A A T: Australia Antarctic Territory
A A M C: American Air Mail Catalog
A A M S: American Air Mail Society
A A P E: American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors
A B N C: American Bank Note Company
A C S C Australia Commonwealth Specialist Catalogue
A E F: American Expeditionary Forces established in World War I and used in terms such as AEF Mail, AEF Post Offices and AEF Booklets.
A F D C S: American First Day Cover Society.
A I J P: Association Internationale des Journalistes Philateliques
A L A: American Lung Association, appears on some Christmas seals.
A M G: Allied Military Government.
A N T: Assistencia Nacional Aos Tuberculosos, Portuguese Anti-Tuberculosis A P: Australia Post
A P: American Philatelist, publication of the American Philatelic Society.
A P O: Army Post Office used by U.S. military personnel stationed overseas.
A S C A T: International Association of Stamp Catalogue Publishers
A S D A: American Stamp Dealers Association
A T A: American Topical Association
A T L C: Air Transport Label Catalog
ABNORMAL: Nickname for stamps produced by De La Rue for Great Britain, 1862-80 from plates which were not put into production.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT STAMP: A stamp issued to pay the fee for notification by the post office that the mail piece has been delivered to the addressee.
ACCESSORIES: The "tools" used by stamp collectors such as stamp tongs (tweezers), watermark detectors, hinges, stamp mounts, perforation guage, etc.
ACCUMULATION: A large collection of stamps that has not been arranged in any particular order
ACID: A chemical compound having a pH below 7.0. Paper with a pH below 7.0 is considered acidic and can, in time, affect stamps and covers attached to the page.
ACID FREE PAPER: A paper manufactured under neutral conditions with a pH greater than 7.0 containing no acidic additives.
AD COLLAR: Printed advertising surrounding the stamp area.
ADD: Indicates cover is addressed.
ADD-ON CACHET: A design added to a cover which did not originally have a cachet.
ADDITIONAL HALFPENNY: Hand-struck marking applied to mail passing from England to Scotland between 1813 to 1839, indicating that an extra 1/2d postage was chargeable.
ADHESIVE: A paper postage stamp with gum on the back intended to be glued on letters, packages, documents, etc.
ADMIRALTY OFFICIAL: Overprint on stamps of Great Britain for official use.
ADMIRALS: Series of Canadian stamps issued between 1912 and 1925 showing King George V in the full dress uniform of an admiral of the Royal Navy.
ADSONS: Term used for stamps issued by New Zealand with commercial advertising on the back.
ADVERTISED COVERS: An undelivered cover advertised by post office to locate recipient.
ADVERTISEMENT PANE: A booklet or sheet of stamps with one or more stamp spaces used for a commercial advertisement.
ADVERTISING COVER: A cover that has advertising of a commercial product, hotel, building, etc.
ADVERTISING LABEL: Label used to make up a full booklet pane advertising a commodity or service.
ADVERTISING POSTMARKS: First started during World War I as a propaganda tool.
ADVICE OF DELIVERY: International postal term allowing the sender, on payment of a fee, to be notified of the delivery of the item.
AE: Air mail envelope
AEROGRAMME: Air letter sheet with imprinted stamp indicium for international air mail.
AEROPHILATELY: Branch of collecting that deals with air mail stamps and covers and their usage.
AGENCY: A commercial firm that promotes and sells the postal products of the country or countries it represents. Also a post office maintained in one country's territory by another country.
AGING: An artificial test to determine the relative permanence of paper.
AIEP: Association Internationale des Experts Philateliques (International Association of Philatelic Experts)
AIRGRAPH: Special letter form used by British forces during WWII which were then microfilmed.
AIR LABEL: Labels inscribed "Par Avion" or equivalent that means "by air."
AIR MAIL BORDER: Red and blue markings on border cover indicating air mail service.
AIR MAIL FLIGHT COVERS: Covers carried by air and postmarked at point of origin, departure or intermediate points on the route.
AIR MAIL STAMP: A stamp intended to prepay air mail postage.
AIRPORT DEDICATION COVER: A cover commemorating the opening of an airport.
AIRWAY LETTER STAMPS: Issued by British Airways for transporting letters between airports.
ALBINO: A die impression on a stamp or stamped envelope where the ink has not been transferred to the paper.
ALBUM: A book designed to hold stamps or covers.
ALBUM WEEDS: Early series of books on forged stamps by Rev. R. Brisco Earee.
ALKALINE RESERVE: The presence of calcium carbonate or other alkaline material in paper capable of neutralizing acids as they are formed.
ALL OVER CACHET: Design that covers the envelope face and may also include the back of the envelope.
ALL PURPOSE CACHET: A general design that is applicable to various events.
ALTERATION: An attempt to change the identifying characteristics of a stamp by the addition or removal of design or perforation or by changing the characteristics of the paper.
ALUM: Aluminum sulfate, an acid salt used to retain rosin sizing in paper. Alum is acidic when dissolved in water and is the primary source of acid in paper.
AMBULANCE BAG: General term to describe a variety of bags used to enclosed damaged mail by the postal service.
ANDREOTTI PRESS: Seven-color gravure BEP printing press.
ANILINE INK: Water-soluble ink with a dye base that runs when wet. Used in printing Roosevelt small die proofs.
ANNULE: French word for cancelled.
A PRESS: Five-color gravure and three-color intaglio combination press used by the BEP.
APEX: American Philatelic Society Expertising Service
APPROVALS: A selection of stamps or covers sent to a collector for examination. Approvals must be bought or returned to the sender within the time specified.
A: PRIORITARE: Label applied to mail originating in Europe meaning next day domestic delivery.
A P S: American Philatelic Society.
A R: Postal Fiscal. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
A.R. or AVISO de RECEPCION: Acknowledgment of receipt.
ARCHIVAL PAPER: A paper manufactured to provide resistance to the effects of natural aging.
ARC ROULETTE: Separation in which curved cuts appear as a semi-circle.
ARMS TYPES: Stamp bearing Coats of Arms or heraldic devices.
ARMY FRANK: U.S. privately produced label by an army officer purported to be "official."
ARROW BLOCK: A block of four or more stamps with a printed thin arrow in the margin used as a guide for registering colors or perforating.
ARROWS: Arrow-shaped markings used in margins of stamp sheets as guide to color registration or perforating.
ARTISTAMPS: Labels designed by artists to simulate stamps.
ARTIST DIE PROOF: Die proof signed by the artist.
AS IS: A term meaning that the material is sold without a guarantee of any kind.
ATLANTA TRIAL COLOR PROOFS: Stamps printed upon a thin white card for the 1881 Atlanta Cotton Exposition.
ATM: Automatic Teller Machine, when used in philately, one that also dispenses stamps.
ATTACHED CACHET: A separate piece that is attached to the cover in some fashion as a cachet.
AUCTION: A public sale at which stamps or covers are sold to the highest bidder Bidding is done in person or by mail This is an excellent means of selling or buying material.
AUCTION ABBREVIATIONS: Terms frequently used in auctions: star=mint; circle with dot=used; box with X=cover: square=piece or part of cover; four small squares=block.
AUCTIONEER: The person who conducts a sale and receives the bids.
AUGUST ISSUES: Nickname used for group of stamps issued between 1845-90 and originally meant to be essays.
AUTOMATIC STAMPS: A value applied directly to a mail piece or gummed label for affixing to the mail and dispensed by a coin-operated vending machine.
AUTOPEN: A mechanical reproduction of an autograph.
AUXILIARY MARKINGS: A broad range of markings that require action on the part of the mailer, Addressee or both. For example, a letter that must be forwarded to a new address or a notice on a cover asking for postage due.
AVG.: Average. Term used to denote condition of a stamp, generally the lowest collectible grade.
B: Semipostal. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
B C M: British Consular Mail
B C P S G: British Caribbean Philatelic Study Group
B C S: Bermuda Collectors Society
B E A: British East Africa
B E P: Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C., where all U.S. currency and almost all U.S. postage stamps have been produced since 1894.
B I A: Bureau Issues Association.
B N A: British North America
B O B: Back of the Book material, listed in back of the catalogs.
B O I C: British Occupation of th Italian Colonies
B P A: British Philatelic Association
B P F: British Philatelic Federation
B P O: British Post Office
B W I S C: British West Indies Study Circle
B&K: Berthold & Kummer: Handbook of Zeppelin Letters, Postal cards, and Stamps
B&D: Blau & Deighton: Graf Zeppelin Orient Flight
BABY: Nickname for early issues (1886-1900) of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and her colonies.
BACK OF THE BOOK (BOB): This refers to a variety of items listed in the back of specialized stamp catalogs such as postage dues, revenues, postal saving stamps, etc.
BACKSTAMP: Postmark applied to back of incoming mail to show date and time of receipt at the receiving post office.
BALBO ISSUE: Italian issue commemorating mass air flight of May 1933.
BALE: Bale Catalog of Israel Postage Stamps
BALLOON MAIL: Mail carried by balloon. This method of transportation was used in the Siege of Paris during the War of 1870 and the letters carried are called "Balloon Monte."
BALLOON MONTE: Letters dispatched by balloon during the Siege of Paris in 1870.
BANK MIXTURE: Assortment of stamps, usually on paper, collected from the incoming mail of financial institutions.
BANKNOTE ISSUES: Stamps printed by the American, Continental and National Bank Note Companies during the period 1870-1887.
BANTAMS: Nickname given to the war-tax miniature stamps of South Africa.
BAR CODE: Pattern of straight lines of varying heights and thickness that permits electronic equipment to read the address.
BARRED: Stamps overprinted with black bars or rules to deface the design.
BASIC PRESORT: Bulk mail presorted to first three digits of Zip code and bundled prior to mailing.
BATONNE: French word meaning ruled, used in philately as having a watermark of parallel lines about a centimeter apart.
B/CWTH: British Commonwealth
BEAVER: First stamp issued by Canada in 1851 that depicted a beaver.
B. ECONOMIQUE: Label applied to mail originating in Europe meaning second day domestic delivery.
BEN FRANKLIN STAMP CLUBS: Stamps clubs of elementary school children sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
BICENTENNIAL: The celebration of a two hundredth anniversary. During 1976, America celebrated its 200th birthday with many stamps issued.
BICOLOR: A stamp printed or otherwise produced in two colors.
BICYCLE POSTS: Postal service operated by means of bicycle delivery.
BILINGUAL: Two languages on the same stamp.
BILINGUAL PAIRS: A pair of stamps on which the inscription is in one language on one of the stamps, and in another language on the other stamp. This was common with stamps of South Africa.
BIPARTITE STAMPS: Stamps printed in two parts with one part meant to be used as postage and the other as a receipt of mailing.
BISECT: A stamp cut in half which has been used to pay the postage at half the face value of the original stamp. The bisect is collected on the original cover with the postmark or cancellation covering the cut.
BISHOP MARK: The first dated postmark of Great Britain started by Henry Bishop about 1661.
BK: Booklet. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
BLACK HONDURAS: Honduras overprint for a newly established air mail route.
BLACK JACKS: Name given to the U.S. 2c black issue of 1862 showing the head of Andrew Jackson.
BLACK ON COLOR: Used to describe an issue printed in black on colored paper with the actual color indicated being the color of the paper.
BLACK PRINT: Proofs printed in black by postal administrations for press releases.
BLANKET OFFSET: Rubber sheet used on offset presses to transfer the impression from the plate to paper.
BLEACHED: Use of a chemical agent to lighten or remove a discoloration or foreign substance from a stamp.
BLEEDING: Color that runs when immersed in water. Also printing of design that overlaps onto the margin or next attached stamp.
BLIND PERFORATION: Perforation holes that have been lightly impressed into the stamps, leaving the paper intact, but considered as cut.
BLOCK: An unseparated group of stamps at least two high and two wide. If the block is larger than four stamps, it is referred to as a block of six, block of eight, etc.
BLOCK TAGGED: Tagging applied on a stamp in a rectangle that does not touch the perforations.
BLUE NOSE: Canadian 50c stamp issued in 1929 featuring the schooner Blue-nose in full sail.
BLUE PAPER: During 1908-09, the U.S. used an experimental high rag content paper that gave a bluish gray appearance to the finished stamps.
BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Governing body of the U.S. Postal Service; includes nine governors who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The nine then elect a Postmaster General, who becomes a member of the Board. Those ten elect a Deputy PMG who also serves on the Board. They review the policies and practices of the Postal Service.
BOARDWALK MARGINS: Stamps with wide margins. Also referred to as Jumbo Stamps.
BOES: Boesman: 1793-1968 Balloon Posts World Catalog
BOGUS: Labels or postal markings made to defraud collectors.
BOL: Bolaffi Specialized Italy Postage Stamp Catalog
BOOKLET: A stamp booklet contains one or more panes of stamps.
BOOKLET PANE: A uncut block of stamps especially printed and cut for use in booklets. The booklets are a convenient way to carry stamps.
BORDER: The frame or edge of a stamp design.
BOUGHT IN: Auction term for a lot that failed to reach its reserve.
BOURSE: A market place, such as a stamp show, where stamps are bought, sold or exchanged.
BOWLSBY COUPON ESSAYS: A stamp with a coupon attached that was to be detached at the post office when the stamp was sold. A variation of the 1-cent 1861 Franklin stamps essayed for G. W. Bowlsby.
BP: Booklet Pane
B PRESS: Three-color Giori intaglio press used by BEP.
BRIDGE: The tiny piece of paper that holds stamp together in a perforated multiple before they are torn apart.
"BRITISH GUIANA": The 1856 1-cent magenta.
BROKEN CIRCLE: Printing variety in which a circle that appears on the stamp is defective
BROKEN HAT: Variety seen on the 2c 1893 Columbian issue found in the hat of the knight standing to the left of Columbus. The lines in the hat brim are broken.
BROKEN SET: An incomplete set of stamps that doesn't contain all the values.
BROMIDE: A photograph of the artwork reduced to the actual size of the stamp, printed on bromide paper.
BUFFALO BALLOON: An adhesive stamp used for airmail on June 18, 1877.
BUFFER: An alkaline reserve added to paper.
BUGGY WHIP: Plate crack that appears on the 4.9c Transportation coil series stamp.
BULL'S EYE: First issue of Brazil consisting of an intricate circular design.
BULL'S EYE CANCELLATION: A postmark in which the City, State and dates have been placed directly on the center of a stamp or block of stamps.
BUREAU PRECANCELS: Stamps that are precanceled at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at Washington, D.C.
BUREAU ISSUES: Stamps produced by the BEP.
