Tearing stamps apart

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1. Tearing stamps apart

The first stamps did not have perforations, which are rows of holes punched through a sheet to separate each stamp. Perforations in the sheet of stamps means that you can easily tear the stamps apart without damaging them.

The first stamp was the penny black, issued in 1840. The sheets of penny blacks had no perforations. The stamps had to be cut apart with scissors. Some people were very careful and cut around the stamp neatly but some didn’t cut straight or cut off the edges of the stamp.

Next page you'll find out more about perforations