As you probably know by now, I’m a big fan of using vintage stamps on milestone stationery like wedding invitations and baby announcements. I used vintage stamps for my own wedding invitations, moving announcements, and for Sophie’s birth announcements almost two (!!) years ago – and I’ve featured countless wedding invitations with beautiful vintage stamps over the years. Vintage stamps offer a wonderful opportunity to represent your personal style, whether chosen thematically or by color palette. And since unused postage never expires, there are endless options to suit everything from a formal black tie wedding to a casual backyard gathering. Some readers have asked for tips on where to find vintage stamps over the last few weeks, so today I thought I’d share my go-to sources!
If you have the time to search for stamps yourself, eBay is a wonderful resource for finding vintage stamps! This is my personal go-to source, and I like to search for entire sheets of vintage stamps. You can start here, and you’ll find sheets of everything from 3¢ stamps to recently issued stamps. You can refine the results by adding keywords – like science, love, birds, etc. – but leave out the word “stamp” since you’re already searching by stamp sheets. This method can be super effective if you’re searching for thematic stamps, but you may run into a bit of trouble if you’re trying to group stamps based on a particular color palette.
The best way to search for vintage stamps on eBay is by identifying the Scott number of a particular stamp that you love, since many eBay stamp dealers will use only the Scott number in their listing. For example, a really pretty flower “Love” stamp is #1951, my favorite constellation stamp is #3945, and another favorite stamp with state birds and flowers is #1953.
Photo by me from Sophie’s Constellation-Inspired Birth Announcements
There are a bunch of online vintage stamp shops that will curate a collection of stamps for you based on your theme or color palette – such a great option for busy couples or anyone feeling super overwhelmed by the whole process. There are probably a million more that I don’t know about, but here are a few of the shops on my radar:
A couple more online stamp shop options: Champion Stamps and US Mint Sheets. They don’t offer stamp curation, at least that I know of, but you can buy tons of vintage stamps here. Just browse by Scott number through pages and pages of vintage stamps to find what you like – just pay attention to the pricing, which may not be face value.
Local stamp dealers, stamp club members, and stamp shows
If you can track down a local stamp dealer or stamp club, they will often have vintage postage that they are willing to part with for face value. I’m told they come by large piles of vintage stamps when they buy stamp collections – but many are considered “worthless” from a stamp collecting point of view. Seriously: just Google your city/area and “stamp club” and see what comes up. You can try emailing the club or see if they list upcoming stamp show dates and go talk to them in person.
Local stamp shops and antique stores
If there is a stamp and coin shop in your area, you’re in luck! Stop by and ask to see their face value stamps. Stamp museums also often sell vintage stamps; a fun detail I discovered during a visit to the National Postal Museum earlier this year. You can also try local antique shops – if they don’t have any in the shop they may still be able to connect you with a local dealer with an extra supply of face value stamps. I’ve also heard of some people stumbling onto affordable stamp collections at flea markets – just be sure that you’re buying unused/uncanceled stamps!
Photos via Martha Stewart Weddings
A few tips for using vintage stamps:
While you’re searching and shopping for stamps, make sure that you have one stamp worth at least 15¢ (or more!). Most wedding invitations require a minimum of 70¢ postage at the current rate. The 3¢ and 8¢ stamps are beautiful, but you’ll need a 29¢ or 33¢ stamp somewhere in the mix to make up the difference.
Consider planning out your stamp arrangement ahead of time to make sure you leave room for an address – and to maximize visual impact. Some stamps look best in a straight row across the top of an envelope, while others look best in a puzzle piece arrangement in the corner. It all depends on the group of stamps you select!
Tell your stationer and/or calligrapher as soon as possible if you plan to incorporate vintage stamps into your wedding stationery. A calligrapher will definitely need to know so he or she can leave enough room at the top of the envelope for your stamps, and a large number of vintage stamps might affect a stationer’s idea to use a non-traditional envelope shape or layout.
If a particular stamp design is in high demand, some dealers will list the stamp at a price greater than face value. I’ve seen this happen to some of the pretty “Love” stamps frequently used on wedding invitations, so if you have your heart set on a particular stamp you might need to factor that cost into your stationery budget. I personally think it’s worth it to find the perfect stamp for the occasion, but the trick is to find stamps that collectors don’t care about yet make a visual impact when assembled as a small group on your envelope.
Those are my tips! Are any of you planning to use vintage stamps soon?