BURELS or BURELAGE: A fine overall network of dots or lines printed on the surface of stamps in addition to the stamps design. This is usually done to discourage counterfeiting.
BURKINO FASO: New country name for Upper Volta.
BURNISHING: Removal of part of an engraved design from a die or plate.
BUS PARCEL STAMPS: Private labels issued by bus firms to prepay freight charges on parcels carried on their routes.
BUY PRICES: What a dealer is willing to pay for certain stamps or other philatelic items.
BUYER'S PREMIUM: Auction term for percentage charged to buyer.
BW: Bradbury, Wilkinson (Stamp Printers, Great Britain)
BYPOST STAMPS: Stamps issued by Danish and Norwegian towns in the 19th century.
C: Air Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
C C: Cut cancel or corner card or Crown Colonies
C C C: Collectors Club of Chicago.
C C N Y: Collectors Club of New York.
C D S: Circular Date Stamp or postmark.
C O P O: Council of Philatelic Organizations.
C S A: Confederate States of America. CSA issues refer to the general and provisional stamp issues produced by the Confederacy.
C S A C: Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee.
C S D A: Canadian Stamp Dealers Association
CA: Watermarked: "Crown CA"
CACHET: A rubber stamp or printed impression on an envelope which describes the event for which the envelope was mailed. Cachets are used for first days of issue, first flights, naval events, stamp exhibitions, etc.
CACHET MAKER: Someone who designs and produces cachet, either for sale or for personal use.
CAM: Contract Air Mail route for domestic mail service.
CAMEL POSTMAN: Sudan stamp design.
CANCEL: Defacing a stamp to prevent its reuse.
CANCEL, OFFICIAL: Official USPS postmark at First Day of Issue site.
CANCEL TO ORDER (CTO): Stamps cancelled by postal authorities without having been used for postage. They are less desirable than stamps which have seen postal duty.
CANCELLATION: A mark placed on a stamp by a postal authority to deface the stamp and prevent its reuse.
CANTON STAMPS: Switzerland Canton issues before the release of national postage stamps.
CAPE TRIANGLES: Cape of Good Hope triangle stamps.
CAPPED NUMERALS: Flaws looking like caps on top of the figure "2" on the U.S. 2c Washington issue of 1890-3.
CAPTIONS: All inscriptions featured on a stamp.
C A R: Central African Republic.
CARITAS: Charity stamps.
CARLIST STAMPS: Nickname given to stamps authorized by Don Carlos of Spain in 1873-74.
CARRIER-ROUTE PRESORT: Bulk mail presorted and bundled by carrier delivery route.
CARRIER STAMPS: Stamps used for delivery of mail by private carrier from a post office to the addressee in the early days. When the postal service was first organized, letters were carried from post office to post office since there was no delivery to addressee.
CARTWHEEL CANCELS: Circular numeral types used by Spain 1858-64.
CATALOG NUMBER: Number assigned by a catalog publisher to each individual stamp of a country.
CATALOG VALUE: The price established by recognized postage stamp catalogs for a stamp is known as the Catalog Value of the stamp. This is usually used as a guide for retail or wholesale prices.
CATAPULT MAIL: Mail carried by light aircraft catapulted from the deck of ships approaching shore to save hours of docking time.
CAVALLINI: Stamps impressed on letter sheets used in the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1818 on.
CB: Air Post semipostal. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CBO: Air Post Semipostal Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CE: Air Post Special Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CENSORED MAIL: A cover with a hand-stamp or label indicating that the contents have been opened and censored.
CENTERING: Location of the stamp design on the piece of paper it is printed on. If it is exactly in the center, it is called a "perfectly centered stamp."
CENTER LINE BLOCK: A block of stamp from the intersection where the vertical and horizontal guide lines cross of the sheet of stamps. On early U.S. issues, the center block is considered the most valuable block on a sheet of stamps.
C E P T: European Conference of Postal & Telecommunications Administrations.
CEREMONY PROGRAM: Card or folder detailing program at first day or stamp unveiling ceremony.
CERES: French stamp design showing the Goddess of Harvest.
CERTIFICATE: When issued by an acknowledged group of experts, it gives credence to the authenticity and condition of a stamp.
CERTIFIED MAIL: Mail for which a receipt is given to the sender.
CF: Air Post Registration. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CHAIN-BREAKERS: The 1919 issues of Yugoslavia.
CHALKY PAPER: Stamp paper which has a coating of chalk or clay on the surface. Used in various British colonies.
CHALON HEADS: Andre Chalon's coronation portrait of Queen Victoria appears full face on the first stamps of New Zealand.
CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS: Grand award winners from APS national stamp shows are eligible to compete in the annual CofC competition.
CHANGELING: An ink color change due to exposure to bright light, chemical fumes, heat or other causes. Greens, reds, violets and yellows are especially prone to change.
CHARITY LABELS: Non-postal labels resembling stamps sold by charity groups to raise funds.
CHARITY STAMPS: Stamps sold at more than the inscribed face value, with the difference between the face value and the selling price used for charity work. These are often called semipostal stamps.
CHERUB: Cherubin: Italian Air Mail catalog
CHOP: Japanese characters overprinted on stamps of territories occupied by Japanese troops during WWII and used until official occupation stamps became available.
CHRISTMAS SEALS: Charity labels used to raise funds for various groups.
CHRISTMAS STAMPS: Special postage stamps issued for use on mail during the holiday season.
CINDERELLA: A stamp-like label produced by a non-governmental body.
CIRCUIT BOOK: Book with stamps or covers offered for sale.
CITIZENS STAMP ADVISORY COMMITTEE (CSAC): A group of citizens appointed by the U.S. Postmaster General to review the more than 40,000 suggestions for stamp subjects that the USPS receives each year.
CIVIL SERVICE STAMPS: used on civil service mail in some countries.
CL: Air Post Semi-Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CLASSIC: A stamp or cover because of its beauty of design, age or rarity, and is much sought after, can be considered a "classic."
CLEANING: Removal of foreign substance from a stamp.
CLICHE: End result of the process of applying a design into metal.
CLICK STAMP: A postage imprint produced by Pitney Bowes.
CLUB COVERS: Covers produced by stamp clubs.
CLOSED MAIL: Mail sent in a "closed" or sealed postal bag from one exchange office to another.
CM: U.S.R.F. Overprints. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
CO: Air Post Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
COARSE PERFORATION: Large holes and teeth far apart and irregularly spaced.
COATED PAPER: Paper with a slick enameled surface.
COIL LINE PAIR: Pair of stamps showing a colored line caused by a gap where the curved printing plate is joined.
COILS: Stamps which are produced in roll form for use in vending, stamp affixing, or dispensing machines. A coil usually contains 100, 500 or more stamps of a single denomination and design.
COIL WASTE: Short lengths of paper at end of coil runs.
COLLAGE CACHET: Design made by gluing various items to form a cohesive cachet.
COLLATERAL MATERIAL: Relevant illustrations exhibited in a stamp display to provide additional background information.
COLLEGE STAMPS: Private stamps issued by certain colleges for inter-college messenger services.
COLLODIAN STAINS: Stains in stamp paper caused by the chemical substance collodian which is used to rejoin perforations in multiples.
COLOMBIANA: Colombia airmail issue for use on flights of Compania Colombiana de Navegacion Aerea.
COLOR: May be a variable that may cause one stamp to look different from another stamp with technically the same color. In some cases, different shades may have vastly different catalog values.
COLOR CHANGELING: A change in the original color of a stamp due to either natural causes such as oxidation or purposely changed to defraud the collector by making the stamp more valuable.
COLORED CANCELLATION: A postmark applied to any stamp in any color but black.
COLOR ERROR: An item printed in the wrong color, or color omitted.
COLOR REGISTRATION: Marks of different sizes and shapes used as an aid in properly registering the colors in the printing process.
COLOR SHIFT: A variety where one or more colors of a multicolored issue are misaligned.
COLOR TRIALS: Printing in various colors to help in the selection for the issued stamp.
COLUMBIANS: Nickname applied to set of 16 stamps issued in 1893 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of the New World.
COLUMN: A single-stamp width multiple of stamps from a sheet, pane or booklet in a vertical format.
COMBINATION COVER: An envelope or card with one or more stamps affixed with the same theme.
COMB PERFORATIONS: Stamps in which the holes have been punched on three sides at one time, and then the machine moves up the sheet to perforate the next row.
COMMEMORATIVE STAMP: Stamps issued to honor some person, anniversary or historical event.
COMMERCE: Name given to the French colonial issues of May 1881.
COMMERCIAL COVER: Term used by collectors to indicate a nonphilatelic cover.
COMPOSITE PROOF: A single printer's working proof showing two or more different designs.
COMPOSITE SHEET: Sheet of stamps made up of different values, types or designs.
COMPOUND PERFORATIONS: When there are two different perforation measurements on different sides. For example, a stamp of the U.S. 1938 Presidential Series is perforated 101/2 on top and bottom and 11 on both sides. Such stamps are said to be perf. 101/2 x 11.
COMPUTER STAMPS: Term used as synonym for automatic stamps.
COMPUTER-GENERATED POSTAGE: The use of Internet connections and laser printers to print postage on envelopes.
COMPUTER VENDED: Value of the stamp printed by a computer as the stamp is issued.
CONCENTRATION CAMP MAIL: Mail from the concentration camps established by the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII.
CONDITION: The quality of a stamp regarding color, centering, cancellation, and gum if mint all go into making up the term "condition." Typical condition descriptions are Superb, Very Fine, Fine, Good, Average, or Poor. "Superb" means that everything about the stamp is perfect.
CONDOMINIUM: Territory ruled by more than one power and stamps may be bilingual.
CONSTANT: Term used to describe a variety that appears in the same position on every sheet.
CONTAMINATED INK: Foreign matter appearing on a printed stamp.
CONTINGENCY STAMP: Stamp printed at time of a rate change when current issues may not meet postal needs.
CONTINUOUS WATERMARK: an overall design.
CONTROL MAIL: Mail from one source to another where the sender gets the stamps returned that are used on the mail.
CONTROL MARKS: Certain marks placed on the stamp or in the sheet margin by postal authorities for accounting purposes.
CONVENIENCE OVERPAYMENT: Affixing overfranking as postage when exact amount is unavailable.
CONVERTIBLE BOOKLET: USPS technical specification for a pane of stamps that may be folded into a booklet after removal of the two narrow selvage strips.
COPYRIGHT: Standard inscription placed in the sheet margin protecting design.
CORDIAL STAMPS: Stamps used on bottles or cases of cordials to pay the Internal Revenue Tax.
CORK CANCELS: Cancelers made from corks.
CORNER BLOCKS: A block of stamps taken out of the corner of a sheet or pane and identified by the paper margin on two adjacent sides of the block.
CORNER CARD: Name and address of the envelope user, usually placed in the upper left hand corner. An illustration may accompany the printed address.
CORREOS: Spanish for POSTS.
CORREIOS: Portuguese for POSTS.
CORRESPONDENCE ART: Labels designed to simulate stamps.
COTTON FIBER: A strong and stable fiber that provides archival qualities to paper.
COTTON REELS: First circular issues of British Guiana named due their similarity to the labels on reels of sewing cotton.
COTTRELL PRESS: Single-color intaglio press used by BEP.
COUNTERFEIT: An imitation or forgery of a genuine postage stamp or postal marking that has been created to defraud the collector or government.
COVER: A postally used envelope or one that has been cancelled as a souvenir.
C.P.: Campbell Paterson Catalog of New Zealand
CQ: Air Post Parcel Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
C PRESS: Three-color Goebel intaglio press used by the BEP.
CR: Crampon: Pacific Flight Covers handbook
CRACKED PLATE: Stamps that show evidence that the plate from which they were printed was cracked.
CRACK OUT: Opening of the plastic case containing an encapsulated stamp.
CRASH COVER: A cover saved from the wreck of a plane, train or other vehicle with a postal marking explaining the damaged condition.
CREASES: A fold mark remaining on a postal piece.
CROSSHATCHING: A combination of various lines used to provide a background for a design.
CROSS OF LORRAINE: Double-barred cross symbol used on Christmas Seals
C-T-C: Celebrate the Century, a term used by the USPS for the various sheets of postage stamps issued for the 1900s.
C T O: Cancelled-to-Order.
CUBIERTA: Labels attached to insured mail in Colombia from 1865 to 1909.
CURRENT: Term used to describe postal items that are presently available at the post office.
CUT-OUTS: Embossed stamps from postal stationery that are cut out.
CUT SQUARE: Imperforate stamps cut from postal stationery with the corners of the original paper left intact.
CV: Catalog value
CVP: Computer Vended Postage
CVR: Cover or Postal Stationery Entire
CYLINDER NUMBER: Plate number of a Andreotti or A Press printing cylinder.
CYLINDER PAPER WATERMARK: By attaching pieces to the wire cloth covering the cylinder, fewer fibers were collected during the settling process, producing a watermark.
D: Pneumatic Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
D B Z: Deutsche Briefmarken-Zeitung
DAMAGED MAIL: Mail damaged in transit and may have received a special marking applied by the postal administration.
DANDY ROLL: The wire roller which bears down on the paper pulp as it comes from the vats and gives the finished paper its watermark.
DATED: A U.S. precancelled stamp that includes a date in the precancellation.
DATED CORNERS: Starting in 1992, several sheets of French area stamps have the date printed in the margin
DAY'S FOLLY: Refers to the intentionally produced inverted issue of the Dag Hammarskjold memorial stamp.
DCDS: Double Circular Date Stamp
DE LA RUE: A famous British stamp printing firm.
DE PINEDO: Newfoundland's issue honoring Marchese de Pinedo, Italian aviator.
DEACIDIFICATION: Term used by libraries to describe a chemical treatment that neutralizes the acid in paper.
DEAD COUNTRY: A country that no longer issues stamps.
DEAD LETTER: Term for an item of mail that is undeliverable due to poor address or addressee is deceased or untraceable.
DEATH MASK: Term given to Serbian commemorative series of 1904. When the stamp is turned upside down, the features of the previous assassinated monarch are revealed.
DECAL: Design or text affixed to a cover to act as a cachet.
DECIMAL DENOMINATION: A stamp whose value includes a fraction of a cent.
DECODER: A stamp decoder, sold by the USPS, can be used to find hidden messages as part of the design on recent U. S. stamps.
DECORATIVE WATERMERK: Consisted of a coat-of-arms or various ornaments.
DEFECTIVE STAMP: A stamp with one or more major faults such as a piece of the stamp is missing or a hole.
