The Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms – IV

Illustrative Image Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Dear Readers,

How are you? Hope you are safe and sound with your families and your stamps. Continuing from where we left off “The Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms” I present another episode in the series bringing to you some more glossary of words that you people should be well aware of. Let’s begin !!

Face Value – The face value of the stamp is the inscribed monetary value at the time of printing a particular stamp. It is different from the catalog value or the market value of the stamp. In other words, it is the prepaid value or the cost at which people buy to use it for postal purposes.

Farley’s Follies – James A Farley was a prominent Irish businessman and political figure in the American politics of Pre 1940s. He helped Franklin D Roosevelt won his first presidential campaign and was declared the 53rd Postmaster general. He supplied influential friends and politicians who were also philatelic collectors special runs of imperf sheets off the press in formats that were unusual during 1933 and 1934. This became a scandal and eventually the reason for falling out between him and the President.

Illustrative Image Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

“F” Marginal Imprint – This refers to the marginal marking which is found imprinted on the left of the upper right plate number. These markings were observed in the US stamps that came out between the 1920s and 1930s. In the picture is it also interesting to note that word TOP. This was incorporated to prevent the printer from creating inverted markings on the sheet. According to specialist historians of US philately, the F could imply Finished or the name of the foreman Frank Martie.

Fake  – According to Scott Catalog, these are pieces of Philatelic Stationery, Stamps and other collectible items so as to defraud collectors. These can also be easily termed as Forgeries.  These also are a loss of revenue for the postal authorities. It is hard to manage today but one of the most notorious scandals was the Stock exchange forgery perpetrated at London Stock Exchange during the years 1872 and 1873. It was only detected after 25 years.

Famous American Series – This refers to the series of commemorative stamps that were released in the year 1940. There were a total of 35 stamps printed and issued in groups of 7 comprising 5 each printed in a sheet of 70. These were to honor poets, educators, scientists, artists, and inventors. Personalities such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Louisa May Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper were there on these pieces of history.

Illustrative Image Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Fiscal – Some of the other names used for them are Revenue, Tax, Duty stamps. These are used to collect taxes and other statutory fees. These are quite identical to regular postage stamps and have sometimes been interchangeably used in many countries.

First Bureau Issues – These refer to the first postage stamps issued by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1894. The designs were the legacy of American Bank Note Company and the Bureau modified it by adding triangles in the upper corners. These stamps were printed on Watermarked and Non-Watermarked paper.

First Day Cover – This entails a stamp on the postal card, envelope, or postal card which is released on its first day for official use. The cancellation mark will have the date and the city in which it was issued.

Illustrative Image Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Flat Plate Blocks – Usually speaking in the philatelic parlance a plate block refers to a group of 4 stamps having a single plate number in the corner of the sheet. Prior to the 1920s when rotary printing was introduced by the Department of Engraving and Printing in the US the stamps were printed with Flat Plate method. Here the plate block number is centered in the margin next to the middle stamp and there are six stamps in a block as shown below in the picture.

Illustrative Image Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Forerunner Stamp – These refer to postage stamps that are printed or authorized for use by any postal authority before coming out with their own stamps. For example, British Bechuanaland stamps issued that eventually became part of modern-day South Africa.

Fourth Bureau Issue – It is also known as the 1922 series. These were a part of the definitive series issued between 1922 and 1938. In total there were 27 designs released with denominations ranging from half a cent to five dollars. The series comprised of prominent presidents, architectural landmarks and cultural icons.

Foxing – This relates to the age of the paper used in your stamps.  Over a period of time, it starts to deteriorate. The brown spots or stains seen due to chemicals like Ferric Oxide.

Frama – These stamps derive its name from a Swiss manufacturer Frama AG. They produced a special type of paper that could be dispensed automatically by a machine because of which multiple designs of stamps could be printed. The machine produced variable value self-adhesive stamps.



Ghost Tagging – This is sort of a printing error due to the misregistration of phosphor tagging of ink. The end result is the appearance of a faint image over the regular image. In layman terms, there is one dark and one light impression of the design on the stamp.

Goldbeater’s Skin – This is a type of paper that is thin, translucent and tough used for printing stamps. The 1886 Prussia stamps were printed using this paper on the reverse. The gum was applied over the printing. These stamps were practically impossible to take off.

Grill – This is a pattern or indentation imbibed into the stamp so as to discourage the reuse of the postage stamps. During the 1860s to 1870s, this technique was used so that the fiber on the paper can absorb ample cancellation ink. This resulted in making it difficult to wash away the cancellation marks.

Illustrative Example Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Gutter – In Philatelic parlance this term refers to the space left between the stamps that help in separating them and creating perforations. Usually, this is discarded at the time of printing. It might have unprinted, or bear plate numbers, accounting or control numbers, advertising or other words or markings.

Gutter Block – It is a block of stamps having two or more panes between thems with gutter space. These are not generally printed and are considered to be sought after collectibles in the Philately world.

Illustrative Example Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms

Gutter Snipe – One or more stamps to which is attached to the full gutter from between panes, plus any amount of an adjoining stamp or stamps. This term is typically used in reference to U.S. stamps. Gutter snipes are freaks caused by misregistration of the cutting device or paper foldover.

With this, we come to the end of this edition of the series “Ultimate Guide To Philatelic Terms”. I hope you will like it and appreciate it by sharing it in your respective networks.


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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