Basic Stamp Terms for Beginners

Knowing the meaning of a few stamp collecting terms makes it more fun to collect – and easier to talk to other collectors about the hobby. Here’s a few basic terms to get you started!

Perforation: small rows of holes punched between stamps to make separating them easy

Design: a stamp’s overall appearance

Vignette: central part of the stamp design

Frame: the outer part of a stamp design, which can be as simple as a single line or very ornate

Selvage: attached margin paper that may be plain or highly decorative

Country: tells you which nation issued your stamp

Denomination: what it originally cost to purchase the stamp from the post office

Series and Sets: Many of the stamps in series and sets have common design elements. For example, each stamp in this series features a Looney Tunes character. Notice the style of the letters and numbers also match. (FYI – series are issued over a period of years, while sets are issued on the same date.)

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