DEFINITIVE: A word used to distinguish a normal, everyday issue of stamps.
DELAYED MAIL: Mail held up in delivery and marked by means of a label or cachet applied by a postal authority.
DELTIOLOGY: Post card collecting.
DEMONITIZED: The term given stamps that are no longer valid for postage. Usually done by a government proclamation.
DENOMINATION: The postage money value appearing on a stamp, as 5 cents, 2 Bolivars, etc.
DEPARTMENT STAMPS: Official stamps as used by various government departments. There were such stamps for the Post Office Dep't., War Dep't., Department of Justice, etc.
DEPENDENCY: Area administered from a different location.
DESIGN: The printed portion of a stamp, as distinguished from the surrounding margin of blank paper.
DG: Disturbed gum
DIE: A block of metal that has been hand or machine engraved from which plates are prepared to print stamps.
DIE CUT: A die penetrates the stamp paper surrounding the printed stamp, permitting the removal of individual self-adhesive stamps from the liner.
DIE PROOFS: A print or impression made with a die to show what a stamp design will look like.
DIE SINKAGE: The impression of a die block which appears as a depression in the cardboard of a die proof.
DIE WHEEL: A wheel drilled with holes that accept the pins of the rotary perforator
DIPLOMATIC MAIL: Correspondence transported by diplomatic pouch or indicated diplomatic mail.
DIRECTORY MARKINGS: Postal markings that indicate a failed delivery attempt, stating reasons such as "Address Unknown."
DISCOUNT POSTAGE: Stamps sold by stamp dealers at a discount from face value. These are usually denominations that are no longer current but valid for postage.
DISINFECTED MAIL: Mail that has been fumigated so that the letter will not be a carrier of disease.
DISNEY STAMP: Stamps issued by several nations with a Walt Disney movie theme.
DISTURBED GUM: Unused stamp with original gum that has been altered.
DLDC: Double line, double circle postmark
DLO: Dead Letter Office
DLR: De La Rue (Stamp Printers, Great Britain)
DOCKWRA'S POST: Private postal service covering London and its suburbs established by William Dockwra in 1680.
DOCTOR BLADE: Device used to wipe excess ink from a printing press cylinder.
DOCUMENTARY STAMPS: Revenue stamps that are applied to documents such as bills of lading, mortgages, wills, etc.
DOMINICAL LABEL: A small label attached by perforation to the bottom of some Belgium stamps stating "Do not deliver on Sunday."
DOTTED PAPER: Paper with small dots forming a greyish-appearing pattern.
DOUBLE CANCELS: Covers with two separate postmarks.
DOUBLE GRILL: Stamp showing two or more separate grill impressions.
DOUBLE IMPRESSION: Two impressions of the design of a stamp.
DOUBLE PERFORATIONS: Two sets of perforations caused by the sheet being cut off center. Found on early US revenue stamps.
DOUBLE SURCHARGE: An error when a new denomination overprint is mistakenly applied to a stamp twice.
DOUBLE TRANSFER: This term is used for a stamp printed from a design which in error was impressed, either wholly or partially, twice by the master die in preparing the plate. A double transfer can be identified by its "out of focus" appearance.
DOWNEY HEADS: British stamps designed by W & D Downey showing a three-quarter view of King George V.
DO-X: International registration number of the German Dornier multi-engined plane. First to fly the Atlantic from West to East in 1932.
D P O: Discontinued Post Office
D PRESS: Six-color offset and three-color intaglio Goebel combination press used by the BEP.
DROP LETTER: Letter delivered from the same post office where originally posted.
DRY PRINTING: A printing method which allows the use of heavier, stiffer paper creating a whiter, high-sheen printing surface.
DRYING BOOK: After a stamp is soaked from an envelope, the stamp must be dried and pressed flat. The stamp drying book, made of blotting paper, is used for this purpose.
DS: Date Stamp
DT: Double transfer
DUCK STAMPS: U.S. Bird Hunting Permit stamps.
DUE: Adhesive label to record postage due on delivery because of insufficient payment.
DULL GUM: Dry matte finish gum.
DUMB CANCELLATION: A postmark that shows neither the date nor place of cancellation.
DUPLEX CANCEL: A two-part cancel, one part containing the postmark, and the other part with the cancellation.
DUPLICATES: Extra copies of stamps that are already in the collection. They should be examined carefully for variations of color, watermark and perforation.
DURABILITY: Paper's ability to withstand wear and tear. Storage and other factors affect durability.
DUTY PLATE: Plate used to print the value, or the name and value on stamps. Used in conjunction with the head or key plate.
E: Special Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
EARLIEST KNOWN USE: Term applied to earliest date on which a stamp is recorded to have been used.
EARLY IMPRESSION: A stamp that has been printed from a plate which has just begun to run on the press. This is distinguished from later printings taken from the same plate that will not be as sharp as the "early impressions."
EB: Semipostal Special Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
E C U: European Community Currency unit.
E C V: Estimated Cash Value
ECHO CARDS: Japanese postal stationery, with an imprinted stamp, and paid ads on front.
EDC: Earliest documented cover or the earliest known cover for a stamp when verified.
EDIFIL: Spain and Spanish Offices & Colonies Specialized Postage Stamp Catalog
E F O: Errors, Freaks and Oddities.
E K U: Earliest Known Use
ELECTRIC EYE MARK: Mark used in positioning stamp sheets during printing process.
ELECTRIC EYE PERFORATING: Machines that are equipped with electric eyes that guide the perforating pins up the center of the stamp margin with the aid of distinctive marks, thus creating well-centered stamps.
ELECTRO or ELECTROPLATE: A printing plate made by duplicating the original plate which is available for additional duplication in very large press runs.
ELECTRONIC COMMERCE SERVICES: (ECS) Includes a time and date stamp, return receipt, registered, certified, verification of sender and recipient and archival services, all via electronic means.
ELECTRONIC MAIL: Method of sending written material from one location to another without physically carrying the material from point of mailing to point of delivery.
ELECTRONIC POSTAGE: A postage imprint that features a two-dimensional bar code containing data necessary for revenue protection.
ELECTRONIC POSTMARK: An electronic time and date stamp on electronic mail that will authenticate a document's existence at a particular point in time.
ELUSIVE: A stamp that is hard to find, but is not rare or scarce.
EMBEDDED TAGGANT: A term used for taggant applied to the surface of uncoated paper, with a tendency to be absorbed unevenly into the fibers, giving a mottled appearance under shortwave UV light.
EMBOSSED: Stamps, usually envelope stamps, that are raised in low relief in relationship to the surface of the paper on which they are printed.
EMERGENCY SERVICE STAMPS: Usually refers to stamps portraying emergency equipment, such as ambulances, fire trucks, etc.
ENCASED POSTAGE STAMPS: A stamp within a protective covering that was used as a coin.
ENGRAVED STAMPS: Stamps printed from plates into which a design is cut or chemically etched. The plate is applied under heavy pressure to the paper being printed, leaving the ink raised above the surface of the paper.
ENGRAVER'S INITIALS: The initials of the engraver which may appear in the sheet margin or in smaller letters below the bottom frame line of a stamp design.
ENGRAVER'S PROOFS: Proofs taken from an engraving to give an idea of how a stamp design will look when completed.
ENTIRE: A complete envelope or postal card with stamp, postmark, address, etc. as originally received.
ENV: Estimated net value
ENVELOPE: Form of wrapper or cover for letters.
ENVELOPE CUT SQUARE: The stamp portion of a stamped envelope that has been cut from the envelope in a square or rectangular shape.
EO: Special Delivery Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
EPAULETTES: Term used for Belgium's first issue of 1849 due to the epaulettes shown on the uniform of King Leopold
EPS: Encased postage stamp
ERROR: A stamp that has something wrong in the design or in its production. This can be in the perforations, color or printing. An error in a stamp usually makes it more valuable.
ESSAY: Rejected and unused stamp design.
EST.: Auction term for estimated value of an item.
ETIQUETTE: Any label prepared by a postal agency to denote a type of service such as air mail, registration, certified, etc.
EU, EUS: Eustice: The Australian Air Mail Catalog
EUROPA: Stamps issued since 1956 of the Common Market and affiliated nations.
EUSTIS: Australia Airmail Catalogue Numbers
EVENT COVER: A cachet dealing with a specific event and the postmark tied into the date of the event.
EXAMINERS' MARK: Applied to denote examination by censors.
EXPERTIZE: To have a stamp or cover examined by one who is qualified to pronounce a stamp or cover genuine or otherwise.
EXPLODED BOOKLET: Disassembled booklet including stamp panes, interleaves, covers, and staple.
EXPLODED COVER: Cover opened on three sides to display front and back.
EXPRESS: Stamps issued by some nations to indicate that the mail piece should be delivered as soon as possible.
EXTENSIVE CLEANING: Covers which have had a considerable portion cleaned by either chemical or mechanical methods.
EY: Authorized Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
EZ, E-Z: Ellington-Zwisler: Rocket Mail Catalog
F: Auction term meaning "Fine" quality.
F: Registration. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
F D C: First Day Cover.
F I A F: Federacion Interamerican de Filatelia
F I P O: Federation of Olympic Philately
F I S A: International Federation of Aerophilatelic Societies
FA: Certified Mail. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
FAC: Forwarding Agent Cachet
FACER CANCELER: Postal equipment that "faces" the envelope to be read easily and then cancels the item.
FACE VALUE: The monetary value of a postage stamp as printed in its design.
FACIT: Facit (specialized Scandinavian postage stamp catalog)
FACSIMILE: A reproduction intended for souvenir value and not meant to defraud.
FADING: A lightening of ink or paper due to natural physical causes.
FAKE: A genuine stamp altered as to color, design, value, etc. to increase its monetary value,.
FALSE FRANKING: Use of low value stamp for a bulk mailing with balance due in lump sum at time of mailing.
F A M: Foreign Air Mail route.
FANTAIL MARGIN: Missing marginal perforations from edge of stamp to the end of the sheet.
FARLEY'S FOLLIES: Name given the "Special Printings of 1935" produced during the administration of U.S. Postmaster General James A. Farley.
FAULT: Missing piece, tear, clipped perforation, hole, scuff, thin spot, crease, toning, oxidation, stain, short perforation, etc. on a stamp.
FAVOR CANCEL: A hand cancel that is applied in a special manner as a favor to the maiiler.
F/C: Fiscal cancel
FDI: First Day of Issue
FELDPOST: Field or army post.
FERRARITIES: Someone who owns a number of fakes. Named after Baron Philipp La Renotiere Von Ferrary, a great collector who also owned a number of fakes and forgeries.
F F C: First Flight Covers commemorate the first flight of an air-borne vehicle. They may or may not have been carried on board.
FIELD POST OFFICE: A post office established for servicemen on active service.
FILING CREASES: Creases folded on a postal piece by recipient so that the mail item will fit into a folder.
FILING HOLES: Holes punched by the recipient so that postal piece can be filed.
FINAL MASTER PROOF: Combination of all four separations to produce the complete design.
FINE PERFORATION: Perforation with small holes and teeth close together.
F I P: International Federation of Philately, the group that sets rules and standards for international exhibitions.
FIRST CLASS MAIL: A class of mail including letters, postcards and postal cards with all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection.
FIRST DAY COVER: A newly issued stamp affixed to an envelope and postmarked on the first day of sale at a city designated by the Postal Service.
FIRST DAY OF ISSUE: The day on which a stamp is first placed on sale.
FIRST FLIGHT COVER: An envelope bearing a cancellation and usually having a special descriptive cachet affixed which has been at the point of origin and carried on a first flight opening a new air mail route.
FISCAL CANCELLATION: A cancellation applied to a stamp by pen, indelible pencil or rubber stamp, and used for revenue, rather than postal purposes. This usually reduces the market value of the stamp considerably.
FISCAL STAMPS: Stamps intended to collect taxes, fees and duties for the revenue as opposed to prepay postage.
FIVE-DIGIT PRESORT: Bulk mail presorted to five Zip Code digits and bundled.
FL: Folded Letter
FLAG CANCEL: Cancellation with a flag as part of the bar design.
FLAGS: Refers to the series of 13 stamps issued in 1944 picturing the flags of the overrun countries.
FLAT PLATE: A stamp printed on a flat bed press. This process is slower than the rotary press method of printing from curved plates.
FLAW: A blemish in the stamp design that occurred during manufacture and may be considered a variety.
FLIGHT COVER: An envelope actually flown in the vehicle being commemorated.
FLOWN COVER: A cover that has been carried by air.
FLUGPOST: German for air mail.
FLUORESCENT: An optical brightener that emits a distinctive, intense glow when viewed with either a long or short wave ultra-violet light. Fluorescent tubes in fixtures can emit damaging quantities of UV light that can discolor stamps and covers.
FLUORESCENT INK: Ink that glows brightly when its luminescent ingredients are activated by ultraviolet light, and which ceases to glow when the light is extinguished.
FLYSPECK PHILATELY: Term used for the microscopic study of stamps such as extra dots in the design, or a slight break in the frame line, etc.
FOIL STAMPS: Stamps printed on paper with a facing of metal foil.
FOLDED LETTER: One piece of paper folded so that the letter is written on one side and then folded so that the address and proper postal markings can be placed on outside.
FOLDOVER: Accidental folds made at some point in the production of the material.
FORBIN: Catalogue de Timbres-Fiscaux, 1915 (worldwide revenue stamp catalog)
FOREIGN ENTRY: When original transfers are erased incompletely from a plate, they can appear with new transfers of a different design which are then entered on the plate.
FORERUNNERS: Stamps from one nation used in another area before the new nation had stamps of its own.
FORGERY: Imitation of a stamp made to defraud the Postal Service and/or collectors.
FORMAT: General physical characteristics of a stamp such as size, shape, dimensions, etc.
FOURTH CLASS MAIL: Includes domestic parcel post, bound printed matter and films weighing up to 70 pounds with a combined length and girth of 108" or less.
FOXING: Tan or brown spots often seen on stamps or covers.
F P O: Fleet Post Office postmark used for America's servicemen attached to the U.S. Navy. On a British cover, it means Field Post Office.
FRACTIONAL CURRENCY: Paper money issued in the U.S. during the Civil War reproducing postage stamps.
FRAMA: Adhesive postage label dispensed by an electric coin-operated machine producing postally valid labels of any denomination.
FRAME: The outer printed border of a design on a stamp.
FRAME BARS: The tall bars at the beginning and end of the bar code that alert the bar code machine that a bar code is passing through and ending.
