LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - MAY 19, 2019 by Lynne Belluscio A few weeks ago, while browsing through Ebay, I discovered a 4 cent Wash- ington postage stamp with little holes that spelled JEL- LO. That seemed curious and it didn’t cost so I bought it and then started to do a little research. I discovered that these perforated stamps, called “perfins” (for perfo- rated initials or perforated insignia) were designed to prevent stamps from being pilfered. The idea started in England in 1868, when Jo- seph Sloper received a patent for a device to punch holes in a unique design in postage stamps. At that time, unused stamps could be redeemed at the post office at face value. It was easy for office employ- ees to pocket a few stamps and turn them in at the post office for money. The per- forated stamp discouraged this. It wasn’t until 1908 that perforated stamps were used in the United States. Filene’s Sons Company – a department store in Boston, used the first perfin on May 22, 1908. I contacted Steven Endicott, who maintains a webpage about perfins and he shared a lot of information. The JELLO perfin was used by the Genesee Pure Food Company between 1908 and 1923 and it is registered with the perfin collectors. Many stamp collectors aren’t inter- ested in perfins because the holes deface the stamp. How- ever, there are ‘perfin collec- tors, who only collect these perforated stamps. Which brings the discussion to an- other point. I was told that perfins were illegal because they defaced the stamp, but perfins were accepted by the US Post Office as long as they met certain size speci- fications. Perfins are still in use in some countries today, although they became ob- solete in the United States with the introduction of the postage meter. Some perfin designs cover more than one stamp and they are called blanket perfins. An “official perfin” is a design used by a governmental agency. I was amused to discov- er that when the pins of the die that punch the holes in the stamp do not cut a complete hole, that sometimes there is a flap of paper that remains and that flap is called a “chad.” (Remember hanging chads?) So, some of these perfins can have hanging chads! It is very difficult to pho- tograph a perfin. The stamp has to be lit from behind. I dis- covered that we had a Jell-O perfin in the collection, but because it is on the envelope, I never saw the little holes. The stamp is on an envelope addressed to David Berger of Beardstown, Illinois, post- marked April 12, 1912. The Genesee Pure Food Company sent a letter and a free recipe book. “Now we are sending you a recipe book from the splendid new edition. In this book you will find the fin- est lot of Jell-O recipes ever published. Please accept it with our compliments. If you cannot get Jell-O where you trade and will write us, giving the name of your dealer and any others who do not have Jell-O in stock, and stating that you cannot get Jell-O at their stores, we will send you a full size package of Jell-O free.” Envelope with perforated stamp. Perfins Jell-O perfin.