Should you be collecting Postal Stationery?
What Is Postal Stationery?
To most people, Postal Stationery means stamped envelopes and postal cards. However
postal stationery includes all paper items that have a printed or implied monetary value
when sold and retain their value until canceled when used or otherwise demonetized by the
Postal Stationery includes items associated with the post, telephone or
telegraph offices. The most common forms are: stamped envelopes, stamped letter
sheets (including aerogrammes), postal cards, letter cards, and newspaper wrappers.
But postal stationery also includes items such as postal savings forms, money order
forms, or telegraph forms when they have value stamps printed on them.
Postal Stationery is older than the adhesive stamp. The Venetian "A-Q" letter
sheets date from 1608; the Sardinia sheets from 1818; the revenue devices on
British newspapers provided free postage after 1821; and the Sydney, New South
Wales, letter sheets were issued in 1838. The first adhesive postage stamps were
not issued until 1840.
|Venetian A-Q lettersheet
||First U.S. postal card 1873
Why Collect Postal Stationery?
Do you enjoy exploring new paths, are you interested in Postal History, or do
you enjoy the challenge of something different from the common philatelic
collecting interest? If so you will find Postal Stationery fascinating:
The many types and varieties of Postal Stationery can satisfy any
collecting interest - as many varieties as there are of adhesive stamps.
If you wish to extend your historical knowledge, you will find Postal Stationery
offers the opportunity to learn about the different postal systems and services,
such as the postal banking system used in Europe. You can trace the changing
customs of people as well as opinions of the writers on an infinite variety of
You can learn about the types and methods of manufacture of envelopes and
cards as well as paper, printing methods, and design. Since postal stationery
items are larger than adhesives, it is easier to study many of the features
Postal Stationery is also an important addition to topical or thematic
collections because postal stationery often has pictorial design elements.
|Mulready envelope from Great Britain, 1840
Missing perforations, centering, and gum sticking are less of a problem for
postal stationery than when collecting adhesives. Furthermore, the postal
stationery items are more sturdy, and less subject to damage than adhesive stamps.
Forgeries of postal stationery exist, but they are not common and are usually
easily detected. Cancels and postal marking can, of course, be forged as on
|U.S. envelope carried by Pony Express
How To Collect Postal Stationery
Postal Stationery is easy to collect. Items can be bought or traded from other
collectors or purchased from dealers through the web or at stamp shows.
The United Postal Stationery Society also conducts auctions periodically for
its members. Auction houses offer lots of postal stationery, either as single
rare items, in groups, or in sizable collections. eBay can also be a good source
of material for the Postal Stationery collector.
Sales circuits of the United Postal Stationery Society (UPSS) and the
American Philatelic Society (APS) can also help build a collection.
The following hints will help the beginner avoid a few
Writing catalog numbers and other information on Postal Stationery is strongly
discouraged. Write on the archival sleeve or mounting page. Historically, items
were banded with thin paper bands on which infor-mation was written. Remove old
bands since they are likely acidic and will stain envelope; use neutral, not
acid paper, if bands are desired. When absolutely necessary, write only on the
back very lightly with a soft pencil.
Cut squares trimmed from corners of U. S. envelopes and wrappers may be saved if
one is interested only in dies and paper types. Postal cards and foreign postal
stationery are never collected as cut squares. Leave at least 5 to 10mm margin
around the stamp design.
Albums exist for cut squares and postal cards. Stock books or blank albums with
cellulose pockets for individual items are used by many collectors. Others
prefer to and store postal stationery in a box or file using archival sleeves
(Mylar or cellulose acetate, never cellophane and with one end left open, so the
air can circulate freely).
Clear acetate corner mounts are available from some dealers and UPSS for
mounting items on pages. Scotch tape, hinges, and photo corner mounts will
stain and damage stationery items over time and should never be used for mounting.
UPSS catalogs are the most convenient
source of information regarding design, size and date of issue, size of
perforations of letter cards, shape of envelope flaps (called "knives"),
watermarks, and purpose of issue.
Keeping Up To Date
If you are ready to launch into a new collecting area, keep in mind that new
issues of Postal Stationery are appearing almost every month, and new varieties
of existing issues are often discovered. Membership in an organization of
collectors may be of special help to collectors wanting to keep current with new
releases and new finds.
The largest postal stationery organization is the United Postal Stationery
Society, with members throughout the United States and many other countries.
There are several postal stationery societies in other countries, including
those organized in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain,
Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as study groups for various
regions of the world, past and present.
The United Postal Stationery Society publishes magazine, Postal
Stationery, which provides good articles on the postal stationery of many
countries. In addition, the Society publishes catalogs and handbooks on postal