FRANCHISE STAMPS: Issued by a government for private groups entitled to send mail free of postage.
FRANK: An indication on the front of an envelope that it is to be carried free of postage. This is usually limited to official correspondence such as Members of Congress or the President, and it also applies to servicemen's mail while serving in war zones.
FREAK: An irregularity in a stamp such as color shifts, streaks, smears, double print, etc.
FREE MAIL: Mail transmitted free of charge due to natural disasters, franking privilege, and troops on active service.
FREE POSTAGE: Envelopes sent by military personnel where no postage is required.
FRONT: The front of a cover completely detached from the rest of the envelope. These are much less desirable than the entire cover.
FSAT: French and Southern Antarctica Territories
FTB: Forced to Buy, as when a dealer prices covers at 3 for and you can not purchase only one.
FU: Fine Used
FUGITIVE INKS: Used in the production of some stamps to prevent forgery and make it impossible for re-use. If washing is attempted, the ink runs off leaving a faced stamp or a black piece of paper. Some stamps or Netherlands Indies are printed entirely with water soluble fugitive inks.
FULLING EFFECT: A light print of the stamp design seen on the back of the stamp, usually on letterpress printed stamps.
FUNCTIONAL WATERMARK: Parallel lines to act as a guide for the writer.
FUTURE DELIVERY: U.S. revenue stamps.
F/W: Franked With
FV: Face Value
G: Auction term for "good" condition.
G: Insured Letter. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
G D: Gum Disturbance
G P C I: Grand Prix Club International
G.m.b.H.: Gesselschaft mit beschrankter Haftung
GAP: Unprinted space between the ends of two printed precancel overprints.
GARBAGE CARD: Nickname given to the full-face portrait of the McKinley postal card that was supposedly destroyed. One box of 500 was sold by post office imprinted with name of a garbage firm.
GD: Gum Disturbance
GENERAL COLLECTION: A collection of the entire world rather than a specialized collection of one or more countries or topics.
GENERAL ISSUE: Stamps that are issued for ordinary postage use, rather than for air mail, postage due, etc.
GERMANIA: Symbolic figure of the German Empire from a portrait of Anna von Stratz-Fuhring, a Wagnerian opera star.
GERMAN STATES: Germany consisted of large number of states prior to the formation of the German Empire in 1871.
GHOST: A light double printing apart from the normal inked stamp impression caused by misregistration and incorrect printing procedures. A "ghost" can also be caused by phosphor inking picking up a design.
GIBBONS CATALOGUE NUMBER: Number assigned to a philatelic item by Stanley Gibbons editors according to that publisher's criteria for such assignment.
GIORI: Ink delivery system allowing a single plate to print up to three colors.
GLAZED GUM: Original gum in altered state due to its softening and reforming while in a plastic mount.
GLIDER MAIL: Mail carried by a glider.
GOLDBEATER'S PAPER: A fragile onionskin paper.
GOODDALL PROOFS: Proofs ordered printed by A. G. Goodall, president of the American bank note Co. in 1847 and 1879 of official and newspaper stamps.
G P O: General Post Office.
G P S: Germany Philatelic Society
GRADE: An expression that indicates whether a stamp is perfect or imperfect and the range of imperfections.
GRAIN DIRECTION: Direction in which most of the paper fibers are aligned. Paper tears more readily with the grain than against it. Cutting a small rectangle piece from a page and wetting it will cause the paper to curl in the grain direction.
GRANITE PAPER: Paper containing tiny, visible fibers to deter forgery.
GRAVER: A tool with a sharp hardened point used by an engraver to cut lines into a steel block.
GRAVURE: Also known as photogravure.
GRIDIRON CANCELLATION: Typically, an early U.S. cancel consisting of circles enclosing parallel lines.
GRILL: An impression or embossing made on a stamp in order to break the paper fibers so that the ink from the cancel will soak into the stamp paper and make washing for reuse impossible.
GRIPPER CRACKS: Formed over slots cut in the edges of the plates curved to fit rotary press cylinders. Associated with introduction of the rotary press printer.
GROUNDWOOD: Paper pulp produced by mechanically grinding wood logs making a weak, acidic paper that discolors upon exposure to light.
G D: Gum disturbamce
GUERRILLA STAMPS: Stamps issued by guerrilla forces such as those printed in 1895 when the underground fighters of Taiwan issued stamps for their Black Flag Republic.
GUIDE LINE: Horizontal or vertical colored lines between the stamps used as a guide for operators of perforating machines or to indicate the point of separation of the sheet into panes.
GUIDE LINE PAIR: Attached pair of coil stamps with printed line between.
GUILLOCHE: Delicate engraving formed by an engraved interlacing network.
GUILLOTINE PERFORATION: Single-line perforation made by a machine resembling a guillotine.
GUM: The coating of glue on the reverse of an unused or mint postage stamp.
GUM BREAKER: Colorless impressions across the backs of some stamps made during manufacture to prevent curling.
GUM STAIN: A discoloring of the gum usually caused by tropical humidity, salt air, etc.
GUTTER: The blank space between the panes of a sheet of stamps. Gutters can be found on many of the "Farley's Follies" stamp issue of 1935.
GUTTER PAIRS: Two stamps with the selvage or gutter remaining between the pair.
GUTTER SNIPE: Miscut of the pane leaving the entire gutter and occasionally a portion of the adjoining stamp.
GY: Marine Insurance. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
H: Acknowledgment of Receipt: Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
H&G: Higgins & Gage (worldwide postal stationery catalog)
HAIR LINES: Fine colorless scratches from a printing plate.
HAMMER PRICE: Auction term meaning selling price determined by the drop of the auctioneer's hammer.
HANDBACK SERVICE: A cancelled cover or other item returned directly to the postal customer instead of processing it through the mail.
HAND CANCEL: Cancellation applied by hand.
HAND MADE COVER: Folding a sheet of paper to act as an envelope.
HANDSTAMPED: Postmarked or canceled by hand, usually by a rubber stamp, may also be a steel device.
HAPAG: The Hamburg American Line local stamp used to prepay charges on mail carried by their ships.
HARROW PERFORATION: Method by which the entire sheet or pane of stamps was perforated at one time.
HATCHING: Close, fine lines for shading a stamp design.
HAWAIIAN MISSIONARIES: Primitive early issues of Hawaii, 1851-52. The name came from the fact that many were used by missionaries writing home.
H C: Hand cancel
HEAD PLATE: Plate that prints the stamp's central design.
HEALTH STAMPS: Stamps issued with a charity premium to raise funds for children health camps.
HELIOGRAVURE (HELlO): An early type of photogravure printing of postage stamps.
HERMES HEAD: Greek stamps, first issued in 1861, featuring Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods. There are small Hermes and large Hermes portraits.
H H: Auction term for "Heavily Hinged."
HIDDEN DATES: The date of stamp manufacture hidden in the stamp design. Used in Canadian stamps since 1935.
HILL, SIR ROWLAND: The man who instituted the penny postage system in England and is considered the "Father of the Postage Stamp."
HINGES: Small pieces of gummed glassine or parchment paper used by collectors for mounting stamps on album pages.
HISTORICAL COVER: Postmarked and cacheted for a historical event, e.g., the inauguration of a president.
H M S: Her/His Majesty's Ship
HOLOGRAM: Multi-dimensional image.
HOPFLUG: Overprint on Iceland's stamps to commemorate Italian Marshall Balbo's 1933 flight.
HORIZONTAL COIL: Stamps that are perforated vertically and arranged in rolls.
HOTEL POSTS: Issued by hotels in remote areas to carry guest's mail to the nearest post office.
H P O: Highway Post Office cancel used on portable mail handling equipment usually located on trucks.
H R: Hinge remnant
H S: Hand stamp
HUB: The circular portion of a postmark that indicates place, date, Zip code, etc.
HUCK-COTTRELL PRESS: Single-color intaglio press, forerunner of Cottrell presses.
HYBRID PROOF: A large die proof made with various plate proofs cut close and mounted upon a card or proof paper.
HYPHEN HOLE PERFORATION: Rectangular-shaped perforation such as used on some U.S. revenue stamps.
I S J P: International Society for Japanese Philately
IBI: Information-Based Indicia, printed designs indicating prepayment of postage.
IDEM: This word, when printed on top of a stamp issue indicates that it has all the indications of the previous issue.
IFSDA: International Federation of Stamp Dealers Association.
Illegal Use: An improper use of a postage stamp or other adhesive; may be intentional or unintentional.
ILLUSTRATED COVERS: A cachet with an illustration, not just words.
IMPERFORATE (IMPERF.): Stamps without separating holes. They are usually separated by scissors and are collected in pairs.
IMPERFORATE BETWEEN: A pair of stamps with perforations on all four sides with either the horizontal or vertical perforations completely omitted.
IMPRESSION: A printed sheet is an "impression" taken from the printing press or plate. Also known as the actual printed design of a stamp.
IMPRIMATUR: Term for the first pane of a stamp produced after a printing plate was approved.
IMPRINT BLOCK: A block of stamps taken from a portion of the sheet where the printer's name or imprint is located on the margin.
IMPRINTS: Stamps issued from 1851 until 1917 bore imprints in the margin of the panes to identify the manufacturer. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing stopped putting imprints on panes in 1911, but they have appeared in later years when old plates with imprints were used to produce additional stamps.
IMPROVED PERFORATIONS: Where several perforations have been changed to enhance the appearance, such as punching out of unpunched perforations.
INCLUSIONS: Any substances incorporated in the paper web during the manufacturing process and normally different in color from the stamp.
INDEPENDENT MAILS: Express companies in 1844-45 that initiated mail service along railroad and water routes between cities in the northeast and also to and from the Great Lakes region.
INDIA PAPER: A strong paper that is soft, thin and silk-like usually used for proof impressions.
INDICIA: Stamped impression of the denomination indicating prepayment of postage.
INFLATION ISSUE: Stamps issued during high periods of financial instability.
INFORMATION-BASED INDICIA: A postage imprint that features a two-dimensional bar code containing data necessary for revenue protection.
INITIALS: Used in sheet margins as identification of individuals working at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing who participated in the production of plates.
INLAND MAIL STAMPS: Stamps intended specifically for domestic use.
INSCRIPTION: Any lettering or numbers on a postage stamp.
INSELPOST: German stamps used to carry mail to and from Crete, Rhodes and Aegean islands occupied by Germany during WWII.
INSURANCE STAMPS: Stamps issued for use by a government's life insurance department.
INSURED LETTER STAMPS: Stamps issued to pay the insurance fee on a letter.
INTAGLIO: Any type of printing in which the inked image is below the surface of the plate.
INTELPOST: Electronic facsimile system for transmission of documents used by postal administrations.
INTERIOR SERVICE: Stamps not valid for UPU service but may be the first stamps of several nations such as Cape of Good Hope, Reunion, Switzerland. Also all the stamps of some other nations such as Shanghai and the small Indian states.
INTERLEAVES: Translucent tissue placed between the pages of an album to prevent stamps from rubbing against each other.
INTERNAL REVENUE: The revenue tax collected within the country.
INTERNEE MAIL: Mail from persons interned during time of war.
INTRA-CITY POSTS: Served the local community by taking mail to and from the post office and delivering letters between correspondents in the same area; same as local posts.
INVALIDATED: No longer valid for postal use.
INVERT: Usually a multicolored stamp in which one of the colors or the design has been printed upside down. For example, the 24 cents air mail issue of 1918 in which the airplane, printed in blue, is upside down.
INVERTED CENTER: Stamp in which the central design is upside down in relation to the frame of the stamp.
INVERTED JENNY: U.S. 1918 24-cent air mail error.
INVERTED SWAN: Australia stamp with frame inverted issued in 1855.
INVISIBLE GUM: Colorless and tasteless gum on the reverse of a stamp.
I P S A: Independent Postal System of America, founded on February 14, 1968, as an alternate to the USPS.
I R C: International Reply Coupon is the Universal Postal Union method to provide postage for correspondents in other countries.
IRREGULAR PERFORATIONS: Perforations where the holes are not aligned, are different sizes, are misplaced or are in any manner, abnormal.
ISSUE: Act of a new stamp, or series of stamps, being released by a postal authority.
ISSUED (NON): A catalog term for a prepared stamp that has not been issued for various reasons.
I W Y: Inernational Women's Year
J: Postage Due. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
J P A: Junior Philatelists of America.
J P S: Japan Philatelic Society
J S D A: Japan Stamp Dealers Association
JET PRESS: Another term for offset printing of stamps. First used by the USPS for the 33Â¢ blue Lincoln envelope issued June 5, 1999.
JET SILHOUETTE: The US 7-cents air mail issue showing the silhouette of a plane.
JOINT ISSUE: Two or more countries issuing and releasing a stamp or set of stamps with a similar design on the same day.
JOINT LINE: Caused when the edges of two printing plates do not meet exactly on the press and the small space between the plates absorbs ink and prints a line.
JOURNAL STAMPS: Stamps that have been issued for the express purpose of prepaying postage on journals, newspapers, magazines, etc.
JQ: Parcel Post Postage Due. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
JUBILEE: A special anniversary, usually divisible by 25. The Jubilee stamps refer to the 1935 Silver Jubilee issue of King George V.
JUBILEE LINE: Line around the sheet margins first used during Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.
JUDENPOST: Ghetto stamps issued for the use of Jews interned in concentration camps.
JUMBO STAMPS: Stamps with wide margins. Also referred to as Boardwalk Margins.
JULEN: Term for Christmas on Danish seals.
JURY: Judges at a stamp show.
K: U.S. Offices in China. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
KEY PLATE: The printing plate that prints the stamp's design and used in conjunction with a duty plate.
KEY TYPE: Issues of two or more postal administrations using the same stamp design.
KILLER: Any obliterating postmark that will render re-use of a stamp impossible.
KILLER BARS: Horizontal lines which are typically used to cancel a stamp.
KILOWARE: Term used by dealers or countries to sell mixtures of stamps on paper. A kilo is approximately 2 1/3 pounds.
KNIFE: The cutting edge of the machine which cuts the envelope blank. Also, the size and shape of the die-cut papers from which the envelopes are folded.
K P C: Korean Specialized Postage Stamp Catalog
L: Local. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
L, LT: Left (side)
L A C: Liga Antituberculosos Colombiana, Colombian Anti-Tuberculosis League.
LA BELLE FRANCE: Cinderella issues from France used to promote tourism.
LABEL: Any stamp-like adhesive that is not a postage or revenue stamp.
LABEL ADDRESS: Address on a label that is affixed to a cover.
