Stamps and collectables glossary

Stamps and collectables

Glossary of stamps and collectables terms.



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


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.


Block (4):

Collector arrangement of four stamps.


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



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

Collector pack:

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


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.


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


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


The stub or part of a cheque that you keep.


A cover is just another name for an envelope.


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.


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.


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".



Used for mounting stamps in an album.



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.


Joint issue:

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


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).



Printing method used for most Australian stamps issued since 1980.


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


Maximum card (maxicard):

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


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.


National first day of issue postmark:

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


Relates to coins or money.



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



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.


Gives off light after being exposed to radiation.


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.



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


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.


The area of a stamp sheet around the perforated stamps.


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.


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



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.


Used stamps:

Have been postmarked while going through the mail.



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