I'm not at all certain why lots of folks want to make stamps that appear to be 'perforated'.
The first ever stamps (from Britain, the line-engraved issues of 1840-1857 that included the world's first ever postage stamp the Penny Black, and its buddies the Twopenny Blue and the Penny Red) were printed in sheets of 240 (12x20) and cut by scissors.

Perforated stamps were not introduced in the UK until 1858.

Now I'm not a stamp historian, but I know that the stamps of many other countries (including France, the Netherlands, many of the Australian States, and lots of former British colonies) followed the same pattern -- first sheets of stamps that had to be cut by scissors, later tear-off perforated stamps.
And so?
And so, the perforation of stamps is not the only way to go, so perhaps it's not worth getting too hung up on it.
Regards, Val(entine Mark Herman)

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks PJ -- there's lots of good points there. Three things more to, perhaps, think about. Uno, why are most stamps (ours' and the postal authorities') square(ish) or rectangular? I know that there are triangular ones, and the occasional lozenge or circular ones, but 'the 'classic stamp look' is (and almost always has been) mostly square(ish) or rectangular. Twee, and this is something that philatelists-cum-mail artists may want to engage in: are the types and numbers (per inch/cm) of perforations important? Très, and as a mail artist cum philatelist based in France this is worrying, the Post Office is trying to wean people off traditional stamps, by forcing pre-printed labels on us. All the more reason to stick to what you very nicley call 'the classic stamp look'! Regards, Val
Hi Valentine,
Of course as a mail artist you can play with this. You can make stamps with irregular forms or you could make stamps with computer generated symbols or codes.

I have almost always made self-stick artistamps for the very same reason modern stamps are self-stick - they're ten times more convenient and I don't have to spit on them!  That glue tastes HORRENDOUS!  So, I will continue to do that. ;)


I like artistamps in all shapes and sizes, though it's more trouble to make them non-square or non-rectangular.  Why not?  It's art and, for me, the emphasis is on ARTIST rather than STAMP.  I love it that there are all kinds of artistamp makers - some are traditionalists, some are not.  I live diversity in pretty much everything including stamps. 

I like them ALL


Stamps can be imperforate, perforated, or rouletted.  Early stamps were cut, sliced, or crudely ripped apart by hand, but this did not stop when perforating equipment was invented. 


During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Southern postmasters suddenly had U.S. stamps they could not use and post office routes were closed to the Confederacy.  These stamps were called, "Postmaster's Provisionals".  The postmasters of many large towns had to scramble to have local printers come up with something, often nothing more than text with ornamentation by dingbats and other symbols.  These were in almost every case imperf (or "unperforated", if you wish).


There are more ways to separate stamps than just round-hole perforations.  "Rouletting" is a cut that does not remove any paper, but still allows separation by hand.  A row of small cuts or slits can be made by hand or with a paper cutter with the right blade.  There is more variety to rouletting as they can be tiny pin pricks, slits, or any combination.


I like making both high-production value artistamps with perforations made with my Rosback or Franklin 19th Century perforators as well as simple, archaic designs that I'll cut apart with just enough angle to the cuts to make it look handmade.


One caveat is the glue.  I try to use something archival as I don't want my archive falling apart.  Sadly, most self-adhesive glue isn't destined for a long life.  The Holiday stamps the U.S. produced in the early 70s are mostly mottled brown, nasty-looking things today.  They started going bad after just a few years.  Of course, in some cases, this might be a happy accident that adds character to a work!




Yeah, but, the perforations are very difficult to accomplish without a perforating machine!  So, in the spirit of liberating artists like myself from that tyranny, it would be nice to have other forms appreciated and allowed to flourish while those who can and want to keep the perforations keep them going.  I have been told many times that my artistamps are not valid because they aren't perforated.  That is just silly.  I don't make artistamps to copy philatelic stamps, I make artistamps as a means of expressing my own artistic and conceptual ideas.  Faux postage is an art in and of itself and I appreciate it.  But, it's not what I'm doing.  There is an oblique reference to philately in my work from time to time but not always.  Sigh.  I have been making these things for decades.  All I can do is continue in my own little world where what I do is accepted and valued - luckily, there are artists in the world who are open-minded enough to value what I do - I appreciate them very much.


I suppose my own issue is that I chafe at the bit a lot.  If people want to call my stamps stickers, what's the difference, really?  Although I know it usually means they don't consider my work on a par with other artistamp creators, it's their problem not mine - unless I make it my problem.  So, in an effort to be more open-minded myself, I am going to try and stop railing on and on about the issue.  LOL  We'll see how long that lasts!  ;)

BTW, Brad, that's fascinating about the confederate stamps - never knew that, though of course it makes sense once one hears about it!  And thanks for saying you like them all!  Though, my hand-made stamps are sort of high-production-value ones most of the time - I like them to look mass-produced even if they don't look like faux postage. ;)


I wonder if we might not have a stamp mailing in this group sometime - where we all makes stamps on a similar theme or different themes but part of an inclusive mailing...?  That kind of thing is really fun - we do a lot of that in the Artistamps Mailing List - or used to!  ;)

Hello Mark,

Like Brad, I have a Rosback pedal perforator too...circa 1895. It weights a ton and has a few banged up

pins, but a few "blind perfs" on my stamp sheets are something like a signature. Love those Reb stamps

and the story they tell. George Washington appears on many of the first Confederate issues, he was, after all,

a Virginian and didn't he own slaves at one time? Back to perfs. . . . . . . . .   . . .   . . . . .  . . Donald Evans

used a typewriter for his one-of-a-kind issues. I suppose if you hammered each dot enough times you might

tear through.


CrackerJack Kid




Such good info on this topic. I've been attempting to compile all of the ways artistamp makers "perforate". In the GL Post Artistamp Museum collection there are a variety of methods since perforating machines are scarce. I see all are valid and it is more about "does it look like a stamp" or not for me personally, having been both with and without a perforating machine in my years of making artistamps. Some artistamp sheets look like stamps purely because of the perforations and others look so because of the design. Clever solutions to the perf or no perf debate can be found and I find this to be a very interesting sub-topic within the art form.

Brad thanks for adding the historical info!

A totally non-traditional perforation technique abt which I'd wondered is using a laser engraver. Then, at least I think THEN, one could make the perfs perfect so that they meet with no mis-registration at the crossings.

I looked at laser engraver prices, though, and decided to leave the moths in my wallet undisturbed.

Seriously, though, does anyone perf this way?



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