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Air Post Stamps
Stamps used to transport letters and packages by airplane.
Approval Selections, or "Approvals"
Stamps sent "on approval", usually by dealers to collectors. The collector selects the stamps he wishes to purchase and returns the balance to the dealer, enclosing payment for the stamps retained.


A two hundredth anniversary of a stamp, usually a commemorative issue of a postage stamp.
Block of Four
Four stamps that are connected together and sold in a block
Stamps that are issued in small booklets.
Burels or Burelage
A fine, very light network of lines or dots occasionally printed on the surface of stamps to make counterfeiting or removal of cancellations more difficult.


The ink-mark or other defacement placed on a stamp by the postal authorities to show that it has been used once, and is no longer valid for postage. Some of the types are listed below:
Pen-canceled - Stamps canceled with pen lines.
Pre-canceled or Precancels - Stamps which are canceled in advance of use by having the name of a town or city printed on then. This may be done to expedite the handling of large mailings.
Killer Canceled - when they are canceled by bars, circles, crossed lines, etc.
Town Cancellation or Office Cancellation - the common type of cancellation which gives the name of the post office where (and usually the date when) the letter was mailed.
Colored Cencellation - A cancellation mark printed or stamped in ink other than black.
Cancel to Order (CTO)
Stamps that are sold already canceled. These stamps can be detected by the presence of gum.
A 100th anniversary of a stamp.
Coil Stamps
Stamps which come in long, coiled strips, especially for use in vending machines, automatic stamp affixing machines, etc. Coil stamps have straight edges on two opposite sides, and perforated edges on the other two sides. If the straight edges run up and down, the stamps are called "vertical coils"; if from side to side, the stamps are called "horizontal coils.
Commemorative Stamps
Stamps issued in remembrance of, or a memorial to some person or event.
Compound Perforations.
Perforations of two different measurements on the same stamp. A stamp for example, which is Perf. 12 on the top and bottom , and Perf. 11 on the sides has compound perforations and would be described as Perf. 12 x 11.
Cut Square or Envelope Cut Square
An embossed or printed envelope stamp centered within a square of paper cut from the original envelope.
Cut to Shape
An envelope or adhesive stamp not cut square, but having the paper trimmed close around the design. Stamps cut to shape are of little value.
Envelopes with, or without adhesive postage stamps which have passed through the mail and bear postage or other markings. Before the introduction of envelopes people folded letters and wrote the address on the outside.



Embossed Stamps
Stamps whose designs (or portions of the designs) are raised in relief above the surface of the paper on which they are printed, most commonly used on envelope stamps.
Envelope Stamp
A stamp printed directly on an envelope.
A stamp with a mistake in the design, color, printing, perforating or over-printing, issued accidentally by the post office.
Is the impression taken from an approved die, plate or stone in which the design differs in some way from the original issued stamps.
Express Stamps and Special Delivery
For delivery of letters in advance of regular delivery.


Face Value
The value as indicated by the figures, words or abbreviations in the design or surcharge of a stamp, in return for which postal service will be rendered.
Franchise Stamp
Stamps issued and given by a government to certain private organizations(such as charities) to permit them to send their mail free.



Stamped or canceled by hand, usually with a rubber stamp.


Are stamps that did not provide any means to separate them from each other. Usually they are older stamps and the user had to use a cutting blade to separate them.
The name (or initials) and often the address of the designer of a stamp, or of the printing source, which appears in tiny type directly beneath the designs of some stamps.
The letters, words or characters appearing on a stamp as an integral part of the overall design.




Late Fee Stamps
A stamp which specifies a special fee for forwarding a letter after regular mail delivery.
Local Stamps
Stamps issued for use in a certain locality (city, town, district) and not gool for postage elsewhere.


Miltary Stamps
Issued, usually in time of war, for use by a country's army and military officials.
Miniature Sheet
A smaller than regular size sheet consisting of 1 to 25 stamps- specially printed by a government for a specific purpose. The stamps can be either perforated or imperforate and the sheet with or without inscription.
Multiple Printings
Stamps that have already be printed once, and are being printed again from the original plates. These stamps are identified as either 2nd Printing or n Printing. Where n represents the number of printings.


Newspaper Stamps
Special stamps issued by certain countries to pay a low-rate postage on newspapers.
New Value
Can be an additional value added to an existing series of stamps, or an entirely new value for a country's stamps, or a new value surcharged on a stamp.


