The Arlington Stamp Company


The Stamp Collecting Glossary

A-B| C-D | E-F | G-L | M-P | Q-S | T-Z

EFO: Errors Freaks and Oddities

Embossing: The process of creating a three dimensional raised (or relief) design in paper. Many postal stationary items have a stamp image embossed on them, and some significant early stamps featured an embossing often a coat of arms or other national symbol.

Encased: A stamp inserted into a brass case with a mica front or back and circulated during periods when coins were scarce.

Entire: An intact piece of postal stationery.

Error: A significant mistake in the production of a stamp. Distinguished from the term freak which describes less significant production mistakes. Imperforate or imperforate-between varieties of stamps that were intended to be perforated, missing or incorrect colors, and inversion or doubling of part of the design or overprint are all considered errors. see also Freak

Essay: The artwork of a proposed stamp design.

Expert's Mark: see Authentication Mark

Exploded: Description of a stamp booklet that has been opened and separated for display or mounting.

Face: The front of a stamp.

Face Value: The postal value of a stamp as distinguished from its catalog or retail value as a collectible.

Facsimile: A reproduction of a stamp. Usually used to describe a reproduction intended for reference or education rather than deception.

Fake: A genuine stamp that has been altered in some way in order to be more desirable to collectors. Examples might include regumming an unused stamp with damaged gum or removing a cancel. see Bogus

Farley's Follies: An assortment of unauthorized imperforate, ungummed printings of stamps given out as political favors in the 1930s by United States Postmaster General James Farley.

FDC: First-Day Cover.

First Day Cover: Envelope with stamp canceled on the first day of issue. Although First Day Covers often have a special postmark or illustrated envelope, neither feature is necessary to meet the definition of First Day Cover.

Field Post Office: A type of military postal service. Frequently abbreviated FPO.

Fiscal: A stamp used for the pre-payment of a tax other than a postal fee. Some stamps such as many stamps of the British Commonwealth were intended to be used for either postage or revenue, while other stamps are specifically designated for one use or the other. see Revenue

Flat Plate / Flat Press: A printing process that uses flat metal plate, as opposed to a curved or cylindrical plate referred to as rotary press. Some United States definitives were printed on both flat and rotary presses. The rotary process produces a slightly elongated image compared to flat plate printing and therefore the stamps can be distinguished by measuring the design. see Rotary

Flaw: A defect in a printing plate that produces a collectible stamp variation. A famous example is the 2 cent "broken hat" variety from the 1893 Columbians.

Foreign Entry: A printing phenomenon involving the re-use of printing plates. If the original image is incompletely erased, an artifact will remain and be transferred to the new image.

FPO: see Field Post Office

Frame: The border of a stamp's design. Often a stamp series will use identical frames with different vignettes and colors for the various denominations.

Frank: An indication that postage has prepaid, or that a letter or package is to be delivered free-of-charge. Envelopes may be franked with an adhesive postage stamp, a hand-stamp, written indication, or pre-printed indication. Examples of free franks might include mail from government officials and soldiers.

Freak: A minor production mistake in the printing of a stamp. Distinguished from major mistakes that are classified as "errors." Examples of freaks might include paper folds, over inking and perforation shifts. see Error

Fugitive Inks: Unstable inks used in stamp printing that easily fade or break up in water or chemicals. Fugitive inks have been used as a security measure to prevent re-use of stamps, but often lead then to quality control issues.


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