are stamp collecting tools and products, commonly used by the stamp collector, including hinges, mounts, stamp tongs, perforation gauges, stock books and magnifiers. Stamp albums, catalogs and philatelic literature can also be regarded as accessories.


is the gum on the back of a stamp or label. Some stamps have been issued with no adhesive. Stamp adhesive may be water-activated or pressure-sensitive (self-adhesive).

Aerogram, Aerogramme

are printed and gummed writing-sheet designed to be folded and sealed to form a lightweight air-mail letter. Usually made of thin paper and printed with the appropriate postal duty. Aerograms are normally carried at less than the airmail letter rate. No enclosures are permitted.


is the carriage of mail by aircraft. The first regular airmail service began in 1870, when mail was carried from Paris over enemy lines by balloon. Many countries have issued postage stamps, stamped envelopes, postal cards and aerograms specially designated for airmail use. Air labels, or etiquettes, are used by Universal Postal Union member nations to denote airmail carriage. They are inscribed 'Par Avion' (French for 'By Airmail').


Printing on the reverse of a stamp. Some stamps have numbers, symbols, advertising or information about the stamp subject printed on the reverse of the stamp.


Any se-tenant group of postage stamps extending over more than one row and more than one column; most commonly a block refers to a block of four, or a block of stamps two high and two wide.


is the unit of one or more small blocks or booklet panes, glued, stitched or stapled together, usually between thin card covers to form a convenient unit for mailers to purchase and carry. For some modern booklets of self-adhesive stamps the liner (backing paper) serves as the booklet cover.

Booklet Pane

is the complete pane (page) of postage stamps (plus slogan or advertisement labels, if any) from a booklet, preferably with selvedge.


postage stamps security background: A design of fine wavy lines, sometimes fugitive printed on the face of security paper, either to discourage counterfeiting or to prevent the cleaning and reuse of a stamp. The burelage on some stamps is part of the stamp design.


Adjective form for burelage, meaning having a fine network of lines.


is a special handstamp, manuscript note or adhesive label. On a cover, the cachet is an added design or text, often corresponding to the design of the postage stamp, the mailed journey of the cover, or some type of special event. Cachets appear on modern first-day covers, first-flight covers and special-event covers.

Cancel, Cancellation

are markings intended to render a stamp invalid for further postal use. It may be a pen marking or even the removal of a small piece of the stamp. Modern cancels or "postmarks" usually include the name of the original mailing location or a nearby sorting facility and the date of mailing. Most ancellations also include a section of lines, bars, text or a design that prints upon the postage stamp to invalidate it. This part of a cancel is called the killer.


Stamps are "canceled to order", usually in full sheets, by several governments. The cancels may be printed on the stamps at the same time that the stamp design is printed. Stamps with a cancel and with full gum are usually sold to stamp dealers at large discounts from face value.


"The stamp catalogue gives a descriptive information to help identify stamps. Catalogs mostly include values for the listed items. Catalog value: The value of a stamp as listed in a given catalog for the most common condition in which the stamp is collected. Some catalogs list stamps at a retail value, though actual dealer prices may vary substantially for reasons of condition, Michel - German catalogue Stanley Gibbons - English catalogue Scott - American catalogue Yvert & Tellier - French catalogue"


The position of the design of a stamp in relation to its margins. If sheets of postage stamps are perfectly perforated, the stamps have the same size of margin on each side.

Chalk paper

Sometimes stamps are printed on specially paper to resist to the removal of cancellations. Immersion of such stamps in water will lift off the design. Touching chalky paper with silver can leave a discernible, pencil-like mark and is a sign of distinguishing chalky paper.

Charity stamp

see Semipostal.


The stamp classic is the period from 1840 to 1900. Often with a connotation of rarity, cause of an early issue, but classic stamps are not necessarily rare. The purist restrains the classical period to the time where stamps were not collected yet.

Coil stamps

This stamps processed in a long single row and prepared for sale in rolls. Lots of coils have a straight edge on the right and left side and perforations on the two other sides. French and german coils, sometimes have black or coloured numbers on the back.


Stamps printed in a limited quantity to honor important persons or events.


An envelope or a piece of postal stationery, often which has been send. Letters which were addressed and mailed without an envelope are also covers.


A noticeable weakening of the paper of a stamp, caused by its being folded or bent at some point. Creases substantially lower a stamp's value. Creases particularly affect cover values when they extend through the attached stamp or a postal marking. Stamp creases are visible in watermark fluid.

