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The Difference between Flat Plate and Rotary Plate Printing of Stamps

As a stamp collector, particularly if you are a beginner you are going to see this a lot. Flate plate or Rotary plate printing. It can make all the difference in a stamp and which stamp it is!

There is an easy way to identify the difference. I show you here and we use the 1 cent washington as our example.


1 cent washington stamp


Snip the corners off a stamp.

Place that stamp on top of one in question. Don't look at the size of the stamp paper. Look at the border lines that go all the way around! See how they line up very nicely. Almost perfect. For the most part they will be perfect. I have drawn black lines on the picture so you know where to look.

Now let's place this cut stamp on another stamp we want to identify. We have lined up that border on the top and on the left. But looking at the right border and the bottom border we can see the stamp is way off. It doesn't line up well.

I have drawn arrows on the picture so you can see how it doesn't line up with this new stamp.

So which stamp is which?

The flat plate stamp is the smaller of them. The rotary press stamp is the larger. This is because the curves of a rotary press slightly distorts the printing of the stamp. It is just a little bit but it is enough.

Important to note. The stamp that we snipped is a flat plate stamp. So, determine that first before you snip a stamp for your template stamp.

You also can get a multi-gauge. There are multi-gauges that will tell you whether it is a rotary or flat plate stamp. Here is one of the best ones. It is available on ebay

US Precision Multi-gauge