Q: Why are there no modern-day props in the HPLHS collection?
A: In these troubled times of heightened security, making authentic replicas of government documents and the like easily available seems like a bad idea. The vintage designs are so different from the current ones that dangerous misuse of the props is unlikely. If you need modern-day props, write to us about doing custom work.
Q: Do you have a good trick (or product) for making the edges of postage and other stamps? The round perforations are hard to do with an x-acto knife.
>Adam B. Colby
A: Yes, I have two suggestions. A company called Fiskars makes a pair of scissors that will cut a postage stamp edge. It's a very easy way to get the look, but it has a couple of drawbacks, in my opinion. The pattern it cuts is a little bit too big, in my opinion, and you have to do each stamp one at a time. But it's very fast and easy. You can get these scissors at lots of craft and art supply stores these days, and their website is here.
What I have done to make postage stamps is to use a sewing machine as a perforator. I went to my local hobby/model shop and got a piece of brass tubing 1/16" in diameter. I cut off a piece 1 and 1/4 inches long. Using a Dremel mototool, I sharpened one end of that piece of tubing, making a little circular punching tool. Then I mounted it in the sewing machine where the needle would usually go. That way, you can run a sheet of pre-printed stamps through the sewing machine and punch a straight line of round holes through the paper. You can adjust the stitch length to determine how far apart the holes will be. I found it helpful to tape the sheet of postage stamps to a sheet of light cardstock, so that the punch was actually going through two layers of paper. This made the holes on the top layer cleaner. You can perforate an entire sheet of postage stamps this way, and then tear them off as you need them, just like the post office used to do it.
Another technique you can try is to use an old manual typewriter as a perforator. If you remove the ribbon, or set the ribbon selector to "stencil" (if your typewriter has that option), you can use the lowercase letter "o" to cut round perforations into the paper. You have to type pretty hard, and it's not kind to your platen, but it produces nice uniform perfectly spaced round holes. I have an antique Corona No.3 typewriter that does a great job as a perforator.
Thanks to C.P. Neugent for alerting us to a product called Postage Paper from 100 Proof Press. This is pre-perforated paper you can use to make your own postage stamps.
We've tried it out and it's very good, but it has two drawbacks. One is that the paper is not gummed, so you have to supply your own glue. Really not a big deal. Its real drawback is the size of the stamps you can make with it. The smallest stamp you can make is 1.25 x 1.75 inches, which is a bit bigger than a typical postage stamp. It would be great for making revenue stamps for passports or other government documents.
The fine people at Olathe Post can do custom pinhole perforating for you. They use a genuine antique Rossback perforator which creates perfectly authentic old-fashioned postage stamp edges.
Q: Hi, are the items in the prop pack hard to assemble and are the passports hard to make?
A: We have made every effort to make the prop documents as easy to print and assemble as possible. Each PDF file comes with complete instructions for how to make the finished prop. Cut lines and fold lines are all clearly marked, and files have been designed to print efficiently.
To see a sample of the type of instructions included with the prop files, download the passport assembly instructions here.
Q: I live in Europe and we use the metric system for measuring paper sizes and weights. Can you tell me what the metric equivalents of your recommended paper weights are?
A: We have been trying to come up with a good answer to this excellent question for quite some time, but it has been very difficult. The American system for measuring paper is insanely complex and arcane, and does not translate readily into metric equivalents. The following chart can serve as a very basic guideline.
|16 lb. bond
|20 lb. bond
|24 lb. bond
|60 lb. cover
|80 lb. cover
|110 lb. index
For more info, click here.