The Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms – Part Seven

Philatelic Terms Explained

Dear Readers,

Continuing from where we left off in this edition of “Philatelic Terms Explained” we will uncover some more interesting terminology related to the Hobby of Kings. But First of all my apologies for missing out the last week’s episode. The reason for the same is that I am upgrading my blog’s backend interface and It still isn’t completely ready. But I have been able to incorporate many changes and give a new look to the blog so that both the readers and the author do not suffer from following their passion. Still, a long way to go.

Philatelic Terms Starting With The Letter N

New Issue Service – These stamps are a part of services provided by stamp dealers to their regular customers or subscribers. In a layman’s language, these are advance orders booked by the dealer for new issues being released by a country, or issues about areas and specific topics.

Newspaper Stamps – These were special edition stamps which were used as a prepaid instrument against the costs of mailing the newspapers or periodicals. They got out of circulation in the mid 20th century when publishing houses tied up directly with the mailing services to mail to multiple subscribers.

Nondenominated – These are stamps that do not have a face or numerical value inscribed onto them. These have a specific value assigned to them so that they can be used to pay up for a certain postal rate even if the prices increase in the future. These are also known as the Non-Value Indicator or NVI stamps. These were introduced to bring down the printing costs of low-value stamps that being printed in large quantities.

Illustrative Example. Philatelic Terms Explained.

Nibbled Perf – These are perforations that are shorter than their immediate neighbors. The reasons for the same are rough or careless handling.

NG – or No Gum. These are stamps that are issued without any gum and generally have no cancellation. There are other variants of the series that are worth a mention as below:

  • NGCNo Gum Crease. A term mostly used by the auction houses. At the back, a visible crease or fold is visible that is caused by the shrinkage of the paper.
  • NGSNatural Gum Skip. A term again being used by the auction houses. This happens due to regumming or when the paper was damp at the time of printing if the flat plate printing method is used. As a result, there are gum creases, gum wrinkles, or gum bends. These are generally diagonal.

And It’s time to uncover our next section.

Starting With The Letter O

Off-Center – This is a printing error where the stamp design is not centered perfectly in conjunction with the edges of the stamp.

Off Center Example. Philatelic Terms Explained.

Offices Abroad – During the colonial regime of countries such as Britain, Germany, France these countries maintained an extraterritorial network of local post offices in their colonies. The core reason behind such a practice was the unreliability of local postal systems and also as a safety measure. Special stamps and stationery were published by these colonies having overprints on the regular issues from the countries maintaining such offices overseas.

O.H.M.S – Acronym for On Her / His Majesty’s Service in line with the Sex may be of the reigning Monarch. Such markings were common among correspondence of the intergovernmental departments in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

Omnibus Issues – In Philatelic parlance these stamps majorly pertain to British and French colonies having KGV, KGVI and QEII as the common subject and Uniform design.

Illustrative Example Omnibus Issues. Philatelic Terms Explained

On Paper / Off Paper – These are generally sold in Kiloware majorly for collectors that are starting fresh or kids for their extracurricular activities. On Paper, stamps are those that have not been separated from the surface they were affixed to, Whereas Off Paper is exactly the opposite.

Oxidation – This generally happens when the ink on the stamps develops dark patches after overexposure to light or air. Stamps that are printed using orange ink are often known to exhibit such behavior. This process is due to the Sulfur particles present in minute quantities in air and it can be reversed by using Hydrogen Peroxide.

Overprint – These are extra layers of text or graphics that are applied to the face of a postage stamp after it has gone through the whole printing process. The most collected overprints are the Commemorative ones.

Overrun Countries – During WW II Germany, Italy, and Japan were collectively known as Axis Powers. This commemorative series honors 13 countries captured: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, Austria, Denmark, and Korea.  On the left of each stamp is a phoenix, the great bird of fire from Greek mythology, representing eternal rebirth.  On the right is a female, breaking the bonds of oppression.


We now will progress to the last piece of this episode of “Philatelic Terms Explained”.

