The Arlington Stamp Company

The Stamp Collecting Glossary

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

Tete-Beche: French for "head to tail" the term refers to a pair of stamps inverted in relation to one another. Most tete-beche pairs were created purposefully in the printing of the stamps, however occasionally a production error would result in such a pair.

Tied or Tied On: A stamp whose postmark touches the envelope. Often cited as evidence that the stamp was used at the time and purpose indicated and not applied later to create an intentional collectible.

Tong: Tweezerlike tool used to handle stamps. Proper use minimizes stamp damage from dirt, oil, and clumsy fingers. Available in several styles for different purposes: round tip, spade tip, pointed tip, and angled tip.

Transit Mark: A postal marking applied by a post office between the originating and receiving post offices.

Type: A basic design of a stamp or a set.

Underprint: A safety feature used to deter counterfeiting. A fine printing underlying the design of a stamp applied prior to printing.

Universal Postal Union: Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) with its Headquarters in Berne (Switzerland), is the primary forum for cooperation between postal-sector players and helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services. With 191 member countries, this specialized agency of the United Nations fulfils an advisory, mediating and liaison role, and renders technical assistance where needed. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations to stimulate growth in mail volumes and to improve the quality of service for customers.

Variety: Used when describing stamps which appear similar but which are treated as distinct stamps by specialists. Varieties might be due to differences in watermarks, perforations, shades of color etc.

Vignette: The central part of a stamp design. In classic philately this would be the portrait, coat-of-arms etc. The vignette is separate from the frame of the stamp and early printing techniques would find stamp designers mixing and matching frames and vignettes to create stamp series.

Watermark: A design pressed into stamp paper during its manufacture. Intended to deter counterfeiting. Sometimes stamps which appear similar are considered different by collectors because they have different watermarks. Watermarks can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, but there are numerous fluids and tools available to help find them more easily.

Wet Printing: Intaglio printing on paper that has been dampened to facilitate the transfer of the ink. In the United States was replaced by dry printing techniques that used significantly less moisture in the 1950s.

Wing Margin: Early British were perforated down the center of the gutter, producing oversized margins on the side of stamps adjacent to the gutter. Wove paper: the most commonly used paper in stamp production it is uniform in texture and shows no patterns of light and dark when held to the light. It is manufactured by pressing pulp against a very fine netting.

Wrapper: A form of postal stationary pre-printed with postage it is a flat sheet or strip open at both ends that can be folded and sealed around a newspaper or periodical.

Zeppelins: These early airships, primarily German, are a significant collecting area. The term Zeppelins may refer to either stamps or cacheted covers issued in honor of the ships. Many covers were carried aboard the ships and canceled for collectors. The 1930 United States Graf Zeppelin series is particularly popular and valuable.

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