A.P.O. - Army Post Office.
Above Privilege Number - A handstamp applied to a letter disallowed under the Franking system.
Accessories - Full range of stamp collecting tools and aids, e.g. tweezers, hinge mounts, perforation gauges, catalogues, stock books, catalogues and books etc..
Additional Halfpenny Tax - The Additional Halfpenny Tax was imposed on 8 June 1813 on all letters from England to or from Scotland to recover a levy paid to the Scottish Turnpike Trusts.
Add-on - A cachet design added to a cover which was originally uncacheted.
Adhesive - (i) Any postage stamp for attachment to an envelope, as distinct from the stamps impressed directly on to postal stationary. (ii) The gum used to affix a postage stamp.
Admirals - Philatelic term for for three British Commonwealth definitive series stamps; Canada 1912-25, New Zealand 1926 and Rhodesia 1913-19. All of which show King George V in his naval uniform.
Advertisement pane - A pane of postage stamps from a booklet in which one or more of the stamp-sized areas bears an advertisement or slogan.
Aerogram - See Aerogramme.
Aerogramme - 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. No enclosures are permitted.
Aerophilately - Area of stamp collecting which concentrates on mail carried by air.
Agency - Post Office maintained by one country in another countries territory.
Air Label - Small blue labels used by UPU member nations to denote carriage by air mail.
Airmail - Carriage of mail by aircraft. The first succesful mail flight was in May 1911 when a Captain Windham organised a flight at the Allahabad Exhibition in India. Special postmarks subsequently came into general use.
Albino - White or without colour; a postage stamp or overprint in which absence of ink has resulted in a colourless impression.
Album - Books used for mounting and display of stamps or postal history. They come in a great variety of colours, sizes and speciality topics.
Allen, Ralph - (b.1694, d.1794) Former postmaster of Bath, England and organiser of the first British provincial cross posts.
All Purpose Cachet - A cachet with a general purpose design that can be used for a variety of different stamp subjects.
Alphabet - A particularly distinctive set of letters used to print a postage stamp or overprint and which helps a philatelist identify the item precisely.
Ambulant - Word meaning 'moving' as used to denote a mobile or Travelling Post Office (TPO) in a cancellation.
Aniline - Oily liquid, originally distilled from coal-tar, used as the basis of certain dyes in postage stamps; in particular a bright-red ink, manufactured partly from aniline, which immediately penetrates between the fibres of uncoated paper.
Approvals - Stamps or other postal history and philatelic items sent on approval by a dealer to a customer who can study them at leisure whilst knowing the price asked. The customer buys whatever he chooses, returning the remainder with payment.
Apres le Depart - Too late.
Arrow - Small arrow markers appearing in the selvage as a guide for the cutting of a sheet of stamps into pre-defined blocks. Collectors save these as "arrow blocks".
Ausstellung - Exhibition.
Avion - Air Mail.
B.A.P.O. - British Army Post Office
B.F.P.O. - Britsh Force Post Office
B.I.O.T. - British Indian Ocean Territories
B.N.A. - British North America (Canada, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia etc..)
B.W.I. - British West Indies.
Backprint - An 'overprint' applied to the back of a stamp.
Backstamp - A handstamp applied to the back of a letter, usually indicating date of transit or receipt at the office of destination.
Back-of-The-Book - Stamps that are normally listed in the back of the catalog after the regular stamp issues. This might include air mail, special delivery, semi-official, official, postage due, local issues, stamped envelopes, post cards, hunting permit stamps, essays, and revenue stamps.
Bahnhof - Railway station
Bahnpost - Railway
Btonn - Paper watermarked with straight parallel lines.
Bicoloured - Two coloured; usually refers to a stamp.
Bilingual - Postage stamp printed in two languages.
Bilingual Pair - Se-tenant postage stamps each printed in a different language.
Bisect - Half a postage stamp postally used for half its original value.
Bishop, Henry - (b. d. ) Former British postmaster general and inventor of the Bishop Mark, the worlds first postage handstamp. Organiser of the British post office following Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660.
Bishop mark - The first handstamp, invented by Henry Bishop. A circle divided horizontally, the top segment showing the month and the lower half the day of posting.
Blind perforation - A perforation hole not punched out (blunt or missing pin) leaving the paper intact but marked. Generally considered to be a minor variety carrying little premium.
Blk - (abbrev) Block of stamps, quantity always quoted.
Block - Any se-tenant group of postage stamps extending over more than one row and more than one column; ideally, a perfect rectangle, of any size, sufficient in size to show an intersection of the perforations.
Blued - Postage stamp printed on paper showing irregular, usually faint, blue colour, often imparted deliberately.
Bogus - Fraudulent postage stamp that pretended to have been issued but which never was. Sometimes either of a non-existent issue or a non-existent country.
Booklet - (i) Small, convenient book containing panes (pages) of mint postage stamps (and often slogans or advertisements). (ii) Booklet issued by an exchange club in which a member mounts material for disposal (more properly called a 'club booklet').
Booklet Pane - Complete pane (page) of postage stamps (plus slogan or advertisement labels, if any) from a booklet, preferably with selvedge.
Bourse - A gathering of a group of dealers and collectors at which stamps, first day covers, and supplies are bought, traded, and/or sold.
Boxed - Handstamp or printed marking in margin of postage stamp sheet, surrounded by a rectangular lined 'box' frame.
Burlage - A postage stamps security background: a pattern of fine wavy lines, often fugitive, printed on front or back of some postage stamps.
Burritt, Elihu - (b.1810 d.1879) Philanthropist and campaigner for a drastic reduction in an established set of postage rates in use by many different countries. Main proponent of Ocean Penny Postage.
C. - (i) Chalky paper. (ii) Common (in scale of rarity)
C.A. - Crown Agents
C.C. - Crown Colony
C.D.S. - Circular Date Handstamp, the prefered type of cancellation for most modern postage stamps.
C.R. - Caledonian Railway.
C.T.O. - Cancelled to order.
Cachet - Special handstamp (often a 'rubber stamp'), manuscript note, adhesive label or printed design borne by a postal item and confirming unusually a particular route or an interesting usage; e.g. a first flight on a particular route.
Cancel, Cancellation -
 A handstamp or mark used across a postage stamp as an obliterator to render it invalid for further postal use. It may be a pen marking or even the removal of a small piece of the stamp.
