This glossary focuses on philatelic terms used within this website and is not a comprehensive philatelic glossary.


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A cancelled to order (also called CTOs) postage stamp is a stamp the issuing postal service has cancelled (marked as used), but has not traveled through the post,[1] but instead get handed back to a stamp collector or dealer[3].

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Die proof
A die proof is a printed image pulled directly from the master die for an engraved stamp[5].

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Earliest Known Usage.

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Short for imperforate. There are no perforations punched.
Imprinted stamp or markings to indicate prepayment of postage or a service. The imprint is part of the postal item and is not an adhesive postage stamp.

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Miniature Sheet
A miniature sheet is a smaller-than-normal pane of stamps issued in that form in addition to being issued in full panes. The smaller size and fewer stamps are what distinguishes it from a regular pane. A miniature sheet is usually without marginal markings or text saying that the sheet was issued in conjunction with or to commemorate some event, which is what distinguishes it from a souvenir sheet.[6]

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An overprint is an additional layer of text or graphics added to the face of a postage stamp, banknote or postal stationery after it has been printed. Post offices most often use overprints for internal administrative purposes such as accounting but they are also employed in public mail. The most well-recognized varieties are commemorative overprints which are produced for their public appeal and command significant interest in the field of philately[4].

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The study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps. For instance, the stamps being studied may be very rare, or reside only in museums [1].
Plate proof
A proof which is printed from a plate that is ready for printing. Singles are cut from the sheet printed from the plate.
Proofs are a test printings of a stamp from an original plate or die.

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A semi-postal stamp or semipostal stamp, also known as a charity stamp, is a postage stamp issued to raise money for a particular purpose (such as a charitable cause) and sold at a premium over the postal value[2]. Typically the stamp shows two denominations separated by a plus sign, but in many cases the only denomination shown is for the postage rate, and the postal customer simply pays the higher price when purchasing the stamps.
Specimens are final examples of approved regularly issued stamps but without postal validity. At the turn of the century it was common for countries to issue specimens as examples for other countries to view as acceptable and valid stamps. Such would have "Specimen" overprinted on them, or perforated into the design to stop people from using them in the mail.
Souvenir sheet
Souvenir sheets usually have a wide margin or a lot of selvage with an inscription describing the event, person or thing being commemorated. Souvenir sheets can have a single stamp or up to 25 stamps or more. The stamps in a souvenir sheet might be available in other formats, such as panes or booklets, or they might be available only in the souvenir sheet. What distinguishes a souvenir sheet from a pane is that, although the stamps are postally valid, the postal authority that issued it generally intended it to be saved as a souvenir, rather than to be used for postage.[6]
The term "surcharge" in philately describes any type of overprint that alters the price of a stamp. Surcharges raise or lower the face value of existing stamps when prices have changed too quickly to produce an appropriate new issue, or simply to use up surplus stocks[4].

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Printed upside down or sideways relative to another
Trial color
Trial colors are a test of the stamp design printed in different colors to find out which are the best colors to use. Trial colors are types of proofs.

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1. Wikipedia entry for Philately
2. Wikipedia entry for Semi-postal_stamp
3. Wikipedia entry for Cancelled-to-order
4. Wikipedia entry for Overprint
5. Wikipedia entry for Die_proof_(philately)
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