LABEL CACHET: Design on a label that is affixed to a cover.
LADY MCLEOD: First British colonial issue, April 1847, depicting a steam ship on a local stamp of Trinidad.
LAID PAPER: A paper showing light and dark lines when held to the light or put in watermark fluid.
LAST DAY CANCELLATION: The last day of use of a postmark or the last day cancel of a post office which is being closed.
LATE FEE STAMP: Stamp indicating payment of a special fee for forwarding a mail piece after the regular mail has been closed.
LB: Carriers' Semi-official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
LC: Large Crown (British watermark)
LE: Line Engraved (Victorian-era postage stamps, Great Britain)
LEADER STRIP: The unprinted initial portion of a coil strip.
LETTER CARD: Postal stationery consisting of cards folded over and sealed on the outer edges by perforated strips.
LETTERPRESS: Another name for typography or surface printing. When a stamp is printed by letterpress, it implies that the work is done from line or halftone plates by ordinary typesetting methods of machinery and printing.
LETTER SHEET: Postal stationery with a preprinted stamp or postage amount which is then folded and sealed to resemble a standard envelope.
LEVANT: Area bordering on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
L H: Auction term for Lightly Hinged, to denote slight disturbance of gum on back of stamp.
LIGNIN: Portion of plant cell wall used in paper production that reverts to its natural brown color upon exposure to light.
LINE BLOCK: A block of stamps with either a horizontal or vertical printed line running between the rows of stamps. This line forms the guides for color registry, perforating or cutting of the full press run sheets.
LINE GAP: A colored line between a pair of coil stamps caused by a gap in the printing plate joint.
LINE PAIR: A pair of stamps with a vertical printed line running between two stamps.
LINE PERFORATION: Perforation of a sheet stamp one line at a time in each direction.
LIP: Light Impression of Plate No. (on U.S.A. Plate No. Blocks)
LITERACY FUND STAMPS: Stamps issued to raise funds to combat illiteracy such as those issued in Haiti and Mexico.
LITHOGRAPHY (LITHO): A surface printing method where the image is photographically printed on a zinc or aluminum plate.
LKU: Latest Known Use
L L: Lower Left position for plate number blocks.
LN: Local Occupation. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
LO: Carriers' Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
LOCAL CARRIAGE LABEL: Local labels used by British offshore islands.
LOCAL POST: Service performed by a non-official body and used to carry mail within a certain area.
LOCAL PRECANCEL: Stamp overprinted locally with name of city and state.
LOCAL LETTER: Prior to 1863, local letters are those that were mailed and addressed locally, delivered by carrier service.
LOCALS: Stamps issued by governments or private posts for use in restricted areas.
LOOSE LETTER: Mail arriving in port without any cancel or mark of origin.
LOT: Auction term for an item offered for sale with a number assigned by the auction firm.
LOVE STAMPS: A special issue U.S. stamp used primarily for greetings.
LOX: U.S. Typeset Official Seals. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
LOZENGE PERFORATION: Diamond-shaped perforation as used for the Bulgarian postage due stamp.
L P: Line pair
L R: Lower Right position for plate number blocks.
LS: Letter Sheet (without contents)
LTA: Lighter than air (postage stamps and/or postal history)
LU: Local Envelopes. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
LUMINESCENCE: A coating applied to stamps that emits a glow when viewed with an ultraviolet lamp.
M: Military. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage
M E P S I: Mexico Elmhurst Philatelic Society International
MACHINE POSTMARKS: Cancel applied by a machine vs handstamp and comprises slogan and plain version.
MACHINS: British stamps with a design based on a plaster cast profile of Queen Elizabeth II done by Arnold Machin.
MAIL ART: Labels designed to simulate stamps.
MAIL EARLY: An inscription found in the margins of U.S. stamps and booklet panes. Started in 1965 to encourage people to Mail Early in the Day. These are usually collected in blocks of six.
MAILER'S POSTMARK: Authorized mailer use of a postal cancellation applied prior to mailing.
MAILOMAT: Combination franking and mailing machine introduced by Pitney-Bowes in 1939.
MAJOR VARIETIES: A variation in stamp make-up such as a color change, new paper, watermark, or different perforation.
MALIGAYANG PASKO: Term meaning Happy Holiday on Philippine seals.
MALTESE CROSS: Used as a cancellation during the 1840's on British stamps, and as a watermark.
MANUSCRIPT: Term describing covers or stamps with handwritten postal markings.
MAPLE LEAF: Nickname for Canadian 1897-98 issue depicting Queen Victoria with a maple leaf in each corner.
MARGIN: The portion of unprinted paper that surrounds a stamp or a pane of stamps.
MARGINAL INSCRIPTIONS: Printing that appears in margin of a pane.
MARGINAL RULE: Line in margins around British and commonwealth stamps. Also known as Jubilee Line.
MATCH STAMPS: Revenue stamps used for collecting a match tax.
MAXIMUM CARD: A post card that has an illustration, stamp and cancel all with a common theme.
M B: Auction term meaning Minimum Bid or least amount the auction firm will accept.
M C: Maltese Cross or machine cancel or manuscript cancel
MC: Military Air Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
MCA: Watermarked: Multiple Crown CA
M D: Minor defects
M E: Mail Early post office slogan
ME: Military Special delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
MEDALLION: A design used as a decoration on commemorative envelopes. Not a postmark.
MEDICINE STAMPS: Revenue stamps used for collecting a medicine tax.
MERRY WIDOW: Term used for the helmet of the Mercury Special Delivery stamp of 1908, since it resembled women's hats of that era.
METALLIC CACHET: Design printed on a very thin sheet of metal and then affixed to a cover.
METER CANCELLATION: A postage fee and cancel applied by a machine to a piece of mail.
MH: Great Britain Machine definitives. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
M I: Marginal Inscription printing in the margin of stamps or panes.
Mi.: Michel catalog
MICHEL: German language world-wide stamp catalog.
MICHEL CATALOGUE NUMBER: Number assigned to a philatelic item by Michel editors according to that publisher's criteria for such assignment.
MICROPRINTING: Tiny lettering that appears as a message under magnification. Originated as a secrity device by postal administrations.
MILITARY POSTAL HISTORY: Date stamps and censorship markings of military post offices.
MILITARY STAMPS: Stamps issued for use by a country's military personnel.
MINIATURE SHEET: A single stamp or block of stamps with a paper margin on all sides bearing some special wording or design. Some were issued for stamp exhibitions in the U.S.
MINKUS: Minkus catalogue
MINOR VARIETIES: A slight variation in color, a break in the line of the design, or a speck on the stamp can be considered a "minor" variety.
MINT: A stamp as issued by the government printing office with full gum, unhinged and uncanceled.
MIRROR PRINT: Complete or part of a stamp design reversed as if being viewed in a mirror.
MIS: Miniature sheet
MISPERFORATION: Perforations within the design instead of the margins.
MISSION MIXTURE: An assortment of low quality stamps on paper sold by the pound and usually collected by a charitable mission or institution.
MISSIONARIES: Term applied to the rare first issues of Hawaii.
MISSTRIKE: Envelope stamps impressed in the wrong place, partially impressed or doubly printed.
MIXED FRANKING: A properly used cover with stamps of two or more countries or regimes.
MIXED PERFORATION: Stamps that have different perforations on different sides.
MIXTURE: A mixture of stamps, usually on original envelope clippings, containing duplicates. May contain varieties of shades, perforations and minor varieties.
M L H: Mint lightly hinged
MM: Modified Margin
M N H: Mint, never hinged
MODEL: Photographs, artist's sketches, and engraved prints that combine to mock up a proposed stamp design.
MOIRE: Wavy lines printed either on the face or back of a stamp to prevent cleaning and reuse.
MONEY ORDER SERVICE: Some post offices used money order date stamps to cancel mail.
MONEY UNIT: Monetary denomination.
MONSTER: Dutch and Afrikaans word found on stamps of Netherlands and Transvaal indicating "specimen."
MOUNTS: Stamp hinges or cellulose acetate strips used to encase stamps for album mounting.
MOURNING COVER: Cover with a black border.
MOURNING STAMP: Stamps issued for the death of a president, king or other important personage in a nation.
M P O: Mobile Post Office is a vehicular post office that can serve as a temporary postal station.
M P P: Mailer's precancel postmark
MQ: Military Parcel Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
MR: War Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
M S: Matched set or mint sheet or manuscript
M T A: Matched Typed Address
MUESTRA: Spanish for "specimen."
M U H: Mint unhinged
MUL: Muller: Catalogue des Aerogrammes du Monde Entier, 1950 (specialized worldwide First Flight Cover Catalog)
MULREADY COVER: Named for designer of Britain's first postal envelope in 1839. The decorated postal stationery was so ridiculed that it had a very short life.
MULTIPLE: A unseparated group of stamps that is less than the full sheet, but more than two.
MULTIPLE CANCELS: Covers with several separate postmarks.
MULTIPLE WATERMARK: Repetition of design and is visible more than once.
MUTE: Term applied to postage stamps or cancellations that do not indicate country or place of origin.
MYLAR: DuPont registered trade name for polyethylene terephthalate film that is colorless, transparent, strong and chemically stable.
N: Occupation Regular Issues. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
N A P T: National Association for Prevention of Tuberculosis of Great Britain.
N O B A T A: North Borneo Anti-Tuberculosis Association.
N P S: National Philatelic Society, Great Britain
N T A: National Tuberculosis Association, organized the Christmas seal program in the USA from 1919 to 1967.
N T R D A: National Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association, ran the Christmas seal program in the USA from 1968 to 1972.
N Z S D A: New Zealand Stamp Dealers Association
NATAL: Term meaning Christmas in Portuguese.
NATIVE PAPER: Handmade paper produced locally
NB: Occupation Semipostal. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NC: Occupation Air Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NE: Occupation Special delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NET: Term used when buying stamps. No deductions or discounts of any kind are allowed when this word appears.
NEUTRAL: Having a pH of 7.0, neither acidic or alkaline.
NEVER HINGED: Stamp with original gum in post office condition.
NEW ISSUE: The latest issue of stamps to come from a country.
NEWSPAPER STAMP: Stamp issued to prepay postage on printed matter, periodicals and newspapers.
N G: Term meaning that the stamp has No Gum.
N H: Term meaning that the stamp has Never been Hinged and has the original gum.
NIBS: The teeth of the perforation on a stamp.
NIMH: Great Britain Northern Ireland Machin. Scott catalog usage to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NINE-DIGIT ZIP CODE: Numerical sequence sorted to the individual route or carrier.
NIPPED PERF: A perforation tooth that is slightly shorter than the remaining teeth on a normal stamps.
NIXIE: Piece of mail that is undeliverable.
NJ: Occupation Postage Due. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NNM: Normal Narrow Margin
NO: Occupation Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NONDENOMINATED STAMP: Stamp without a value issued during period of a rate change.
NONPROFIT MAIL: Reduced-rate, third class bulk mail for specially qualified groups.
NORGE: Specialized Norway Postage Stamp Catalog
NP: Occupation Newspaper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NRA: Occupation Postal Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
NUMBER IN PANE: The actual count of the number of stamps in a pane of stamps.
NUMBER ONES: refers to the very first stamp issued by an entity.
NUMERAL CANCELLATION: Cancels that use numbers to identify office of mailing.
N V P H: Specialized Netherlands & Colonies Postage Stamp Catalog
N Y F M: New York foreign mail
O: Official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
O B H V: Osterreichischer Briefmarken-Verband, Austrian Stamp Dealers Association
O H M S: On His/Her Majesty's Service.
O P A T: Organiacion Panamenta Antituberculosa, the Panama Tuberculosis Organization.
OBLITERATION: Term used to denote a cancellation marking.
OBSOLETE: Stamps that are no longer sold by the postal service.
O/C: Off centered design
OCCUPATION STAMPS: Stamps issued for use in enemy territories by the conquerors.
ODDITIES: Stamps that have design errors, gum varieties, shade differences, etc.
ODONTOMETRE: 1866 name for perforation gauge.
OFF CENTER: A stamp design that is not printed in the exact center of the paper.
OFFICES ABROAD: Postal agency of one country in another, usually because of the poor local postal network. Special stamps were usually overprinted for these offices, mainly from the country maintaining the office.
OFFICIAL REPRINT: Stamps reprinted at a later date by the original issuing entity from the original plates.
OFFICIAL SEAL: A label, in stamp form, issued by the Post Office to seal mail and parcel post that has opened in transit or that may have been opened for postal inspection of contents.
OFFICIAL STAMPS: A government agency postage stamp.
OFF PAPER: Stamps that have been soaked off the paper.
OFFSET: Reverse impression from the face of a sheet of stamps onto the back of another sheet.
OFFSET LITHOGRAPHY: This printing process consists of transferring an image from an aluminum or zinc plate to a rubber blanket. The image is then transferred from the rubber blanket to the paper running through the machine.
OG: Term for Original Gum as applied when the stamp was printed.
OL: Local official. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
OLS: Outer Letter Sheet
OMNIBUS ISSUE: A common theme used on the stamps of several different countries.
OnB: On Board (Zeppelin Mail cachet)
ON COVER: Stamps that are on the original envelope and may also be "tied" (postmark on stamp and cover tying the two together) to cover.
ON PAPER: Stamps that still have paper portions of the original envelope or wrapper stuck to them.
ON PIECE: A stamp attached to the original portion of the envelope or wrapper with enough of the cancel showing to ensure authenticity.
OPT or OVPT: Overprint
OPTICAL CHARACTER READER (OCR): Mail-processing machine that "reads" an address and translates it into a sprayed on bar code.
OPTIFORMA PRESS: Six-color Goebel press used by the BEP.
ORANGEBURG COIL: Issued January 24, 1911, in Orangeburg, NY, for the Bell Pharmaceutical Co.
ORD: Ordinary (paper)
ORDINARY USAGE: The correct rate of postage applied for the correct usage.
ORIGINAL: A stamp from the first issue and not a reprint or later issue.
ORIGINAL GUM: Gum which is in the original state as applied by the printer and appears untouched by a hinge.
OSS FORGERIES: Office of Strategic Services postal forgeries for use in Japanese-occupied China during World War II
OVER (or UNDER) INKING: Stamps that have been received with more or less of one or more of the colors to complete the design.
OVERCHARGE: See surcharge
OVERPRINT: An additional printing on a stamp that was not part of the original design. For example, the Molly Pitcher U.S. stamp of 1928.
OX: U.S. Post Office Official Seals. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
OXIDIZED: Term applied to a stamp that has been darkened from sulphurization or oxidation with age.
