Postal stationery: Wikis


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U.S. postal card of 1881 with an imprinted stamp.
A Bavarian postal card of 1895 with an imprinted stamp.

A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as an envelope, letter sheet, post card, lettercard, aƩrogramme or newspaper wrapper, with an imprinted stamp.



The imprinted stamp, or 'indicium', is usually at the rate required for a particular postal service, e.g., at the postcard rate for postcards, the domestic or international letter rate for letter sheets and envelopes, the registered letter rate for registered envelopes, newspaper rate for a newspaper wrapper, etc. In general, postal stationery is handled similarly to postage stamps; sold from post offices either at the face value of the printed postage or with a surcharge to cover the additional cost of the stationery.

The envelope form may also be called a stamped envelope. In the United States, private postcards (without preprinted postage) are differentiated from postal cards, which are sold by the Postal Service.

The postal services of some countries also offer a form of letter sheet called an aƩrogramme consisting of a blank sheet of paper with folding instructions and adhesive flaps that becomes its own envelope, and carries prepaid postage at either the international airmail letter rate or at a special lower aerogramme rate. Enclosures are not permitted in aerogrammes.


The first official postal stationery were the 1838 embossed letter sheets of New South Wales. These were followed by the Mulready stationery that was issued by Great Britain at the same time as the Penny Black in 1840. Since then, most postal services have issued a steady stream of stationery alongside stamps. Often the design of the stationery mimics the contemporaneous stamps, though with less variety and lower printing quality, due to the limitations of printing directly onto the envelope.

In emergency situations, postal stationery has been produced by handstamping envelopes with modified cancelling devices; many of the rare Confederate postmasters' provisionals are of this form. Postal stationery can also be overprinted publicly, or by a private overprint.


Many country-specific stamp catalogs include postal stationery in their listings and there are many books devoted to the postal stationery of individual countries, however, the principal encyclopaedic work is the nineteen volume Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog.

Further reading

  • Huggins, A.K. British Postal Stationery, A Priced Handbook of the Postal Stationery of Great Britain, Great Britain Philatelic Society, 1970.
  • Huggins, Alan. & Baker, Colin. Collect British Postal Stationery: A Simplified Listing of British Postal Stationery 1840 to 2007, G. B. Philatelic Publications Ltd. on behalf of The Great Britain Philatelic Society and The Postal Stationery Society, 2007.
  • Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog, 19 volumes covering the whole world.
  • Perry, Thomas Doane. Guide to the Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, 1940.
  • Ioannides, Alexander C, & Podger, Christopher J. Cyprus Postal Stationery 1880 - 1992, 1993, ISBN 0963854704
  • Stieg, Carl L. Victoria Postal Stationery 1869 - 1917, 2001

External links

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