The idea of adding a postage stamp collage to envelopes had never occurred to me until Pinterest showed me the light. You can’t help but notice the small pieces of artwork working to enhance an already-beautiful envelope! If you have an interest in creating stamp collages to give your envelopes some extra oomph, here are some tips:
1. Buy Vintage Stamps
In the US, unused vintage postage stamps are still valid at their face value for mailing purposes! You can purchase stamps from whatever year and use them to mail your letter. Keep in mind that the total value of the stamps must meet or exceed the cost of mailing the envelope.
I always purchase my stamps off of eBay. I get a lot of 100 for around $13.00 from a stamp collector named Doug who lives in Minnesota. He always sends different, delightful stamps: I never know what I’m going to get!
2. Buy Modern Stamps
Sometimes modern stamps are just as cool as vintage stamps! You can skip the post office line (and risk of unavailability) by ordering online at USPS.com. I buy stamps for all different amounts! $0.10 stamps come in very handy, as do global ($1.30) stamps.
The only disadvantage to ordering online is the shipping cost — which is around $1.00. That cost, however, is worth it to me to have more of a selection and not have to wait in line at the post office!
3. Weigh Your Envelope
The number one trick to ensure any envelope’s safe passage is to weigh it on an accurate scale. Weighing your envelope lets you know exactly how much postage you need! At this time, a 1 oz. letter mailed within the US costs $0.58 to mail. If the envelope is heavier or has a shape/size that deviates from the norm, however, you’ll need to pay extra.
If you live in the US and are unsure of the cost to send your envelope, take a look at this website. It is easy to understand, always updated, and has never steered me wrong!
4. Make a Draft Arrangement of the Stamps on Your Envelope
Once you have written the recipient’s name on your envelope, start experimenting with a stamp layout. Mind you, you’re not gluing your stamps down yet — just placing them to test how they look. The backs of nearly all pre-2002 stamps are dry (not self-adhesive like modern stamps), so they’re easy to shuffle around!
I always begin with a stamp I like on the right, then I make my way toward the left with other stamps. It’s up to you whether you want to fill up the whole top of the envelope or not! Once you’ve reached the appropriate value amount, you can add more stamps or simply stop. It never hurts to add a little bit of extra postage for visual effect.
As you’re adding stamps, you can stick to a theme or a color scheme, or simply add stamps with no rhyme or reason. For the envelope above, I only chose stamps that feature purple, green, or gray as the predominant color.
5. Adhere the Postage Stamp Collage to the Envelope
Once you’ve come up with an arrangement that you like, you can use a wet cloth (or your tongue) to moisten the back of the stamp that goes on the right. Place that stamp, then move on to the second-to-the-right stamp, and so on and so forth.
When you’re finished with your layout, double check that your stamps total or exceed the required cost. Otherwise, the mail will not be delivered.
6. Mail the Envelope!
Simply place your well-stamped letter in the outbox (or take it to the post office). USPS will mail your envelope exactly as they would mail a letter with a single stamp!
Things to Remember
First of all, don’t be afraid to mix modern and vintage! The 10 cent clock stamps on the envelope below are right at home among stamps from the 60’s.
You can also play with orientation. Strictly speaking, I believe that USPS would prefer that you put stamps on the right. However, I have oriented stamps to the left without delivery issues!
Finally, don’t worry about making a creative postage stamp collage every single time. Sometimes, repeating one stamp design is just as impactful as combining different stamps!
I hope that today’s blog post gave you some courage and resources to start including stamp collages on your mail. You’ll find that one of the best parts of mailing a letter is getting to sit down and select stamps that appeal to you and gracefully finish off the envelope!
If you have any questions about stamp collages or input on stamp collaging in countries outside of the US, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! I apologize for not being able to speak about this topic on an international level, but I hope that you can fill in the blanks for me if you live outside the US. Can you find vintage stamps, and where? Does it trip up the post office when you use them? Do they need to be arranged a certain way on the envelope? Answers to questions like these would be helpful!
As always, thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!