stamp terminology

Airmail Stamp >> Stamp issued specifically to prepay postage for mail carried by air.

Approvals >> Look before buying” opportunity where stamps are sent to a collector for examination. Approvals offer the collector a wide range of material to choose from and must be bought or returned to the dealer within a specified time

Block >> Stamp collecting terminology for four or more attached stamps forming a square or rectangle.

Booklet Panes >> Small, specifically-printed sheets of stamps sold in a booklet format.

Cachet >> Illustration or description on an envelope denoting the commemorative purpose for which it was mailed.

Cancellation >> Stamp collecting term for any mark applied to a stamp to prevent its reuse.

Centering >> The position of the design on a stamp. On perfectly centered stamps, the design is exactly in the middle.

Coil Stamp >> Stamp produced in a roll for use in vending machines. Usually identified by a pair of straight edges on opposite sides.

Commemorative Stamp >> Stamp issued specifically to honor a person, place or event; usually on sale for only a short period of time.

Commemorative Sheet >> A small sheet of stamps bearing a commemorative inscription.

Cover >> An envelope, postcard or any other wrapper used to mail correspondence.

Cut Square >> The cut corner of a postal stationery item (envelope or postcard) bearing the imprinted stamp with ample margins.

Definitive >>Stamp issued for ordinary postal use that remains on sale for an extended period of time.

Denomination >>The monetary value printed on a stamp.

Die >>The stamp design is engraved on this small flat piece of soft steel used to print the stamp.

Duck Stamp >> Issued annually since 1934, these U.S. duck hunting permits help finance the federal waterfowl program.

Embossed Envelope >> An envelope bearing a postage stamp with raised surface designs printed on the envelope itself.

Errors >> Stamp collecting terminology for highly-collectible stamps because of something incorrect in their design or manufacture.

First Day Cover >> Envelope or card postmarked on the affixed stamp’s first day of use.

First Flight Cover >> Envelope or card carried on the inaugural mail flight between two points.

Grill >> Series of small dots embossed on a stamp allowing ink from the postmark to sink in, thus preventing cleaning and reuse of the stamp.

Gum >> Stamp collecting terminology for the coating of glue on the back of an unused stamp.

Hinges >> Small gummed, glassine strips used to affix stamps to album pages.

Imperforate Stamp >> Stamp collecting terminology for a stamp bearing straight edges on all four sides.

Invert >> Stamp with one part of its design upside down in relation to the rest of the stamp.

Mint >> Stamps in original unused condition, never canceled.

Mint Sheet >> An entire sheet of stamps in original unused condition.

Official Stamp >> Stamp valid solely for government agency use.

Overprint >> Any printing added to a stamp after the original printing was completed.

Pair >> Two unseparated stamps joined either vertically or horizontally.

Perforations >> Holes punched between stamps on a sheet to facilitate separation.

Perforation Gauge >> Stamp collecting terminology for a device that measures the number of perforations on a stamp per two centimeters.

Philately >> Technical name for stamp collecting.

Pictorial >> Stamp that features a view such as a landscape or seascape, rather than a portrait, coat of arms or other symbolic design.

Plate Block  >> Four or more attached stamps still fastened to the margin on which the number of the printing plate is inscribed.

Postal Stationery >> Envelopes, cards or other covers bearing imprinted or impressed stamps.

Postmark >> Marking on a postal item recording the date and/or origin of its transit through the mail system.

Precancel >> Stamp collecting terminology for a stamp canceled by the post office before it is sold.

Revenue Stamp >>Any stamp that indicates payment of a tax or fee.

Rouletting >>The use of slits or cuts between stamps to facilitate separation.

Self-Adhesive >>A stamp with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that does not require moistening to affix the stamp to paper.

Selvage >>Stamp collecting terminology for unprinted paper around panes of stamps, sometimes called the margin.

Semi-Postal >>Stamp from which all or part of the sales receipts go to charity or other causes.

Se-Tenant >>Term describing adjoining stamps that differ from each other in design, denomination or some other aspect.

Surcharge >>Stamp collecting term for overprint altering or establishing a stamp’s face value.

Tab >>Illustrated or descriptive label attached to a stamp.

Tongs >>Stamp collecting term for metal tweezers used for safe and easy handling of stamps.

Topicals >>A group of stamps with the same theme, such as space travel or Disney cartoons.

Unused >>A stamp with no cancellation or other sign of use.

Used >>A stamp that has been canceled.

Watermark >>Stamp collecting term for design or pattern in paper formed during the manufacturing process, valuable as a security precaution against forgery.

Watermark Detector >>A method of safely determining the existence of a watermark by placing a stamp in a tray filled with special fluid.