Guide to Interpreting Perfins

Guide to Interpreting Perfins

Perfin Positions

The perfin position is used to identify the relationship between the perforated insignia and the stamp. It is based on positioning the stamp so that the perforated insignia appears in its correct upright orientation.

Four orientations of the stamp are identified when looking at the design of the stamp and an additional four while viewing the reverse side.

On the design side, with the top of the design in the upright (12 o’clock position) a perfin pattern in its correct orientation will be identified as being in Position 1 as shown on the next page.  If the design is not oriented correctly in Position 1, the stamp should be then rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and, if then its orientation is correct, the perfin is identified as being in Position 2.  If still not oriented correctly, continue rotating the stamp 90 degrees at a time through Positions 3 and 4 attempting to view the pattern in its correct orientation.

Should none of these be successful, then turn the stamp to its reverse (gum) side with the top of the stamp’s design at the upright (12 o’clock) position.  If the perfin pattern is now oriented correctly, it is identified as being in Position 5.  If not, continue as before, turning 90 degrees at a time clockwise, through positions 6, 7 and 8 until the perfin pattern is oriented correctly.


The perfin image was made by a scan of one of the dies of the perforating machine. Most perforators had multiple dies, which were not identical, so hole alignment may not be exact.