Guide To Terms Starting With Letter P 

Packet Letters – These are mailed using a sailing ship under a government contract. The ship is a regular carrier of such mail.

Paquebot – This is a form of mail carried by merchant ships on high seas under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the country that they originate from. When the ship reaches its next port then the mail is handed over to the local postal authorities for further processing. In the post-WW II era, the use of such practices has declined.

Par Avion – Originally French these words meaning “By Air”. Alternatively, they are also known as Etiquette in philatelic parlance as per the rules of UPU (Universal Postal Union). These are Airmail stickers or instructions to the postal clerks that the particular mail has to be transported via air. Most countries use these in their language for official use.

Illustrative Image Par Avion. Philatelic Terms Explained

Phantom Philately – This pertains to the collection of fake and bogus stamps. The term is derived from the book having the same title authored by Fredrick Melville. His works on the subject are considered to be a masterpiece.

Personalized Stamps – These were introduced by Australia in 1999. They released se-tenant stamps where a customer could customize a picture of his or her own choice. Many countries introduced other versions where the whole face would be either a picture of the person or any other one which they choose to have.

Plebiscite Issues – The dictionary meaning is “A vote of the people where the people of the entire country or a district express an opinion for or against a choice of electing the government or its leader”. After WW I a lot of disputed geographies were placed under the jurisdiction of League of Nations Administration. The decision was on plebiscites to choose which nation they wanted to join. These are also termed as “Dead Countries”. Some such geographies were Allenstein, Carinthia, Eastern Silesia, Marienwerder, Schleswig, and Upper Silesia.

Pinkback – This entails stamps whose ink has bled and seeped through the paper to the back of the stamp and visible in Pinkish hue. These are the result of below the benchmark printing inks being used during the First World War. US Scott # 425, 426, and 436 in two, three, and twelve cents perf variations showcase this.

Pro Juventute – This is a Swiss charitable foundation that was established in 1912. It is dedicated to supporting the rights of the youth and students. Since then they have been releasing stamps every year to raise funds for the charity.

Plate Number – This is a numerical number printed in the margin of the printing plate. These numbers are assigned in such a manner with no two plates having the same number.

Plate Blocks – A plate block is generally a block of four or more unseparated stamps. They are from the edge of the printing sheet bearing the number of the plate or the cylinder from which the stamps were printed. Collecting plate blocks is a sought after activity in philately.Illustrative Example. Philatelic Terms Explained.

Pony Express – This is considered to be the most ingenious mail route in the US postal history. It operated for only nineteen months. Using pony relays transcontinental pony express started a route between St. Joseph Missouri and Sacramento California. The Pony Express was an “unusual combination of a private mail system and a government-subsidized mail system that is unique in American history”.

The service was the idea of William Russell who devised a scheme to carry mail quickly on the (direct) Central Route from Missouri to California, using relay teams of horse riders. The 10-day journey connected St Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, by crossing the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. The idea was to induce the Post Office to award a lucrative contract to Russell to operate a daily stagecoach service.

Wells Fargo was involved in the service from April 1, 1861. Eight major types of Pony Express markings were used. These included San Francisco’s ‘Running Pony’ and COCPP markings; Sacramento’s ‘Pony Express’ marking; St. Joseph’s ‘Running Pony’, COCPP, and ‘oval in circle’ markings; and New York’s two varieties of ‘California Pony Express’ markings. These markings occurred variously in black, blue, red, or green colors.

The Pony Express was discontinued by notice from Wells Fargo on October 26, 1861. The last westbound pony left St. Joseph on October 24 and the last eastbound pony left San Francisco on October 23.

This brings us to the end of this edition of “Philatelic Terms Explained”. I hope that you like the effort behind this series of Ultimate Guide of Philatelic Terms Explained and do not forget to share this article among your network or with people who are starting out as philatelists and wish to have a resource where they can find simple and easy to understand guide to various philatelic terms that they will come across in the near future.

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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