A correspondent writes requesting an explanation of the above term in its various applications.
Rouletting is a means employed for the separation of stamps, like perforation in purpose, but unlike it in character. Perforation removes circular particles from the space between stamps or in the case of pin perforation a pointed perforating needle is used which pushes through the paper without carrying away any of it.
Rouletting cuts little slits in the paper between stamps, alternate spaces being left uncut. A familiar example of this method of separating stamps is the earlier issues of the newspaper stamps of Brazil. A friend of ours who is a printer showed us a curiosity not long since. He had taken a piece of brass rule such as printers use which if printed would make a succession of short dashes with intervening spaces, and by pounding it through the paper had cut out an ordinary U.S. 1890 two-cent green envelope stamp which thus appeared rouletted. This he had attached to a white envelope and posted without any other stamps. It reached him safely.
This serves to explain the term officially rouletted. This stamp was, of course, not officially rouletted, and a stamp can only be said to be officially rouletted when it is thus treated by order of the government issuing it.
Had my friend run his printer’s roller over his brass rule and inked the edge before using it, he would have produced a stamp rouletted in colored lines, according to the catalogues. The familiar example of this is the stamps of Thurn and Taxis, the old German states. Collectors should examine these stamps carefully before deciding that they are thus rouletted in colored lines. The stamps were printed quite close together and it frequently happens that the rouletting machine, when not used with color, has done its work on the outer line of the stamp. One who does not exercise care is liable to mistake such a stamp for one “rouletted in colored lines.” Close examination in such cases reveals the existence of the colored line on the torn portions of the edge between the cuttings of the rouletting machine. The other sides of the stamp will also be found to be in many cases rouletted without color.
The description “rouletted in colored lines” is somewhat misleading. The stamps thus described were not actually rouletted with the ordinary machine used for this purpose, but some sort of rule was set up with the cuts of the stamps, and when they were inked, the rule also being inked produced the colored marks at the same time that it performed the work of rendering the stamps easy of separation. The stamp whose rouletting runs in the outer line of the next stamp on the sheet is the one that is really rouletted in a colored line. This is not, as we have stated, what the term is intended to signify. The stamps designated by the term are not rouletted in colored lines but are rouletted or stamped in color and this phrase or rouletted with color would accurately describe them and prevent the mistakes frequently made by less advanced collectors.