Most of us will be familiar with the Language of Flowers. In Victorian times flowers were often sent to convey messages. Even today roses still represent love and white flowers, a sense of purity. However few will be aware of the Language of Stamps.
Many letters posted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century had stamps affixed to envelopes and picture postcards in all sorts of odd positions and angles.
This was due to the development in England of a ‘language of stamps,’ which soon spread around the world. The position of the stamp on the envelope was supposed to relay a message to the receiver. I imagine that people who lived on the edge of Society found this a convenient way of expressing their feelings. I wonder, too, if spies or criminals had stamp languages of their own…
The problem of postmarking the stamps placed on various parts of the envelope finally became so great, that postal administrations of the world introduced regulations requiring the sender of mail to affix stamps in the upright corner of the envelope.
Collectors of postal history and picture postcards should be on the look-out for envelopes and postcards with stamps affixed in odd positions, as they could well form an interesting thematic/topical collection.
Note: Should PDb members have scans of such items in their collections, we should be pleased to publish them and include them with this article.
Here are some of the interpretations of the stamp language:
Stamp Positions & Meaning
Upside down, top left corner = I love you
Crosswise on top left corner = My heart is another’s
Centre of envelope, at top = Yes
Center of envelope, at bottom = No
Straight up and down, any position = Goodbye sweetheart
Upside down, top right corner = Write no more
At right angle, top right corner = Do you love me?
At right angle, top left corner = I hate you
Upright top right corner = I desire your friendship
Upright in line with surname = Accept my love
Upside down in line with surname = I am engaged
At right angle in line with the surname = I long to see you
Centred on right edge = Write immediately!