US Stamps

Paper-clipped Purple Heart stamp mystery solved

Nov 4, 2015, 2 PM

My previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio.

To illustrate this mystery, I pictured two covers franked with a single Purple Heart stamp.

“Look carefully at the white space just below the bottom of the Purple Heart medal on each stamp,” I then wrote.

“There are two parallel lines running vertically from the bottom of each stamp into the image of the medal.

“When I first noticed these lines, I thought they were pencil marks. It was only when I held the envelopes at a slight angle to the fluorescent lights over my cubicle that I saw the telltale indentations left by a small paper clip.

“Which got me thinking: I had seen similar markings/indentations on a significant number of Amos Media envelopes during the past couple of months. In almost every case, the stamp used on the envelope was a Purple Heart forever stamp.”

I went on to surmise that perhaps the source of these oddly marked Purple Heart stamps was a donation solicitation mailing from a charitable organization such as the Disabled American Veterans.

Feedback from a DAV representative confirmed that the DAV did not use loose stamps in its solicitations as an inducement to get the recipient to send in a donation.

“Some of our return mailings do include postage on the return envelope,” the DAV representative told me. “Donors have the option to have their return envelopes sent without return postage so they then may pay for the postage.

“At this time DAV uses several different stamps on those return envelopes and it is not always the same.”

My blog closed with a request for more information from readers, and several collectors responded with positive identification of one source of the paper-clipped Purple Heart stamps: the Wounded Warrior Project.

Illustrated above is one such WWP mailing, which clearly shows a Purple Heart stamp paper-clipped to the contents that are visible through the clear window at top left.

Note the clever printed teaser on the envelope: “YES! That’s a REAL STAMP! What links it to someone who was severely burned in Afghanistan?”

The implied connection, of course, is that the victim was burned as a result of being in combat in Afghanistan, thus qualifying for the Purple Heart medal.

A very savvy means of getting someone to open their wallet in support of an ostensibly worthy cause, wouldn’t you say?

Had I received this solicitation, however, the temptation to open it would have been overridden by the postal historian in me, who would have preserved the cover as received.

A tip of the hat to Todd Ronnei of Minnesota, who supplied me with a picture of this nifty cover.

Do you have mailed evidence from another charitable organization that does the same thing as the WWP?

If so, please send a picture of the cover to me at

Until next time, happy collecting. Cheers!