The Arlington Stamp Company

The Stamp Collecting Glossary

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Cachet: An illustration and/or inscription on an envelope commemorating an event. Cachets are often found on First Day Covers, stamp exhibition covers and similar philatelic memorabilia marketed to stamp collectors.

Cancel/Cancellation: A marking placed on a stamp to prevent reuse. Often includes a postmark indicating the date of processing as well as a design intended to obliterate the stamp image.

Canceled To Order (also CTO): Stamps which have been cancelled by the government which printed them, and then sold directly to stamp dealers and collectors. Canceling the stamps means they no longer have cash value and cannot be used to send mail. In this way they can be sold as collectibles at a deep discount.

Chalky Paper: A security paper. The chalk surface makes it difficult to impossible to remove cancels and reuse the stamp.

Changeling: A stamp whose color has changed due to contact with a chemical or exposure to light.

Charity Seals: Christmas Seals, Easter Seals and similar stamp-like labels that are distributed by a charity. see also Cinderella

Charity Stamp: see Semi-Postal

China Clay Paper: see entry under Blue Paper

Cinderella: A privately issued label that looks like a postage stamp but is not valid for postage. Includes charity seals (such as Christmas Seals), various advertising labels and a wealth of other "just for fun" labels. Occasionally the term is applied to bogus stamps or revenue stamps, but these uses are less common.

Classic: In general refers to older stamps. The term is used very inconsistently. Some collectors use "classic" to describe stamps issued prior to 1900 while others apply the term to stamps issued prior to 1940. Occasionally used to describe a more recent stamp that is scarce or otherwise desirable but this usage is considered incorrect by most.

Cliché: In the printing process, the unit consisting of the design of a single stamp. The cliché is combined with others to make up the complete printing plate.

Coil: Stamps prepared in a single strip rather than a sheet and distributed in rolls. Can often (but not always) be distinguished from sheet stamps by the presence of two parallel straight edges.

Commemorative: Stamps that honor anniversaries, important people, places or special events. Typically printed in limited quantities and available for purchase for a limited time.

Compound Perforations: Different gauge perforations on the same stamp. For example, 11 horizontal by 10.5 vertical.

Counterfeit: see Bogus

Cover: An envelope, postcard, item of postal stationary, folded letter or wrapper that has been through the mailstream.

Crash cover: A cover that was recovered from the crash of a vehicle such as an airplane or ship. Covers from notable disasters such as the Hindenburg crash understandably command a high premium.

Cut Cancellation: A cancellation that intentionally cuts or punches the stamp. Typically seen in fiscal uses (revenue stamps) however experimental postal cut cancels do exist.

Cut Square: The imprinted postage stamp design from a piece of postal stationary that has been cut out to be collected.

C.T.O.: see Cancelled to Order

Dead country: A country that has stopped issuing stamps.

Definitive: Also called regular issues, definitive stamps are the workhorses of the postal system. Unlike commemorative stamps, they are typically produced in virtually unlimited quantities and often for many years without a design change.

Denomination: The face/postal value of a stamp, i.e. 1 cent, 2 cents etc.

Die: The original engraving of a stamp. A transfer roller is made from a die, and printing plates are made from the transfer roller.

Double Transfer: A doubling of all or part of the stamp design – usually the result of the die being struck twice when making the transfer roller.

Dry Printing: Distinguished from wet printing, dry printing began as an experiment on United States issues in 1953. Dry printing produces a whiter paper, a higher sheen on the surface, a thicker and stiffer feel, and designs that stand out more clearly. Notable to collectors, because during the transition from wet to dry printing a number of issues throughout the world were printed using both techniques which created stamp varieties.

Duck Stamp: Issued throughout the United States and Canada for use on hunting licenses.

Dummy stamp: Imitation stamps, not valid for postage, used to train employees or to test equipment and vending machines. May either be blank or have special markings.

Duplex cancel: A two-part marking made up a canceller which voids the stamp and a postmark which tells the date and place of mailing.

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