly perforated sheets, which would not pass the Inspectors of the Bureau and were consequently destroyed, constituted a direct challenge to efficient operation.  The inequal shrinkage of paper together with the "human element" were the chief causes of faulty perforation.  Several experiments were made to improve perforation, such as the Blue and Clay papers of 1909 and the 2mm and 3mm spacings.  But these did not solve the problem.  The shrinkage of paper cannot be accurately controlled, but it was felt that something should be done about the "human element" problem.  The perforating machines in the Bureau were operated by two persons.  Each person had to rely on quick reflexes and good sight.  However, constant operation and fatigue caused slower reflexes and a resultant poorly perforated product.  An examination of a pad of postage stamps at any Post Office would have produced very few finely centered sheets.  The even poorer sheets had been condemned by the Inspectors and destroyed.  It was imperative that perforation be improved and thus the waste reduced.

(To be Continued)

- Nathan Goldstein II
"The Development of the Electric Eye"
The Stamp Specialist -- Emerald Book
H. L. Lindquist 1946

Posted April 21, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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