 The marks place by postal authorities which may indicate date, rate, route, or place of the mailing. Similar term to Postmark.
Cancelled to order - A postage stamp bearing a cancel (invariably neat), but never postally used. Provided as a service by some postal administrations. Stamps so cancelled are not always distinguishable from postally used.
Cary, John - (b. d.) In 1798 John Cary produced his survey containing a list, of the " Distance of English & Welsh Post Towns from London & quot; along all the principal roads in the country resulting in a resumption of mileage stamps in 1801.
CAT - (Abbrev.) Catalogue value (unless there is no possibility of doubt, the publisher should be named).
CDS - (Abbrev.) Circular date stamp cancel.
Census Marks - See Dumb Cancellations.
Centered - In a perfectly perforated sheet of postage stamps, each stamp has the same size of margin on each side; in describing a valuable stamp it is desirable to comment on the centring by stating the stamp is 'perfectly centred' or 'centred to bottom', 'centred to top' etc. 'Centred to bottom' means the top margin is larger than the bottom one. The term is not applicable to imperf stamps.
Chalk paper - Describes postage stamps printed on specially treated paper to receive a good printing impression and to resist the removal of cancellations.
Charity stamp - (i) An adhesive label, not intended for postage use, issued in support of a charity. (ii) A postage stamp bearing a surcharge which, usually after deductions for overheads, is donated by the postal authority to a charity featured in the design of the stamp
Charge Marks - Before 1840 black figures (either manuscript or stamped) were used for unpaid letters to be settled by the recipient, and red figures were used for paid letters. In the provinces, handstamped figures were occasionally used.
City Penny Post - The 1765 Act (5 George 3 Cap 25) allowed the setting up of ".....a Penny Post Office..." in any city or town in Great Britain, Ireland or North America, as thought convenient. Charges to be the same as the London Penny Post.
Classic - A distinction of quality and rarity in early stamps.
Coated paper - Any paper bearing a coating, chalky or otherwise.
Coil stamps - Postage stamps issued in the form of a long strip, one stamp wide, in the form of a tight roll issued either from a machine or by a hand dispenser. The postage stamps can be arranged in a coil side by side or one above the other.
Coil leader - Piece of paper in the form of a long tag at the delivery end of a coil; usually printed with the number, denomination and coil price, and sometimes with a date or checker's number.
Color Abbreviations - Click HERE for a listing of color abbreviations commonly used by dealers.
Colour changeling - A postage stamp whose original colour has changed.
Colour trial - Postage stamp printed singly or in multiple in a particular shade of ink to judge aesthetic appearance, prior to final decision on the issued colour.
Column - A vertical row of postage stamps.
Comb perf. - Sheet or individual postage stamps perforated by a comb machine, each beat of which perforates three sides of one column or row of stamps (one of the three sides completing the perforating of the preceding column or row). Distinguished by perfect registry of the holes at every postage stamp corner.
Combination - A cover bearing (i) the handstamps or postage stamps of two different countries (ii) Postage stamps of different denominations, not se-tenant.
A postage stamp marking a special anniversary or event.
 Special issues to honor important people or events.
Compound perforation - Perforation with two different machines, often producing different gauges of hole on adjacent sides of a stamp.
Condition - Factors that can assist in determining the value of a stamp. Factors include color, selvage, plate or die variations, unusual cancels, faults, hinging, gum, and markings.
Control - Letters and/or figures printed in a postage stamp sheet margin to indicate time of accounting, distribution or other manufacturing data. Examples are sheet serial numbers on the backs of stamps, dates in sheet margins, and overprints added to prevent the use of stolen stocks.
COV - (Abbrev.) Cover.
 An envelope minus the letter it contained, letter-sheet or wrapper when postally used.
 An envelope that has been sent through the mail.
CTO - (Abbrev.) Cancelled to Order. This was originally used by the Communist Countries to cancel the stamps and then sent to other countries for revenue. The stamps were cancelled in complete sheets with the gum on the back of the stamp and were used in the 1960 period for making up packets for children to collect. Other countries still produce C.T.O.is for the collector who will find it difficult to purchase a genuine used set that has been postally used. There ate a large number of countries who produce thematic stamps for revenue also produce C.T.O. is for the collector as well as other philatelic items.
Currency Stamp - Handstamps used by the British and French Post Offices, embodying a stated amount of currency (e.g. "GB/40c").
Cut Corner- An area in the upper right corner of an envelope or card that has been removed from the original piece.
Cylinder - The cylinder used to print photogravure postage stamps. In many cases the cylinder is numbered and is large enough to print two PO sheets of stamps simultaneously. One of the sheets is often called the 'dot sheet' and the other the 'no dot sheet'; thus, the seventh cylinder made for a particular issue would print sheets bearing the numbers 7 and 7., the latter being read as 'seven dot'.
Cylinder Block - Block of postage stamps (usually six) from that part of the sheet where the cylinder number(s) can be seen in the margin.
Cylinder Number - The number(s) printed in the margin of a postage stamp sheet by each cylinder used to print the sheet; thus a seven-colour stamp will have seven cylinder numbers, each in the colour of one of the chosen inks, with an additional number for any cylinder used to print phosphor tagging.
Dandy roll - The wire mesh roller used in papermaking to produce a watermark.
Datestamp - A hand or machine stamp containing a date; sometimes used to mean c.d.s.
Definitive - A postage stamp intended to remain in everyday use for a considerable time, as distinct from a provisional, commemorative or other special issue.
Demonetised - No longer legal tender; in particular, a postage stamp bearing a duty in an obsolete system of currency, or of an issue stated by the postal authority to be no longer valid for postage.
Definitives - Regular issues of postage stamps that are normally sold for a longer period of time. Normally printed in large numbers.
Des. - Abbreviation for 'designed by'.
Die - The original single engraved piece of metal from which a multiple printing plate is built up.
Die proof - Single, very carefully impressed proof of a new postage stamp die, invariably in black ink on smooth white card or fine-calendered or coated paper. When dry, inspected in great detail to check that the die is perfect.
Disaster Mail - See Wreck Mail.
Dockwra, William - (b. d. ) In March 1680, Dockwra opened the first town Penny Post with a head office in Lime Street, London. Later in 1680, he introduced his own distinctive postmark
Dockwra mark - London Penny Post handstamps, first used in 1680 by William Dockwra.
