Cut square (philately)

A Bahamas four pence imprinted stamp cut square from a piece of postal stationery.

In philately, a cut square is an imprinted stamp cut from an item of postal stationery such as a stamped envelope, postal card, letter sheet, letter card, aerogram or wrapper in a square or rectangular shape.[1] An alternative use of the term is simply any stamp, from sheets or postal stationery, cut in a square or rectangular shape and not cut to shape.[2][3]

It is distinguished from the entire (the complete postal stationery item) or the more common practice of earlier eras of cutting to shape by removing all of the paper apart from the imprinted stamp. A variant of the cut square is the full corner which is a cutting of the corner to include the intact flap and back of the envelope as well as the front.[4]

Just as used postage stamps were cut out, soaked and placed in an album, collectors also cut out postal stationery indicia and mounted them conveniently in albums. Now, the practice is frowned upon by most collectors who collect the entire,[5] thus saving the envelope's postal history, the knife of the envelope and the postmark. To illustrate how far things have shifted in emphasis from the collection of cut squares, the most recent UPSS publication on US 20th and 21st century stamped envelopes does not even mention cut squares,[6] whereas its predecessor edition, just seven years earlier, devoted a section to their pricing.[7]

The term cut square is differentiated from the term used on piece which denotes an adhesive stamp cut out in similar fashion from the original cover so as to preserve the entire postmark.[8]


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  1. Youngblood, Wayne L. All about Stamps, Krause Publications, Iola WI, 2000, p.51. ISBN 0-87341-963-4.
  2. Patrick, Douglas & Mary. The Hodder Stamp Dictionary, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1973, p.61. ISBN 0-340-17183-9.
  3. Mackay, James. Philatelic Terms Illustrated, 4th edition, Stanley Gibbons, London, 2003, p.40. ISBN 0-85259-557-3.
  4. Thorp-Bartels Catalogue of U.S. Stamped Envelopes, Century Edition, 1954
  5. Van Gelder, Peter J.; The Collectors' Guide to Postal Stationery; Shrewsbury, England, 1997
  6. Undersander, Dan, Ed.; Catalog of the 20th and 21st Century Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, Third Edition, UPSS, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9800112-8-9.
  7. Summers, Jerry, Ed.; Catalog of the 20th Century Stamped Envelopes, Wrappers, Cut Squares and Full Corners of the United States, Second Edition, UPSS, 2004.
  8. Bennett, Russell and Watson, James; Philatelic Terms Illustrated, Stanley Gibbons Publications, London (1978).

See also

Cut-out (philately)

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