How are stamps made?

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Other topics: Stamps
Short answer:
  • The manufacturing of postage stamps often involves the use of paper by the printing press.
  • Several countries have a variety of opinions on the way by which stamps are manufactured. As a consequence of this, it is possible to stumble across objects that were manufactured employing materials such as synthetics, plastic, or wood. These methods often differ from one another in the particulars of what they include depending on the individual material that is used in the process of creating this minute thing.
Great Britain postage stamp: Growth of Savings (Source: Flickr)

When a piece of mail is stamped, it indicates that the fee for the postal service has been paid in full. These unobtrusive slips of paper are often attached to a variety of items that are sent via the mail, such as packages, envelopes, cards, and aerograms.

Their function is to provide evidence that the sender of the mail has already paid for the delivery of the item, either in whole or in part. This evidence may be presented in the form of a postage stamp.

The fact that stamps may be made using such a diverse range of techniques is an interesting fact to uncover. Every procedure has distinctive characteristics that distinguish it from other processes. Each age is famous for the distinctive printing processes that are unique to that era. Stamps are made in a myriad of one-of-a-kind ways, and the processes and methods that are used to make them span a vast spectrum. Printing methods such as intaglio, letterpress, photogravure, embossing, line engraving, engraving, and offset lithography are some of the most prevalent and commonly used printing processes. The method of printing that is used by each particular stamp printing machine is what distinguishes it from all of the others in its category.[1]

Intaglio Stamp Printing Technique[edit]

Before the 1970s, 95% of stamps were created using a process called recess printing, which included printing from metal plates. The process that is being used here is known as intaglio. Stamps made using an intaglio technique may be recognized by the tiny ridges that appear on the paper. These ridges are the result of the paper being pushed into the channels of the plate at a high enough pressure to produce the effect.[2]

Letterpress Stamp Printing Technique[edit]

It is widely recognized that the oldest kind of printing technology was letterpress printing, which is often referred to as relief printing. It was not until the year 1840 that it was first put into use. For this procedure, you will need to print from a design that is raised on the plate, with the image itself being elevated. First, the raised and inverted sides of the stamp need to be inked, and then the stamp has to be pressed into stamp paper to acquire a nice, accurate shot using this method. Philatelists refer to this activity by the name "typography," which describes the term itself. In this stage of the process, the plate is manipulated to produce raised design lines. Afterward, ink is rubbed over the depression, and after that, specialty paper is forced into it. And the same process is repeated. The surface of these stamps is glossy, and the majority of the time, there is a design that is black somewhere on them.[3]

Photogravure Stamp Printing[edit]

Before 1934, the printing method of choice in the United Kingdom for the creation of affordable stamps was photogravure letterpress. This printing method was used until 1934. During the same period in history, the usage of photogravure started to become more common. To implement this technology on the plate, graphical engraving was chosen as the method of choice. There was a possibility for some pretty impressive tone gradients to be implemented. The screening process imparted a fine-line quality to the photographs, which could be observed in some areas of the images.

This approach makes use of a photographic process and requires the stamp design to be attached to the cylinder in some manner. There are a lot of processes involved in the process, and one of them is screening an image of a stamp. The method of printing known as photogravure generates a wide variety of colors and individual cells, which, when brought together, result in the most beautiful possible image. Stamps may be available in a wide variety of colors and tones if they were created using photogravure as the production method. This takes place as a consequence of the fact that the depth of the etch may be altered by the user. You have the power to modify the quantity of ink that is on a stamping plate as well as the depth to which it is applied.[4]

Printing Utilizing an Embossed Pattern (Relief) Texture Stamp Printing[edit]

The method of printing known as embossing is not generally considered to be one of the major types of printing. In this method, the design is first to cut into the metal of the die using an etching tool. During the printing process, a platen that has some give to it, such as one made of leather or linoleum, is used. As a consequence of the platen being driven down into the depression that the die has, the paper gives an impression of the pattern that is raised off the surface of the paper. This approach is often used in the production of metallic inks.[5]