Doctor blade - A steel blade which wipes ink from the cylinder.
Dot, no dot - See Cylinder.
Double date stamp - See Duplex.
Double-ring c.d.s. - A circular date handstamp contained within two concentric circles.
Doubly printed - Postage stamp or part of sheet bearing more than one clear impression of the printed design, invariably both on the same side of the sheet and both in the same sense (ie not an offset).
Dry print - Postage stamp image or overprint grossly deficient in ink, but not albino (which is devoid of any ink).
Due - Adhesive label to record postage due on delivery because of insufficient prepayment.
Dulwich Mark - First trialed in 1894, the Dulwich type of double arc dated postmark became the standard British type for many years.
Dumb cancellation - An obliteration handstamp containing neither figure nor letter, often made of cork. Used for a variety of purposes including: cancellation of postage stamps (see maltese cross); War time security cancelling, and postage census.
Duplex - A cancellation handstamp embodying two sections, one to obliterate the adhesive and a second portion to indicate the office and date of posting. Strictly speaking, most Double Datestamps are not true Duplexes. True Duplex stamps have the two elements joined together in one design, such as the spoon and shoe type.
Duty plate - Portion of a postage stamp design containing the postal duty (face value) when printed separately from the frame, head, or key plate; in particular, the plate used to impress the duty.
E.A.F. - East African Forces.
E.L. - Entire Letter
Einschreiben - Registered.
 A form of printing in relief.
 The process of impressing a design in relief into the paper of an envelope.
End delivery - Coil in which postage stamps are arranged 'one above the other' and dispensed by a machine.
Eng. - Abbreviation for 'engraved'.
Engraving - The art of cutting (postage stamp) designs on metal, wood etc..
Engraved - A method of printing in which the lines of the design are cut into metal, which are recessed to retain the ink. The paper is forced under pressure into these lines to pick up the ink. Therefore the engraved cachets appear to have a design raised above the surface of the paper.
Entire - A complete postal item (i) Before the use of envelopes, letters were written on a four-page piece of note-paper. An entire is that part bearing the address, without pages 3 and 4 (bearing the letter or part of the letter) still attached. (ii) After the use of envelopes, an envelope complete with the letter and any adhesives.
Entire letter - The entire letter of pre-envelope type, complete with address and message.
 Any kind of mistake in design or production, such as an inverted centre, a wrong watermark, or a lack of perforations in an issue meant to be perforated.
 A consistent abnormal variety created by a mistake in the production of a stamp or postmark.
Essay - A trial design. Usually hand-drawn or printed design for a proposed postage stamp.
Est. - Abbreviation for 'estimated price' which an auctioneer thinks would be a fair price for a particular lot.
Etignettes - See "Air Label".
Etiquette - An adhesive which is not a postage stamp.
Event Cover - A cacheted cover prepared as a souvenir of a specific event or an anniversary of an event.
Event Program - A list of events or speakers in any program related to the stamp release, such as a stamp show, any function at which a stamp is released, or any event honoring the same event as the stamp.
Exchange club - Club whose members circulate material (usually individually priced in booklets), generally by post, but which does not normally arrange meetings of members.
Extension perf hole - Pattern of perforation in which each horizontal (rarely, each vertical) row of perforations is extended by one hole into either or both margins.
F.B.O. - Foreign Branch Office
F.D.C. - First Day Cover
F.P.O. - Field Post Office
F.U. - Fine Used
Face - Face value, the price at which a postage stamp was first sold; in the case of charity or surcharged stamps, the total amount payable, as distinct from its catalogue value or market value..
Facsimile - Printed copy of a (usually rare) postage stamp, with no intent to deceive.
Fake - Postage stamp or other postal item fraudulently altered to appear to be a different item of greater value, usually to deceive collectors.
Fancy Cancel - A cancellation which is or includes a design.
Faults - Factors that can decrease the value of a stamp. Factors include thin spots, creases, short or torn perforations, missing pieces, tears, or stains.
Field Post Office - A post office for military forces on active service.
Fifth Clause Post - Handstamps so inscribed (relative to the 5th Clause of an Act of Parliament concerning village posts).
File Crease - Cover or other postal item that has obviously been kept folded over a long period.
Filler - A stiff piece of paper or cardboard found inside a First Day Cover. It provides necessary stiffness for a clearer cancellation. It also provides protection to help prevent the bending of the cover as it travels through the mail.
First Cachet - The first cachet commercially produced by a cachetmaker.
FindPostalHistory.com - A source of: philatelic and postal history information; UK dealers directory; and Stamp-Mart dealer pages for collectors on the internet. The site was launched in February 1998.
Fine - Philatelically sound and desirable; in particular, an item in undamaged condition.
First Day - The day on which a stamp for the first time is officially sold by the Post Office.
First Day Cover -
 An entire bearing one or more postage stamps and postally used on the day of issue of those stamps.
 Envelopes with a new postage stamp and a cancellation showing the date and place where the stamp was first issued. Some covers will have a cachet (design) on the envelope describing an event.
Fiscal - A revenue or tax stamp - not a postage stamp.
Flaw - Visible change in the printed design of a postage stamp due to damage to the printing surface of the plate or cylinder; 'constant flaws' are seen, either unchanged or very slowly progressing, over a large number of stamps printed by the same impression.
Fleuron - A circular date handstamp with two flower or petal-shaped ornaments at the foot.
Forerunner - A handstamp used by a parent country within an area which subsequently became independent of the original domination.
 Postal item fraudulently manufactured with intent to deceive either the post office (postal forgery) or collectors (fake).
 A fraudulently produced or altered philatelic item intended to deceive the collector.
Forwarding Agent's Cachet - A strike (or endorsement) applied to a letter to indicate that it had been handled in transit by some means other than the Post Office.
Frame - Printed border of a postage stamp.
Frank - A stamp, mark or signature that shows payment of postage on a piece of mail.
Franking - (i) Loosely, any postal obliteration. (ii) Hand or machine impression on a postal item in lieu of adhesive postage stamps to denote prepayment.
Free Frank - A handstamp applied under the Franking System (until 1840, free postage was enjoyed by Members of Parliament) to indicate that the item is to be carried free of charge.
Fresh - Postal item, especially an adhesive, in fine original colour.
Front - The front of a cover, cut from the remainder but bearing any adhesives, cancellations and the address.