OY: New Zealand Life Insurance. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
P: Auction term for Poor quality.
P: Newspaper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
P B: Perkins Bacon, Ltd. (Stamp Printers, Great Britain)
P F: Philatelic Foundation (New York)
P F C: Philatelic Foundation certificate
P M: Postmaster, postmistress
P M G: Abbreviation for Postmaster General.
P N C: A cover with a coin and a related stamp is known as a Philatelic Numismatic Combination. Also Plate Number Coil.
P N G: Papua New Guinea
P N T A: Pakistan National Tuberculosis Association.
P R C: People's Republic of China (mainland China).
P S E: Professional Stamp Expertisers (Miami)
P T S: Philatelic Traders society (England)
PACKET: An assortment of stamps made up in an envelope or package form.
PACKET LETTER: Mail carried by a ship authorized by a post office to carry mail.
PACKET POSTAGE: That portion of the rate used to pay the ship that carried the item.
PAID MARKINGS: Usually the word "PAID" indicating regular postage has been prepaid by the sender.
PAIR: Two stamps that have not been separated.
P A L: Parcel air lift
PANE: Stamps as sold by the Post Office. Usually a commemorative pane consists of 50 stamps. Four panes of 50 stamps make up a "sheet" of stamps as printed.
PAPER: Since most stamps are printed on paper, faults in the paper are sought by collectors as freaks or oddities. In some cases, the type of paper is important in the identification of some stamps.
PAPERMAKERS WATERMARK: Name of the manufacturer of the paper.
PAPERMARK: Original term for a watermark.
PAPYRUS: A paper-like substance made from thin sections of a reed that had been pressed together.
PAQUEBOT: Cancellation on a parcel or letter indicating that the article was mailed aboard a ship.
PAR AVION: "By Air Mail" in French.
PARACHUTE MAIL: Form of air mail whereby mail is delivered by free-fall parachute from an airplane.
PARAPHE: A complicated flourish that dips back and under the signature. Used as an overprint on some of the early issues of Puerto Rico.
PARCEL MARKING: Larger post offices may have used a different parcel post handstamp.
PARCEL POST: Stamp issued to prepay parcel post fees.
PARTIALLY SEPARATED PERFS: When a number of perforations are detached between two or more stamps of a multiple.
PART ORIGINAL GUM: A stamp with noticeable gum missing.
PART PERFORATED: A stamp that is not perforated on any one or more of the sides. These stamps usually come from sheets where some of the perforating lines have been omitted.
PASTE UP: The juncture where the ends of rolls of coiled stamps are pasted together to make a continuous roll.
PATENT CANCEL: Devices that permanently defaced the stamp to prevent fraudulent reuse.
PATRIOTIC COVER: Envelope decorated with pictures or slogans of a patriotic nature such as those used during the Civil War.
PB: Plate block
PC: Postal Card, Post Card
PCE: Used Stamp on Piece
PECK: Clarrie Peck Postmark Catalogue
PEELABLE LABEL: An address label that can be removed from a cover.
PELURE PAPER: A strong thin paper that looks like a slightly dark onion-skin paper.
PENALTY: Term applied to stamps and stationery for use on official correspondence with warning "Penalty for private use ."
PEN CANCELLATION: A cancellation marking on a stamp that has been applied with a pen and ink.
PENNY BLACK: The world's first adhesive postage stamp issued in Great Britain on May 6,1840.
PENNY MAGENTA: Unique stamp from British Guiana, the 1856 1 penny.
PEOPLE'S ART: Labels designed to simulate stamps.
PERF: Abbreviation for perforated or perforations.
PERFINS: Private or official perforated initials or designs punched into stamps to prevent misuse of stamps. These are known in Great Britain as "Spifs."
PERFORATION COMBS: Printing equipment used in the process of producing stamps that makes the separation holes in stamp paper.
PERFORATION DISC INDENT: A depression in a stamp caused by a punched paper disc from a perforation hole.
PERFORATION GUAGE: An instrument designed to measure the number of perf. holes or teeth within a two centimeter space.
PERFORATIONS: Lines of small holes placed around stamps to provide an easier means of separation.
PERMANENT PAPER: Paper manufactured to meet standard requirements. Such papers are alkaline and very durable.
PERMIT: A permit is actually a license number that is printed in the upper right hand corner of the mailing piece. Many large firms use this method of mailing in order to eliminate the need for affixing and canceling stamps on large mailings.
PEROT POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL: Hamilton's postmaster William Bennett Perot issued the first provisional stamps in Bermuda.
PERSIAN RUG: The 1871 U.S. Internal Revenue stamp received its name from its intricately engraved lathework resembling a Persian rug.
pH: Numbers below 7.0 are acidic, above alkaline and pH 7.0 is neutral. However, pH 4 is ten times more acidic than pH 5 and 100 times more acidic than pH 6. An acidic album page may migrate to a stamp or cover mounted on it.
PH: Photo, Photocopy
PHANTASY: A bogus stamp with no postal value.
PHANTOM PHILATELY: The collecting of fake stamps. The name came from author Fred Melville's work "Phantom Philately."
PHILATELIC: (Fil-a-tel-ic) The adjective for philately.
PHILATELIC AGENCY: Firm maintained by a government which sells stamps to collectors. Some may also aid in the design and production of these stamps.
PHILATELIC COVER: A cover specifically made to be a collectible item.
PHILATELIST: A student of stamp collecting.
PHILATELY: Taken from the Greek "philos," loving + "ateleia," exemption from (further) tax, taken as equivalent of "postage paid"; the collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks, stamped envelopes, etc.
PHILOGRAPHY: Term for autographed first day covers.
PHOSPHOR: A chemical printed on stamps in order to help automated machines process the mail by reacting to the phosphor under ultraviolet lights. It started in Great Britain in 1959, and many countries now use a phosphor "tagging" on their stamps.
PHOSPHORESCENCE: The property of a luminescent material, after being activated by exposure to ultraviolet light, to continue to glow for a period of time after the UV light has been extinguished.
PHOTO CACHET: A cachet that consists of part, or all, of a photograph.
PHOTOGRAVURE: A printing process where the design is photographed on the printing plate through a fine screen which breaks the copy up into very fine dots which are square in shape. The depressions formed around the squares hold the ink.
PI: Perf Intial(s)
PICTORIAL CANCEL: Cancellation with unique design elements.
PICTORIALS: Stamps that bear illustrations of any decorative theme such as landscapes, works of art, flowers, etc. that are different than portraits or symbols.
PIECE: A remaining part of a mail piece showing the stamps and sometimes the address or postmark.
PIGEON POST: Stamps issued to pay postage on letters carried by pigeons.
PIN-HOLE: A tiny hole in the fibers of a stamp through which one can see light.
PIP: Partial Impression of Plate No. (on U.S.A. Plate No. Blocks)
PL # BLK: Plate No. Block
PLATE: A flat piece of metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) on which an image has been photoengraved, hand engraved or etched. The stamps are then printed from this object.
PLATE CRACK: Caused by the hardened plate cracking under wear or pressure.
PLATE FLAW: Damage to one specific stamp image on one specific printing plate.
PLATE GAP: Ink appearing through perforation holes on coil stamps.
PLATE NUMBER: The file number engraved on a plate which usually appears in a corner of a sheet of stamps. This number is used to keep the plates from getting mixed up at the printing plant.
PLATE NUMBER BLOCK: A block of stamps with the sheet margin attached showing the plate number used in printing that sheet. Also known as Plate Block.
PLATE NUMBER COIL: U.S. coil stamps produced since 1981 with a plate number appearing at the bottom of the stamp at certain intervals.
PLATE PROOF: An impression taken from a plate before actual printing is started.
PLATE SCRATCH: Caused by an object cutting into the plate.
PLATE VARIETY: Any variety in a stamp that had its origin in the plate from which the stamp was printed.
PLATEN: Used in the stamp envelope printing process with the platen providing the resistance as the working die imprints the stamped image on the envelope paper. Also called a make-ready.
PLATING: The reconstruction of a sheet of stamps by the placement of individual stamps representing the various positions.
PLEBISCITE STAMPS: Temporary stamps issued by a town or district while their national or political future is being determined by a vote of the people.
PLUG: A part of the printing plate that is literally plugged into the main design.
PMOG: Pencil Mark on Gum
PMS: Pantone Matching System used by the USPS since 1987 to assign stamp color specifications. However, the color may vary depending if the stamps were printed by offset or intaglio presses.
PN: U.S. Postal note. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
PNEUMATIC POST: Distribution of mail through air tubes.
PNG: Pencil Note(s) on Gum
PNT: Plate No. Trimmed
POACHED EGG: Nickname for British green testing label.
PONY EXPRESS: A system to carry mail by horseback.
POR: Price Upon Request
POROUS PAPER: An absorbent type of paper used in stamp production.
POSITION PLATE BLOCK: Four plate blocks with the exact same plate number in four positions.
POSTAGE: Charge for transporting mail.
POSTAGE DUE: A stamp issued to collect unpaid postage.
POSTAGE PLUS: A postage imprint produced by Neopost.
POSTAL CANCELLATION: A postmark that shows that the stamp has been used for postal purposes and not revenue use.
POSTAL FISCAL: Stamp which can be used for both postage and revenue purposes.
POST CARD: A privately produced small card without an imprinted stamp, often with a picture on one side and a space for a written message on the reverse. Maximum dimensions permitted are 4Â¼" high and 6" long.
POSTAL CARD: Cards with special printed stamps which don't exist as adhesive postage stamps
POSTAL FISCAL STAMPS: Revenue stamps that are used as postage stamps.
POSTAL HISTORY: Philatelic study of postal markings, rates and routes.
POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE: The U.S. Postal Service investigative arm responsible for internal audits and investigating criminal acts involving the mails.
POSTAL MARKINGS: Markings or manuscript applied by machine or hand on a item.
POSTAL RATE COMMISSION (PRC): An independent U.S. federal agency that makes recommendations concerning postal service requests for changes in postal rates and mail classification.
POSTAL ROCKET: Missile used to carry mail.
POSTAL STATIONERY: Envelopes, air letter sheets, postal cards, etc. that have imprinted or embossed stamps.
POSTAL STORES: A USPS retail unit that offers customers self-service selections as well as counter assistance.
POSTAL TAX STAMP: A stamp required during certain calendar periods with proceeds going for a specific purpose or charity.
POSTALLY USED: Stamps used for postage purposes.
POSTCARD PRESORT RATE: Discounted cost of bulk mailing of presorted and bundled postcards.
POSTCODE: A group of numbers, or combination of letters and numbers, established to translate an address into a code used by automatic sorting machines.
POST HORN: The post horn design is often found on stamps and watermarks of European stamps. Mail coach drivers used to blow this instrument upon approaching their stations.
POSTMARK: Any marking applied to a letter or parcel indicating the name of the post office and date of mailing.
POSTMASTER GENERALl (PMG): Chief executive officer of the U.S. Postal Service, appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of the Board of Governors.
POSTMASTER PROVISIONALS: Stamps issued by postmasters before the general issue of stamps by the government.
POST OFFICES ABROAD: Post offices staffed and operated in one country and located in another country.
PPC: Picture Post Card
PPM: Pencil Mark(s) in Margin(s) on complete stamp sheets
PR: Pair, Prices Realized
PR: Newspaper Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
PRE-ADHESIVE: A postal item dating from a period prior to the use of adhesive stamps by a certain country.
PRE-PRINTING PAPER CREASE: A white unprinted area in the folds of a crease that occurred as the paper was traveling through the printing press; usually caused by improper tension.
PRE-PRINTING PAPER FOLD: A fold in the paper which leaves an unprinted area during the printing process.
PRECANCEL: Special cancel applied to stamps before being affixed to mail matter. In the U.S., there are two categories of precancels: 1: Bureau, where the precancel is applied by the BEP, 2: Local, where the precancel is applied by the local city or town post office.
PREMIER GRAVURES: A term used to describe the first designs of the 1861 series of stamps.
PRESSED OUT CREASE: Application of heat, moisture or pressure to conceal a crease.
PREVIOUSLY HINGED: A stamp with original gum that shows evidence of hinging.
PREXIES: The nickname given the Presidential Series of stamps of 1938.
PRICE LIST: A listing of philatelic material with prices requested.
PRIMER'S PRESENTATION CARD: When the master proof is cut down to stamp size in the final stage of production, and affixed to a card bearing the name of the primer.
PRINTER'S WASTE: These are stamps that are badly misprinted and misperfed and should have been destroyed by the printer.
PRIVATELY PERFORATED: Perforations not done to defraud collectors such as the Schermack Mailing Machine Co.
PRIVATE PROPRIETARY STAMPS: Issued years ago to pay the revenue tax on products of private firms. The stamps were printed by the government, and paid for by the firms involved to pay the tax on such items as medicine, matches, etc.
PRIVATE SUPPLEMENTAL POSTS: Carried mail to and from post offices where government service was erratic or non-existent.
PROGRESSIVE PROOF: A variation of an essay that is an incomplete engraving of the finished accepted die.
PROOFS: A trial printing, known as a strike, taken from a new printing plate for inspection purposes. This can be used to inspect for defects, or to see which ink color looks best for that particular stamp.
PROPAGANDA LABEL: A stamp-like label that promotes a specific cause.
PROTECTORATE: A nation governed, guided or protected by another nation.
PROVISIONAL ISSUE: A stamp issued for a local area pending availability of a regular issue.
PS: Postal stationery
P S/5: Plate (number) Strip of 5 coil stamps with the plate number on the center stamp.
PSE: Pre-Stamped Envelope or postal stationery.
PSEUDO WATERMARK: A device applied to simulate a true watermark.
PSRE: Postal Stationery Registered Envelope
PULLED PERFS: Paper has been removed below the base line of the perforation holes.
PUNCHED: See perforations
P V I: Postal validation imprint
Q: Parcel Post. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
Q V: Queen Victoria
QE: Special Handling. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
QI: Postal Insurance. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
QUADRILLE: An album page ruled in faint squares as guides for making a variety of layout arrangements with stamps or covers.
QUADRIPARTITION: Four stamps that together form a completed design.
QUADRISECT STAMPS: Term used for 1931 Nicaraguan stamps where stamp fragments were permitted when supplies of normal low-value stamps ran short.
QUANTITY PRIMED: Postal administration statemere as to how many of a given issue were primed.
QUARTZ LAMP: A lamp with a quartz filament that shows repairs or tampering on stamps.
