Stamps and collectables glossary

Students
Stamps and collectables

Glossary of stamps and collectables terms.

A

Acacia:

A small tree / shrub that belongs to the Acacia family.

Adhesive:

Something sticky or coated with glue.

Annual Collection of Australian Stamps:

A book containing every Australian gummed stamp issue released during the year, with detailed information about each issue.

B

Block (4):

Collector arrangement of four stamps.

Booklet:

Folded wallet-sized "booklet" of 10 or 20 self-adhesive stamps.

C

Cinderella:

Looks like a stamp, but is not valid for postage.

Collector pack:

Stamps from a roll of 100 or 200, including all message tabs.

Colonies:

An old-fashioned word for states. For example, Western Australia was once known as a colony rather than a state.

Commemorative stamps:

A commemorative stamp is one that celebrates a particular person, or a social / historical event of national importance. These are usually on sale for six months.

Commission:

Given the authority or power to carry out a particular task or act.

Controversial:

Something that is disputed. Controversial issues can result in drama due to a difference of opinion.

Counterfoils:

The stub or part of a cheque that you keep.

Cover:

A cover is just another name for an envelope.

D

Definitive stamps:

Definitive stamps have commonly used values (eg 70 cents), so they stay in circulation for a long time. These stamps are mostly used for posting standard letters.

Die cut:

A product cut to a certain shape. This is used to enhance the overall design, or to highlight a feature of the design.

Domestic stamps:

Only valid for postage within Australia.

F

First day cover (FDC):

Pictorial envelope with related stamps (gummed or self-adhesive) or a mini-sheet postmarked on the first day of issue. It is valued for postage only on the day of issue, from the post office named on the postmark.

Fiscal stamp:

Also referred to as a "revenue stamp" or "tax stamp". These stamps are stuck to items to show that the tax or cost has been paid.

G

Gummed stamps:

Printed on gummed paper in sheet format. The paper already has glue on the reverse.

Gutter strip:

Five stamps on either side of the "blank" strip separating the two panes of a stamp sheet. It may contain a design, text or "traffic lights".

H

Hinges:

Used for mounting stamps in an album.

I

Imperforate:

Opposite of perforated. Unlike something which is perforated and has little holes to rip along, something imperforated has no opening and is smooth.

Intaglio (or recess) stamps:

Printed by a line-engraved process used for Australian stamps issued from the late 1920s to the mid 1970s.

International stamps:

Can only be used to send mail from Australia to an international destination. They are GST free.

J

Joint issue:

Stamps of the same theme (and usually design) issued jointly by two countries.

K

Koala count:

Symbols printed on the edges of stamp sheets to indicate the number of reprints for particular stamps (eg one koala = first reprint; two koalas = second reprint etc).

L

Lithography:

Printing method used for most Australian stamps issued since 1980.

Luminescence:

A substance in stamp paper to activate mail sorting and postmarking machinery.

M

Maximum card (maxicard):

These are picture postcards with one stamp and a special first day of issue postmark.

Milestone:

A significant event or marker.

Miniature sheet (mini-sheet):

These are small sheets of stamps, often designed so that the stamps form part of a larger picture.

Mint stamps:

Always in perfect condition. They have not been through the postal system and have not been postmarked.

N

National first day of issue postmark:

Postmark used at a location linked with stamps issued for the first time.

Numismatic:

Relates to coins or money.

O

Overprint:

The addition of text or graphics to a stamp or selvedge after printing. These are usually produced for stamp shows.

P

Perforations:

The lines of small holes punched between stamps so they can be torn apart easily and neatly.

Personalised stamps™:

Allow photographs to be printed on the tab of a currently valid postage stamp.

Philatelic (pronounced fil-a-tellic):

(adjective) Relating to stamp collecting.

Philately (pronounced fil-at-a-lee):

(noun) The study of things relating to stamp collecting and postage. If you want to sound really important, you can call yourself a philatelist (pronounced fil-at-a-list).

Phosphor / Helecon:

An invisible treatment that can only be seen using a UV (purple) light that confirms a stamp is genuine.

Phosphorescent:

Gives off light after being exposed to radiation.

Postmarks:

Postmarks are the official marks put on stamps to stop people re-using them. Postmarks show when and where letters were posted. Special postmarks are created for all stamp issues.

Pound (£):

British currency.

R

Rolls:

100 or 200 self-adhesive stamps packaged as a roll.

S

Self-adhesive stamps:

Sticker stamps packaged on removable backing paper. They are generally sold in rolls, booklets or sheetlets, and will stick to mail without needing to be moistened.

Selvedge:

The area of a stamp sheet around the perforated stamps.

Sheetlet:

Small sheets with five, 10 or 20 stamps (gummed or self-adhesive) that can be of the same or different designs.

Souvenir stamp sheet:

Sheet (usually of 10 stamps), each with a personalised tab and border design.

Special stamp sheets:

Are produced for a variety of reasons and events: charities, football teams, concerts and even movies.

Stamp and coin cover (postal and numismatic cover):

A souvenir envelope featuring a stamp and coin with related subject matter.

Stamp Bulletin:

Free Australia Post magazine available for collectors.

Stamp catalogues:

Shows all the stamps ever produced by a particular country, as well as giving their values as mint and postmarked stamps.

Stamp dealers:

Stamp dealers buy and sell Australian and overseas stamps.

Stamp Explorer:

Free Australia Post e-newsletter for children 13 and under.

Stamp mounts:

These are used instead of hinges to attach stamps to album pages.

Stamp packs:

These are folders containing a new set of stamps in mint condition. Information about the stamps is printed on the pack.

Starch:

A carbohydrate that is found in seeds, fruit and root vegetables such as potato.

T

Tab:

The area next to a stamp (certain issues only) that is available for personalisation (see Personalised Stamps™).

Territories stamps:

Designed for Australian external territories – the Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. They are valid in Australia and all territories.

Tête-bêche (pronounced "tet-besh" or "tate-bay-sh"):

Adjoining stamps printed in a head-to-toe format.

U

Used stamps:

Have been postmarked while going through the mail.

W

Watermark:

Security image embedded in stamp paper to make it more difficult to produce forged copies. This has not been used in Australia since 1966.