Notes from the Past

The Rotary Perforating Machine

There are two varieties of perforating machines.  The stroke machine which makes punches a row or rows of perforations all at once (see previous Past Note on Henry Archer).  The rotary perforating machine has two wheels which turn on two shafts.  One wheel has pins and the other has matching holes which make rows of holes as paper passes between the wheels.

The first patent involving the rotary principle was submitted on December 11, 1854, and sealed (issued) on June 8, 1855.  The patent was awarded to William Bemrose, Jr. and Henry Howe Bemrose of Derby in England.  They found little market for their product in England or on the Continent.  The first use was by the American firm of Toppan, Carpenter, & Co. in Philadelphia in 1857.  The Bemrose rotary perforating machine was used to perforate the the 1857 series of U.S. stamps (Scott 18 to 39).  The machine was well received and became the standard method used by North American security printers.

Posted May 6, 2000

Editor's Note:  The complete story may be found in Early American Perforating Machines and Perforations 1857-1867, Winthrop S. Boggs, The Collector's Club 1954.

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