Philatelic glossaries

All About StampsPhilatelic terminology can be baffling to new stamp collectors. When I first started working at the APRL, terms like cover, cut square, and Cinderella sent me scurrying for the nearest philatelic glossary. Even experienced philatelists can be stumped by obscure or foreign terms and abbreviations.

We have many philatelic glossaries and dictionaries here in the library – like the United States Stamp Society’s Glossary of Terms for the Collector of United States Stamps or Wayne Youngblood’s All About Stamps: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Philatelic Terms – but you don’t need to be sitting in a library to have a glossary close at hand. There are several good glossaries available on the web.

The United States Stamp Society’s glossary is available on their website., home of Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott Catalogue, has a good basic glossary including “nearly 300 terms frequently encountered by stamp collectors and cover collectors.”

The USPS has a somewhat smaller and naturally U.S.-centric glossary on its website. The main advantage of this glossary is the inclusion of U.S. Post Office Department and USPS names, like Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC).

Philatelic Terms IllustratedPerhaps the most comprehensive of online philatelic glossaries is the list of more than 30,000 terms on AskPhil, a website sponsored by the Collectors Club of Chicago. In addition to English philatelic terminology, this glossary includes many abbreviations and foreign terms, from Å (a one-letter Norwegian post office name) to $Z (Zimbabwean currency unit).

For a British glossary, try the British Postal Museum & Archive, partially based on Stanley Gibbons Philatelic Terms Illustrated by James Mackay. The list also includes many non-English terms.

What’s your favorite resource when you are stumped by a philatelic word?

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