Thursday, January 28, 2010

Collecting Stamps? Know Some Terminologies

Every field has a language of its own. So anyone entering a particular field should learn these as early as possible so as not to wander around unknowingly or unable to speak with authority on the subject. Like all other hobbies and entertainments, the world of philately has its own phrases, dictionary, jargon and terminologies. 

Some of which are as under for easy reference and use.
  • Adhesive: Most postage stamps have gum on the back for easy sticking on to the envelopes. Such stamps are called adhesive stamps.
  • Airmail (Aero Philately): The collecting of stamps, first day covers that are carried by air bear the name airmail. This was an old use since now almost the entire mail is carried by air.
  • Back Stamp: A postmark stamped on a letter by the destination post office.
  • Block: A set of at least four intact stamps is called a block.
  • Cachets: Additional information or imprecision made on an envelope other than the postmark to commemorate special occasions.
  • Commemorative Stamps: Stamps issued to commemorate a special occasion are called commemorative stamps. The events could be setting a new world record, climbing an un-scalable mountain, anniversaries, independence days and so on. These stamps are usually of on sale for a very short period of time. 
  • Face Value: The actual price of the stamp as printed on the stamp.
  • Foxing: Brown spots found on stamps and books, caused by storing in damped environment.
  • Frank: A stamp like mark, printed by machines by the post office. This is done in lieu of stamps, especially for customers with large mail deliveries. Mostly this is red in colour. 
  • Hinges: Small transparent gummed papers attached at the back of a stamp to so that stamp sticks to a stamp album.
  • Inscription:  anything written on a stamp (i.e., price, name of the country or a small description) during actual printing of the stamp. Any information later added to it does not fall under the category of the inscription, rather it these may be called “overprints.”  
  • Key Type: The key type relates to a theme which is common to many countries. In this case everything except the name of the country. 
  • Margin: A stamp that is printed on the edge of a sheet along with the white plain strip attached to it is called margin.
  • Official Stamps: Official stamps are either specially printed or overprints on regular stamps announcing these to be the official stamps. These stamps are not open to public and cannot be used ordinarily. In Pakistan, the word “SERVICE” is used for such stamps.
  • Perforations: These are the small holes printed on the sheet containing stamps as a separator. This aids in easy tearing off a stamp from the sheet without having any effect on the other stamps. 
  • Postmarks: These are the marks printed on a stamp with the aim of cancelling a stamp and preventing its further use.


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