The Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms – Part Eight

Hola Readers! How are you? I hope you all are healthy and safe. We are ready to present you another interesting episode explaining various Philatelic Terms for both the initiated and new philatelists. I hope I was able to fulfill your hunger for philatelic knowledge with my last article. What are we waiting for then? Let’s march!!

Philatelic Terms Starting With Q

Quadripartition – This involves a block of four stamps that are a part of a complete design. In other words, these stamp issues are not available as a single variant. Example – US Scott # 1448, the 1972 Cape Hatteras National Seashore issue. Illustrative Image. Philatelic Terms Explained.

Letter R

Registered Mail – It used to be a manual process until the early 1980s in many countries.  It is a service offered by many postal services across the globe where the receiver is entitled to have a tracking code for electronic verification of the journey of his or her prepaid postal parcel from the destination of origin. Considering the statutory postal laws of different countries the recipient is also entitled to additional services such as

  • A Chain of Custody – Including tracking and insurance.
  • Return Receipt – which entails the proof of delivery and the intended recipient’s signature.
  • Restricted Delivery – Confirming that only the designated recipient gets the parcel.

Illustrative Sample Image. Philatelic Terms Explained. Remainders – This entails stocks of obsolete stamps that are left with the postal authorities. Some countries sell it to the stamp dealers at substantially low prices. These are marked with distinctive cancels. Uncancelled ones from these lots are hard to differentiate from the legitimate ones that are getting sold across the counter. Replica – As the word suggests these are reproductions of stamps or covers. During the 19th century, these were used as fillers of stamp stock books for the collectors. They are printed in a single color in a single sheet with different designs. These can be sometimes a reason for pain to the postal authorities. Reprint – These are stamps that are reprinted from the original plate. These issues have become obsolete. When reprints are produced officially they are meant for either presentation purposes or straight to collection stock books. They have distinctive features than the original ones such as colors, perforations, gum, or paper quality. The private ones are reprinted for collectors. Revenues – The purpose of these stamps is for the prepayment of certain statutory taxes. These are majorly used in governmental documentation. Some of the British Common Wealth revenue stamps have “Postage and Revenue” printed on them clearly making them available for interchangeable usage. Receiving Mark – It is another connotation for Backstamp in philatelic parlance. This refers to the postal markings applied by the receiving office rather than the originating post office. This is usually on the backside of the letter showcasing the post office through which the postal article has passed through in the transit. Illustrative Example Philatelic Terms Explained. RPO – Acronym for Railway Post Office. This was used by the US postal services where a railroad car in a passenger train was used for sorting en route mail. This was to expedite the delivery of the services. The last official U.S. RPO ran June 30, 1977. Re-Entry – This entails repairing the defective plate or to extend its life as it gets worn over a time of prolonged use. It is done by re-rocking the transfer roll over the defective impression. We now will move to the last section of this episode of philatelic terms explained.

Philatelic Terms Starting With Letter S

SASE – Abbreviation for Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. It has the address of the sender and enough prepaid postage and is enclosed within the postal articles already being sent for a speedy response from the receiver. Generally used for requesting information on products or services, communicating with companies or charities so that they don’t take it as a burden to pay for their response via postal route. Seebeck Issues – These are named after a stamp dealer and printer Nicholas Frederick Seebeck. He floated a company Hamilton Bank Note Engraving and Printing Co. in 1884. In 1889 he came up with a plan to print stamps for a few Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic and the Colombian state of Bolivar. The arrangement was such that he agreed to print the stamps for free provided his following conditions were met with:

  1. The stamps would be dated and invalidated at the end of each year, to be replaced by a new series.
  2. Unsold (invalid) stamps would be returned to Seebeck for sale to collectors.
  3. Seebeck retained the right to reprint any invalid stamps as needed for sale to collectors.

This created a furor among the collecting community and ruined his reputation. Nicholas Seebeck died June 23, 1899, at the age of 42. Several of the countries backed out of their contracts with Seebeck (Honduras in 1893, and Ecuador in 1896) due to the bad publicity and administrative nuisance of the frequently-changing issues. Illustrative Example Philatelic Terms Explained. Slabbing – This technique is used to encase stamps in a hermetically sealed casing after authentication and grading. It is commonly used in the numismatic world. The premise behind this approach is to keep the valuable stamp pieces safe. But this is not a very welcome practice in the Philately world. There are pros and cons to adopting this workaround. Some feel that the stamps can degrade even in the sealed casing. Others feel that the casing can be broken to re-expertize the stamp so that the investors are ensured value for money. Single Line Watermark – This was an experiment introduced in 1910 by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for USPS. This was introduced to reduce wastage because of paper shrinkage. This experiment continued till 1916 when unwatermarked printing paper was reintroduced. It is generally found on certain Washington Franklins introduced between 1910 and 1914. It was also available on postage dues, and parcel post. Selvage –  This refers to the extra paper on the outer edge or margin of stamps that does not have the stamp but can be plain empty, or have plate numbers or have printer’s imprint inscribed on it. Illustrative Example Philatelic Terms Explained. Se-Tenant – It is a French word meaning “Joined Together” or “Holding Together”. These are stamps printed from the same plate and sheet but have different designs, denominations, colors, or overprints. Special Delivery – As the name suggests this was a service where the postal articles for intended recipients were delivered after routine postal hours. Star Plates – These were plates having a star imprinted in the margin adjacent to where the plate number was inscribed. This also indicated an experimental 3mm spacing between the stamps than the usual 2mm one. These are visible on Washington Franklins, Two cents Lincoln sheet of 1909, and some definitive series of 1922. Stitch Watermark – It will be perplexing to note that these are unintentional and are present in usually all stamps. The simple reason for the same lies in the printing paper being used. The paper is made out of the wood pulp and it is placed on a wire mesh during the manufacturing process. On the mesh, the water drains out and the pulp fibers eventually after drying bond into the stamp paper. The ends of the wire mesh are stitched together to form a continuous belt. These stitches leave a very slight thin in the paper and that’s why the name. Sweatbox – It is an alternative solution to soaking of stamps. It involves an airtight box having water-soaked sponge with a grill covering it. The stamps which need to be separated or hinge marks that need to be removed are placed on the grill. The box is then sealed. The damp sponge then creates a humid environment separating the stamps or doing away with the hinge remnants. This way the glue or gum is also not diluted. Specimen – It’s a variant of postal stationery or stamp sent to the various members of UPU so that they are able to differentiate between the original and counterfeits. Also, they are sent to philatelic community for publicity purpose. The common method used to invalidate the stamps is to print the word “SPECIMEN” across the design. For Non-English speaking countries words such as Muestra (Spanish), Monster (Dutch), Muster (German) or Образец (Russian, ‘Obrasetz’) have been used.


We now come to the end of this edition of Philatelic Terms Explained. I hope you will like and appreciate the effort that has gone into producing this article which uncovers various philatelic terms. The whole objective behind this effort is to create awareness for the beginners and experienced philatelists to use this resource in understanding different philatelic terms that they keep coming across in their day to day practice.

Rohit Mittal

Self Taught Techie, Father to a budding philatelist son and a Global Business Professional Having Traveled across four continents. I have helped European and Indian Businesses to turn around and realize business objectives in 180 to 270 days. Reading & Writing is my second nature. I rekindled my childhood passion for stamps after forty years and love to collect European Pre 1960s MNH OG stamps majorly from France, Germany, and Italy.
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