Fu. - Abbreviation for 'fine used'.
Fugitive - Ink that runs when moistened by water.
G.B.P. - Great Britain Pounds ().
G.U. - Good Used.
Gauge - Number of perforation holes in a length of 20 mm (in the case of most definitives, the number of teeth counted across from left to right).
Gepruft - (German) Censored.
Grade - The ranking of a stamp based on centering for mint stamps; centering and cancellation for used stamps.
Granite - paper containing countless very short hairs (fibres) of colour(s) contrasting with the main mat of the paper as a security against forgery.
Graphite lines - Adhesive stamp bearing one or two vertical lines of black electrically conductive graphite on the back, under the gum.
Gravure - See Photogravure.
Grill - Adhesive stamp bearing a fine pattern of criss-cross embossing to break up the paper structure and prevent erasure of a cancellation.
Guide dot/line - Dot or line appearing on a postage stamp as a result of failure to erase punched or inscribed marks on the plate intended to guide the platemaker in entering the stamp impressions. Usually such marks are close to the frame of the stamp.
 General term for the adhesive substance brushed or printed on the back of most postage stamps and activated by moistening with water or saliva. See gum arabic, pva.
 The coating of glue or adhesive on the back of an unused stamp.
Gum Arabic - Widely used adhesive applied as a glossy coating that is transparent when pure, but yellowish when less highly refined; obtained from the acacia tree and often called gum acacia.
Gum crease - A crease ironed out of the paper of an unused postage stamp but clearly visible in the gum; in some cases the crease is actually caused by warping and subsequent cracking of the gum.
Gutter - The unprinted strips between rows and columns on a sheet of postage stamps; in a correctly perforated sheet of most modern stamps the perforations run along the centres of the gutters.
Hair line - Any fine line in a printed postage stamp design, either a printed coloured line on unprinted paper, or an unprinted white line on the printed design; in particular, unprinted diagonal lines across the corners of certain British typographed postage stamps of 1862-4.
Halfpenny Tax - See Additional Halfpenny Tax
Hand Cancel - A cancel that is applied to stamps individually and by hand.
Hand colored - A printed, handdrawn or handmade cachet to which hand painting or hand coloring has been added.
Hand Drawn - A cachet applied to a cover by hand with pen, pencil, brush, chalk or other art media.
Handmade- A cachet applied to a cover by hand by adding seals, paste-ups, collage or similar materials. Each cachet is made individually and is an original.
Hand painted - See hand colored.
Handstamp - (i) Any device for printing that is held in the hand and struck first on an ink pad and then on paper. (ii) To print with such a device. (iii) The impression thus printed. Handstamps may be used to cancel adhesives or postal stationary, but many serve to give information.
Harrow perforation - A means of perforating whole sheets at a time.
Head plate - In a postage stamp printed by two or more impressions, usually in contrasting colours, the portion of the design containing the central portion (which in early stamps generally contained a portrait).
Heaton, Henniker - (b. d. ) Conservative Member of Parliament for Canterbury and champion of the idea of a Universal Penny Postage introduced in June 1898.
Heavy cancel - Obliteration which, either by its design or overinking, spoils the appearance of the adhesive stamp by covering most of its surface.
Highway Post Office - The Post Office sorted mail on special motor vehicles in transit between cities. This system was used from the late 1930s through the mid-1970s.
Hill, Pearson - (b. d. ) Popularly known as the father of the cancelling machine. In 1857 he produced a machine which could be operated by steam or a foot treadle to automatically apply a duplex stamp.
Hill, Rowland - (b.1795 d.1879) Key proponent and organiser of uniform postage in Britain regardless of mileage travelled. His initial 4d uniform postage reform and subsequent 1d uniform postage reform led to the introduction of the worlds first postage stamp, the penny black.
Hinged - 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.
Historical Covers - Envelopes that are cancelled with reference to an historical event. For example, the inauguration of a new president. See also event cover.
Hutchins, Thomas - (b. d. ) Postmaster at Crewkerne, he built up an early form of Postal Trade Union. In 1630 he obtained the first authorisation to carry private letters. This of course was a major event: for the first time, authority had been given for the carriage of private mail within the State Postal System. Thus was laid the foundation of the first public horse post.
I.B. - Inland Branch
I.S. - Inland Section
Imp. - Abbreviation for imperforate (imperf. is more common).
Imperforate - Never perforated; early stamp sheets were issued in imperf condition, but with modern issues an imperf copy is usually a prized rarity. A single imperforate stamp has edges more or less straight.
Impression - (i) The image of a postage stamp transferred by pressure to a duplicate die or transfer roller. (ii) The similar image transferred by pressure to the surface of the plate. (iii) The printed image impressed on to the paper.
Imprimatur - In philately, usually a postage stamp cut from one of the first sheets to be printed of a new design or new plate, often on ungummed paper and usually imperf; frequently the issued stamps were perforated and of a different shade of ink.
Imprint - The name of the printer printed on the margin of a postage stamp sheet or on any other printing job; thus, an imprint block is a marginal block of four, six or more stamps including the imprint.
Inaugural Cover - A cover cancelled on the day that a president is sworn into office.
India Letter - A Ship Letter handstamp applied to letters arriving from certain parts of Africa and India.
Intaglio - Line-engraved or recess printing, as used for the 'penny black'.
Inv. - Abbreviation for inverted; usually referring to the watermark.
Item - General term for any philatelic object such as a postage stamp, cover, booklet, die proof.
Ivory head - Clear white Queen's head on back of G.B. Queen Victoria blued stamps.
Jernvagens - Railway
Joint Issue - Two or more stamps issued by different countries to commemorate the same event, topic, place or person.
Jubilee line - Coloured line framing stamps in sheet margin.
Jude, Samuel - (b. d. ) In 1625 Jude established the first private postal messenger service for his own letters and those of his business colleagues and contacts.He kept horses for posting at various places on the West Road, England.
Key plate - A basic design of postage stamp issued by a colonial power or other central postal authority within which are spaces for the insertion of different names of territories and different postal duties. Many different issued might all use an identical key plate which would normally include the frame and the main design.
Killer - A cancellation handstamp used to obliterate an adhesive and usually of so heavy a nature that it successfully "killed" the stamp to prevent re-use.
Kiloware - Unsorted modern material, typically postage stamps off paper or on piece, sold in kilogramme bags at a flat rate.
