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Philatelic Jargon

Glossary of Terms

Extremely Fine (XF)
The design of the stamp is perfectly or almost perfectly centered within the boundaries of the outer edge. The designs of very early perforated stamps are completely clear of the perforations and appear balanced. This grade commands a premium over the catalog price.
Very Fine plus (VF+)
The design may be slightly off-center on one side, but overall the stamp presents a very well-balanced appearance.
Very Fine (VF)
The design may be slightly off-center on one or two sides, overall appearance is still well-balanced. This is the condition assumed by most catalog pricing.
Fine plus (F+)
The design is noticeably off-center on one or two sides, overall appearance of this grade is acceptable to many collectors.
Fine (F)
The design is noticeably off-center on two sides, design may be close to perforations on modern stamps or almost touching the perforations on very early issues.
Average (AVG)
The design touches the perforations on one or two sides, perfs cut into design a little on very early issues.
Anything less than AVG is 'Fair'. If the perforations cut 20% or more into the design, it is a production error commonly referred to as a 'Freak'.
The term 'SUPERB' is sometimes used to refer to an XF stamp while a 'GEM' usually refers to a stamp which is XF and has larger than normal margins and no faults.
At, all stamps offered will be VF or better. Many stamps are graded up to XF representing the highest grade possible.

Philatelic Acronyms
CTOCancelled To Order (usually has original gum)
CVcatalog value
FDCfirst day cover
FVface value
GDgum disturbed
H  hinged
LH  lightly hinged
HR  hinge remnant
NH  never hinged
VLH  very lightly hinged
LL, LRlower left, right
LS, RSleft side, right side
LP(joint) line pair
MEmail early
MNHmint, never hinged
MSmatched set
NGno gum
OGoriginal gum signifies partial gum or disturbed gum
PBplate number block
PNC3plate number coil strip of 3 (also common in strips of 5 and 9)
PNSplate number single
SA, S/Aself-adhesive
S/Ssouvenir sheet
UL, URupper left, right
UPUUniversal Postal Union
USPSU. S. Postal Service
WA, W/Awater-activated
MicroprintingA security feature incorporated into some U.S. stamps which may spawn a specialized topical collecting area. The offset screen printing process developed by Graphic Security Systems Corporation of Lake Worth, FL known as "user definable screen" printing was used to print at least four stamp issues.

The first stamps printed using microprinting were the 29¢ American Wildflowers of 1992. Also, the Florida statehood stamp of 1995, the 32¢ Padre F. Varela, the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force and the Classic Movie Monsters issues contain microprinting.

For the Varela stamp, the letters USPS replace the dots in the image. You can only see the letters under a minimum of 10X magnification. On the Florida statehood stamp, the word FLORIDA is in the alligator's back.
Postal cardsA "POSTCARD" is privately produced while a "POSTAL CARD" is government-produced.

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