Line engraving Stamp Printing Technique[edit]

The method of producing engraved images on stamp materials is known as "line engraving," and the word "line engraving" relates to the procedure itself. This technique is analogous to printing that is carried out using a relief or intaglio press. The creation of a line engraving calls for the plate to be carved into first. The printing surface, which may be composed of steel or copper, receives the ink before being covered with a plate that acts as the printing surface. After the stamp paper is placed properly over the plate, it is transported to the press where it is run through a series of rollers.[6]

Engraving stamp printing Technique[edit]

In the printing method known as engraving stamp printing, the ink is kept in a depression that has been etched or carved into the face of a printing surface. This depression acts as a reservoir for the ink. The printing plates that are used in the gravure stamp process each include grooves or cells on the surface, which is the characteristic feature that distinguishes the gravure stamp. It is completely soaked in ink from the beginning all the way through to the end. The doctor’s blade is used to scrape off any excess ink that is on the surface of the document. The truth of the matter is that there is still some ink left over at the break this time. The designs that will appear on stamps are transferred from a plate that is revolving on a cylinder to the paper or other materials that will be used to manufacture the stamps. There is a separate printing machine dedicated specifically to each color of the stamp. The main color scheme has yellow, black, magenta, and cyan as the primary colors.[7]

Techniques of engraving employed on contemporary postage stamps[edit]

Throughout the course of history, there has been a substantial amount of development in the conventional printing techniques for stamps. The practice of electronic engraving is becoming more and more popular these days. This, in contrast to photogravure and lithography, have lines and dots that are difficult to distinguish from one another. Other printing methods do not share this characteristic at all.[8]

Lithography; a contemporary printing process that uses stamps[edit]

In the lithographic printing method, rather than employing paper as the printing surface, a stone or a metal plate is typically used instead. Stamps for the first lithographs were made using a combination of water and oil. These early lithographs were made by hand. Because of the adaptability of chemicals, imaging processes in today's world often include their utilization.

There are several different phases involved in the process of printing using lithographic stamps. The printing plate is first attached to the cylinder of the printing press after initial preparations have been completed. After the water has been applied to the plate, there are specialized rollers called dampening rollers that cover the area of the plate that is blank with water. A further step involves coating the ink rollers with hydrophobic ink so that they can print on water. It removes the water from the image and only bonds to the emulsion in the part of the picture that was exposed to light. It is well known that the technique of offset lithography may produce an image in a mirror image. As a result, the specific image is duplicated onto the stamp paper in a very accurate manner. Under these conditions, the paper would be completely absorbed by the water. After the product's design has been chemically imprinted into the printing plate, the ink will be transferred to a secondary medium, such as a rubber mat, for it to be printed on the item. This will allow the ink to be printed on the product. Because of the qualities that it has, this rubber mat can eliminate water while at the same time absorbing the ink. After that, a constant amount of pressure is applied to the stamp paper to transfer the ink from the stamp onto the paper. The images are moving from the rubber mat onto the paper as they are gradually revealed on the paper. This indicates that the images are being transferred. Because the image of the stamp will first be offset onto the secondary medium, this printing method is also known as "offset lithography." Stamps are produced using this method. Another name for this method is "offset lithography."[9]


  1. "Briefmarkenkatalog". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  2. "The Four Main Printing Processes of Postage Stamps". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  3. "The Four Main Printing Processes of Postage Stamps". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  4. Inc, SoftPro 2010 (2016-04-19). "How to Easily Differentiate Between Photo and Litho Stamps. A Simple explanation » EzStamp". EzStamp. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  5. "The Four Main Printing Processes of Postage Stamps". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  6. "Methods and processes used for printing postage stamps". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  7. "How are Postage Stamps Printed?". Blog | Mintage World. 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  8. "Methods and processes used for printing postage stamps". Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  9. Inc, SoftPro 2010 (2016-04-19). "How to Easily Differentiate Between Photo and Litho Stamps. A Simple explanation » EzStamp". EzStamp. Retrieved 2022-10-25.