L.M.M. - Light Mounted Mint.
L.P.S. - London Postal Section.
Label - (i) Original term for a postage stamp. (ii) Proper term for dues (which are, strictly, not stamps). (iii) Postage stamp sized area of a booklet pane either left blank or printed with a slogan or advertisement. (iv) Any small adhesive, other than a valid postage stamp, affixed to a postal item. (v) Bogus stamp of non-existent issue.
Ladies' Envelope - Embossed or ornamental envelopes used by feminine letter-writers of the 19th Century.
Laid paper - Paper watermarked with close parallel lines, with other lines, much wider spaced, crossing at right angles.
Last Day - The final day of a postal rate, post office operation or similar occurrence.
Late Fee - The fee charged on a letter which had been posted subsequent to normal "last collection" time, additional to the ordinary postage.
Letterpress - See typography.
Letter sheet - See Aerogramme.
Lift, to - To unstick an adhesive from a cover or any other substrate.
Line engraved - The process of printing postage stamps from steel or copper plates produced by impressions from an engraved die, the recesses in the plate accommodating the ink; also called intaglio or recess printing.
Line Pair- A line of ink printed between two coil stamps at various intervals.
Line perf. - Abbreviated description for a stamp or sheet perforated in straight lines, all the horizontal (or vertical) lines being done first and then all the crossing lines. The two sets of perforations need not register at the corners of the stamps.
Lightly Hinged - A stamp with full gum with only slight evidence of hinge marks or disturbance.
Litho. - Abbreviation for lithography,
 A process for printing in which the inked image is determined by the ability of a flat (or gently curved) surface to repel ink in some places (where it is wet) and hold it in others (where it is greasy). See offset.
 A common method of printing stamps and cachets in which the design is transgerred from a smooth plate by selective inks which wet only the design portion of the printing plate.
Local - A postage stamp authorised for use only within a limited territory.
Luftpost - (German) Airmail.
Luminescent - The condition of a stamp which has been treated with chemicals which are sensitive to, and glow under, ultraviolet light.
M. - Mint
M.C. - Maltese Cross.
M.E.F. - Middle East Forces.
M.M. - Mounted Mint.
M.S. - Miniature Sheet.
M.P.O. - Mobile Post Office - Usually only at sites for 1-2 days only.
Make-up - The contents of a stamp booklet, usually in total number of stamps of each denomination.
Maltese Cross - More properly called a croix patE the form of a dumb cancellation handstamp used to cancel British postage stamps in 1840-1844, also used later as a watermark.
Mare - (French) Sea (e.g. "Leta-arrta. per mare").
Margin - The unprinted area around the edge of a postage stamp or stamp sheet; in the case of an imperf. stamp the width, number and regularity of the margins strongly affects the value, the ideal being a wide, even margin along each side.
Marginal rule - Printed line, usually about 0.1 in (2.5 mm) wide, surrounding the stamp impressions on a sheet. Usually there is one line for each ink used to print the stamps, and the rule is often broken at the gutters. It is impressed by a raised edge around the printing plate which reduces or eliminates the shock that would otherwise be felt as the inking roller struck the first row of stamp images on the plate.
Marque d'entree - (French) The handstamp applied to a letter indicative of its having entered another country.
Maximum card - Envelope or postcard bearing a printed, usually illustrated, feature linked with the subject of commemorative stamps with which it is postally used (not necessarily on day of issue).
Mc. - Abbreviation for maltese cross.
Mileage Stamp - A Town handstamp embodying a number showing the mileage from London, Edinburgh or Dublin.
Miniature sheet - Small souvenir sheet of stamps bearing in the centre a small number (typically one or four) of a feature or charity stamp, often with imprint and other details in the wide margins; perf or imperf. Often produced solely for collectors though valid for postage.
Mint - Exactly as issued by the Post Office or other original source. Collectors usually allow a lightly mounted unused stamp to qualify as mint.
Missent - A letter missent (usually through an illegible address) to the wrong town and applied to indicate the reason for delay in delivery.
Mixed franking - A cover franked with adhesives of two different issues of adhesives (but usually applied to two different reigns or two different currencies).
Mixture - Assorted stamps from many countries in a loose condition.
Mount - Any device for attaching a stamp or other item to an album page or other substrate; the commonest mount is the hinge.
Moveable Box - A box in which letters could be posted on board ship. The box was handed, locked and with its contents, to the post office at which the vessel arrived.
M/s. - Abbreviation for manuscript, i.e. written by hand.
Mulready - The fist pictorial envelope issued by a Post Office. Designed by William Mulready, R.A., and issued with the denominations of 1d and 2d respectively.
Multiple - Three or more unseparated stamps, mint or used, on cover or off, in any arrangement
Mute Cancellations - See Dumb cancellations..
N.P.B. - Newspaper Branch.
N.R. - Northern Railway (North Western Railway).
N. - Abbreviation for normal (price).
N/h. - Abbreviation for 'never hinged'; the item has full original gum.
Newspaper stamps - Postage stamps issued for postage on newspapers.
O. - Ordinary.
O.G. - Original gum
O/P - Overprint.
Obliterator - Hand or machine stamp used to cancel an adhesive, especially a device other than a cds.
Obsolete - No longer on sale by the Post Office. Obsolete postage stamps must be demonetised before being invalid for postage.
Official stamps - Stamp specially printed, or overprinted, for use solely by a designated 'official' department.
Offset - Partial or complete impression of a stamp printed in error in the wrong place, e.g. on the gummed side of another stamp or on top of an existing stamp. Usually an offset impression is a mirror image.
Offset-lithography - Surface printing from cylinders. See lithography.
Og. - Abbreviation for 'orginal gum', i.e. bearing most of its original gum in undisturbed condition (but hinged at least once).
Omnibus issue - A set of postage stamps featuring a particular topic issued simultaneously by a number of countries, usually with most of the issues sharing a common design (note: Christmas is not an omnibus issue; each administration chooses its own design and release date).
On, off paper - On paper means a piece has been torn from a postal item containing one or more stamps (but not necessarily including any complete postmarks); off paper means a stamp has been lifted.
Ordinary - Ordinary paper as distinct from chalky paper, or some other distinctive printing.
Overprint - Inscription added to all stamps in a sheet, either at or after the original time of printing, to: (i) Turn a definitive into a commemorative. (ii) Turn a definitive into an official. (iii) Render a stamp exclusive to a particular organisation. (iv) Change the issuing authority.
