Secret Postage Stamp Message System

I received a letter the other day on which
the postage stamp was upside-down.
Someone mentioned to me that an upside-down
stamp is sometimes deliberately placed that
way to convey a message.
Unfortunately, no one knew much more.

So, is there is a secret stamp position
system? If so, what is it?
What does each position mean?
(Normal, upside-down, to the left,
to the right)…

in a laverne and shirley episode, shirley mails a letter (to fabian i think) with an upside down stamp… she claimed it meant ‘I love you’.

But i’ve sent stamp upside down on accident before.

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

Why don’t you just ask the person who sent you that letter? Seems like a simple solution to me.

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

My more unpatriotic friends deliberately place the US flag stamp upside down as a statement of their disapproval of US government/policy/citizens, etc. Sort of like putting a cross upside down, I suppose.

I know that hanging a US flag upside down is supposed to be a subtle way to tell people something is wrong. They would do it all the time in war movies to alert troops not to come back to the base because it had been overtaken by the enemy and they were hiding in ambush.

My WAG is: a stamp upside might mean something to the effect of ‘everything in this letter (or whatever) is bullshit and you should disregard it’ Or, everything in this letter is the exact opposite of what it says.

Incidentally, when I was a younger lad, since the stamp cancellation process is automated, we’d put the stamp just to the right or left of the ‘send to’ address in roughly the middle of the envelope which casued the cancellation machine to miss it and you could reuse the stamp. Also, if you think ahead, and are sending a big package requiring loads of stamps, cover them with white glue (elmer’s), and when it dries, it forms a clear coating that allows the cancellation ink to be wiped right off.

I know, you have to be pretty desperate and cheap to be re-using stamps, but we were poor college students at the time.

I kinda hate to admit I have something in common with L&S, but the upside-down stamp thing has been in my family for a coupla generations at least. My grandfather on my Ma’s side would send back letters to the family during WWII with the stamp upside-down for warm sentiments. Since at least then (though I don’t know if that is how it started, or just a family UL) any personal letters, cards, etc. that go out have the stamp upside-down. Though, I must admit doing that once or twice with bills. My final car payment, for instance.

>clicking the SUBMIT button with an upside-down mouse<

Once in a while you can get shown the light
in the strangest of places
if you look at it right…

My pop said sometime in the last couple of years that he got a letter, and the stamp didn’t appear to be canceled. So he pealed it of and tried to re-use. He got his letter back in the mail with a note saying “Please do not re-use stamps”. So maybe they have some new high tech equipment at work? An invisible glowing dye? I don’t know if it will penetrate elmers glue though.

This may be dumb, and ya’ll may have discussed before, but why don’t people just simple reverse the to and fro address, don’t put a stamp on it, and let the post office return to sender (which is reall the ‘to’ person) insufficient postage?

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

I’ve done that before, but it only works on a local basis. If your Post Office in Florida gets an unstamped letter with a return address in Alaska and a local destination address, they may get suspicious and just send it back to the local address. They’ve gotta know that the chances are slim for a letter to make it from Alaska to Florida with no stamp.

Well, here’s one answer I found:

I don’t think the PO would let you use most of them these days, though. It would mess up their cancelling machines.

I read once where a good way to send secret messages (like a piece of microfilm, for instance) would be to place it underneath the stamp. A upside-down stamp indicated there was something there.

So how 'bout it, BuddyG. Are you in the so-called “intelligence” community?

I would, occasionally, put stamps upside-down just to be different.

I ALWAYS sent my microfilm via FedEx! :smiley:

Yer pal,

Well, whatever message might have been intended to be conveyed by the upside-down stamp wasn’t. So, my WAG would be that it’s a totally ineffective system, if it exists in fact.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Well…I’ve always heard that the upside down stamp means “I love you”. So I bebopped my way through high-school, showing all the girls how with-it I was–“oh, that’s so sweet!” they’d exclaim.

Ok…then I joined the Navy and got myself stationed in Japan. Eventually, I met a girl . On the first letter I sent her, I thought I’d be cool and put the stamp upside down.

A couple of days later, she showed up at my apartment, ranting and fuming and demanding “how could you do this”. It seems that in Japanese tradition (at least, in her neighborhood), it means “I hate you”.

Yeah, that was fun.



 "So how 'bout it, BuddyG. Are you in the
  so-called "intelligence" community?"

I know that 2+2=4 and George Washington was the first President of the United States!!
“Lets take this rabbit for a ride…
He KNOWS too much”
Thanks for the link. That’s the info I needed.

Cheers, BuddyG

If the idea of alternate postal systems is particularly facinating to any of you, I’d suggest reading Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 It’s extremly post modern, if you like that sort of thing, and a fun read.

That was covered in a book called Bigger Secrets by William Poundstone. Yes,it does work,but I was too scared to try it :wink:

There’s a fairly well-known Urban Legend (well known enough to get into the Paradox Press “graphic novel” treatment, THE BIG BOOK OF U.L. [recommended!!!], anyway) in which a POW makes some odd statement about the stamp in his “They’re treating me very well in this prioson camp” letter to Mom.

When curious Mom peels off the stamp, she finds scrawled underneath “THEY’VE CUT OFF MY HANDS!” or some other nasty trick his captors have subjected him to, but which would not have made it past the camp censors.

I usually put the US flag stamps on upside down, out of nostalgia for my Yippie days. My current stamps have little raspberries and strawberries on them, though, and I don’t really know what THAT would signify. A fondness for jam?


I have tried that before, too and it worked for awhile. It was suggested in one of the “Big Secrets” books! But after a couple weeks of sending free letters, I finally got a notice back from the PO saying if I kept it up I could be prosecuted. How did they figure me out?? Could it be they are smarter than we give them credit for?

The letter was for a BuddyG in Australia.
I used to use the return address trick but you can’t over do it as kitty found out. Usually it worked, but a few times the PO, now the PS, didn’t ‘return to sender’ but delivered it postage due, a slip in the college PO box, not so bad unless I was visiting some one I hadn’t told about it. They’d pick up their mail and i would owe them for my own letter. And a few times with home delivery the mail man came to the door, whadda ya say? 'I don’t want it?'Sometimes a judicious smear of the ‘to’ address prevented that. I thot V mail didn’t need a stamp, course, Rhytm, you didn’t say it WAS V mail.
this > . < is not here do not look at or under it, don’t waste your time , you won’t see anything even with a microscope. IT AIN"T THERE.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx