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First Day Covers & Commemorative Stamp Cards

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Glossary

BFPS or BFPO

The British Forces Postal Service (BFPS) or British Forces Post Office (BFPO) is based at Mill Hill. There have been many BFPS postmarks sponsored to coincide with special stamp issues. Many of the issues have been sponsored by Group Captain Bill Randle who has raised millions of pounds for Forces Charities by producing some of the most interesting covers available (both first day and souvenir) - many have been flown and signed by famous military personnel.

 

Block

A group of stamps joined together, at least two stamps high and two stamps wide, e.g. a block of 4 stamps.

 

Booklet Pane or Stamp Book Pane

A small sheet or block of stamps sold in booklets.

 

Cachet

Not to be confused with postmarks, cachets are rubber stamp impressions usually indicating that the cover was carried or posted in a particular posting box or simply explaining the significance of the postmark.

 

Cancellation

Another term for postmark or franking.

 

Castles

A affectionate term for many of the Post Office's 'High Value' stamps depicting Carrickfergus, Caernarvon, Edinburgh and Windsor Castles. The first set was issued in 1955 with 2/6d, 5/-, 10/- and £ values. The last set to be issued in 1992 consisted of £1, £1.50, £2, £5 denominations.

 

CDS (Circular Date Stamp)

Circular Date Stamps or Counter Date Stamps are the everyday postmarks used at Post Office counters around the country. For more details see The Postmarks

 

Coil Stamps

Stamp Coils are rolls of stamps sold from vending machines - these have included several interesting se-tenant strips. Some issues were joined along the side edge, i.e. Horizontal (H) or joined Vertically (V) i.e. along the short edge.

 

Commemorative Labels

Books of 4 or 6 1st Class Stamps with a large commemorative label attached, now discontinued, these were issued once or twice a year to mark specific anniversaries or events.

 

Commemoratives

Stamps that honour anniversaries, important people or special events.

 

Condition

Condition is the most important characteristic in determining the value of first day covers and stamps.

 

Country Pictorials

The first Country Pictorial Stamps were introduced in Scotland and Wales in 1999 with Northern Ireland following in 2001. These stamps feature emblems and pictures associated with each region and have gradually replaced the regional stamps. To complete the set of four nations the first England stamps were issued by Royal Mail in 2001.

 

Cover

An envelope: an abbreviation used for first day cover, or souvenir/commemorative cover.

 

Customised Stamps

These were introduced at the international StampShow 2000. The set of Royal Mail Greetings stamps, first issued in 1990 were available in sheet format with a label attached to each stamp. Customers could go into a photograph booth, have their picture taken which was then printed on the labels alongside each stamp. Many issues have followed. Royal Mail recognised that collectors would also want these stamps, but not necessarily with their own photographs, thus the Generic versions of the same stamps came into being. Royal Mail created designs to be printed alongside the stamps (in place of the 'customised' photos). These stamps are marketed by Royal Mail under the name of Smilers.

 

Definitives

These are the regular issue postage stamps, depicting the monarch's head, which are sold over a long period.

 

Denomination

The postage value appearing on a stamp, e.g. 25p or £1. Some stamps are now issued as NVIs (non-value indicators), e.g. 1st Class, 2nd Class and 'E' stamps for the European Rate.

 

Error

A stamp with a printing or design fault. These stamps may occasionally appear on first day covers. This is a collecting area in its own right.

 

Face Value

The denomination or monetary value printed on the stamp.

 

FDC (First Day Cover)

A First Day Cover is a specially designed envelope, bearing newly issued postage stamps which were postmarked on the first day that those stamps were placed on sale by Royal Mail.

 

FDI (First Day of Issue) Postmark

These were first introduced with the 1964 Shakespeare issue when the Post Office realised that there was a need for proper postmarking of philatelic mail. For more details see The Postmarks.

 

FPO (Field Post Office) Postmark

These postmarks are used on military camps and are similar in style to circular date stamps - see above.

 

Frama Labels

Frama Labels were issued as an experiment at a few selected Post Offices in order to provide an out-of-hours service to the public. Machines printed and dispensed the labels - their values depending on the amount of coins inserted by the customer.

 

Frank or Franking

Another term for postmark or cancellation.

 

Generic Stamps

These were introduced at the international StampShow 2000. The set of Royal Mail Greetings stamps, first issued in 1990 were available in sheet format with a label attached to each stamp. Customers could go into a photograph booth, have their picture taken which was then printed on the labels alongside each stamp. Many issues have followed. Royal Mail recognised that collectors would also want these stamps, but not necessarily with their own photographs, thus the Generic versions of the same stamps came into being. Royal Mail created designs to be printed alongside the stamps (in place of the 'customised' photos). These stamps are marketed by Royal Mail under the name of Smilers.

 

Greetings Stamps

Greetings Stamps were first issued in 1989 to provide the public with attractive stamps which would be on sale all year - their intended use being for greetings cards. They were issued in books of ten stamps. Greetings stamps were discontinued in 1997 with the Botanical Flowers issue.

 

Gum

The adhesive coating of glue on the back of a mint stamp.

 

Imperforate

Stamps without perforations (i.e. the holes which separate stamps). The Penny Black is the best known example, these were cut by scissors, hence most imperforate stamps are difficult to obtain with nice even margins on all four sides.

 

Label

Stamp-like adhesives which are not postage stamps, e.g. Commemorative Labels.

