US Stamps

Complete plate numbers on miscut booklet panes

Feb 19, 2024, 10 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Many moons ago, I began to make a list of booklet panes from the 1930s into the 1970s that exist miscut badly enough to show 100 percent of a plate number. A few examples are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Such plate numbers are quite scarce because most miscut booklets show only a small portion of a plate number — often less than 50 percent, and sometimes not enough to be able to identify the plate number.

They can occur for two different reasons.

The first is because the cutting of sheets into booklet panes was done on a stack of sheets. If you have cut four or five sheets of paper with a pair of scissors, you will notice that there is a little slippage from the first sheet to the fifth, such that the last sheet will have a bit more paper at the point of the cut.

The same thing happens with slicing apart booklets from multiple sheets. If bad enough, the bottom sheets might have plate numbers showing, most often in the upper left and lower left positions. See the two examples in Figure 1.

As the guide for the cutting operation was on the right, it is unusual to find plate numbers on the right side of a booklet pane. And for those that exist, there is only a small percentage of the plate number; there is no plate number on the right known to be a 100 percent.

Secondly, 100 percent plate numbers can result from a corner paper foldover or margin tear prior to the booklet-forming process. Folds are scarce. A couple are shown here in Figure 2. One is not a 100 percent number, but it is included to illustrate how such an event can occur.

My collection of 100 percent numbers — about 15 booklet panes — led me to wonder how many of them existed. I asked Linn’s readers almost 20 years ago for reports, and I have been adding to my list ever since.

What I didn’t realize until I saw it in 2020 was that year’s update of the Durland Plate Number Catalog, compiled by the United States Stamp Society, included an appendix that lists the maximum known percentages for each booklet pane plate used.

Perhaps one-third of the plate numbers listed are known with 100 percent of the number at upper left, lower left or in both positions. However, I found that my list has a couple of updates that I will pass along to the catalog’s editors for the next edition.

Booklet pane collectors enjoy the search for the different plate numbers, and one objective is to get the highest possible percentage that exists. Of the about 600 plate numbers that exist on these booklet panes, about 190 are known with 100 percent numbers.

Since I have found six new numbers or positions to add to the list, I bet there are more that could be added.

The 100 percent additions to its list of booklet numbers that I can contribute are as follows:

3¢ Washington (Scott 720b), plate number 21010 lower left;

3¢ Liberty (Scott 1035d), 25357 upper left;

4¢ Lincoln (Scott 1036a), 26469 upper left;

5¢ Washington (Scott 1213a), 27547 upper left;

6¢ DC-4 Skymaster airmail (Scott C39a), 24142 lower right;

8¢ Jetliner over Capitol airmail (Scott C64b), 27372 lower right.

If you have examples and would like me to check them against the Durland list, please email me at

If you want to purchase the Durland catalog, which I consider the best reference, you can do so from the U.S. Stamp Society.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter

    Like us on Facebook

    Follow us on Twitter