Perfins


A perfin is a series of perforated holes in the shape of a design, symbols or letters placed on the stamp for the purposes of preventing unauthorized use. Its origins date back to the mid 1850s in Britain where stamps were often used for small transactions. As people were able to trade stamps for money, perfin stamps became to be recognized as non-negotiable outside the mail room. Joseph Sloper produced the first commercially viable perfin machine.

Perfins continue to be used in a number of countries around the world for both official, semi-official and private use.

The term Perfin was officially coined by Hallock Card, an American, in 1943 who used it to describe the "PERForated INitials" on stamps. For a period of time the term SPIFS (Stamps Perforated with Initials of Firms and Societies) was used in Great Britain, but most people now use the term perfin.


Louis Zandbergen, a perfin collector from The Netherlands, provided me with this wonderful scan of the history the Joseph Sloper Company

Perfins have been described on a number of Silver Jubilee stamps. Information in many instances is scarce. The Table below lists the known number of perfins (December 2003). The countries listed in blue are the ones where examples are available for viewing

Numbers of Perfin dies identified in 1935 Silver Jubilee Issues

Colony
Number of Dies
Barbados
1
British Guiana
1
1
23
7
2
Malta
1
4
1
19
Swaziland
1
Trinidad & Tobago
1
Countries
Number of Dies
68 Commercial
3 Official
101 Commercial
4 Official
890
38
4
13
1
1
Agencies
Number of dies
Morocco
2
Tangier
1

Note:
Additional perfins have been described for the following colonies/countries but their face values are unknown

New Zealand
Two other perfins have been noted
Hong Kong
One additional perfin noted

Download/View listing of Silver Jubilee Perfins: Silver Jubilee Perfins  (67kb) update March 2011

A number of people have been very helpful in providing me both scans, stamps and background information. I am indeed fortunate to meet people like this
a) Jeff Turnbull, from Wales, of the Perfin Society of Great Britain
b) Steve Koning and Barry Senior,  of the BNAPS Perfin Study Group
c) John Mathews from Australia