The Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms – All You Need To know

Illustrative image to match the title of the post Illustrative image to match the title of the Post.

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening,

It doesn’t matter wherever you are located, readers. I am excited to embark upon a new series on Philatelic Terms to help my readers to understand different words and terminology used in the philatelic fraternity. I hope you will be equally delighted to read the same. So what are we waiting for, let’s dive in !! 🙂

This series aims at educating the upcoming philately enthusiasts about various Philatelic Terms and jargon that are used on a day to day basis. Let’s begin.

Philatelic Terms With Letter A

1. Airmail –

This stamp is meant for use for articles that are transported by air. This is an extra fee over and above the surface rate.

Illustrative Example of Philatelic Term Airmail

2. Album –

A blank stock book that is used to store and collect stamps. A must-have accessory for every aspiring and experienced philatelist.

Illustrative Example of Philatelic Term Album

3. Accessories –

Different tools such as Tongs, Hinges, Mounts, Perforation gauges, Magnifiers, Watermark detector, Glassine Envelopes for storing stamps, Stock books are important accessories for every philately practitioner.

4. Adhesive –

It is the glue, gum, or the sticky chemical at the back of the stamp which is used to affix the stamps to postal articles. It can be water-activated or self-adhesive.

5. Approvals

It is a practice between a collector and a dealer. The dealers offer a wide range of stamps so that they can examine and choose. There are certain conditions to be fulfilled by both parties. These vary from country to country and are majorly followed by more experienced collectors.

6. Admirals –

This is a nickname given to three definitive series from British Commonwealth. They are – Canada, (Scott # 104 – 34 issued between 1912 – 1925), NewZealand (Scott # 182 – 84 from 1926), Rhodesia (Scott # 119-38 issued between 1913-1919). This stamp series pictures KGV in naval uniform.

Illustrative example of Philatelic Term Admirals

7. Aerogram –

This is a postage prepaid airletter sheet with appropriate postal duty. It has flaps with gum which can be later folded to form the shape of an envelope forming a lightweight airmail letter. The paper is thin and can be used to write letters. Nothing else can be enclosed. The first aerogram was in the year 1933 by Iraq.

Illustrative Image to exemplify Philatelic Term Aerogram

8. Air Labels –

or Etiquettes are used to indicate that the respective postal article is being sent via air. These are used by the member countries of the Universal Postal Union.

Illustrative Example of Airlable Philatelic Term

9. Albino

These are uninked impressions created by the printing plate of the stamp.  Such sort of errors are hard to find on stamps but more frequently seen on postal stationery.

10. Aniline –

is sensitive, water-soluble ink used to discourage the removal of cancellations and reuse of stamps.

Philatelic Terms With Letter B

1. Booklets –

Quite a few countries issued small booklets of stamps for the ease and convenience of the collectors. This is a small book that has stamps in a pane. A booklet pane has at least six stamps. Luxembourg was the first country to issue booklets, in 1895, followed by Sweden in 1898, the United States in 1900 and Great Britain in 1904.

Illustrative Example of Booklet a Philatelic Term

2. Block

A set of four unseparated stamps forming a rectangle or a square.

3. Blunt Perf

A stamp with perforations which are shorter in length than the usual.

4. Blind Perf

This is an error where the perforations are not completely punched and some of the paper is left where the perforation holes should be.

5. Backprint

This involves printing information such as numbers, symbols, advertising, or information about the stamp on the reverse side of the stamp.

6. Backstamp

Is the postal mark stamped by the originating office, the transit office, and the final destination receiving post office. Registered mails are often full of such engravings so as to clearly highlight the chain of custody.  Such pieces of postal stationery are highly valued by collectors.

7. Bank Mixture

These are hard to find in modern times. As can be inferred from the name this is a mixture of stamps that were used by the banks in their commercial communication with other institutions. These contain stamps of foreign countries of high face value.

8. Bantams

These were issued in 1942-43 (Scott # 90-97) as a definitive series by the South Africa postal department. This was during the second world war and due to wartime economy measures stamps in small sizes were printed to conserve the paper.

9. Balloon Mail – 

According to historical facts, Balloons were used in transporting mail from Paris during the siege of 1870-71. Sixty-Six such unguided balloons were floated to communicate with the outside world. There is no exact figure available but it is said that the majority succeeded in delivering the destined cargo. There were two modes used Manned and Unmanned. Balloon mail was used during World War I. It has also been used to spread propaganda in countries which were a dictatorship. This method of balloon mail has been used by private activists to distribute leaflets to Warsaw Pact countries from West Germany in the mid-1950s. The picture shown below is of The Louis Blanc piloted by Eugene Farcot on 12th October 1870. This was the 10th Balloon of the 66 sent during the siege.

10. Bisect

It is an original stamp cut into two halves where each part represents half of the face value of the stamp. These were used during the shortage of commonly used denominations.

11. Bishop Mark

Henry Bishop (1605 – 1691) introduced the first known postmark in London in 1661. It was designed to mark the date on which the letter was received by the designated post office. It was to ensure minimal delays in the dispatch of the letters.

12. Blackjack

It is the 2 cents denomination US postage stamp issued on 1st of July 1863 which had a large portrait of President Andrew Jackson on its face in the pitch black.

13. Bluenose

It is a 50 cent definitive postage stamp issued on 8th January 1922 as a part of the KGV “Scroll Series” issue. The stamp pictures a “Schooner” “Bluenose” designed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.

14. Bull’s Eye

These were the first stamps issued by Brazil on 1st August 1843. The face value of the stamps was 30, 60, and 90 Reis (The first official currency of Brazil). Brazil is the second country after Britain to issue postage stamps that were valid all across the country and did not include the Country Name.

15. Burelage

It is a French term attributed to a design having fine intricate lines on stamp paper to discourage counterfeiting or reuse of the stamp.

With this, we come to the conclusion of this edition of the explanation of Philatelic Terms. I hope you enjoyed reading it through as much as I enjoyed writing it. We meet next week.


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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1 year ago

Dear Rohit,

Thank you for introducing your blog through WhatsApp. This is the first time i go through this blog. It is fantastic and really appreciating you.

with regards

Mohanachandran Nair
Editor & Designer
Ananthapuri Stamp Bulletin

Ananthapuri Philatelic Association