This glossary has been compiled from various different sources. Some of the terms have been reproduced with kind permission from the Stanley Gibbons Philatelic Terms Illustrated by James Mackay. If you think a term is missing please e-mail us.
Back of the Book
Refers to a variety of items usually listed in the back of a specialised stamp catalogue e.g. postage dues, revenues, postal savings stamps or stamps not easily available in the country of issue etc.
Lines, shading, or solid colour used as a background for an artistic feature such as a head.
Part of a printing plate made by pouring molten type metal into the non-printing side of an electro-deposited shell.
Any printing on the reverse of a stamp (q.v. Underprint).
Postmark applied to the back of an envelope and other postal packets, often at places en route or at point of arrival.
Piloted balloon. Term used for letters despatched by balloon during the Siege of Paris (1870-1871).
Mail carried by either a manned balloon or a free (unmanned) balloon.
(French) Newspaper Wrapper.
Stamps usually on paper gathered from incoming mail of banks.
Paper originally used for the production of banknotes, but subsequently used for the printing of stamps e.g. Latvia 1920.
Miniature war economy stamps of South Africa were so named because of their size.
Cancellation consisting of bars in rectangular, oval or circular patterns.
Groove deliberately cut into the obliterating bars of some stamps to identify the stamper.
Barcode Stamps & Labels
Barcodes are patterns of straight lines of varying thickness which are able to be read by electronic equipment.
Obliteration used either to cancel a stamp or to block out a portion of the design.
Paper on which some New Zealand stamps were printed.
Swiss Cantonal stamp issue of 1845.
Thin "bank" letter paper, designed for lightweight foreign correspondence and watermarked with parallel lines to facilitate neatness of writing.
Beaufort House Essays
Designs submitted by Charles Whiting of Beaufort House in the British Treasury competition of 1839.
Steel surface in a printing press on which a printing plate is laid.