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  #1  
Old 11 September 2007, 08:19 PM
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Icon605 Stamps as currency

Comment: I heard a rumor that one can use stamps as "money" to buy things,
and that a crooked politician once saved up enough of his office's free
stamps to buy a car!

Are either of these things true?
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  #2  
Old 11 September 2007, 08:32 PM
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If it helps, I was just flipping through my L.L. Bean catalog just minutes ago, and they asked not to be sent postage stamps as payment.

IIRC, when I worked as a grocery clerk, we were taught that pstage stamps were legal tender. I'm off to google this.

/anecdotal evidence
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  #3  
Old 11 September 2007, 08:36 PM
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Somewhere I remember hearing that in the late 19th century, it was common for a while in some places to use stamps glued to cardboard as currency.
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Old 11 September 2007, 08:54 PM
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First of all:

Second: Where exactly do these people think take stamps. What would they do with the stamps once one has paid with them. I've never tried, but I'm guessing the post office doesn't refund stamps.

Third: How inconvenient would that be? Why would anyone save stamps, which have a prefect use in and of themselves, when they could just use money?

Maybe, maybe, this originates from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S&H_Green_Stamps
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  #5  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HollowMan View Post
Why would anyone save stamps, which have a prefect use in and of themselves, when they could just use money?
In the olden days, when most people didn't having checking accounts and money orders as such didn't exist, it was much easier to mail payment in the form of postage stamps than to mail it as specie.

- snopes
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  #6  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:17 PM
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Well, it turns up in The Office as a factoid spouted by David Brent:

David Brent: In fact, a postage stamp is legal tender. A bus driver would have to accept that as currency.
Tim: Yeah, that'd happen.
Gareth: Well, if he doesn't, report him.
Tim: Yeah, I'll report him while I'm walking home.
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  #7  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:19 PM
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Librarians have a listsever where we exchange odd issues of journals. You'd be surprised at how many people end up with two copies of the International Dental Journal (fer instance) while some go without. It never really balances out. Anyway, we pay for the exchange of these journals by sending postage stamps to cover the shipping. I have an envelope full of every denomination of stamp.
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  #8  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
In the olden days, when most people didn't having checking accounts and money orders as such didn't exist, it was much easier to mail payment in the form of postage stamps than to mail it as specie.

- snopes
Makes sense. I was going on the assumption that the OP was talking about modern times, since no time frame was specified.
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  #9  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:46 PM
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I've heard this before but I've never tried it. After all, I'd need some money to buy the stamps in the first place.
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  #10  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:50 PM
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IIRC if you buy a postal order, they sometimes put stamps on it to make up a small amount - so if I asked for a postal order for £10.28 what I would get would be a £10 preprinted postal order with 28p worth of stamps attached to it.
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  #11  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
IIRC if you buy a postal order, they sometimes put stamps on it to make up a small amount - so if I asked for a postal order for £10.28 what I would get would be a £10 preprinted postal order with 28p worth of stamps attached to it.
Can you still get postal orders? I haven't seen one of those for years.
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  #12  
Old 11 September 2007, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Can you still get postal orders? I haven't seen one of those for years.
Yes. Well I bought one late last year, so I assume you still can.
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  #13  
Old 11 September 2007, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faith View Post
David Brent: In fact, a postage stamp is legal tender. A bus driver would have to accept that as currency.
"Legal tender" only means that the government has to accept it as a valid form of payment, not anyone else. And postage stamps aren't legal tender anyway.

- snopes
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  #14  
Old 11 September 2007, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Can you still get postal orders? I haven't seen one of those for years.

You can still get UK Postal orders ; however as they charge for the service, most people prefer to use personal cheques.

Postal Orders actually started with the Army during the Crimean War (1850s) as a way for soldiers to send money home, and only later did it spread to the civilian post office.

Note that adding stamps to a Postal Order (which has to be done at time of purchase) is not the same as redeeming stamps, it is simply a way to give an infinate variation of postal order values ( from 0 to £250) with a limited number of pre-printed values.
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  #15  
Old 12 September 2007, 02:11 AM
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politicians and government offices don't buy stamps that someone could steal -- they use a machine to stamp the mail, and then pay the post office at the end of the month. As far as I can recall the government didn't use postage stamps in the 1860's either -- so I don't think some body saved postage stamps for 50 or more years to buy something that wasn't invented when they started saving them.
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  #16  
Old 12 September 2007, 06:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
"Legal tender" only means that the government has to accept it as a valid form of payment, not anyone else. And postage stamps aren't legal tender anyway.

- snopes
It also must be accepted for any debt. If you're prepaying for something like a bus ride or merchandise you're buying, they can be picky, but if it's something you're being billed for, they have no choice.

http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq...l-tender.shtml

"This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor."

That's the case for "coins and currency", at least. I don't know if stamps are "currency" however.
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  #17  
Old 12 September 2007, 07:40 AM
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In Sweden it's definitely true that you can use stamps as payment. Not in shops but when buying things by postal order. I have no idea how common it is nowadays with internet banking and all, but it has indeed been used not too long ago.
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  #18  
Old 12 September 2007, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glamgurl36 View Post
they don't make stamps back by the gold a country has. so if they are basing that off currency then how is there "extra" for stamps and their purchases..the euro/dollar would go down drastically
I don't think any country backs it's currency with gold anymore. The US hasn't since 1970 something, and the Euro probably never was.
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  #19  
Old 13 September 2007, 03:45 PM
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The Stamp Payments Act of 1862--"Section 1 of the Act provided for the use of postage stamps as currency for government debts valued at less than five dollars; " Source

And
Quote:
Postage stamps have served as money in areas as diverse as America, Europe, and the Far East. During the American Civil War merchants, struggling with a shortage of small coins, began the practice of making small change with postage stamps. Daily purchases of stamps increased fivefold in New York City alone, and individual stamps circulated until they became too dirty and tattered for recognition. John Gault, a Boston sewing-machine salesman, proposed the encasement of stamps in circular metal discs with transparent mica on one side showing the face of the stamp. Soon the metal side of the discs was bearing inscriptions of advertisements; one series of encased stamps bore the slogan, “Ayer’s Sarsaparilla to Purify the Blood.” Denominations of encased stamp money ranged from 1 cent to 90 cents, and one rectangular encasement had three 3-cent stamps, making a 9-cent coin.


The government took up the idea of postage money and begin issuing postage currency in denominations of 5-, 10-, 15-, and 50-cent stamps, and some of the postage currency was even perforated around the edges to resemble stamps. The postage currency soon dropped any association with postage stamps and became simple fractional currency in denominations of 3 cents to 50 cents and bearing the inscription “Receivable for all U.S. stamps.” Source
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  #20  
Old 13 September 2007, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
"Legal tender" only means that the government has to accept it as a valid form of payment, not anyone else. And postage stamps aren't legal tender anyway.

- snopes
IIRC, you are also not limited to accepting only legal tender as payment. Utility companies often accepted friuts and vegetables as payment as well.
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