Occupation Stamps
Stamps issued by a country for use in a conquered or occupied territory of another country.
These are reprints that are not valid for postage, but reprinted from the original dies and plates by authorized persons.
Any additional printing (surcharging, hand-stamping, overprinting, etc.) on a stamp, after the stamp itself has been printed.


An envelope or package of stamps offered for sale. A packet usually contains all different types of stamps and has no duplicates.
One of the sections of a sheet of postage stamps that is divided for distribution.
Paper Varieties
Identical stamp designs printed on different kinds of paper and which may represent either major or minor varieties of the same stamp.
Is a separation type that cut multiple small holes between the stamps. These holes make it easy to separate the stamps, and another way to identify them. These patterns of holes can be measured using a "Perforation Gauge," basically a ruler. The perforation gauage is set up to read the number of holes per 2 centimeters. The result is a single number representing all sides of the stamp or two numbers representing different sides. The first of the two numbers represent the top and bottom preforations and the second number represents the right and left preforations. An example of a perforation measurement would be 10 x 12 .
Perforation Number or Perf. Number
The number of perforation holes in a space of 2 centimeters(approx. 25/32 of a inch) along the edge of a stamp, usually determined by use of a perforation gauge.
A person who collects and studies stamps.
Philately (pronounced fi-LAT-ilee)
The techinical name for stamp collecting and studying.
Postage Due Stamps
Postage is paid at the time of delivery.
Postage Tax Stamp
Are stamps that are used to collect a tax for some purpose.
Printing Processes
Stamps are printed by a number of different processes generally described by one of the following terms:
The above printing processes are very detail and out of context for discussion in this dictionary. You may also see the terms "rotary press" and "flat plate" which are most commonly used by the "engraving" processes. Be careful not to mistake these terms as processes. For they refer to the type of press used and not to basic printing process.
Are impressions taken and examine for correctness by the printing service from the approved die, plate, or stone in which the design and color are the same as the stamp issued to the public.
Stamps issued on short notice and intended for temporary use pending the arrival of regular issues.



Registration Stamps
Stamps that the postal service uses to keep a record of a letter and ensuring its delivery.
These are stamps that have been reprinted from the original plates. If valid for postage and not obsolete issues, they are called reissues.
Are old stamps that the postal service had decided to canceled because a new issue is replacing them. They are usually canceled with a punch or regular cancellation.
Is a separation type which the paper was cut in a way as not to remove any paper, but provided a way to separate the stamps without using a cutting blade.


Semi-Postal Stamps
A type of stamp issued and sold at a higher price than usual. The additional sum of money may be donated to charity or for other fund-raising purposes.
The method used to make it easy to separate one stamp from another. The two popular methods of today are "perforating" and "rouletting". Perforating is done by punching rows of holes between the stamps. Rouletting is accomplished by making a series of short consecutive incisions between the rows of stamps, but without removing any of the paper.
A 150th anniversary, or its celebration.
Stamps that are joined together in pairs, strip, or block that differ in design.
Are a variety of stamps issued by the postal service that may be either connected together or separated to form a set.
Single Stamp
A stamp that is issued as a single stamp.
Souvenir Sheet
A variety of "Miniature Sheet" issued by a country in honor or commemoration of some person, occasion or event. The borders or margins often carry inscriptions designating the purpose of the issue.
Special Delivery and Express Stamps
For delivery of letters in advance of regular delivery.
Special Printing These are impressions of stamps that have been reprinted from the original plates. They must be reprinted from a current issue and be issued for a particular purpose.
Each member country sends samples of their stamps to the "International Bureau in Switzerland." This bureau then sends these samples to other member countries. The member countries use these samples to identify valid postage from other member countries.
Standard Issue or Regular Postage
Regular issue stamps.
A term used when a overprint changes the stamp value.


Tagged Stamps
These are stamps that are treated with a Luminiscence, Fluorescence, or Phosphorescence chemical. These chemicals could be added to the paper or paint of the stamp, or they were stamp with a luminescent ink after printing. The postal service will use a machine to detect this luminescent material when processing the mail. This made it easy to detect counterfeit stamps.
A three hundredth anniversary, or its celebration.
Tete Beche
A pair of stamps connected together in which one is upside down in relation to the other. If separated, "Tete Beche" value is destroyed.




A design characters, letters, numerals or words, impressed into paper during the manufacturing process, and visible in part or whole in each stamp printed on such paper.
Watermark Detector
A flat black tray or surface used in seeing or "detecting" the watermark on a stamp. The stamp is laid face down on a tray, moistened with a few drops of carbon tetrachloride, and the watermark show clearly.




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