CTO: Canceled-to-order

Stamps are canceled to order, usually in full sheets, by many governments. The cancels may be printed on the stamps at the same time that the stamp design is printed. A stamp with a cancel and with full gum is likely a CTO stamp, as CTOs do not see actual postal use. CTO stamps are often sold to stamp dealers at large discounts from face value. Most catalogs say whether they price CTO stamps or genuinely used stamps.

Cut cancellation

is a cancellation that intentionally slices into the stamp paper. Often a wedge-shaped section is cut away. On many issues, such cancellations indicate use of postage stamps as fiscals (revenues) or telegraph stamps rather than as postage.

Cut square

is a neatly trimmed rectangular or square section from a stamped envelope that includes the imprinted postage stamp with ample margin. Collectors generally prefer to collect stationery as entire pieces rather than as cut squares. Some older stationery is available only in cut squares.


A nonrectangular stamp or postal stationery imprint cut to the shape of the design, rather than cut square. Cut-to-shape stamps and stationery generally have lower value than those cut square. One of the world's most valuable stamps, the unique 1856 British Guiana "Penny Magenta" (Scott 13), is a cut-to-shape stamp.


is the curved printing plate used on a modern rotary press. The plate has no seams. Cylinders are mostly used to print gravure stamps.

Dead country

A former stamp-issuing entity that has ceased issuing its own stamps. Also, the old name of an active stamp-issuing entity that has changed its name, so that the old name will no longer be used on stamps.


Definitive stamp are issued in a large indefinite quantity and for an indefinite period, usually several years or more. In consequence definitive stamp designs usually do not honor a specific time-dated event.


is the original engraving of a stamp design, usually recess-engraved in reverse on a small flat piece of soft steel. In traditional intaglio printing, a transfer roll is made from a die and printing plates are made from impressions of the transfer roll. When more than one die is used in the production of an issue, distinctive varieties are often identifiable.

Die cut

is a form of separation usually employed on self-adhesive stamps (ex. France Scott 2345). During processing, an edged tool (die) completely penetrates the stamp paper on all sides of the printed stamp, making the removal of the individual stamps from the liner possible. Die cuts may be straight, shaped in wavy lines to simulate perforation teeth, or take other forms.

Duck stamp

is the popular name for the United States Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamp, issued for use on hunting licenses. Each annual stamp depicts waterfowl. Also used to describe similar issues from the various states for use by hunters or for sale to collectors.

Dummy stamp

Officiall imitated stamps used to test employees or automatic stamp-dispensing machines. They are usually blank or bearl inscriptions. They are not valid for postage and not intended to reach stamp collectors.


An additional copy of a stamp that already exists. Beginners sometimes consider stamps as duplicates, but overlooking perforation, watermark or color varieties.


is the process of giving relief to paper by pressing it with a die. This designs are often on the stamps of postal stationery, but some stamps of certain countries have been embossed, too.


An error is a major mistake in the production of a stamp or postal stationery item. Production errors include imperforate or imperforate-between varieties, missing or incorrect colors, and inversion or doubling of part of the design or overprint. Major errors are usually far scarcer than normal varieties of the same stamp and are highly valued by collectors.


is the artwork of a proposed design for a stamp. Some essays are rendered photographically, others are drawn in pencil or ink or are painted or even printed. Most essays are rejected.


A gummed label which designate a specific mail service like airmail.


The examination of a stamp by an expert who determine if it is genuine. An expert may sign a stamp on the back or may supply a signed certificate with an attached photograph, attesting to the status of the item.


A reproduction of a stamp or cover. But this items are not made to deceive collectors or postal officials. Catalog illustrations can also be considered as facsimiles.


An altered stamp, cover or cancel to appeal to a collector. Fakes can include repairs, reperforations and regummed stamps, like painted-in cancels, bogus cancels or counterfeit markings. Entire covers may be faked.


First-day cover. A cover carrying a stamp with a cancellation showing the date of the issue of that stamp.


is a stamp denoting the payment of tax. Fiscals are often affixed to documents and canceled by pen. Their similarity with postage stamps provoked their use to prepay postage. See also, Revenues.

Flat plate

A flat metal plate used in a printing press.


A defect in a plate which reproduces an variety in the design of the stamp.


is a stamp or postal stationery item used in a given location prior to the issuing of regular stamps for that location.