 

Machins

Arnold Machin created the plaster cast of the Queen's head on which the design of the current range of Royal Mail definitive stamps are based. The first 'Machins' were issued in 1967 and these stamps have become a collecting area in their own right - both as mint stamps and on first day covers.

 

Meter Marks

These are applied in-house by companies using their own franking machines used for everyday business post and usually contain company logos or text having relevance to the stamp issue. For more details see The Postmarks.

 

Millennium Stamps

Stamps issued by Royal Mail to mark the end of the 20th Century. For more details see The Stamps.

 

Miniature Sheets

These are small sheets of different stamps (usually a block of between four and six stamps) joined together with a pictorial or informative border.

 

NVI (Non-Value Indicator)

Stamps without currency denominations, e.g. 1st Class, 2nd Class and 'E' stamps for the European Rate. These stamps were first introduced as a stop-gap for price changes in postal tariffs, but now most definitive and many commemoratives are issued as NVIs.

 

Occasions Stamps

These replaced the Greetings stamps. Royal Mail issued their first set of Occasions stamps in 2001. With these issues came the concept of customised labels or generic labels attached to each stamp - please see 'Customised Stamps' above.

 

Overprint

Additional printing on a stamp or cover which was not part of the original design.

 

Pane

Blocks of stamps issued in Stamp Books or Prestige Stamp Books.

 

Perforations

Lines of small holes or cuts between rows of stamps that make them easy to separate.

 

Philately

The collection and study of postage stamps and other postal items (including first day covers).

 

Phosphor

For a short period (1962-67) the Post Office issued commemorative stamps in two formats: with phosphor bands (phos) and without phosphor bands (non-phos). These phosphor bands are visable to the naked eye when held at an angle to the light. They were introduced as an aid to electronic franking of mail. From the Paintings issue of 1967 all stamps were issued with phosphor bands until this was replaced in 1979 with an all over phosphor coating.

 

Pictorials

Another name for commemorative or definitive stamps which are pictorial in design, i.e. not just the monarch's head.

 

Postage Due or To Pay Labels

Stamps or Labels used to indicate that insufficient postage (or no postage) was paid by the sender. This normally necessitates a surcharge payable by the recipient. This was calculated at double the value of the correct postage.

 

Postal Stationery

Envelopes, post cards and aerogrammes with stamp designs printed or embossed - the price of the postage being included in the overall price.

 

Postmark

A franking or cancellation on items sent through the post showing the date and location from where it was mailed - these normally deface the postage stamps to prevent their further use.

 

Regionals

Regional Stamps were first introduced by the Post Office in 1958 initially for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. These stamps are similar in style and size to the standard definitives with the addition of regional emblems. For more details please refer to The Stamps.

 

Registered Mail

A method of sending items of value through the post usually insuring the customer in case of loss or damage. Royal Mail replaced this with their Special Delivery Service.

 

Reissues, Reprints & Reproductions

An official reprinting of a stamp that was no longer in use, e.g. the 1/3d Coronation stamp was reissued with a denomination of £1 for the StampShow 2000 and the famous Penny Black was reprinted in miniature sheet format for the Stamp World 90 Stamp Show.

 

Self Adhesive Stamps

Stamps which peel from a backing paper and do not require moisture to adhere. For more details of both commemorative and definitive self adhesive stamps please refer to The Stamps.

 

Se-tenant

An attached pair, strip or block of stamps that differ in design or value.

 

Selvedge or Matrix

The unprinted paper around sheets or panes of stamps, sometimes called the margin.

 

Slogan Postmark

These machine postmarks are applied to the vast majority of our mail. A slogan postmark consists of two parts, viz: a circle showing the date and town; and an advertising slogan or wavy line. For more details see The Postmarks.

 

Smilers

These were introduced at the international StampShow 2000. The set of Royal Mail Greetings stamps, first issued in 1990 were available in sheet format with a label attached to each stamp. Customers could go into a photograph booth, have their picture taken which was then printed on the labels alongside each stamp. Many issues have followed. Royal Mail recognised that collectors would also want these stamps, but not necessarily with their own photographs, thus the Generic versions of the same stamps came into being. Royal Mail created designs to be printed alongside the stamps (in place of the 'customised' photos). These stamps are marketed by Royal Mail under the name of Smilers.

 

Souvenir Sheet

A small sheet of stamps usually with a commemorative inscription or special design surrounding the stamps. These are often se-tenant in format.

 

Special Handstamp

These postmarks, normally pictorial in design, and by far the most popular with collectors are specially applied by trained Royal Mail staff. For more details see The Postmarks.

 

Surcharge

An overprint on a postage stamp which changes its denomination from its original face value.

 

Thematic

A cover or stamp collection that relates to a specific theme or topic.

 

To Pay Labels or Postage Dues

To Pay Labels or Postage Dues were applied to mail where insufficient postage (or no postage) had been applied by the sender - leaving the recipient to pay the balance. This was calculated at double the value of the correct postage.

 

TPO (Travelling Post Office)

A circular date stamp postmark applied to mail sorted overnight in special Royal Mail train carriages.

 

Varieties

This term normally refers to different printings of the same stamp, e.g. changes in paper, watermark, gum, perforation, phosphors etc.

 

Watermark

A design pressed into stamp paper during its manufacture which can be viewed using an ultra-violet lamp.

 



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