Ovpt. - Abbreviation for 'overprint'.
P.C. - Passed Censor.
P.D. - Paid to destination
P.O.A. - Post Office Agency or Price On Application.
P.P. - Pulled Perforation.
P/SET - Part set, contains some stamps from an issue.
P.V.A. - Polyvinyl Alcohol
P. - Abbreviation for 'Proof'; i.e. the item is a die proof, or an impression taken to prove the accuracy of the impression.
Packet - (i) early term for a fast mailboat operating, as far as wind and weather allowed, to a stated schedule between ports. (ii) Small envelope, with transparent front, filled with dealer's common stamps (either a mixture, or one-country or selected sets). (iii) The box of exchange-club booklets circulated between members.
Packet letter - Early letter conveyed by packet with special handstamp, usually for an additional fee. See Ship Letter handstamp applied to letters arriving by Packet.
Pair - Two se-tenant postage stamps, taken to be se-tenant horizontally unless described as a 'vertical pair'.
Palmer, John - (b.1742 d.1818) Established the first British mail coach service in 1784 and supervised the subsequent growth of the mail coach service until his retirement in 1792.
Pane - (i) Page of postage stamps from a stamp booklet. (ii) Portion of a sheet of postage stamps forming a simple fraction of the whole, especially in the case of a sheet printed in the form of a number of panes separarted by very wide gutter margins.
Paper fault - Clearly visible irregularity in paper introduced at the time of manufacture of the paper (or at least prior to stamp printing).
Paquebot - (French) International term used to cancel stamps on mail posted on board merchant ships, or cancelled at a port foreign to the country whose stamps it bears.
Pc. - Abbreviation for postcard.
Pelure - Type of paper calendered under extreme pressure and thus very thin and often brittle.
Pen-cancelled - Adhesive stamp used postally and cancelled by hand-writing across it (not to be confused with stamps used on a receipt).
Penny Post - A local post, one penny being charged for letters delivered within its environs.
PercEen arc - Rouletted by lines of small curved arcs.
PercEen scie - Rouletted by lines of zig zag cuts
Perf. - Abbreviation for perforated.
Perfin - A stamp perforated across the centre with the initials of a company or other organisation.
Perforations - Rows of punched holes separating stamps from one another in a sheet. Collectors distinguish different gauges of perforation.
Philatelic - Adjective word of Philately
Philatelist - The person who has the hobby of philately.
Philately - The collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks, and related items - all issued by postal administration.
Phos. - Abbreviation for Phosphor.
Phosphor - Any substance emitting visible light when stimulated by visible or invisible light. Modern postage stamps may be printed with colourless inks containing a phosphor, either in the form of bands (visible when viewed at an acute angle) or as 'all-over phosphor', or the phosphor may be coated on the paper before stamp printing begins.
Photo. - Abbreviation for photogravure
Photogravure - A form of recess printing using photo-etching.
Piece - Portion of a cover front or other postal item containing not only the adhesive(s) but also the complete cancellation.
Pinhole - Any small hole in a postage stamp other than perforations applied officially, and thus construed as damage.
Pin-perf. - Pin rouletting.
Piroscafo - Ship.
Pl. - Abbreviation for plate.
Plain - postage stamp issued without phosphor tagging (to distinguish it from otherwise identical phosphor issue).
Plate block - Block of four, six or other number of postage stamps complete with portion of sheet margin containing the printed number of the plate used; this is the recess-print couterpart of the cylinder block of gravure printing.
Plate number - In sheet margins: identifies the printers plate used.
Plating - See reconstruction.
Plug - Insertion on a printing plate or hand/machine stamp - figures of value, repairs etc..
Pmk. - Abbreviation for postmark.
Poached egg - Popular term for many kinds of testing label bearing a design resembling such an object.
Polyvinyl alcohol - The preffered gum of many modern postal administrations.
Positional piece - Portion of a sheet of postage stamps, usually containing a variety, extending to the corner of the sheet or other part of the margin containing marks sufficient to identify the exact location of the variety, and thus confirming that the variety is genuine.
Post Office booklet - A booklet of adhesive stamps issued by the Post Office.
Postage Due stamp - Adhesive label used to collect fees on under paid letters etc..
Postamt - Post Office.
Postmark - Any mark deliberately impressed on a postal item, and especially one impressed at the time of posting (to serve as an obliterator, time/date stamp or otherwise) as a cancellation on a postage stamp.
Posted at Sea - A maritime handstamp applied to indicate that the letter had been posted on board ship.
Povey, Charles - (b. d.1743). On October 4, 1709, Charles Povey challenged the Post Office monopoly by starting a privately run local post in London called the 'Half-Penny Carriage'. He established the idea of bell-ringers for collecting letters in the streets.Bellmen collected letters in the streets of London until 1846.
Pp/c. -Abbreviation for 'picture postcard'.
Precancel - Adhesive postage stamp issued to a customer using a large number of stamps, already printed with cancellation (usually the name of the place of despatch between parallel bars).
Pres. - Presentation Pack.
Prideaux, Edmund - (b. d.1659) Postmaster General during the English Civil War period.
Printed on gum - Printed in error on the reverse side of the sheet (if such a stamp becomes wet the printed design will become detached).
Proof - Piece of fine card or other high-quality substarte on which an impression has been carefully taken from a new die or other printing hardware to check that the design is correct in all respects.
Provincial Penny Post - See City Penny Post.
Provisional - Temporary issue of postage stamps used in the absence of an awaited specially designed issue (provisionals may be crude local productions, overprinted issues from another country, or an issue overprinted by a successful revolutionary administration).
QuadrillEpaper - Patterned or watermarked paper with criss-cross lines.
Quartz lamp - One of several kinds of electric lamp giving radiation mainly in the ultra-violet part of the spectrum; used for observing phosphors.
R., R.R., R.R.R. - Degrees of rarity (in ascending order)
R.H. - Receiving House
R.L.B. - Returned Letter Branch.
R.L.S. - Returned Letter Section.
R.M.S. (India) - Railway Mail Sorter.
R.P.O. - Railway Post Office.
R.S.O. - Railway Sorting or Sub-Office. Sometimes the nearest P.O. to railway track.
