Gutter Pairs


Gutter Pairs, Snipes and  Selvage


One area of collecting  that applies to United States, British Commonwealth and Worldwide issues is the area of "gutter  pairs, snipes, and selvage."  Stamps are printed on a sheet of paper and on the sheet are usually four  or more panes of the stamps.  Panes can contain from 1 to 150 individual stamps.  What many  collectors today call a sheet of stamps is, in reality, a pane of stamps from the original production  sheet.  A gutter is the stamp margin area, with or without printing, between the stamp of one pane and the stamp of an adjacent pane.

Full  Sheet of Stamps

The following image is  from the Rick Miller page of web site and is a full sheet of United States Scott  3168-3172 Classic Movie Monsters.  This particular sheet has nine panes of 20 stamps each for a  total of 180 stamps on the sheet.  While you can order the sheet from the USPS, only the  individual panes can be purchased at the post offices.  This sheet has six different gutter  collecting formats.

Gutter Pairs and  Various Combinations

This is the most common form of  collecting gutter issues.  If you are a United States collector then you most likely have some of the  United States Park issues in you collection.  These are known as the Farley issues and are the most  complex gutter varieties in the world of collecting.  This is because there are gutter pairs,  blocks, cross gutter blocks, and the full gutter panes.  Some collectors collect the gutter pairs in either  the vertical or horizontal format or both.

 Gutter Strip

 Cross  Gutter Block    Vertical Center Line Block                                                        with small gutters on imperf sheet



Horizontal Center Line with small             Cross Center Line Block

    gutters on imperf sheet                 with small gutters on imperf sheet.


Gutter Snipe

Technically the gutter snipe is  classified as an EFO or Error-Freak-Oddity.  As can be seen from the image below, the gutter exists  between the stamps of each pane but a small amount of the stamp on the adjacent pane is still  attached to the clear gutter.  This is simply a mis-registration of the full sheet of stamps on the cutter machine.  This image is US Scott 632, the 1c Franklin and is rather common to find in the gutter snipe, pair or selvage conditions.


Gutter Selvage

Gutter selvage is simply the selvage  left attached to a stamp that has perforations on the outside of the selvage indicating that the  stamp was attached to another pane of stamps at some time.  The image below is of three different  gutter selvage stamps.  Some collectors consider this format of collecting harder than finding gutter  snipes.  While all three images have gutter selvage with perforations on the non-stamp side of  the selvage, the top image is most representative of this format for collecting.  These  images are from the Mickey Dwyer collection.