Rob always buys flag stamps. Whenever he places a stamp on an envelop he purposely places the flag upside down. This is his way a signaling distress and he has been doing this since the 2016 presidential election. Once again, I have learned something old that is new to me by working with people in their mid 90s.
Apparently people have a long history of placing stamps in non-conforming ways to signal everything from distress to a marriage proposal (perhaps distress over a marriage proposal?). This practice has been going on since 1847 when stamps were first issued in the USA. In the Victorian era, an upside down stamp signified “I love you”, a sideways stamp was a not so much, thank you, next. A stamp placed diagonal to the right is code for “Will you marry me?” Diagonal to the left is a “Yes!” I shudder to think of the accidental proposals I may have sent out in my haste to get the bills out on time.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) didn’t care where you placed the stamp until the 1890s. Up until that point stamps were marked individually by hand. The markings were to deter people from using stamps more than once. After machines were introduced to assist with processing the USPS began requesting that stamps be placed in the top right corner of the envelop. If you’re like me you can’t find your book of stamps until you purchase a replacement. Then you wind up with 32 stamps which is a lifetime supply since most people pay their bills on line.
Be careful out there, you don’t want to accidentally propose to the IRS or the cable company. In fact, that is one of the worst versions of who would you rather that I can comprehend, very distressing.