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Scott C13, plate number 20079
 

Glossary of stamp collecting terms

Several organizations' web sites include extensive glossaries of philatelic terms. This site concentrates on terms specific to plate number single collecting.

 

ABNC - American Bank Note Company, independent contract stamp printer.

AP - Ashton-Potter USA, independent contract stamp printer.

APNSS - American Plate Number Single Society.

apnss.org - web site of the American Plate Number Single Society.

APS - American Philatelic Society.

AVR - Avery-Dennison, independent contract stamp printer.

Back number - sequence or counting number printed on the backs of modern coil stamps, to assist in accounting for partial coil rolls and in counting out coil stamps for sale. See "Number on Number."

Back plate number - plate number used to print text or designs on the back of a small number of U.S. stamps.

BCA - Banknote Corporation of America, independent contract stamp printer.

BEP - Bureau of Engraving and Printing, government printing agency responsible for printing virtually all stamps from 1894 to 1980's, and most coil stamps through 2005.

Copyright single - single stamp with USPS copyright notice printed in the adjacent selvedge.

Counting number - accounting device or math aid printed in the selvedge of some stamp issues. May be printed from the printing plate, as with row-and-column counting numbers on some Allied Military Government issues; on the back or backing paper of certain coil issues (see Back Number); or (generally in another color, looking much like a rubber stamp was used) in the margin of a pane to help postal clerks account for their stamp inventory. Frequently erroneously described as "plate numbers." For examples, see the Allied Military Government page, the coil issues of the Liberty series, and mid-1900's Documentary (revenue) issues.

Die cutting - method of separating individual stamps that have been printed with pressure-sensitive adhesive. Die cutting can be straight or serpentine to simulate traditional perforations.

Die cutting omitted - (1) printing error where the die cutting is omitted or missed. (2) Stamp separated from a press sheet or smaller format that was intentionally issued without die cuts. (1) are considered errors and can be quite valuable. (2) are considered curiosities and are generally valued higher than the normal stamp only because USPS issued them in very small quantities.

Duck stamp - federal hunting permit stamp, so called because most of the designs include ducks or geese.

Durland catalog - catalog which lists U.S. and related plate numbers and prices for plate blocks. Published by the United States Stamp Society (USSS).

Forever stamps - Modern self-adhesive stamps sold by USPS at the current first-class one-ounce rate, but good for mailing at any future first-class one-ounce rate. Forever stamps have also been issued for the two-ounce rate, three-ounce rate, global airmail rate, postcard rate, and other rates.

Ghost number - faint impression of a plate number appearing on an adjacent stamp or on the back of a stamp, generally caused by incomplete wiping of ink during the printing process.

Hebert's catalog - catalog and check list for U.S. plate number singles.  Published by the American Plate Number Single Society (APNSS).

"Horse blanket" - large plate blocks with multiple plate numbers in the selvage, common from the 6 through 15 eras, typically requiring blocks of 8, 10, 12 or even 20 stamps for a complete "plate block."

Imprint single - single stamp with selvedge showing part of the BEP or private printer's imprint. The full imprint generally covered the selvedge of three stamps (two for commemoratives) on most issues from 1847 to about 1922.

Interval - frequency in a coil roll at which a plate number appears. Example: plate number interval = every 34 stamps .

Lick-n-stick - stamp with traditional water activated gum

Line pair - pair of coil stamps with a joint line printed between, at the perforations, indicating where the printing plate was joined.

Logo single - single stamp with Bicentennial logo, PUAS logo or similar logo appearing in the selvedge of a pane of stamps.

Marginal marking - plate number, ZIP, copyright notice, pane position diagram, printing aids, arrows, crosses, and other text or markings appearing in the selvedge of a pane or booklet.

ME single - single stamp with "Mail Early" or "Mail Early in the Day" marginal marking appearing on the selvedge. Appeared on many issues of the 1960's and 1970's.

ME6, ME4 - common collecting formats for Mail Early blocks. Generally collected in blocks of 6 with the ME logo centered, for single issues, or in blocks of 4 for se-tenant issues.

Mint - unused stamp with full gum and no defects, as issued by the post office.

MNH - mint, never hinged

NGAI - No Gum As Issued. The stamp has no gum, but it is important to distinguish this expected and acceptable condition from stamps that are "no gum" because they have been soaked or damaged. In this case, the stamps were issued without gum. Common for many U.S. souvenir sheets of the 1930's.

