Collecting Perfin Postage Stamps

Collecting perfin potage stamps! Join the Perfin Club. The possibilities only limited by your imagination.

Joseph Sloper, of England, received a patent for his perforating device from the British government in 1858. This device would punch initials into paper such as checks, documents, or stamps. In 1868 he obtained a contract from the government to become the sole provider of perforated stamps in England. Thus, the word perfin was born--PERForated INitials.

Why did anyone want to put initials on stamps? In those days you could pay small bills with stamps or turn them in to the post office for cash, so it was a temptation for employees with access to a company's stamp supply to take a few home for their own use. The post office would not buy back perforated stamps.

Joseph Sloper's patent ran out after 14 years, in 1872, and with it his exclusive right to perforate stamps. Other companies started up, and many businesses made their own perfins with the company initials or an identifying design on the stamps.

The idea spread throughout the wolrld, and it arrived in the United States in 1908. In April 1908, the POSTAL BULLETIN said in part, "United States postage stamps, to be accepted for postage, must be absolutely without defacement: Provided That for the purpose of identification only, and not for advertising, it shall be permissible to puncture or perforate letters, numerals, or other such marks or devices in United States postage and special-delivery stamps...."

And so a hobby was born. At first, stamp collectors thought perfins were good stamps ruined by holes being punched in them. But some collectors became fascinated by the different perfins that could be found.

There are over 20,000 different British perfin designs. Identified U. S. perfins number over 6000 designs. There are around 12000 German perfins, and close to 3000 French perfins. Some countries, 0such as Haiti, only have 1 known perfin.

Great Britian has a Perfin Society and the United States a Perfin Club. They both have and sell albums, catalogs, and literature devoted to perfin collecting. The Perfin Club has a lending library for its members. Other countries have some of the same facilities.

Perfins are relatively inexpensive, you can buy the more common perfins for a dime or less. They can be puchased from a stamp store, if your community has one. Many

collectors subscribe to Linn's Stamp News, which has a large want ad section. They can be found at auction on the net at Ebay, Yahoo, and many smaller auctions.

They are fun, interesting, and pleasing to the eye, so come on the joint the hunt for the wild perfin!

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