You know what perfins are?
For sure you have met it some time in a circulation booklet, in an exposition or perhaps in your own stamp collection… a seal with several small perforated holes. It will have occurred to you that these holes form a character, several characters or perhaps even an image. If this is the case it is highly probable you are dealing with a perfin. ‘Firmaperforatie’ is the usual Dutch name for the English word perfin. This word has been inferred of PERForated INitials.

Perfins, why were they used in the past?
Nearly immediately after the introduction of the postage stamp in the United Kingdom (1840) the seals were also used as legal tender. Unused seals could be exchanged at the post office for cash money. That’s why a payment circuit came to existence. In this way it became attractive to get hold of stamps at work (without permission) and to hand them in at the mail office afterwards. Short time later this has lead to theft from the boss. Certainly in former days the prices of postage stamps were as high as daily wages. At first the firm name or abbreviation of that name was printed on the picture side of the seals (overprints) and ‘dry-press’ (praegung) was used. This didn’t help sufficiently. In 1868 it became common to use a perforator to give stamps a definite mark.

Who did invent the perfin?
Joseph Sloper: this Englishman, interior decorator and also engineer, had the brilliant idea of developing a perforator which could perforate characters and/or signs in postage stamps. Sloper has gained much experience by making perforators in all kind of forms to perforate train tickets among other things. On 13 March 1868 for the first time a perforator was used tot perforate postage stamps with permission of the English postal service.

In which countries perfins have been used?
Shortly after this practice was extended both within the United Kingdom as to other countries. Apart from the United Kingdom there have been very many users of perforators in countries like Germany and the United States of America. In United Kingdom there have been more than 30,000 different users. In Germany 18,000. In more than 200 countries in the whole world perforators have been used. Also in the Netherlands they were used, more than 800 different perforated designs have been found till now on. The catalogue of Perfins of the Netherlands and overseas territories (by Jan L. Verhoeven, edited by the Perfin Club Nederland) gives a clear picture of the users. Apart from images of the perforations you find data of for example the user period and information about the seals in which the perforation is known (catalogue numbers of the NVPH special catalogue the Netherlands and OR).

Damaged stamps?
In the past a lot of collectors have kept out perfins from their own collections …. seals with small holes in it have been seen as damaged and those damaged seals did not belong in the collection. This line of thought is understandable, but on the other hand other people did specialize in collecting these seals. There is the story of a lawyer in the west of Holland who bought garbage bags filled up with this kind of seals at a stamp parcel supplier. Meanwhile this collection field has expanded widely. Not only in the Netherlands but also internationally. At national and international expositions perfins are taken seriously in the reviews. In the past this not always has been the case.

How did the Perfin Club Nederland come into existence?
In the autumn of 1986 a number of enthusiastic perfin collectors met in Amersfoort. Reason was the wish of some collectors to have more intensive contact with each other. This meeting resulted in the foundation of the Perfin Club Nederland in March 1987. The club is considered as a specialized society. After a short while is appeared this was not a superfluous luxury. A lot of interested collectors from at home and abroad announced themselves.