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Stamps (Philately)/Postage stamps shapes


QUESTION: Dear Scott

Other than Rectangle, Square, Diamond, Kite shapes can we construct postage stamps with other possible shapes viz Circular, Oval, Trapezoid, Pyramid etc ?.

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Prashant,
  Technically, there is no reason a stamp can't be constructed in any geometric (even random) shape.  There are several instances even of round stamps in philately.
  The US, New Zealand, France all have circular stamps.  Triangular stamps (or as you say "Pyramid") also exist extensively: Lundy Islands, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Brazil, Cape of Good Hope, UAE, many others... to name a few.  (Just Google Triangular Postage Stamps in Google Images, and you will find these).  Some date back to the 1800's even, essentially printed as "Square", and cut diagonal like the One Pence Cape of Good Hope.
  With modern die-cutting technology used (take a look at virtually all modern US "self adhesive" stamps), there are no "perforations", only the impression of "perfs" from the cutting of the line edge of the stamp, mostly out of "traditional" look and feel for stamps.  Easily conceivable to make an entire sheet of "Puzzle Piece" stamps, if a postal service were so inclined to do so.
  The presence of "obscure" shaped stamps lay only in the desire of a postal service to create them, and the added cost to produce them vs. other stamps.  Like any "profit" center, postal services are also always looking for ways to reduce cost.  Stamps over the years are no different.  So odd shapes are less likely to occur because of higher cost to tool and produce, but that clearly hasn't stopped some countries from creating them.
Hope that helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Scott


Can we have cone,cylinder,rhombus,parabola,ellipse,
hyperbola constructed postal stamps ?.

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

As long as a stamp remains basically 2 dimensional, (height and width), there is really no limit to how the stamp can be shaped.  3 dimensional stamps would become problematic, because then the envelops wouldn't lay flat, or fit through sorting machines. so when you say "cone" or "cylinder" these would only seem possible as either optical illusions (made to appear 3 dimensional while still laying flat), or drawn to look like a cone or cylinder.  Rhombus, parabola, ellipse (really same as oval in your prior question), etc, no reason why, if a country was so inclined to spending money on the design, that such stamps couldn't be created...
But the question is, why would you want to?  I mean, you could make them butterfly shaped, or animal shaped, or any physical outline you wish... but it doesn't really make much sense to do so.  Remember, postal services are typically about "practical", and creating such oddities would likely result in higher cost to produce (wasted selvage, complexity in production and design).
Stamps aren't "free" and part of the cost of postage is the cost of producing the stamp to begin with.  Important to keep that in mind.  But since stamps in many modern postal services today are fundamentally "stickers", no reason they can't be produced the same as other similar sticker company would.

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Scott Payton


My expertise is in US, but I have a lot of exposure to worldwide, and with wide reference material, I will do what I can to answer questions about global stamps. In US I have extensive experience in all aspects (does include Administrative overprints for Cuba, China, Puerto Rico etc.). Also, Hawaii general issue and Revenue (pre-statehood). Of course still building knowledge but have been collecting since 1980. Air Mail is a favorite area, but not a limitation. Two specialty areas are Large Banknote issues, and Washington/Franklin identification. Strong experience in Carrier & Locals, Private Die (Also known as M&M for "Match & Medicine" but also includes some playing card and perfume stamp issues.) Recently have been building more back-of-book experience, especially around Official, Newspaper, Revenue and tax editions. Some covers, and cancellations, but not my strong suit. Another area I'm recently diving into. What I can't do: Anything non-US, as it's just not an area I focus on.


30+ years of learning the hard way. A lot of passion for collecting and dealing (as I do both). I don't consider it a hobby... I consider it a serious pursuit that I'm able to do in the hours I'm not occupied by annoying things like sleep. I work closely with some of the global leaders in the expertizing and identification field. Have co-authored several papers (with Mr. William Weiss Jr.) related to identification, as well as tool set to help with quickly identifying the more challenging areas of Washington Franklin. Strong experience in paper types and coil validation.

Member of APS #222356.

1870 - 1879 Large Banknote Issues - Easy Identification (co-authored with William Weiss Jr). Washington-Franklin - Easy Identification (co-authored with William Weiss Jr.) Detecting Fakes, Alterations and Counterfeits (APS Summer Session Expertizing Session materials with William Weiss Jr.)

Thousands and thousands of hours of pouring over hundreds of collections. 30+ years as a collector-to-dealer, avid student of philatelic study. Pre-1900 variation is fascinating, and it seems even after all these years, that I make some discovery every time I look at a new example. APS Summer Session - Fundamentals of Expertizing 2014

Past/Present Clients
100's too numerous to mention.

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