Could I stick 41 1-cent stamps on a letter?

I’ve got a sheet of 1-cent stamps. I pulled out a legal-sized envelope and held it over and I could just about stick 40 of these on one side of an envelope. I guess I could shoe-horn the 41st in there someplace or maybe on the other side.

This appeals to my sense of weird. Could I mail a letter this way (and have it get delivered)?

Would you still have room to put the addressee/return address info on the face of the letter though?

I pulled it all out again.

The dimensions of the envelope, in stamps, is 11 across by 4 down. 44 possible stamps on one side. I guess I could leave a gap of three stamps someplace in the middle, about the size of a standard mail label, that I could print a tiny address into. The return address is going to have to go on the back flap, though.

I can confidently predict that your whole mess will come right back to you as Undeliverable.

USPS mailpiece regulations state::

Note the phrase “clear space”. It has to be readable by clerks and letter carriers sorting mail at speed. Nobody down there has time to squint at your project, they’ll just toss it aside as Undeliverable, and eventually whoever is detailed to deal with Undeliverables will get around to squinting at it and trying to figure out if it has a return address on it.

So you should be seeing your letter again in about a month. Don’t put the electric bill in there.

And no, stamps can’t go on the back; they have to go on the front.

And…I experimented with my own sheet of stamps just now, and established fairly conclusively that there’s room for 4 rows of 10 stamps, and that that fills up the entire face of the envelope except for about a half-inch space down one side, vertically. So you must be really cramming your stamps in there, but you can’t do that, with overlapping or whatever–each stamp has to be clearly identifiable as what it is, official U.S. postage.

Yes, as long as the postage is there and the address is readable, it will get through. It may take a while, as it’s going to be pulled out of the automatic machines and done by hand.

Have you weighed the letter and all those stamps? Shame if it was over an ounce :smack:

I vote that you try it, take pictures of it to post on here, and mail it to a member of SDMB. You know, to see if it really gets there, and in what shape.

OK - the experiment is on. I’ll mail it from New Mexico next week (vacation) to my girlfriend’s address. That’ll give the Post Office lots of distance to marvel at it.

I like the idea of calling this an “art project”. Heck, if fake canned feces can be art, so can this. I’ll definitely take some pictures…

Oh, and Duck? I’ve got the 1-cent stamps with an “American Kestrel” on them. Apples-to-apples, are we using the same stamps? I’m pretty sure 11 will fit if I don’t get sloppy about leaving gaps.

I actually did this already. You can’t fit all 41 1-cent stamps on an envelope. To do so, you will have to change envelope size. When you do that, the price to mail the letter/envelope increases beyond 41 cents. It’s a vicious circle I tell you. ETA: in my situation, they allowed the letter to be delivered, but they dropped a note to the recipient (my parents) saying that they owed 10 cents.

You just might become the next mail art enthusiast. I’ve received several examples of decorated correspondence. One woman from Maryland affixed a Malawian stamp to the envelope (perfectly legal, as long as the correct amount of USA postage is also attached). Maybe for your next project, you could hunt down 41 different one-cent stamps, ranging from nineteenth-century issues to current releases, and use them to satisfy the postage requirement.

Can’t you just put some stamps on the back?

I’ve seen Pitney Bowes imprints on envelopes with .30 on the front and .055 or somesuch on the back and they made it to me just fine.

Ugh. My first post got eaten by hungry hamsters.

Many years ago, Games Magazine would publish some of the creative envelopes that they received. The art was absolutely amazing, Sometimes the address would be pretty obscured within the art but the letter was still delivered. I can’t find a link, but some of them would have the entire face of the envelope decorated.

I’m guessing you’re really at the mercy of the postal worker. The postal regs may say that they won’t deliver your letter if it falls outside the guidelines, but clearly there are exceptions.

Postal regulations (I’m talking sane places here, not the USPS which can be a bit erm… zealous) are generally not high in the minds of the drones sorting the stuff. Even the managers usually don’t want to bother spending $5 in wages and other costs to recoup 20c.

Basically speaking, postal regulations such as discounted rates for printed material and the like, are only for high volume mailers where a 5c fraud on each article is going to add up. Individuals can get away with a lot more. When I feed mail into a sorting machine, I might grab a whole tray’s contents between my two hands accordion style, and that can count for 500 articles or so, so many letters are never even seen by a human being until the mailman at the destination picks it up. When I’ve got an OCR unit humming at 40k articles per hour, I’m not going to notice yours. And by the time it’s got to the mailman, he’s probably just going to think it easier to deliver it, since it’s already come all that way, rather than go through the hassle of marking it and holding it for return.

That, and we’re human too at the post office (believe it or not). If I see an item that’s underpaid, and it’s written by a kid to his grandma, I’m hardly going to slam an aggressive red RTS stamp on it. That sucker gets squirreled away in the middle of a pile of other mail, and is on the next plane.

You can rip off the Post Office, and play with their minds. You just can’t make a habit of it. It’s not the sort of crime that will make you rich, because after you’ve made about $5 out of doing crazy stuff with mail, the local post office will be onto you.

According to Tom and Ray on Car Talk*, if you put sufficient postage and a legible address on pratically anything (they’ve attested to coconuts and bricks that I recall), the post office will deliver it.

  • Yes, I know: consider the source.

A classic: Postal Experiments

Legible is in the eyes of the postman, or his machine.

I believe you are allowed to use any number of stamps, and I also recall that they are all supposed to be on the same side as the address. (The return address can be on the back, but the upper left corner is preferred.

However, modern machines may have problems, and if one of them nicks off one stamp, well, back it goes for insufficient postage, and you have to use 41 more to send it the next time. However, aside from that, there are no restrictions on how many stamps you use. As a postal clerk, I often pasted whole sheets of stamps on parcels, just to get rid of unwanted issues. (I had several patrons who asked specifically if I could do that, please.)


My 1c stamps are 24mm across, but if you shave off the border, you can get it down to 19mm. The envelopes in my drawer are 241mm x 104mm, that gives you a whole 2x1 extra rows of stamps, or 60c total! That means Canadians can give this a try too (for now).

(This also presumes the border is unnecessary for for stamp validation, which could easily be an invalid assumption)

It is. No part of a stamp may be previously obliterated prior to use. Obliteration includes marking or removal of any portion.

On the other hand, you’d probably get away with it. In the old days, if I was hand-sorting, i was instructed to “obliterate” an letter that had made its way into the system without being postmarked by drawing two diagonal lines about a quarter inch apart across the stamp and onto the mail article at the start and finish of the line, with a ball point pen. This was legally classified as a postmark. These days, the bean counters have decreed that they save more money by not having me stop sorting to do this, weighed up against the possibility of some scrooge steaming off the unobliterated stamps for reuse.