A illegal reproduction of a stamp to defraud the postal authorities (a counterfeit), or to intended to defraud the collectors (a bogus).


Automatic stamp (Frama AG, a producer of such issues). This stamps are produced individually by a machine. Also called ATM, from the German word 'Automatenmarken'.


An indication on a cover that postage is prepaid or partially prepaid. Franks can be hand-written, hand-stamped, imprinted or affixed. Free franking is limited to soldier's mail and some government correspondence.

Fugitive inks

Printing inks used for stamp design that easily fade up in water or chemicals. To prevent forgery or the removal of cancellations, lots of governments use fugitive inks to print stamps.


is a semitransparent paper which is few resistant to the passage of air and moisture. Glassine cover are commonly used for temporary stamp storage. Glassine is used in the manufacture of stamp hinges too.

Granite paper

A paper with fibers to detere forgery.


A printing process with an intaglio printing plate made by photographic and chemical means and not by hand-engraving. See also Intaglio.


is the mucilage on the backs of an unused postage stamps, revenue stamps or envelope flaps. Gum is an area of concern for stamp collectors. It may crack and harm the paper of the stamp itself. It may stain or adhere to other stamps or album pages under certain climatic conditions. Many collectors are willing to pay extra for 19th- and some 20th-century stamps with intact, undisturbed original gum.


is the selvage separating panes on a sheet of stamps. The gutter is usually discarded during processing. The gutter may be unprinted, or bear plate numbers, accounting or control numbers, advertising or other words or markings.


is a cancellation applied by hand to a cover or to a stamp.


Stamp hinges are small, rectangular-shaped pieces of glassine paper, usually gummed on one side. Folded with the gummed side out, the hinge is used to mount stamps. Most modern hinges are peelable. Once dry, they may be easily removed from the stamp, leaving little trace of having been applied. An unused postage stamp to which a hinge (stamp mount) has been affixed is described as 'lightly hinged' or 'heavily hinged', depending upon the degree of gum disturbance.


(italian for 'in recess') is a printing form in that the inked design is made by that portion of the plate sunk below the surface. Line engraving and gravure are forms of intaglio printing.


An error where the design is inverted in relation to the other portion. An overprint applied upside down can also be an invert.


is the german word for a stamp mixture consisting of cancelled postal stamps on envelope paper. Kiloware is usually sold by the kilogram (about 2.2 pounds).


is an adhesive like stamp which is not a postage stamp.

Line engraving

is the printing done from an intaglio plate made by a hand-engraved die and a transfer roll and not by photographic or chemical means like gravure. See also Gravure


is the printing with a flat printing plate bearing a design area that is ink-receptive. The nonprint area is ink-repellant. This process is based on the principle that an oil-based design surface will attract oily ink.


are stamps valid within a limited area or within a limited postal system. Local post mail requires the addition of nationally or internationally valid stamps for further service. Locals have been produced both privately and officially.


Postmark collecting.


"1) The selvage surrounding the stamps in a sheet, often carrying inscriptions of various kinds. 2) The unprinted border area around the stamp design. The collectible grades of stamps are determined by the position of the design in relation to the edge of the stamp as perforated or, in the case of imperforate stamps, as cut from the sheet."


Maximum card collecting.

Maximum Card

is a picture postcard, a cancel, and a stamp presenting maximum concordance. The stamp is usually affixed to the picture side of the card and is tied by the cancel. Collectors of maximum cards seek to find or create cards with stamp, cancel and picture in maximum agreement, or concordance. The statutes of the International Federation of Philately (FIP) give specific explanatory notes for the postage stamp, the picture postcard, the cancel, concordance of subject, concordance of place and concordance of time.

Miniature sheet

A smaller-than-normal pane of stamps issued only in that form or in addition to full panes. A miniature sheet is usually without marginal markings or text saying that the sheet was issued in conjunction with or to commemorate some event. See also Souvenir sheet.


Stamps in the same state as at their issue, unused, undamaged and with full original gum.


Never Hinged. A stamp without hinge marks. A never-hinged stamp normally has original gum.

Newspaper stamps

Stamps issued for the prepayment of sending rates for newspapers or periodicals.

Occupation issue

is an issue released for use in territory occupied by a foreign power.

Offices abroad

Many nations had post offices in other countries. In China and the Turkish Empire, especially, many foreign nations maintained their own postal systems as part of their extraterritorial powers. Usually, special stationery and stamps were used by these offices. Most consisted of overprints on the regular issues of the nations maintaining the offices.