R. - Abbreviation for a reprint.
Ralph, Allen - (b.1694 d.1764). In 1720 he instigated and supervised the bye- and cross-road letters throughout England. He was a dedicated pioneer of the posts and became a great benefactor of the city of Bath, of which he was Mayor in 1742.
Receiver's stamp - A handstamp indicating the name (or initials) of a Receiver of Town or City local letters, 17th and 18th Centuries.
Recess printing - Line-engraved or intaglio printing. Recesses are formed on the plate.
Recommande - Registered.
Reconstruction - Postage stamps whose individual position in a sheet is known (e.g. from corner letters), a complete sheet assembled from (usually) used copies.
Re-entry - Characteristic doubling or thinning of portions of the design of a line-engraved postage stamp caused by the impression having ben entered more than once on the plate.
Regional - A postage stamp issued for use in only part of the territory under the authority of a postal administration (e.g. Scotland, Wales, Ireland in the UK).
Remainder - (i) Stamp collection mounted in album(s) from which the best or otherwise most desirable items have been removed. (ii) Stock still unsold by the Post Office when an issue is withdrawn from sale and sometimes sold off at below face value instead of being destroyed.
Repair - A corrected flaw in typographed or line-engraved printing.
Reprint - Postage stamp officially reprinted by a postal administration to a design similar, or identical, to a classic early issue (but on more modern paper and often in a different colour) to satisfy demand from collectors.
Retouch - A corrected flaw in photogravure printing, usually still visible as an irregularity in the design.
Reversed - A left/right mirror image (usually refers to the watermark).
Roll - A coil of stamps.
Rouletted - Perforated by pinholes, short cuts, or other method in such a way that no paper is removed (unlike perforating by the normal modern method), which removes small discs of paper). The term has also been used for imperf stamps cut completely away from the sheet by using a circular cutter, like a pastry cutter, with straight, wavy, or scalloped edge.
Row - One row of postage stamps running horizontally across the sheet. See also column.
Rub - Surface damage due to abrasion, erasure of a cancel, or other unwanted mark.
Run - Faded colour due to fugitive ink becoming damp.
S. - (i) Scarce (in scale of rarity). (ii) Specimen.
S.C. - Sorting Carriage.
S/F - Space Filler, with significant defects.
S.G. - Stanley Gibbons
S.O. - Sorting Office.
S.T. - Sorting Tender - on railway postmarks.
S.T.C. - Stated-to-catalogue, total or other, based on catalogue prices.
S/b. - Abbreviation for stock-book.
Schiffspost - Ship post.
Self-adhesive - A postage stamp with a permanently sticky back, protected before use by a removable piece of paper.
Selvedge - The gummed, stitched, or stapled margin of a booklet pane usually left in the discarded booklet after the pane has been used.
Series - See set.
Service cover - Postal item sent on active service, bearing relevant postmarks, and often carried free of charge.
Service overprint - Postage stamp overprinted (with the word 'service' or the initials of a military force) for exclusive use by military personnel, often outside the country of issue.
Set - A number of postage stamps of different design or denomination issued together or over a fairly short period to serve as a related group; the term is loose in aplication and could refer to a set of feature stamps of similar design issued on the same day, or to a group of feature stamps of totally unrelated design issued on the same day, or to a major definitive issue placed on sale at intervals of a year or more. Philatelically the main consideration is that the stamps should be catalogued and sold as a self-contained group.
Se-tenant - Two or more postage stamps that have never been separated (the term is particularly applied to stamps of different denominations or designs issued in a single sheet, booklet pane, or coil).
Setting - The exact geometrical arrangement of the type used for an overprint.
Shade - A precise colour of ink used to print a postage stamp, or part of its design. Several stamps, ostensibly printed in one colour, are catalogued in as many as eightenn shades.
Shift - A postage stamp printed in more than one colour in which one colour is noticeably off centre.
Ship Letter - (i) Early letter carried by private ship (not a packet) in the charge of the captain, and franked as a ship letter when handed over to the post office at the port of arrival. (ii) The handstamp applied to a letter arriving by ship.
Short perf. - Postage stamp in which one of the teeth around its edge has been shortened or torn off, either in separating it from its neighbour or subsequently.
Short set - A set of postage stamps in which the top value (usually) is missing (or in which the most 'difficult' value is missing).
Short stamp - Postage stamp in which the top and bottom edges are closer together than usual, as a result of the method of operation of the perforating machine. In nearly all early British perforated stamps the A (top) row is one hole shorter than the remainder.
Side. - Abbreviation for sideways watermark.
Side-delivery - Coil machine dispensing a roll of side-by-side postage stamps.
Side ways double datestamp - See Sideways Duplex.
Side ways duplex - A Sideways Duplex is a double stamp that combines in one handstamp a circular datestamp and a town obliterator such that when applied to an envelope, it shows some or all of the lettering in either the datestamp or the obliterator, sideways.
Single - Individual postage stamp.
Single-ring c.d.s. - A circular date handstamp contained within a single circle.
Skeleton - A date handstamp made up from loose type.
Soldier's Letter - The term applied to a letter posted by a serving soldier. Carried at a reduced "privilege" rate.
Souvenir sheet - Miniature sheet issued in connection with an exhibition or other (usually philatelic) function, containing stamps which may or may not be valid for postage.
Space-filler - Damaged, heavily cancelled or otherwise poor copy of a difficult stamp that fills a gap until a better one comes along.
Specimen - (i) A single copy of a postage stamp or other philatelic item. (ii) More properly, a postage stamp overprinted 'specimen' and issued by the postal authority as an example of a new issue.
Spoon - A duplex cancellation, the left half of which was usually oval in shape, somewhat resembling a spoon.
Squared-circle - A circular date handstamp contained within a square.
Stalag - Camp.
Stamp money - Unused postage stamps used as coins during shortages.
Stated-to-catalogue - If an auctioneer has a lot consisting of a large number of stamps, he may take the vendor's word for the catalogue value without checking it.
Strike - (i) The quality of the impression of a handstamp or cancel is described as 'a fine strike' or 'blurred strike' etc.. (ii) Strike post, stamps and handstamps used by private carriers when the official post office is on strike.
Strip - Three or more unsevered postage stamps, from the same row.
Substitute clichE - A single clichEcan be inserted into a printing plate in place of one irreparably damaged. Can be identified only if it fails to line up exactly with those around it.
