Glossary of philatelic terms
click on a letter to see the terms beginning with that letter
A gummed stamp.
The official Universal Postal Union designation for an airletter sheet. View examples…
Specialist branch of collecting concentrating on covers and stamps carried by air.
A design impression without colour.
Army Post Office.
A perforation which has not been punched out.
A group of four or more unseparated stamps.
A spurious, pretend stamp.
A small book containing ‘panes’ of stamps.
A leaf or page of stamps from a booklet.
A commemorative marking, usually applied by rubber stamp or printed.
Cancellation or Cancel
Any authorised defacing mark on a stamp.
A cover bearing a hand stamp or label showing that the envelope has been opened and read by a censor.
The position of a stamp design within its perforations e.g. ‘well centred’ or ‘off centre’.
Stamp paper coated with a chalky solution for security purposes. Attempted removal of the postmark damages the surface of the stamp.
One bearing a premium or surcharge for charitable purposes.
A stamp like label that is not a postage stamp. Bermuda examples are mainly Christmas charity seals.
One from a roll of stamps used in vending machines.
A tab uniting two sections of a roll of stamps.
A stamp issued to mark a special anniversary or event.
A postally used envelope, letter-sheet or wrapper.
number Letters/numerals in sheet margins identifying printing cylinders. Normally collected in ‘Cylinder block’ of six stamps. (See also Plate number).
An engraved plate for impressing designs etc. on softer metal.
A steel blade which removes surplus ink from the printing cylinder in the press.
A two-part postal marking consisting of a cancellation and postmark.
Earliest Known Date
A mistake in stamp design, printing or production.
A trial stamp design, sometimes differing from the issued stamps.
The denomination of a stamp, expressed on its face.
A genuine stamp doctored in some way to deceive collectors.
First Day Cover FDC
A cover bearing stamps postmarked on their day of issue.
First Flight Cover FF or FFC
A cover bearing stamps postmarked on their day of issue.
A fortuitous blemish on a stamp, a printing fault.
A fraudulent copy of a genuine postage stamp, overprint or postmark.
A thin, semitransparent paper used for storage envelopes and stamp hinges.
Stamp intended for use on birthday or other greetings mail.
on the back of adhesive stamps. Not ‘glue’.
The selvage separating panes on a sheet of stamps. The narrow space between stamps in the sheet permitting perforation.
The blank margins dividing a sheet of stamps into panes.
A postmark or overprint applied by hand.
Stamps printed and issued without perforations, deliberately or in error.
The name of the printer or issuing authority inscribed on the stamps or in the sheet margins.
Stamps other than adhesives, printed direct on postal stationery items (postcards, envelopes etc).
The central design (‘vignette’) or portion of a stamp printed upside-down in relation to the frame, or vice versa.
International Reply Coupon.
A basic stamp design utilized for the issues of two or more postal entities, usually differing in the country name and inscription of value. Many of the earlier colonial issues of Great Britain are keytypes.
Perforation of a sheet of stamps by a single line or row of holes – the simplest form of perforation.
Last Known Date
A stamp with geographical limits of postal use and validity.
The name given to G.B. definitives, first issued in 1967 bearing the Queen’s head designed by Arnold Machin.
The unprinted edging surrounding or dividing a sheet of stamps. See also ‘Gutter margin’.
A small sheet of one or several stamps, usually with a decorative margins, issued as a souvenir for collectors.
A stamp in it’s original pristine state, with full gum (if so issued), when it is said to have it’s ‘original gum’ (‘O.G’) ‘Unmounted mint’ stamps have not been hinged. Also see ‘Unused’ .
Never Hinged (NH)
A stamp without hinge marks. A never-hinged (NH) stamp in most cases has original gum.
A stamp no longer sold by a post office though may still be valid for postage.
A printed addition to a stamp. Also see ‘Surcharge’.
Two unseparated stamps, joined as originally issued.
A formation or group of stamps within the sheet. Also see ‘Booklet pane’.
Holes punched between stamps in sheets to enable easy separation.
Stamps overprinted or coated with phosphorescent materials recognised by high technology letter sorting machinery.
Letters/numerals in sheet margins identifying printing plates. (See also Cylinder number).
Any mark cancelling the stamp and recording an item’s passage through the post.
A trial impression taken from an original die or printing plate.
A stamp, usually overprinted or surcharged, issued for temporary use.
Stamps remaining in official stocks after becoming obsolete.
Stamps printed anew after being withdrawn. The printing of additional supplies of current stamps is best described as ‘new printings’.
Stamps separated by a series of cuts instead of perforations.
Gummed stamps (with protective backing) which do not require moistening.
Stamps of different design or face value etc. joined together.
Sample stamp usually with ‘specimen’ overprinted or perforated on it.
Three or more stamps joined in a row.
An overprint which specifically changes a stamp’s face value.
A stamp inverted in relation to the adjoining stamp in a pair.
A stamp is tied on a cover or piece when the postmark or cancellation extends beyond the margins of the stamp clearly on to the cover or piece.
An uncancelled stamp, not necessarily ‘mint’.
A stamp which has been postally used and appropriately postmarked.
Stamps of one country used and postmarked in another.
A stamp differing in some detail from the normal issue.
A distinctive device or emblem in stamps, formed by ‘thinning of the paper during production. A watermark is normally viewed through the front of the stamp.