Philatelic Glossary

This glossary has been compiled from various different sources. Some of the terms have been reproduced with kind permission from the Stanley Gibbons Philatelic Terms Illustrated by James Mackay. If you think a term is missing please e-mail us.

  1. A
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  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

A Payer

(French) To pay, inscribed on some Postage Due stamps.

A Percevoir

(French) To collect, Inscription on some Postage Due stamps.


Term used for certain stamps produced by De La Rue for Great Britain 1862-1880 from plates which were not put into normal production.

Accepted Design

The artwork approved by a postal administration and passed to the printer for production.


Basic equipment to aid collecting in addition to stamp albums, stamp hinges, watermark detector, etc.

Accountancy Mark

A handstamp applied to international letters prior to 1875 showing the charge to be collected from the addressee.

Additional Halfpenny Tax

A charge made by the British Post Office before 1840 on letters transmitted in Scotland if conveyed at any point of their journey by vehicles having more than two wheels. Also for certain tolls e.g. Menai Bridge.


General term for stamps, more specifically those with gum on the back.

Admiralty Official

Stamps overprinted with these words were used by H M Admiralty dockyards and other installations on official mail.

Advanced Coated Paper

A type of paper devised by Harrison & Sons to prevent the problem of ink absorption in the drying process. The paper contained a phosphorescent ink that was sensed by automatic mail handling machinery.

Advertisements on Postmarks

Advertising by slogan postmarks were not adopted until the late 19th Century. Commercial advertising was banned in Great Britain until 1989. Since then a wide range of goods and services have been advertised.

Advertisements on Stamps

Stamp advertising first appeared in 1840. In Britain the advertising was carried on pictorial envelopes and wrappers sold by the Post Office, e.g. Mulreadys. Later advertisements appeared on the sheet margins (selvedge), on interleaved pages in stamp booklets and on labels attached to stamp panes (also in booklets). Also appear on back of stamps e.g. New Zealand.

Advertising Labels

Adhesive labels used to advertise a commercial company.

Advice of Delivery (or Receipt)

An international service adopted by member countries of the UPU (q.v.) in 1891 permitting the sender of a registered packet, on payment of a fee, to be advised of the delivery of the packet.


Affranchie a l'étranger jusqu'a destination, postage paid to destination. (q.v PD).


Term adopted by UPU (q.v.) in 1951 to denote special letter sheets printed on lightweight paper and intended to be sent by airmail. (q.v. Air Letter).


The collection and study of "Air Mail" stamps and of matters appertaining to the carriage of mail by air.

Affixing Machines

Privately manufactured machine for applying stamps to envelopes worked by hand or electricity.


Abbreviation for "Affranchissements". A pre-cancel marking found on French stamps used on Official Mail or on bulk postings of business mail.


An organisation of either public or private enterprise handling and promoting sales of new issues of postage stamps to the stamp trade on behalf of the issuing Governments.

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