Some General Knowledge On Stamps

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What do the stamp abbreviations mean?
MUH: Mint Un-Hinged
MNH: Mint Never Hinged
MLH: Mint Lightly Hinged
MH: Mint Hinged
FU: Fine Used
VFU: Very Fine Used
GU: Good Used
U: Used
MS: Mini Sheet
FDC: First Day Cover
CTO: Cancel To Order
WC: Well Centered
ASC: Australian Stamp Catalogue
SG: Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue
OS: Offical Service
OP: Overprint

How can I tell the difference between self-adhesive and gummed stamps?
The different perforations used for self-adhesive (peel-and-stick) and gummed stamps will allow you to identify the style of stamp. Perforations are used to allow stamps to be easily detached from each other.
Gummed stamps are perforated by cutting rows and columns of small holes. These are of identical size on all four edges of each stamp.
Self-adhesive stamps are cut to shape by using a metal die. Dies can be produced to cut stamps in virtually any shape, i.e., self-adhesive stamps currently have a flat section at their top and bottom.

How do I get self-adhesive stamps off an envelope?
Self-adhesive stamps have two layers of adhesive. One is the tack that bonds the stamps to the envelope; the other is a water-soluble adhesive that lies between the self adhesive tack and the stamp paper. The water-soluble layer is there so that collectors can obtain good used copies.
Self-adhesive tack is practically impervious to water on one side of the stamp and the varnish creates a waterproof seal on the other. When soaking by conventional methods water cannot reach the water-soluble layer effectively.
Although several substances have been touted as means of overcoming the problem, we do not favour the use of anything other than clean water. To give the water a chance to activate the soluble layer, it needs to be almost at boiling point and the stamps need to be immersed for up to half an hour. The stamps should then be gently eased off the paper and, when dry, any remaining tack removed carefully with an art gum eraser.

What does CTO mean?
CTO stands for "cancelled to order" or in other words, postmarked. It indicates that the stamp has been postmarked without being used for postage.

What does OS mean?
OS stands for offical service (basically meaning for goverment use) There are two types of "OS" stamps one being perforated OS this is where some holes have been punched though the stamp these small holes will make the letters OS. The other type of OS stamps are OS overprints this is when the letters OS have been printed onto the stamp.

What does FDI mean?
FDI stands for "first day of issue" of a stamp. As the name implies, a first day of issue postmark can only be applied to stamps being released on the day of issue.

What does 'mint" mean?
A "mint" stamp is one that is in pristine condition, exactly as issued by Australia Post. The stamps gum or adhesive is intact, it has not been through the postal service and has not been postmarked.

What is the difference between maximum cards and postcards?
Postcards, feature a printed image of a stamp related to a particular issue on the view side of the card.

Maximum cards are souvenir picture postcards that are released with every new Australian stamp issue. The stamp is affixed on the view side of the card where it can be seen along with the card illustration and specially designed pictorial postmark. In addition maximum cards have a postage paid imprint, on the “message and address” side of the card, enabling them to be posted within Australia and by air mail anywhere in the world.

When was the first annual collection (year books) released?
In 1981 Australia Post introduced the Annual Collection of Australian Stamps offering collectors the opportunity to buy a full year of Australian stamps in one product, together with background information about the stamp issues. The Annual Collection of Australian Stamps has been produced every year since 1981.

When was the first self-adhesive stamp released?
Self-adhesive stamps were introduced in 1990 and Australia was a global pioneer in this venture. Self-adhesive stamps have overtaken gummed stamps in popularity and are almost exclusively used for basic letter postage. This type of stamp is more hygienic and pleasant than gummed stamps, as there is no need to lick them.

Why are different stamp printers used for producing stamps?
Australia Post uses many different companies to print its stock. With stamps it is due to the different printing techniques required for the various types of stamps e.g, self-adhesive which use lithography. Some printers specialise only in this type of stamp.

Why is "first day of issue" only available for four weeks?
Australia Post deems that first day of issue (FDI) is only available for a period of four weeks from the date the issue is release. This creates a product that becomes a collectable item due to the limited time it is available for purchase.

Why are there different barcodes on booklets?
Different barcodes were introduced to differentiate between stock required for general postage use and stock required for philatelic collectors.

Why is there a biro mark through stamps on my mail instead of a postmark?
Australia Post's mail processing centres cannot distinguish between philatelic mail and regular mail being distributed through the mail network. As a result all articles passing through the network are subjected to the same treatment. Biro marks are used when a postmark cancellation has not been applied effectively.

What is an imperforate stamp?
An imperforate stamp has all the characteristics of a postage stamp except for the perforations, or holes separating the stamps. Stamps can be either semi-imperforate (with some perforations missing), or fully imperforate (with no perforations at all).

Why produce imperforate stamps?
Imperforate or semi-imperforate stamps are designed as a collectable. They are a way of offering something unusual to the collector market.

Can imperforate stamps be used for postage?
Yes, so long as they are posted in their original format. If they are included in a minisheet they are valid for postage, so long as the minisheet is intact. The perforations are one of several security features included in a stamp. Imperforate stamps cannot be cut out and placed on mail for postage, as it makes it difficult to detect postal fraud.

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