Common Stamp Collecting Terms - An Introduction

Philatelic glossary is an extremely packed one that entire books are devoted to explaining them. This post focuses on some of the frequent terms that apply to a variety/types of stamps. Below is our list:



TermExplanationSample
Album Weed A forged stamp












Back of the book (BOB)special stamps such as officials, revenue, postage dues, etc. that are listed in the back of stamp catalogues.












BackstampA post mark applied to the back cover by the post office while the mail is in transit.












BilingualsStamps with inscriptions in two languages


Bisect/Trisect/Quadrisect etc. (aka Fractional Usages)A stamp perforated into two or more parts (authorized by postal service) that represent part of the face value of the original stamp. Used by postal agencies during temporary shortages of common lower-denominated stamps. Only has additional value when it is cancelled and in cover.













Blind PerforationsStamps with light perforations that has the perforated paper still left in tact












BogusA worthless stamp –stamps created for non-existent countries, countries with no postal addministrations, etc.












Canceled-to-order (CTOs)Stamps issued by certain governments as a means of revenue in large quantities in full sheets with a pre-cancel or the cancellation imprinted as part of the production process. These are usually sold to dealers at a large discount to face value and usually has minimal collectible value.













ChangelingA stamp whose color has changed due to exposure to sunlight or chemicals












CinderellaA label that looks like a stamp












ClassicAny stamp issued between 1840 and 1940


CommemorativesStamps with a commemorative design issued in limited quantities compared to Definitives (see below)


Copyright BlockA block of stamps with copyright notice in margin












CounterfeitA forged stamp intended to deceive postal authorities












Cross Gutter BlockA block of stamps containing the intersection of vertical and horizontal gutters.












Cut-to-shapeA non-rectangular stamp












DefinitivesStamps issued in large quantities for an extended period of time


Dummy StampsStamps produced by postal departments for training and/or testing purposes. Usually have inscriptions indicating the status












EuropaStamps with “Europa” inscription representing European Unity through participation in the Conference of European Postal & Telecommunication (CEPT) association.


FakeA regular stamp altered in some way to make it appear more valuable












First Day Cover (FDC)An envelope with a cancelled stamp sold by philatelic bureaus on the day of issue. In many countries including the US, FDCs can be bought in a range of date as opposed to just on the day of issue.












ForerunnerA postage stamp from another region/country used in a location not issuing regular stamps












FramaA stamp auto-produced by vending machines












Hologram/3D stamp Stamps that appear three-dimensional












ImperforateStamps without perforations (holes that separate one stamp from the next one in a block issued by the post office












Line Pair (LP)Two stamps with a line of ink separating them












Never Hinged (NH)A stamp without hinge marks in the back












Newspaper stampstamps issued for prepayment of mailing rates for newspapers and other periodicals












Non DenominatedStamps with no face value inscription












ObliterationsOverprint on a stamp intentionally intended to deface the design












Occupation IssuesA stamp issued for use in an occupied territory


OfficialStamps issued specifically for use by government authorities


Omnibus or Joint IssuesA design/subject depicted in stamps from two or more postal administrations celebrating a common theme












OverprintsStamps that have overprints on top of their original design.


Par AvionStamps imprinted with ‘Par Avion’ – French for mail transported by air












PerfinsStamps perforated through the face with initials or other symbols












Plate BlockA set of stamps with margin showing plate number joined together












Plate Number Coil (PNC)A stamp with plate number printed on it.


Postage DueA stamp issued to collect unpaid postage


PrecancelsStamps cancelled by postal authority (for collectors) before use in mail












Presort StampA stamp discounted compared to first-class postage rates for use in business mailers












ProofsTrial impressions from pre-production runs












RegionalStamps issued for a specific region of the postal entity


ReissueA stamp issued again after it was no longer being issued












RemaindersIssues remaining with the postal authority after it is no longer sold – these are sometimes sold at a big discount to face value to dealers with a pre-cancellation.












ReplicasReproductions of stamps (made for collectors – not suitable for postage)












ReprintA stamp printed from the original plate for official purposes. Usually identified from the original issues by some mark.













Revenue or Fiscal StampStamps issued as proof of payment for certain taxes (not valid for postage)












Se-tenantStamps joined together that differ in design, value, or surcharge


Self-adhesivesStamps with pressure sensitive adhesives.












Semipostals & Charity StampsStamps with a surcharge added as support for charitable or other causes


Souvenir SheetA sheet of stamps with a commemorative design embellishment


Space FillerA stamp in poor condition












Special StampsA third classification in addition to Definitive and Commemorative for stamps that are issued in large quantities compared to commemoratives but not for an indefinite period of time as with definitive usually signifying holiday season (Christmas) and/or religious/political themes.


SpecimensStamps with a “SPECIMEN” overprint. These are distributed for identification & publicity purposes.












Speculative IssueStamps issued for collectors. Two or more stamps joined together with one stamp’s design inverted compared to the others.













TriptychA se-tenant strip of three stamps together forming one design












SurchargeAn overprint that changes the value of the original issue












Used vs UnusedA stamp that has been used in mail as opposed to a mint unused stamp












Wing MarginStamps with selvage attached usually on one side















Many countries also maintain an indigenous set of philatelic terms and nicknames for specific stamps that apply to their region.

Last Updated: 09/2015.

20 comments :

RJ said...

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john said...

another nice article

res said...

very informative

nonator@uchastings.edu

Anonymous said...

hope to win for the kids

thelawyer01@gmail.com

AlwaysInspired said...

I'd love to win some stamps to use in my art!

Renee G said...

Please enter me.

rsgrandinetti(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

hope my luck is with me this week

resterbackup@Yahoo.com

Angel said...

My sons are hoping this will be the time we win!

Anonymous said...

maybe this time....
tusha3@walla.com

Victor said...

Thank you for the article. Taking part in the contest giveaway.
vcdevries@gmail.com

Ellen C. said...

I'd love to win this for my son. Thanks for the chance.

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Anonymous said...

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Pensacolakidsstamps.webs.com

Thanks Again.

Pensacolakidsstamps@Gmail.com

Zach said...

Hope i win

Herbal Tonya here said...

i'd love to win

-tonya

Amber said...

Love the history of stamps. Hope to Win! Many thanks to you and yours.

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Daughter of the The King said...

Love this. calleyamber@hotmail.com

techyone said...

Thanks for the stamp information. I love learning more about collecting.

LaurenS said...

Hope to win for my 5 year old wanna be stamp collector

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WonderfullyMade729 said...

this is awesome!! Thanks for the chance :)
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oona. said...

My six year old is interested in collecting stamps and I'd love to win some for her!

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