Non-denominated - stamp issued without a denomination printed on its face. Such stamps are either due to be issued very close to an anticipated rate change, or are prepared in advance to be used at the new rate ("contingency stamps").

Number on Number - plate number single of a coil stamp, with the back number printed on the backing paper. Also known as #on#. Some collectors pay a premium for #on# stamps, but collectors are cautioned that it is relatively easy to remove a self-adhesive plate number coil from its backing paper and place it on empty backing paper having a back number. Collectors should be aware of what back numbers would normally appear with the plate number single, using the plate number interval stated by the printer.

PB - plate block.  Traditionally, a block of 4 stamps from the corner of the pane, including the plate number and all adjacent selvedge.  If the plate number does not appear in the corner of the pane, a block of 6 stamps from the center of the pane, including the plate number and all adjacent selvedge.

PB4 - plate block of 4 stamps and all selvedge. Standard collecting format for blocks of ordinary rotary press stamps.

PB6 - plate block of 6 stamps and all selvedge. Standard collecting format for blocks of ordinary flat plate stamps.

PB8, 10 or 12 - plate block of 8, 10 or 12 stamps and all selvedge.  Standard collecting format for stamps of the 6 through 15 eras where multiple plate blocks were printed in the selvage for each color.

Plate finisher's initials - intials of a BEP employee whose job was to remove stray engraving marks from a plate between the siderographer's job and printing a plate proof. Appeared on the selvedge of the LR stamp of the LR pane of many flat plate issues from about 1908 to 1925.

Plate number - serial number assigned to each printing plate.

Plate Numbers - regular newsletter of the American Plate Number Single Society, published several times a year.

Plate number single: Single stamp from a sheet, pane, or booklet, including all adjacent selvedge and one or more plate numbers. Single stamp from a coil or booklet with the plate number printed on the face of the stamp.

PNC - plate number coil

PNS - plate number single

Printer's initials - (1) Initials of BEP printers appearing in the selvedge of the UL panes of many issues from about 1902 to 1914, used to track when a printing plate was checked out of the vault and used to print a run of stamps. (2) Erroneously used to describe siderographers' initials, generally appearing on the LL stamp of the LL pane of many flat plate issues from about 1903 to 1930. See "siderographer's initials." (3) Erroneously used to describe plate finishers' initials, generally appearing on the LR stamp of the LR pane of many flat plate issues from about 1908 to 1925. See "plate finisher's initials."

Private printer - (1) Any of several independent security printers that have won contracts to print U.S. stamps for a limited period. Several companies gradually replaced BEP as the printer of all U.S. stamps starting around 1980. (2) One of several independent security printers that printed all U.S. stamps from 1847 to 1893. (3) One of several independent security printers that printed selected U.S. stamps when BEP equipment did not have the capacity or capability to do so. Examples: the 1943-44 Overrun Countries set, the 5¢ Thomas Eakins stamp, and the 1968 Walt Disney stamp.

PSA - pressure-sensitive adhesive or "self adhesive" stamp

PS3 - plate number coil strip of 3 stamps, with the stamp with the plate number appearing in the center. Plate strip of 3 stamps, including the plate number and any other marginal markings.

PS5 - plate number coil strip of 5, with the stamp with the plate number appearing in the center. Most common format for collecting modern coil multiples.

PS7, PS9, PS11 - plate number coil strip of the stated number of stamps, generally with the plate number appearing in the center.

PS20, PS10 - plate strip of 20 (or 10, or 16...) sheet stamps, including the plate number or plate numbers and other marginal markings.

SA - self-adhesive

Self adhesive - stamp issued with a self-sticking backing instead of traditional water activated gum. Generally printed on a shiny backing paper to allow for peeling.

Selvedge or selvage - paper margins or edges of the stamp sheet, adjacent to a stamp.

Siderographer's initials - intials of a BEP employee whose job was to engrave the printing plate. Appeared on the selvage of the LL stamp of the LL pane of many flat plate issues from about 1903 to 1930.

SSP - Sennett Security Products, independent contract stamp printer.

State duck - state-issued hunting permit stamp.

SV - Stamp Venturers, independent contract stamp printer.

USSS - United States Stamp Society

WAG - water activated gum

ZIP single - single stamp with adjacent "Use ZIP code" text or "Mr. Zip" image and all applicable selvedge.

 

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This page last updated February 1, 2019.