Sur. - Surcharge.
Surcharge - Postal duty overprinted on an existing postage stamp either to alter or to confirm the amount payable.
Surface Printed - See typography.
T - Tax or Underpaid mail. Various cachets.
T.P.O. - Travelling Post Office.
Tab. - Abbreviation for tablet.
Tablet - Usually rectangular extra piece attached to each postage stamp in a sheet (sometimes only to marginal copies) bearing an inscription or other design, and which can be removed without postally invalidating the stamp. In modern stamps often called a tab.
Tagging - Addition of some material to a postage stamp or postal item to trigger a sensing device in an automatic letter-facing machine. By far the most common tagging is an ink containing a phosphor, or a phosphor contained in or on the paper.
Tax stamps - Issued to raise funds: compulsory use.
Telegraph cancel - Cancellation, usually a small cds, showing that the postage stamp was used on a telegraph despatch form.
Telegraph stamp - Adhesive stamp used for prepayment of telegraph charges.
Testing label - Postage stamp identical in most respects with current postage stamps, but either bearing no printed design or one grossly changed to render it invalid for postal use, issued as a coil to test stamp-dispensing machines.
Tte-bche - Head to tail, two se-tenant stamps upside-down in relation to one another; tte-bche pairs can be side by side or one above the other, and may exist by accident or design.
Thematic collecting - Collecting a specific theme.
Thin - A thin is an area in which part of the back of a postage stamp has been torn away by clumsy removal from a cover or album page.
Tied - A postage stamp is tied to its cover by a cancellation clearly extending across both the stamp and the cover, thus assuring that the stamp is still on the original cover for which it paid postage.
Tinted - Paper deliberately dyed a chosen colour throughout its depth.
Tombstone date-stamp - A date handstamp contained within a frame shaped to resemble the headstone of a grave.
Toned - paper not tinted yet clearly not white; usually a pale shade of cream or brown.
Too Late - The handstamp applied to a letter to indicate that it had been posted too late for inclusion in the day's dispatch.
Town Penny Post - See City Penny Post.
Town stamp - A handstamp usually containing the name of a town alone.
Training stamp - postage stamp identical in most respects with current postage stamps but grossly altered to render it invalid for postage (usually by crude black overprinted bars) and used to train new counter clerks.
Transit strike - A handstamp applied during the transit of a letter between the offices of posting and destination.
Travelling Post Office - A mail train in which the post is sorted and cancelled with TPO marks.
Tuke, Sir Brian - (b. d.) UnderBrian Tuke's administration King Henry VIII's Messengers were re-organised and an office established in the City of London in 1526, where a number of horses were ordered to be maintained for the King's service.
Typo. - Abbreviation for typography or surface printed.
Typography - Letterpress or 'surface' printing from relief plates.
U - Used
U.S.D. - United States dollars. ($)
U.V. - Ultra-Violet light.
Ultra-violet - Invisible radiation used for examination of philatelic items of all kinds, particularly exciting phosphor tagging.
U/m. - Abbreviation for unmounted mint, never hinged.
Un. - Abbreviation for unused.
Uncat. - Abbreviation for uncatalogued.
Uncatalogued - This usually means it is known to exist, and is listed in the catalogue but unpriced.
Underprint - Inscription on the back of a postage stamp, usually under the gum and in teh same ink as used to print the front. Some underprints are 'protective'; they state the name or initials of the oerganisation which bought the stamp and which alone may use it. Other underprints are advertisements, or fine geometric patterns serving a protective function.
Uniform Fourpenny Post - From the 5th December 1839 to the 9th January 1840, letters posted within the United Kingdom were charged a uniform postage rate of 4d, instead of postage calculated by distance.
Uniform Penny Post - From the 10th January 1840, letters posted within the United Kingdom were charged a uniform postage rate of 1d.
Unissued - Adhesive stamps prepared for use but not issued.
Unsorted - Applies to an accumulation or loose mixture (e.g. kiloware), it means that nobody has inspected the stamps to see if anything of value is present; thus the mass may contain a rarity.
Unusd - Unused.
Unused - Not cancelled, but not necessarily in mint condition.
Used - A postage stamp that has served a complete postal function. This excludes C.T.O. stamps, yet this may be impossible to distinguish from a properly used stamp on a first-day-cover.
Used abroad - Postage stamp posted and cancelled at an office set up by a postal administration in a foreign country (espexcially true of British stamps between 1857 and 1885).
Uw. - Abbreviation for unwatermarked.
V, VV, VVV - Symbols used to indicate 'valuable' to 'extremely valuable'.
Vapore - Ship.
Value tablet - In many postage stamps the separate portion of the design in which appears the denomination.
Variety - A postage stamp from a particular position in a sheet characterised by a visible flaw, or a multicoloured stamp in which one colour is missing or badly shifted, or a stamp in any other way incorrectly or abnormally manufactured; not necessarily an error.
Veldpost - Field Post.
Vignette - Small picture occupying an otherwise blank area in a postage stamp design. The term is also sometimes applied to blue air mail labels.
War stamps - Postage stamps issued in wartime and so inscribed. Also 'War Tax'. Normally issued to meet increased postal rate.
Watermark - Semi-transparent pattern impressed into paper during manufacture as a guard against forgery. Today few postage stamps are watermarked, but many early stamps were.
Weak - Portion of a postage stamp that, though imperfect, is not bad enough to be described as damaged; particularly applied to corners, which may be slightly thinned or shortened.
Wing margin - Postage stamps from sheets divided by wide gutters into panes may have a wing margin along one side, there being a wide imperforate margin between the printed design and the perforation.
Witherings, Thomas - (b. d.) In 1635 Witherings laid the official posts from London on all six English post roads. The routes hitherto used by the King's messengers were now, for the first time, to be provisioned for postal services to the public.
Wmk. - Abbreviation for watermark.
Woodblock - 'Carved on wood'. Sobriquet for Cape triangular postage stamps.
Wove paper - General term for a range of papers produced by settling fibres on fine wire mesh which imprints a watermark giving a woven appearance.
Wreck Mail - Mail carried on ships or aircraft that were wrecked or torpedoed. It has been the custom of the Post Office to put special marks on the recovered mail to explain the damage.
Zemstvo issues - Russian local posts and stamps, 1870 to 1890.
Last Updated September 15,
last update on the 28 of December 2004