In the spring of 1996 I wrote a general article on this subject which was posted on the Internet STAMPS List and in the news groups rec.collecting.postal-history and rec.collecting.stamps. The article you see here only covers the story of the terms SPIFS and PERFIN, apart from a short introduction of the very beginning of the PERFIN story. If you would like to see the complete version of my general article, you can find it on my SPIFS/PERFINs Introduction Page together with my story of the Danish PERFINs.
As far as this article is concerned, a special thanks is due to Mr Richard L Mewhinney (b. 10. July 1924 - † 23 Nov. 2009), USA, who found the source where the abbreviation PERFIN was first mentioned. Also a special thanks is due to Mr Michael Baadke, (firstname.lastname@example.org), Editor of Scott Stamp Monthly, who found the 1943 issues of "Linn's Weekly Stamp News" for me. (Believe me or not: Michael told me that one of his cats is named PERFIN because of her talent for perforating Michael's skin when she is annoyed with him :-).
Again, I would like to thank Bob Track (email@example.com) for his valuable help in proof reading the text and our deep discussions about the subject - I guess that Bob now collects Perfins from Worcester, Mass. - Don't you, Bob? :-)
The Very Beginning
Not many collectors of PERFINs doubt that it was Mr Joseph Sloper from England who invented a perforating machine which could be used for perforating initials etc. on postage stamps and other papers of any value. Actually it seems that the first person who thought about perforating "stamps" to prevent fraud not was Mr Sloper but was:
Sir Henry Bessemer
"7 January 1945 Ripley (World Copyright) Sir Henry Bessemer, 1813-1898, of Charlton, whose process for making steel revolutionised the commercial history of the world, invented - when only 20 years old - a machine to perforate stamps, thereby saving the Government UK£ 100,000 a year from fraud."
Maurice Harp told us that:
Later, the story of him being wronged by the Board of Stamps came to the notice of Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and, as a result, Bessemer received a knighthood as some recompense for the injustice. As far as I know Bessemer's "invention" never saw the light of the day and probably no machine was ever made by him, but in spite of this, IF Bessemer had the opportunity to work with his idea, he would have been the real inventor of the perforating machine as sure as Leonardo da Vinci was the inventor of the helicopter!
Mr Joseph Sloper
|Charles Jennings (3) wrote:|
"The first idea of using Sloper's invention for postage stamps seems to have originated with firms who were already using his machines for their cheques. Certainly, the first to apply to the Post Office for permission to have stamps perforated was Messrs. Copestake, Moore, Crampton and Co., who, in a letter of 23 October 1867, asked the GPO a permission to underprint stamps on the back and asked for permission to perforate stamps. After some correspondence between Sloper and the GPO, Sloper finally received:
General Post Office 13th March 1868
F Hugh Vallancey (4) wrote:
March 1st, 1869
"The Man who Coined the Term PERFIN"
Since "Part 7 - Epilogue - The Never Ending Story" of my SPIFS/PERFIN story on the STAMPS List and in the news groups rec.collecting.postal-history and rec.collecting.stamps was posted to you on 19 May 1996, I have been in contact with the former president of "The Perfins Club" in the US, Mr Richard L Mewhinney, who has been so kind by spending a lot of time digging out the information I needed to fill the last holes in my series about SPIFS - PERFINs. Thanks to Richard I am now able to post you the
"thrilling conclusion of this exciting mystery story -- Who named these holey stamps PERFINS? What was his/her name? The answer may lie in one of the early issues of the Perfins Club newsletter."
as my late friend Bob de Violini wrote me in May 1996!
From Richard's papers (5) we can see the most important part of the PERFIN story relates to the terms used. Let me give you a retrospective view and quote some articles from philatelic magazines and other sources:
A clipping from the "American Boy Magazine" (6), February 1909:
Notice: "no pecuniary value" :-)
Further, the "order" noted above was issued 8 May 1908 by The
Postmaster General of the United States (Section 562, Paragraph 5):
The Early 1930's
"Pin-Perforated U.S. Stamps
22 July 1933
13 June 1936
Of course he had the opportunity to coin the abbreviation "PIMAPS" :-) but as we know he did not.
Harnden also mentioned the first countries to adopt PERFINs:
December 1943 - The Term PERFIN was coined
"Join the "Perfins"
In his "A History of The Perfins Club - a Research Project" (11) from June 1970, Mr Richard L Mewhinney wrote:
"The Perfins Club
Notice that Mewhinney also use the term "Insignia" - This is, as far as I know, the earliest known use of the term in connection to PERFINs - Further, when The Perfins Club was founded it was the first time the term PERFIN was used!!
In "Linn's Weekly Stamp News" (12) we can see one classified advertisement from Warren Travell that appeared in three consecutive issues of "Linn's Weekly Stamp News". The first appearance was 13 May 1943, followed by 20 May and 27 May, but nothing after that. In each of the issues, the advertisement appeared under the heading "Wanted," and on Page 6 each time. This is the text of the advertisement:
|WANTED, ACCUMULATIONS OF PER-
forated initials. State amount and price
or swap wants. Warren Travell, San
|"Official Records 1945|
The first official publication of the Perfins Club was the first issue of "PERFINS" that came out in April, 1945. A membership list at this time shows a total of 28 members. The club had three officers:
#1- Hallock Card was our Editor-Secretary-Treasurer
#3- Charles Metzs was named as our first Vice President in June 1945.
#4- Warren Travell was our President."
As you see it was Mr Hallock Card who coined the term PERFIN, probably in agreement with Mr Warren Travell.
1944 - The Term SPIFS Was Coined
"Perfins, Spifs or Punchies
I only quoted Mr Van Lint because he used the term "Punchies" which I never had heard before :-)
Epilogue - (Don't ask me: "Is that for sure?" ;-)
Thank you for your attention!
Two other recommendable books:
Search the American Philatelist Research Library for books on PERFINs:
See also Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia: PERFINs:
If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know:
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Last modified 2009.03.23