Official stamps or stationery are issued solely for the use of government departments and officials. In many countries such items may be available to collectors in unused condition from the postal authority.


"1) A printing process where a roller applies the ink to paper. 2) The transfer of part of a stamp design or an overprint from one sheet to the back of another, before the ink has dried (also called set off). Such impressions are in reverse. They are different from stamps printed on both sides."


A printing of the design of a stamp, generally to changes the value, a surcharge.


Darkening of the ink on stamps caused by contact with air or light. Some inks, especially oranges, may in time turn brown or black.


"1) A presorted selection of all-different stamps, a common and economical way to begin a general collection; 2) a ship operating on a regular schedule and contracted by a government or post office to carry mail."

Postally used

A stamp which has been postally used, contrary to a canceled-to-order or favor-canceled stamp. "postally used" means by a personal or business communication, without thinking of creating an item to be collected.


Adhesive postage stamp issued to specifics customers, already overprinted with cancellation.


Trial impression from a die or printing plate before starting a stamp production. Proofs check that the design is correct in all respects.


stamps are temporary issued until a new stock of stamps can be obtained.


A stamp with an altered design as the result of a change made to a transfer roll or printing plate prior to a later printing, thereby distinguishing it from the original die.


A stamp design that is slightly different with the basic design as originally issued.


stamps are valid and only sold in a specific area or entity.


A stamp carrying gum from an illegal source.


is a stamp printed with the original plate but after the issue has ceased to be postally valid. Reprints can be official or not.


A change of the original printing plate or die, often producing a difference in the design of the stamp.


Stamps indicating the payment of a tax.

Rotary plate

A curved or cylindrical plate that rotates to make continuous impressions contrary to flat plates which make single impressions.


Piercings between stamps to separate them more simply. Rouletting has been made by dash, sawtooth or wavy line.

Se tenant

French for joined together. Two or more unseparate stamps of different designs, colors, denominations or types.


Adhesive stamp that stick to paper without practising anything else as pressure.


Stamps are sold with an additional charge dedicated for a special purpose. Usually recognized by the presence of two (often different) values, separated by a "+'' sign.


Stamps bearing common design elements, usually collected as a group.


is a complete unit of stamps as printed. Stamps are usually printed in large sheets and are separated into two or more panes before delivered to post offices.

Souvenir sheet

is a small sheet of stamps, including one value or a set of stamps. A souvenir sheet usually has a wide margin and an inscription describing an event being commemorated. Stamps on a souvenir sheet may be perforated or imperforate. See also Miniature Sheet.

Space filler

A stamp in poor condition used to fill out the designated space in a stamp album until a better is found.


is a stamp or stationery item distributed to Universal Postal Union members for identification purposes and to the philatelic press and trade for publicity purposes. Specimens are overprinted or punched with the word 'SPECIMEN' or its equivalent, or are overprinted or punched in a way to make them different from the issued stamps. Specimens of scarce stamps tend to be less valuable than the actual stamps. Specimens of relatively common stamps are more valuable."


Three or more unseparated stamps in a row, vertically or horizontally.


is an overprint which changes the value or the destination of a stamp or of any postal item.


The surtax is designated for donation to a charity or some other purpose like the Red Cross. A portion of a stamp value is exceeding the normal value.

Telegraph stamp

is a label used for the prepayment of telegraph fees. Telegraph stamps resemble postage stamps.


is the french word for 'head to tail'. Two stamps but one is inverted in relation to the other.


A collection of stamps or covers that have the same theme.


is a tweezerlike tool with rounded, polished tips, used to handle stamps. Tongs prevent stamps from being soiled by dirt, oil or perspiration.


See Thematic.


Three related stamps forming one overall design.


Universal Postal Union. An international organization formed in Bern, Switzerland, in 1874, to regulate and standardize postal usage and to facilitate the movement of mail between member nations. Today, most nations belong to the UPU.


A used stamp has been canceled by a postal authority to prevent its reuse.


A difference with the normal form of a stamp. Varieties consist of different watermarks, inverts, imperforates, missing colors, wrong colors and major color shifts.


The central part of a stamp design, usually surrounded by a border. The term is also sometimes applied to blue air mail labels.


is a deliberate thinning of paper during its manufacture to produce a semitranslucent pattern. Watermarks appear frequently in paper used in stamp printing or envelope manufacture.

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