QY: Parcel Post Authorized Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R: U.S. Revenue. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R A P T: Rhodesia Association for thge Prevemion of Tuberculosis.
R P S C: Royal Philatelic Society of Canada
R&S: Reiche and Sendbuehler Nos. (Canadian small Queen issue re-entries)
RA: Postal Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RAB: Postal tax Semipostal. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RAC: Air Post Postal Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RAILROAD CANCEL: Postmark applied to mail in a railway mail car.
RAJ: Postal Tax Due. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RB: U.S. Revenue Proprietary. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RC: U.S. Revenue Future Delivery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RD: U.S. Revenue Stock Transfer. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RE: U.S. Revenue Cordials, Wines, etc. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RE-CUT: An unhardened printing plate that has been retouched.
REA: U.S. Revenue Beer. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
REBUTS: Postal marking instruction to return the piece of mail.
REC'G CDS: Receiving Circular Date Stamp
RECEIVING MARK: A postal marking applied by the receiving post office.
RECESS PRINTED: A graphic arts process where the inked image is below the surface of the printing plate. Recess printed stamps have a raised image.
RED CROSS STAMPS: Semi-postal stamps issued to benefit the Red Cross organization of a nation.
RED ERROR: The 5c red error in the 1917 plate of the 2c carmine value.
RED MERCURY: Austria newspaper stamp issued in 1856.
REDISTRIBUTED ORIGINAL GUM: Gum which has been moistened and respread to present the appearance of a non-hinged surface.
REDRAWN: A change in detail in an issued stamp.
REDUCED: A postal piece that has been cut to eliminate uneven edges.
RE-ENTRY: A repair or resharpening of an engraved stamp plate.
REGIONAL COMMEMORATIVES: When the USPS only offers certain new stamp issues in certain areas where they are expected to be popular.
REGIONALS: Definitive stamps issued by Great Britain since 1958 for the regions of Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The regionals are usually sold only in the assigned region, but are valid for postage throughout the country.
REGISTERED MAIL: Mail with a numbered receipt that is signed by each postal employee as it is handled during processing.
REGISTRATION LABELS: A gummed label that indicates the registration number and the city of origin for registered articles.
REGISTRATION STAMPS: Stamps issued for the payment of registration fees exclusively.
REGUMMED: Stamp with artificial gum applied.
REISSUE: An official reprinting of a stamp that was discontinued.
REJOINED PERFORATIONS: Separated perforations that have been reattached by means of a hinge, gum or other chemical means.
RELEASE DATE: Formal date that the issueing postal administration puts an item on public sale.
RELIEF: Normal reproduction of the design on a die, in reverse.
REMAINDERS: Stamps remaining on hand after the issue has been discontinued.
REPAIRED: Stamps or covers that have been altered or repaired to reinforce or to resemble an undamaged item. This can be the repair of a tear, changing of perforations, etc.
REPERFORATED: Stamp that has been perforated anew to defraud the collector.
REPLY POSTCARDS: Two postcards joined together, one for original message and other for reply.
REPRINT: Stamps printed from the original plates after the issue has become demonetized or obsolete.
REPRODUCTIONS: Stamps made from a new plate to imitate the original issue as the U.S. Special Printing issue of 1875.
RESERVE: Auction term meaning that the seller has the right to withhold the article from sale if the highest bid does not meet his estimate of what it should bring.
RETOUR: Postal marking instruction to return the piece of mail.
REVENUE STAMP: Stamps issued to pay various types of internal revenue taxes as documentary, proprietary, etc. Revenue stamps are also called "Fiscals."
RF: U.S. Revenue Playing Cards. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R F D: Rural Free Delivery.
R G: Regummed
RG: U.S. Revenue Silver Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RH: U.S. Revenue Cigarette Tubes. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RI: U.S. Revenue Potato Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RIBBED: Paper which shows fine parallel ridges on one or both sides of a stamp.
RIBBED FRAME: Varieties of encased postage with fine parallel lines on the silver side of the metal case.
RIVADAVIAS: Argentina stamps with design of Bernardino Rivadavia, issued in 1864.
RJ: U.S. Revenue Tobacco Sale. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RJA: U.S. Revenue Narcotic Tax. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RK: U.S. Revenue Consular Service Fee. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RL: U.S. Revenue Customs Fee. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RM: U.S. Embossed Revenue Stamped Paper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R.M.S. TITANIC: Royal Mail Ship Titanic.
RN: U.S. Revenue Stamped paper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RO: U.S. Revenue Private Die Proprietary. Scott catalog usage to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R O C: Republic of China (Taiwan).
ROCKET MAIL: Experimental rockets with mail enclosed as a method of transport. Many of these covers also have special labels affixed for the occasion.
ROO'S: Australian stamps featuring the kangaroo.
ROOSEVELT PROOFS: During the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, the Post Office made 85 albums of sets of die proofs of all U. S. postage stamps designs as gifts to various political figures.
Rotary perforator: Has wheels of perforating pins that rotate on a central axle or shaft.
ROTARY PRESS STAMPS: Stamps printed from curved plates as compared to stamps printed from flat plates on a flat bed press. They will be slightly longer or wider than flat press stamps.
ROUGH PERFORATION: Jagged holes, not clean cut.
ROULETTING: The cutting of paper between stamps in order to make the separation of the stamps easier. In perforations, paper is actually removed from the sheet in the punched holes, but rouletting creates the appearance of a series of dashes.
ROW: A horizontal or vertical strip of stamps
R P O: Railway Post Office.
RP: U.S. Revenue Private Die Canned Fruit. Scott catalog usage to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R P S: Royal Philatelic Society.
RRT: Right (side)
RS: U.S. Revenue Private Die Medicine. Scott catalog number prefix identify stamps other than standard postage.
RT: U.S. Revenue Private Die Perfumery. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
R.T.S.: Return to sender
RTV: U.S. Revenue Trailer Permit. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RU: U.S. Revenue Private Die Playing Card. Scott catalog usage to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RUBBER STAMP ADDRESS: Address applied to a cover using a rubber stamp.
RUCH: Ruch (specialized Poland catalog)
RUNNING CHICKEN: Waterbury, MA, Cancel depicting three running chickens.
RURAL FREE DELIVERY (RFD): Begun in 1896, brought daily mail delivery to residents living outside urban areas.
RV: U.S. Revenue Motor Vehicle Use. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RVB: U.S. Revenue Boating. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RW: U.S. Revenue Hunting Permit. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RX: U.S. Revenue Distilled Spirits. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
RY: U.S. Revenue Firearms Transfer. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
S: Auction abbreviation term for "Superb" or best there is.
S: Franchise. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
S A E: Stamped, addressed envelope
S A P D A: South African Philatelic Dealers Association
S A S E: "Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope" is an unused envelope addressed to the sender with return postage affixed. Many stamp correspondents will not reply unless you include a SASE.
SAFETY PAPER: A type of paper that has been prepared to make stamps hard to forge. A common form of safety paper has silk threads in it.
SALES CIRCUIT: Booklet of stamps offered for sale usually through stamp groups.
SAMPLE: An overprint used on stamps instead of specimen.
SAN: Sanabria's Air Post Catalog
SAND DUNE COUNTRIES: Nickname for desert sheikdoms that issue stamps.
SANITARY FAIR: Unofficial stamps issued by the U.S. Sanitary Fair Commission and considered a forerunner of the Red Cross.
SAS: Sassone Specialized Italy Postage Stamp Catalog
SB: Stock Book, Suggested Bid
SC: Small Crown (British Watermark)
SC: Scott Catalogue
SCINDE DAWK: Local issues from India.
SCOTT CATALOGUE NUMBER: Number assigned to a philatelic item by Scott editors according to that publisher's criteria for such assigmnem.
SCRAPE: An abrasion of the stamp surface which removes or moves paper fiber.
SCRIPT: Watermark: Multiple Crown Script CA
S E: Straight edge
SEALS: Paper adhesives that were issued for various purposes, such as Christmas Seals, etc.
SEAWAY ISSUE: The St. Lawrence Seaway issue of Canada; famous because of inverted center.
SECRET MARKS: Small identification marks in the stamp design.
SECURITY WATERMARK: Used to guard against postal misuse.
SEEBECKS: A nickname given to certain issues of Ecuador (1892-96), Honduras (1890-99), Nicaragua (1890-99) and Salvador (1890-99). Mr. Nicholas F. Seebeck, as agent for the Hamilton Bank Note Company, printed stamps for these countries at no charge in exchange for the right to sell remainders and reprints to stamp collectors.
SELF-ADHESIVE: Rubber-based adhesive on back that does not have to be moistened to adhere to paper.
SELVAGE: The unprinted paper on the edge or margin of a sheet of stamps.
SEMI-OFFICIAL: Stamps used in connection with private postal use, but having official sanction such as the railway letter fee stamps of England.
SEMI-POSTAL: An additional monetary value devoted to a specific non-postal purpose such as the Red Cross. The surcharge has no postal validity and is usually separated from the official postal value with a "+" sign.
SEPARATIONS: The method employed in which stamps are separated from one another. Perforations are a form of separations.
SERIES: A set of stamps with various denominations such as the National Parks issue.
SERIF: Shape given to the ending of the vertical base of letters.
SERVICE INDICATOR: Inscription included in the design of a stamp to indicate category of postal service to be rendered such as "Bulk Mail Rate."
SERVICE INSCRIBED: Term used for wording on a stamp to identify the service for which the stamp was designed.
SET: A series of stamps with similarity in design or purpose.
SET OFF: When freshly printed sheets are stacked before the ink is completely dry and transfers to the gummed side of the sheet directly above it.
SE-TENANT: Two or more unseparated stamps having different colors, denominations, or designs. Se-tenant is French for "joined together."
S F: Sanitary Fair
S F: Space Filler
S F L: Single folded letters with writing on inside and address on outside.
S G: Stanley Gibbons catalogue
SH, SHT: Sheet
SHADE: Minor differences in the color of a stamp.
SHEET: One full impression of stamps taken from a printing plate. A typical sheet of commemorative stamps is four panes each of 50 stamps. This is then cut into four panes of stamps for sale at the post office.
SHEET WATERMARK: A large watermark with only a portion showing on a stamp.
SHEETLET: A small sheet of stamps; less than what is normally considered by normal standards as a usual sheet. In the U.S., a normal sheet consists of 50 stamps, while a sheetlet would be sheets of less than that quantity.
SHIFTS: An uncorrected mistake caused by an imperfect entry with the transfer roll.
SHIP CANCELLATION: A postmark applied to mail on board a ship.
SHIP LETTER: Letter carried by a private ship and bearing some sort of rubber stamp or manuscript marking.
SHIZEN: Term for health on Japanese Christmas seals.
SHORT PERFORATION: Paper has been removed down to the base line of the perforation holes.
SHORT SET: An incomplete set of stamps usually with the expensive or important value missing.
SHORT TRANSFER: A variety that occurs when a stamp design is not fully transferred to the plate.
SHOW CANCEL: Postmark applied to covers at philatelic events; the name of the event is indicated,
SIEG: Sieger.Zeppelinpost Spezial-Katalog (specialized Zeppelin Mail Catalog)
SIGNOSCOPE: Commercial name of an electronic watermark detector.
SIDEROGRAPHERS: The craftsmen who transferred the designs from the die to the transfer roll to the plate.
SIGNATURE: Name, usually on the bottom of a stamp of the artist, engraver or printer.
SIGNED: Expertised on reverse.
SIGNED STAMP: A signature on a stamp, blocks or pane, usually in the margin.
SILKOTE: Paper that is whiter tha usual stamp paper with a surface texture that is extraordinarily smooth. Used for the U.S. 2-cent Liberty experimental printing of 1954.
SILK PAPER: Stamp paper containing small pieces of colored silk in the paper mixture.
SILK THREAD: Paper used for stamps containing a silk thread as a means of preventing forgery. It is most easily seen on the back of the stamp.
SILVERING: Some encased postage stamps had a thin silver coating to look like the silver coinage of the period.
SIZING: Chemicals added to paper in the manufacturing process to improve the printing characteristics.
SL: Straight Line (cancellation)
SLABBING: Encasing collectibles in a container after authemication and grading that will show evidence of any tampering.
SLEEVE: Plastic protector on a cover. Also printing plate curved to fit around cylinder.
SMH: Great Britain Scotland Machin. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
SOAKING: The process where stamps are removed from the paper on which they were affixed.
"SOCKED-ON-THE-NOSE": A stamp with the postmark in the center of the stamp.
SOILING: Any substance which dulls or darkens the appearance of a stamp.
SOLDIER'S STAMPS: Usually used for the soldiers in the Swiss army who received free stamps. Each battalion had its own stamp design, usually with insignias.
SOLFERINO: A 1871 stamp from Greece with an error of color (Solferino means dark red in Italian).
SOUVENIR CARD: A card, not valid for postage, issued in conjunction with a stamp exhibition or some other special occasion.
SOUVENIR PAGE: An 8Â½ x 11 sheet bearing one or more of the stamp described and cancelled with the first day of issue postmark.
SOUVENIR SHEET: Sheets of a stamp or stamps, surrounded with a paper margin issued for a specific event or purpose.
SOWER: French stamp design first issued in 1903 illustrating a woman in flowing gown spreading seeds.
SP: Short Perf, Surface Printed
SPACE COVER: A cover commemorating an event that is related to a space or astro event.
SPACE FILLER: A poor copy of a stamp used to fill the space in an album until a better example is found.
SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS: Stamps issued for the immediate delivery of mail at the receiving post office.
SPECIAL HANDLING STAMPS: A stamp for expediting fourth class mail by the U.S. Post Office.
SPECIAL ISSUE STAMP: Stamp printed for a particular mailing requirement as Christmas or the Love stamp.
SPECIALIST: A stamp collector who has made a study of a limited field of collecting such as a topic or a country.
SPECIMEN: Stamps that are distributed to members of the Universal Postal Union for identification purposes and to the philatelic press for publicity purposes.
SPECULATIVE: Stamps that are issued for sale to collectors, not for a legitimate postal use.
SPLICE: A strip of perforated translucent paper pasted over the junction of two rotary press printings. known as a "spliced pair."
SPLIT GRILL: A stamp showing parts of two or more grills caused by a sheet being misfed under the grill.
SPOT: Toning or rust spot.
SPRAY-ON POSTMARK: Ink-jet line cancel applied by USPS.
SR CDS: Single-Ring Circular Date Stamp
S S: Souvenir sheet
ST. ANDREWS CROSS: Term used to describe the extra labels inscribed with an "X" as on early Austrian issues.
