Arago: Exhibits

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Missing Perforations

Perforations between stamps are uncommon today because self-adhesive stamps have simple die cuts instead. But for almost 150 years, most U.S. stamp sheets were routinely perforated after printing. Mistakes were rare and even those were usually caught on the printing floor.

These unusual pieces were produced on the few occasions when an operator made an unnoticed mistake, leaving the space between two or more rows of stamps without any perforations at all.

2c Warren Harding block of sixty

This large block of the 2¢ Harding memorial stamp of 1923 contains two perforation varieties. Both are without vertical perforations. Out of the 60 stamps in the block, 47 have diagonal perforations. The 13-stamp block with horizontal perforations is unique.

2c carmine Thomas Jefferson block of four

This 2¢ block of stamps for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition lacks all horizontal perforations.

3c Washington pane of one hundred

This unique item is the only known remaining pane of the 3¢ 1917-1919 stamp without vertical perforations above the top row. Postmasters cut the top row off other examples of the same error, producing a detached piece like the one shown at the bottom of this page.

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The San Francisco post office added horizontal perforations between the top two rows in this block of 2¢ stamps of 1902-03, where the perforations were originally missing. The perforating was done by hand with a tool called a roulette.