Vintage stamps

I just might be the last 25-year-old in the world that enjoys sending snail mail. (Anymore out there? Make yourselves known, I love pen pals!) I would much rather send a letter than an email, and usually when I have had a whole lot of caffeine or I’m slightly tipsy on a weekend evening, I get out my box(es) of cards and get to work reconnecting with friends and family with good ‘ole pen and paper.

Unused vintage stamps make the perfect touch to wedding invitations.

Unused vintage stamps make the perfect touch to wedding invitations.

So, when it was time to send out our wedding invitations, I came up with what I thought was a great idea.

(The jury’s still out on whether or not it actually is…I know the USPS will hate me for this!)

I decided I wasn’t going to send out our invitations with a single little silly American Flag stamp, and the wedding stamps are super lame. Instead, I was going to do something way cooler.

Some of the stamps are pretty cool! Check out his pap test stamp ;)

Some of the stamps are pretty cool! Check out his pap test stamp 😉

I originally checked out personalizing our stamps on Zazzle, but it ended up being way more money than I wanted to pay to send out 100 letters. (~$150 vs. $46) I then learned that unused stamps- no matter when they were issued- are still good. What?! I know… so. cool.

Apparently there are a lot of stamps out there that are adorable yet of no value to collectors. I really don’t know why I didn’t suspect that before… I’ve been a crazy mail-sender for the past ten years of my life, and occasionally when I don’t use a forever stamp I’m stuck stacking up old stamps to get the job done.  I guess I just never though vintage enough!

When I was in college, instead of sending a care package my grandma would send me rolls of stamps. My roomies thought that was a little weird- they liked my mama’s cookies way better than licking stamps. (A belated THANK YOU to my wonderful package-sending family) When I lived in Australia, I was so obsessed with sending cards that I probably could have bought a round-trip plane ticket home and back with the amount of money I spent on packages. (Hey, they had to try Vegemite!)

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One of the best selections of unused stamps can be found on Etsy (images below)- grab bags are a gamble, but they’re exciting to open when they come in the mail!

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While searching for stamps, I learned both Etsy and Ebay have an excellent assortment of face value (FV) stamps (According to 100 Layer Cake Kenmore Stamp and Champion Stamp also have a good selection), and amazingly, most sell for less than face value. MEANING that putting vintage stamps on my invitations actually ended up costing me less than stamps from the post office. Score! Plus, they look so graphic and creative and most (see below) of the stamps are beautifully designed. (Why are stamps so stupid now? Get creative USPS!)

Apparently FV stamps can often be found at antique stores or stamp and coin shops for cheap.

LOCALS- Beware of the ladies at the Stars Antique Market in Hermosa Beach. I usually love that place, but they do NOT sell face value stamps, and they gave me a dirty look when I asked! (They actually told me very sassily to go to the post office if I wanted FV stamps. NOT what I was asking about…)

Current USPS wedding-themed stamps

Current horrible USPS wedding-themed stamps

WTF- when was this stamp okay?

WTF- when was this stamp okay?

However- the amount of time we have been spending sorting out stacks of 46 cents for the letters and 33 cents for the RSVP postcards- has cost me and the boy a whole lot of time. (Thank you for helping Sheryl, you’re our postage counting-angel!) And my original idea to make each envelope themed by color or type went out the window the second we poured them on the table and started putting them on envelopes. (I don’t have enough patience for such fancy organization!)

I’ve also learned that I can’t do basic math. .13 + .29 + .04 + .15 = ??? AH I GIVE UP JUST PUT THEM ALL ON!

Also- Christmas stamps suck.

….and our envelopes cost 66 cents, not 46 like we originally thought… whoops! (Current rates here)

I was pretty proud of the first round of letters, and when I brought them to my office to mail them out I got so many compliments (the post office lady was impressed, not annoyed like I originally thought). I can’t wait for our guests to start getting them in the mail!

Towards the second round of stamps, I got smart and organized them in piles by value and then put them in 33 and 66 cent piles that were ready to be licked. Bam! Easy!

Towards the second round of stamps, I got smart and organized them in piles by value and then put them in 33 and 66 cent piles that were ready to be licked. Bam! Easy!

Tips for finding legit face value stamps…

1. Make sure they are UNUSED U.S. stamps. Foreign stamps will not send! (Double check both before buying from anywhere… I bought $22 of USED stamps. Ugh)

2. If the seller has photos of the stamps, zoom in and make sure there aren’t any high value stamps in the lot. (I bought a stamp for $11.75 and one for $3 by accident)

3. If there is a picture of the stamps, check out how many duplicates and Christmas stamps are in the lot. You don’t want too many “Seasons Greetings” or six-cent Eisenhower stamps.

Ballooning .. UNused Vintage Postage Stamps .. post 5 letters from Etsy seller VerdeStudio

Ballooning .. UNused Vintage Postage Stamps .. post 5 letters from Etsy seller VerdeStudio

4. Small value stamps are GOOD!  We’re always searching for one-cent and three-cent stamps to round out the value of the postage. My trick was to attach a high value stamp (15 – 33 cents) first and then added smaller values until it added up to the correct amount.

5. Some stamps don’t say the value- that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. Check out their value here.

6. Get about $10 to $20 in extra postage. You never now how they’ll add up, and if you have too many it doesn’t really matter because as I found out, they’ll always be valid and useful!

7. If you want to get really creative, some Etsy sellers sell themed-sets for a certain amount of letters. (Make sure the value is up-to-date with current postage rates)

8. Have a calculator handy. Sounds dumb, but it’s useful after two hours of counting in your head.

9. Make sure you have enough room on your cards for the stamps, especially if you’re using lots of little value stamps. I put the recipients address in the bottom left corner on the front of the envelope and my return address on the back.

10. They’re gross to lick, so I moistened a sponge and dabbed them onto that before sticking them on. Some needed to be glued- a simple glue stick worked well for those. Just make sure they’re still sticking well before you mail them!

Your postage should add up to the current postage rate, no tricks or gimmicks, just cute creative cards.

Good luck and have FUN!

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5 thoughts on “Vintage stamps

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Six Months | Strand Style

  2. I am looking for vintage stamps and found your blog, this is such a fun post. I’m 33 and love sending/receiving real mail, so you’re not the only one in our generation. My husband works in North Dakota and we live in Oklahoma, so I send him regular love letters.

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