ST. LOUIS BEARS: New York City postmaster provisional's issued in 1845.
STAINING: A discoloration in the paper of a stamp.
STAMP: In stamp collecting, a term for an adhesive label for postal purposes.
STAMPLESS COVER: This term is usually applied to envelopes that went through the mails before the use of adhesive stamps were mandatory.
STAMP LIFT: Device used to remove stamps from paper without soaking. Stamps are placed on a shelf above the water, then covered with humidity slowly loosening the paper.
STAMP SIZE: The size of the stamp design, measured in mm.
STANDARD MAIL: As of July 1, 1996, the new name for the merger of third-class and fourth-class mail as one class.
STAR, OPEN: Some of the Washington-Franklin plate blocks has an open star after the imprint and before the plate number in the margin. The star means that stamps printed from plates with 3 mm of spacing, instead of 2 mm, between the six outer vertical rows on each side of the plate.
STAR, SOLID: Plate 4980 and 4988 of the Washington-Franklin series have a solid star to indicate the 3 mm wider spacing. The 2-cent Lincoln issue of 1909 also has a solid star.
STEAMBOAT MARKING: Used on inland or coastal steamship that had no contract to carry U.S. mails.
STITCH WATERMARK: Appears as a row of short parallel lines.
STOCK BOOK: A book with pockets designed to hold stamps. Also available in card size and individual sheets.
STRAIGHT EDGE (SE): A stamp which naturally lacks perforations on one to
SRIKE: A machine or handstamp cancel on a stamp or cover.
STRIP: Three or more stamps that have not been separated.
STRUBEL: Silk threads imbedded in handmade paper during the manufacturing process of early Swiss stamps.
SU: Superb used or Canceled-to-order.
SUBMARINE MAIL: Postal services operated by submarine in time of war as used in 1916-17 by German subs to the U.S.
SUPERLITHO: A new exacting printing process that allows for security features to be applied during the printing process.
SURCHARGE: An overprint which revalues a stamp either up or down.
SURFACE RUBS: Partial removal of ink by abrasion as the chalk-coated papers of Great Britain.
SURTAX: The additional denomination on a semi-postal stamp over and above the amount that covers postage.
SYNCOPATED PERFORATIONS: An interrupted perforation.
SWAN: Issues of Western Australia.
SWEATBOX: A closed box using humidity to soften the gum on stamps that are stuck together making it easier for separation from each other.
SWOPS: Duplicate stamps used for trading.
T: Abbreviation for the French word "Taxe." When applied on a stamp, the stamp is used for Postage Due. When stamped on an envelope, it signifies that Postage Due has been charged.
T: U.S. Telegraph. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
TAB: An inscription printed in the margin of a stamp sheet. Tabs are collected attached to the postage stamp.
TAGGING: The phosphor coating on a stamp for use by automated mail handling equipment.
TALKING STAMPS: Stamps in the form of a miniature record as issued by Bhutan.
TARGET CANCEL: A cancel or postmark in round circles shaped like a target.
TC: Trial Color (Proof)
T C P: Trial color proof
TEETH: The projections between perforation holes.
TELEGRAPH STAMPS: Labels that resemble stamps issued by telegraph companies in payment of telegram or telegraph fees.
TETE-BECHE: A pair of stamps connected together with one stamp right side up, the other upside down.
TGS: Tropical Gum Stain(s)
THATCHER FERRY BRIDGE: Canal Zone issue of Oct. 12, 1962, famous because of missing bridge.
THEMATIC: Collecting of stamps telling a story relating to a certain theme or topic.
THEMATIC COLLECTION: Some define this term as a collection of stamps, covers, cancellations and other items related to one specific topic that relates a story.
THERMOGAPH CACHET: Cover design made by applying a rubber stamp impression, then powdered and heated; gives a raised and glossy impression.
THIN: Removal of paper fibers from the back of a stamp. three sides, as issued by the Post Office.
THIRD CLASS MAIL: Includes circulars and printed matter, booklets, catalogs with each piece weighing less than 16 ounces.
THREE-DIMENSIONAL STAMP (3D): A ridged plastic used to reproduce images that made them appear three dimensional.
TIED: A stamp is considered "tied" when the cancellation is beyond the stamp on the envelope proving the stamp originated on that cover.
TIMBRE DE SOUFFLE: Term used on French seals meaning "seals for breath."
TIN CAN MAIL: Mail from Niuafo'ou, Tonga would be sealed in an oil drum and "pushed" out to a passing ship by native swimmers. The ship would then pull the drum on board and take the letters inside to the next port for delivery.
TIN HAT SET: king Albert portrait stamps of Belgium issued in 1919.
TINTED PAPER: Paper that has received a background tint before the paper is printed.
TNI: Tiny Natural Inclusion(s)
TO PAY LABELS: Term for postage dues in Great Britain
TONGS: A "tool" used to handle stamps that looks like a tweezer but has a round or spade tip.
TONING: Discoloration on envelopes or stamps caused by exposure to light, heat, humidity, air or a combination of factors.
TOP: The Bureau of Engraving and Printing added the word TOP to the blue plate (the vignette) and to the carmine plate (the frame) to help prevent the printing of inverted blue airplane designs.
TOPICAL COLLECTION: Some define this term as a collection of stamps, covers, cancellations and other items related to one specific topic. TOPICALS: Collecting of stamps by the topic on the stamps, such as space, animals, sports, etc.
TPE: Tiny Paper Enclosure(s)
T P O: Traveling post office
TRAFFIC LIGHTS: British stamps with dabs of color printed in the sheet margin.
TRANSFER: An impression made on the printing plate by the transfer roll, the medium used to transfer the subject from the die to the plate.
TRANSIT POSTMARK: The postal marking applied between the sending and receiving post offices.
TRANSITION STAMP: A strip of stamps that show a change from one form to another.
TRANSPORTS: A U.S. Post Office series of air mail stamps issued in 1941; they all depicted a transport-type aircraft.
TREATY PORTS: Chinese ports where foreign nations were permitted trading facilities. Stamps were issued for use in their postal services.
TRD: Temporary Rubber Datestamp (Cancellation)
TRESSES: Decorative design found on the back flap of some envelopes.
TRIAL COLOR PROOFS: Prints made from dies or plates in order to evaluate the final color of a stamp.
TRIMMED PERFORATIONS: A stamp with perforations cut away after issuance.
TRIPTYCH: Three stamps in a row with an interconnected and related design.
TROPICAL GUM: Gum discolored from its original issue by conditions that allowed for fungal growth.
TS: Tropical stain(ing)
TRUCIAL STATES: Group of Arabian nations.
T T: Topical Time, publication of the American Topical Association.
TUBE COILS: Canadian term for coil stamps printed at high speed and ending up as wrapped tubes.
TWO-CENT REDS: Term used to describe US commemoratives issued between 1927 and 1932.
TYPOGRAPHY: Letterpress or surface printing from relief prints.
U: Envelope or Letter Sheet. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
U A: Unaddressed
U A E: United Arab Emirates.
UC: Air Post Envelope or Letter Sheet. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
UCS,UT: Unitrade Specialized Canada Catalog
UDC: Undated Circular Cancel
UHISABI: Term for Charity on Estonian Christmas seals.
UL: Upper Left
ULTRAVIOLET (UV): Lamp that gives off two different wave lengths-Shortwave and Longwave. Shortwave UV light will highlight phosphor tagging, either in the printing ink or the coating on a stamp. Longwave UV light will spot fluorescence in the paper of a stamp or cover.
UNDERPRINTS: A security device where a color, design or pattern is printed on the paper before the stamp design is applied.
UNGUMMED: Stamps without any gum as issued.
UNHINGED: Stamps without any traces of hinge marks.
UNIQUE: Auction term meaning no other like it.
UNISSUED: A stamp that has been prepared for use but not issued.
UNIT WATERMARK: An arrangement so that a complete design appears on every sheet of paper.
UNITED NATIONS (UN): The banding together of nations of the world to strive for peace and understanding. UN stamps are sold in the UN Building in New York, Geneva and Vienna and have postal validity throughout the world.
UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION (UPU): Organized in Berne, Switzerland in 1874 to regulate and standardize international postal usages and rates.
UNOFFICIAL FIRST DAY CANCEL: Cancels applied on the first day but not in the first day of issue city.
UNOFFICIAL PERFORATIONS: Perforations done upon issuance of a stamp to help separate the stamps such as the Confederate issues and private vending machine coils.
UNOFFICIAL REPRINTS: Stamps reprinted at a later date from the original plates but not by the original issuing entity.
U N P A: United Nations Postal Administration.
UNUSED: A stamp in mint condition as purchased from the post office. Also can mean a stamp that has no gum or is regummed.
UNWATERMARKED: Stamps printed on paper that has no watermark.
UO: Official Envelope. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
U P U: Universal Postal Union
UPSIDE DOWN JENNY: The 1918 24-cent U. S. airmail with upside down Jenny aircraft.
UR: Upper Right
U S P O D: United States Post Office Department, official branch of the government for delivering the mail until 1971, when it became the USPS.
U S P S: United States Postal Service. Established by the Postal Reorganization Act of July 1, 1971 as an independent, self-supporting federal agency within the Executive Branch.
USED: A stamp that has been "used" to pay postage, bears a cancellation or defacing mark.
USED ABROAD: Stamps of another country used in a nation or colony which already has its own stamps.
UX: Postal Card. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
UXC: Air Post Postal Card. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
UY: Paid Reply Postal Card. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
UZ: Official Postal Card. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
V: Violini: Catalog of Graf Zeppelin Mail
VARIABLE DENOMINATION: Value of the stamp printed by a vending machine as the stamp is issued.
VARIETY: A difference from the standard form of the stamp such as a color variation or minor flaws, etc.
VD: Van Dam Specialized Canadian Revenues catalog
V F: Term for "Very Fine" condition of a stamp.
V F U: Very fine used
V G: Very good
VIGNETTE: Term for the picture or other main area of a stamp.
VIN FIZ: (Scott CL2) A 25Â¢ stamp lithographed in black taken from the name of a grape soda whose sponsor promoted a coast flight in 1911. The bottom wings of the biplane were inscribed "Vin Fiz."
VINTAGE: A figure featuring the year of issue or print, some may be on the sheet margin.
VL,Vl: Vlastos (specialized Greece catalog)
V L H: Very lightly hinged
V-MAIL: Special forms and envelopes used by U.S. forces during WW II.
W: Wrapper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
W F U N A: World Federation of United Nations Association, produces its own cacheted covers to benefit the UN.
WALLPAPER: Unnecessary postal issues from countries which are considered to have little or no philatelic or monetary value.
WANT LIST: A listing, given to a stamp dealer, of stamps that are needed or wanted by the collector.
WAR TAX STAMPS: Stamps used on mail during periods of conflict to raise funds. The stamp was applied in addition to the regular postage.
WATERMARK: A design, letter or word impressed in the paper during the manufacture of the paper. This mark found on a stamp is very helpful for identification purposes.
WATERMARK DETECTOR: A black tray of glass or enameled metal in which a special fluid is placed on top of the stamp to reveal the watermark.
WATER SOLUBLE INK: Ink on a stamp that dissolves when immersed in water.
WAVY-LINE STAMPS: Refers to the Danish issues picturing wavy lines in the design.
WEB: A continuous roll of paper used for stamp printing.
WEB PRESSES: Webfed presses use a continuous roll of paper fed into the press.
WEB SITES: Locations on the Worldwide Web portion of the Inernet where both commercial and non-commercial philatelic information is presented. Each web site has its own address, i.e., URL.
WEDDING BAND: Term used for the US 5c air mail issued in 1948 with a band around the five New York boroughs.
WELLS FARGO: A company that operated stage routes carrying mail, freight and passengers to and from the West from 1849. The firm issued stamps and applied cancels to envelopes which are considered very desirable.
WESTERN EXPRESS MAIL: Served the mining regions of California and Nevada where government postal service was inadequate.
WET PRINTING: Has a moisture content of 15-35% compared to 5-10% for "dry" printing; also has a duller look than "dry" printing.
WHITE BORDER PERIOD: Postal stationery from 1915-1930 with a white border surrounding the illustration.
WINE STAMPS: Stamps issued by the Treasury Department to pay the Internal Revenue taxes on wines.
WIPING CREASES: Marks caused by damaged cleaning blades left on the surface of the plate before printing.
WIREMARK: Original term for a watermark.
WMMH: Great Britain Wales & Monmouthshire Machin. Scott catalog usage to identify stamps other than standard postage.
WO: Official Wrapper. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
W/OG: Without Original Gum
WOODBLOCK: Cape of Good Hope 1861 issues that appear to have been printed from wooden plates.
WORKING MODEL: When referred to a stamp design, is the ink-and-paper design, prepared by a designer for use of the engraver.
WOVE PAPER: Smooth, even finished paper without watermarks that is suitable for all types of stamp printing.
WRAPPER: A postal stationery item used in the mailing of newspapers usually wrapped around a newspaper.
WRECK COVER: Item of mail that has been salvaged from a shipwreck.
WV: U.S. Sanitary Fair. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
WX: U.S. Christmas Seals. Scott catalog number prefix to identify stamps other than standard postage.
X F: Extra fine
YANG: Yang (specialized Hong Kong catalog)
YD: Year Date
Y & T: Yvert et Tellier catalog
YVERT CATALOGUE NUMBER: Number assigned to a philatelic item by Yvert editors according to that publisher's criteria for such assignmem.
Z GRILL: Two copies exist of the US 1867 1-cent blue Z grill.
ZEMSTVOS: Term used for stamps issued by Rural Districts (Zemstvos) in Russia. Similar to U.S. Locals.
ZEPPELIN STAMPS (ZEPS): Stamps issued for use in conjunction with the flights of the Graf Zeppelin and other rigid airships. Covers carried on these ships are called "Zeppelin Covers."
ZIP: A cartoon character looking like a postman printed on the margins of U.S. stamps and bopklet panes since 1963. The man is referred to as Mr. Zip and is used to encourage people to use the Zone Improvement Plan code. It is always collected attached to the postage stamp.
ZIP+4: Addition of four digits to the basic Zip Code for sorting by carrier route and specific addresses.
ZIP+4 PRESORT: Bulk mail presorted to the nine-digit Zip Code and bundled.
ZIP BLOCK: A margin block of U.S. stamps bearing the inscription "Use Correct Zip Code" in the salvage.
ZUM,ZM: Zumstein Specialized Switzerland and Liechtenstein Postage Stamp Catalog