Wrapper (philately)
In philately
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

 a wrapper is a form of postal stationery
Postal stationery
A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as a stamped envelope, letter sheet, postal card, lettercard, aerogram or wrapper, with an imprinted stamp or inscription indicating that a specific rate of postage or related service has been prepaid...

 which pays the cost of the delivery of a newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 or a periodical
Periodical publication
Periodical literature is a published work that appears in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most familiar examples are the newspaper, often published daily, or weekly; or the magazine, typically published weekly, monthly or as a quarterly...

. The wrapper is a sheet of paper, large enough to wrap around a folded or rolled newspaper and with an imprinted stamp
Imprinted stamp
In philately an imprinted stamp is a stamp printed on to a piece of postal stationery such as a stamped envelope, postal card, letter sheet, letter card, aerogram or wrapper. The printing is flat upon the surface of the paper, as opposed to an embossed stamp which has a raised relief...

 to pay the cost of postage. Some catalogs and reference books refer to a wrapper as postal bands which comes from the French term bandes postale. Still others refer to it as a newspaper wrapper or periodical wrapper.


The first country to issue wrappers was the United States in October 1861, followed by New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 (1864), North German Confederation
North German Confederation
The North German Confederation 1866–71, was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood...

 (1868), Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

 (1869), Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (1870), Great Britain (1870), in total 110 countries issued wrappers.

Charles Knight
Charles Knight (publisher)
Charles Knight was an English publisher and author.-Early life:The son of a bookseller and printer at Windsor, he was apprenticed to his father...

 is considered as the first person to propose the use of stamped wrappers or as the "inventor". He made the proposal in 1834 in a letter to Lord Althorp
John Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer
John Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer PC, FRS , styled Viscount Althorp from 1783 to 1834, was a British statesman...

, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Following this in the course of the debate on 22 May 1834, in the House of Commons, Matthew Davenport Hill
Matthew Davenport Hill
Matthew Davenport Hill was an English lawyer and penologist.He was born at Birmingham, where his father, Thomas Wright Hill, for long conducted a private school. He was a brother of Sir Rowland Hill. He acted as assistant in his father's school, but in 1819 was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn...

 MP, brother of Sir Rowland Hill
Rowland Hill (postal reformer)
Sir Rowland Hill KCB, FRS was an English teacher, inventor and social reformer. He campaigned for a comprehensive reform of the postal system, based on the concept of penny postage and his solution of prepayment, facilitating the safe, speedy and cheap transfer of letters...

, advocating the payment of a penny upon an unstamped newspaper sent by post, stated: "...to put an end to any objections that might be made as to the difficulty of collecting the money, he would adopt the suggestion of a person well qualified to give an opinion on the subject — he alluded to Mr Knight, the publisher. That gentleman recommended that a stamped wrapper should be prepared for such newspapers as it was desired to send by post, and that each wrapper should be sold at the rate of 1d by the distributors of stamps..."

All the countries which issued wrappers have now discontinued producing them due to the declining usage. The US removed them from the official schedule on October 9, 1934 though left over stock was sold for a few years thereafter. Most countries stopped production by 1940, some of the last countries to cease issuing wrappers were Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1980, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 in 1984, Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 in 1990 and Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 in 1991.


In the early days of philately it was the practice to cut the stamp out and dispose of the rest of the wrapper with the result that some intact wrappers are now rare. Today, collectors prefer to collect the whole wrapper as it may have postal markings that provide interesting additional information.

Stamps cut from whole postal stationary items are known as cut square
Cut square
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. An alternative use of the term is simply any stamp, from sheets or postal stationery, cut...

s, and if used for postal purposes as cut-outs
Cut-out (philately)
In philately a cut-out is an imprinted stamp cut from an item of postal stationery such as a postcard, letter sheet, aerogramme or wrapper and used as a normal stamp....

. Both are considered virtually useless to the specialist because there is as much interest in the different printed inscriptions on the postal stationery as there is in the stamp itself.


Some countries permitted businesses and individuals to submit their own plain or printed sheets for impressing with an imprinted stamp. In Great Britain numerous businesses availed themselves of this facility and since anyone could use this service it resulted in private individuals producing "philatelic" wrappers. The stamping-to-order facility was introduced in Great Britain in 1855 and withdrawn in 1973.

Stamped-to-order wrappers are also known from Australia, Austria, Bavaria, France, Germany, New South Wales, Switzerland, Tasmania and Wurttemberg

Further reading

  • Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog
    Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog
    In philately, the Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog is the most recent encyclopedic catalogue of postal stationery covering the whole world...

    , 19 volumes covering the whole world.

External links

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