How to Use Old Postage Stamps

Written by alysonnolan
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How to Use Old Postage Stamps
Using Old Postage Stamps (stamp image by hugy from

If you found some old postage stamps in a drawer while spring cleaning, do not throw them away. Postal stamps do not expire, so you can still use them to send mail. The value is printed on the stamp. When using old stamps, you might find it difficult to total exact postage rates; the post office will not reject the mail if you use additional postage. You can also purchase 1-cent stamps from the post office.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Determine the value of the stamp.

  2. 2

    Weigh the envelope to determine the amount of postage needed. For first class mail, the first ounce costs 44 cents; each additional ounce costs 17 cents.

  3. 3

    Add the value of the old postage stamps you have. For example, if you have five 4-cent Abraham Lincoln stamps and a 7-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp, you would have 27 cents' worth of stamps.

  4. 4

    Subtract the total amount of stamps you have from the total amount you need to send the envelope. If your envelope weighs two ounces, then you need 61 cents = 44 + 17. Thus, 61 - 27 = 34. You need 34 cents to send the envelope. You can use any combination of stamps to total 34, such as two 17-cent stamps.

  5. 5

    Adhere all of the stamps to the top right corner of the envelope. If the stamps are older, make sure that the adhesive is still effective. If not, you can glue it to the envelope.

Tips and warnings

  • You might want to determine the stamp's value before using it on an envelope. Many old stamps are rare and very valuable to collectors (see Resources).
  • A limited quantity of Forever stamps are sold each time the United States Postal Service increases the postage amount. The value of a Forever stamp lasts forever. It will always cover the first ounce. Forever stamps do not have the value printed on the stamp.

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