The Arlington Stamp Company

The Stamp Collecting Glossary

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

Machin: A long running series of British definitive stamps first issued in 1967 depicting a plaster portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created by artist Arnold Machin.

Margin: The unprinted, usually white, border area around the stamp design.

Miniature Sheet: A smaller-than-normal pane of stamps containing a single, pair, or block of stamps with a margin on all sides bearing some special wording or design. see Souvenir Sheet

Missionaries: Also known as the Hawaii Missionaries, refers to the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii issued 1851-52 among the great rarities of philately.

Mount: Vinyl or plastic holders, clear on the front and with gum on the back used to place stamps in albums or on exhibit pages.

Non-Denominated: Stamps with no numeral to indicate the face value. Sometimes the value is indicated by a letter, often used in the US to prepare for future rate increases when the new rate might be unknown. Others may have a service inscription that indicates the rate the stamp fulfills – first class, presort etc.

Obliteration: 1) Another word for cancellation 2) A cancel that is particularly, and intentionally destructive to prevent any chance of re-use 3) An overprint intended to deface a portion of the design of a stamp, such as a denomination or out-of-favor ruler.

Occupation Issue: An issue released for use in territory occupied by a foreign power. Frequently a stamp domestic to the occupying force overprinted to indicate the territory being occupied.

Offices Abroad: Refers to stamps issued by nations maintaining post offices in foreign countries – typically to compensate for inadequate available services. Frequently regular issue stamps overprinted to indicate the offices abroad usage.

Official: Stamp or stationery issued for the exclusive use of government departments and officials.

Offset Printing: A printing technique where the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the paper or other surface.

OHMS: Abbreviation for On His (or Her) Majesty's Service. Appears in various forms to indicate official use in the British Commonwealth.

Omnibus Issue: Stamps issued by several different countries to celebrate a common theme. Omnibus issues may or may not have the same keytype design.

On Piece: A stamp still affixed to a portion of the original envelope. If described as on piece, it would be expected that all or most of the original cancellation is present and that the stamp is considered "collectible" in its current form – this is distinguished from "on paper" which would more commonly be used to describe stamps which have be trimmed in anticipation of soaking as are found in mixtures and accumulations. If the envelope were intact, the stamp would be "on cover."

Overprint: Additional printing that was not part of the original stamp design. Common uses include: a change in value; change in type of service; or to indicate use in a foreign post office, colony, or occupied territory.

Oxidation: A chemical reaction that causes ink colors to change over time.

Pair: Two unseparated stamps.

Pane: The unit into which a full sheet of stamps is divided before it is sold at a post office. Collectors often use the term "sheet" or "mint sheet" to indicate this unit, but this is technically incorrect. Stamps come off the press in what are called press sheets which are typically cut into at least four panes for sale to postal customers.

Paquebot: A French word that means a boat, liner or steamer, refers both to a mail-carrying boat and to the postal markings on ship-carried mail.

Par Avion: A French phrase meaning "By Air"

Parcel Post Stamp: Special stamps issued to pay the various rates on packages.

Past-Up Pair: A pair of coil stamps with the join where two sheets were pasted together.

Pelure Paper: A strong, thin, translucent paper occasionally used in stamp printing.

Penny Black: The world’s first postage stamp issued by Great Britain May 6, 1840, bearing the portrait of Queen Victoria.

Perfins: Short for "perforated initials." Refers to a technique used frequently throughout the first half of the twentieth century by governments and businesses to thwart pilferage – small holes (or perforations) were punched into stamps to create initials or other designs.

Perforation: Small rows of holes punched between stamps to make them easier to separate. Stamp collectors will sometime distinguish similar appearing stamps from different stamp issues by counting the number of perforations within a span of 2 centimeters.

Perforation Gauge: An instrument used to measure the number of perforation holes or teeth within a span of 2 centimeters to aid in stamp identification.

Philatelic Cover: Any envelope, postal card or similar item which has been assembled and stamped to intentionally create a collectible. Includes First Day Covers, as well as other special event covers. May or may not have actually seen postal use and may or may not carry actual correspondence.

Philately: The collection and study of postage stamps, postal stationery and postal history.

Pictorial: A term which largely pre-dates the issuance of commemorative stamps, it refers a stamp with a picture or other design, distinct from the coats of arms or portraits of rulers that dominated early stamp production.

Pictorials: The United States stamp issues of 1869.

Plate: Metal base used for printing stamps.

Plate Block: A block of four or more stamps from the corner or side of a pane including the selvage (the margin of the stamp pane) bearing the number(s) of the plate(s) used to print the sheet.

Plate Number Coil: A strip of three or five coil stamps with the middle stamp bearing a plate number.

Plating: A technique used in the study of classic stamps wherein a stamp pane is reconstructed by collecting blocks and individual stamps representing various positions. Plating is made possible in these older issues because of the appearance of slight variations in the stamps from different plate positions. Most modern issues are too uniform to make such distinctions possible.

PNC: see Plate Number Coil

Postage Dues: Stamps or markings that indicate insufficient postage that balance of which is to be collected from the addressee.

Postal Card: A postcard with a stamp design pre-printed.

Postal Fiscal: A revenue stamp either legally or illegally used to pay postage.

Postal History: 1) The study of postal markings, rates and routes, or anything to do with the history of the posts. 2) An intact cover or card that was sent through the mail and is now a collectible – as in "I’m a collector of postal history." 3) A stampless cover that predates the modern era of using postage stamps to prepay postage.

Postal Stationery: Government produced items including cards, envelopes and wrappers pre-printed with postage.

Postmark: An official postal marking bearing the name of a post office of origin and a mailing date. May or may not also function as a cancellation.

Precancel: Stamps cancelled by the Post Office prior to being affixed to envelopes making the later handling of the mile items more efficient. Typically associated with business classes of service such as "presorted", precancels were very common throughout the world in the days prior to meter mail machines.

Press Sheet: A complete unit of stamps as it comes off the press – typically separated into four or more panes before sold to postal customers.

Prexies: Popular nickname for the United States 1938-54 definitive series.

Printer's Waste: Errors caught during normal stamp production that were intended for destruction but instead find their way into the philatelic market.

Proofs: Trial impressions from a die or printing plate that are made as a test before stamp production begins.

Provisional: A postage stamp issued for temporary use to address a shortage of stamps.

The Arlington Stamp Company is your home for quality, affordable stamps. Here you will find an assortment of worldwide singles, sets and small lots. Every stamp for sale is pictured and described, and all items are guaranteed. Click here to go to the home page and browse our inventory.

Whatever your passion, Hobbizine helps you enjoy your favorite hobbies and pastimes to the fullest. Informative articles and guides on stamp collecting, trading cards, coin collecting, models and miniatures, model railroads, rc cars and planes, and much more.

Click Here: Hobbizine

Stamp Collecting Articles You Might Enjoy:

The Grinnell Missionaries - Stamp Collecting's Greatest Controversy

Leipzig Fair Philately

Discovery of Rotuma - Fiji Stamp Issue of 1966

The Death of Captain Cook - Norfolk Islands Stamp Issue of 1979

Owls - Marshall Islands Stamp Issue of 2008

Polynesian Pitcairn - Pitcairn Islands Issue of 1971

Whaleship Visits - Marshall Islands Stamp Issue of 1987

Terra Cotta Soldiers - China Stamp Issue of 1983

400th Anniversary of the Birth of Xu Xiake - China Stamp Issue of 1987