Chapter 11 Philatelic terms & abbreviations [PREV] [NEXT] [HOME]

This chapter was last modified on [10-12-96 (Tue) at 07:48:16] . Please send all bug reports, additions etc. to the Editor, Gert Bultman. Lots of catalogues offer a glossary in a preface or an appendix. Sometimes a multilingual wordlist is provided.

The FACIT catalogue of the Nordic countries has an English/German/French/ Italian/Spanish glossary with about 250--300 terms.

Zumstein (Swiss catalogue publisher) sells a multi-language concordance of philatelic terms for more than 20 languages (Michael Rys is looking up info about address/price etc.)

Gert Bultman is currently working on an online multilingual wordlist/glossary.

Louis Cornelio writes: The Philatelic Foundadtion in NYC had (has?) a 12 page 5 language glossary available for a few dollars. The nice thing about it is that every term (in each of the languages) appears in a single column with the translation given in each of the remaining languages.

Lat address I had for the was 270 Madison Ave. NYC 10016, but that could be long out of date....

Section 11.1 Terms

Steven G. Anderson writes: In article 959@klaava.Helsinki.FI, tolvanen@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Martti Tolvanen) writes:
>That could be empate, meaning a draw.  If you look at the conditions
>of auction you'll probably find some clause explaining their procedure
>in case of a draw, with the word empate appearing there.

There was nothing in the conditions of the auctions using empate, but it does make some sense as a way of letting the unsuccessful bidders (such as myself) know that they need to respond faster the next time. The usual rule about about multiple maximum bids being awarded to the earliest bid is in there.

Steve Anderson

Martti Tolvanen writes:

> I've been bidding in US auctions for over 10 years, but
> recently branched out to an international auction in Argentina.
> The prices realized list showed up while I was on vacation.
> Since the item I had bid on did not show up, I looked at the
> prices realized list.  The winning bid for the item I was
> interested in was exactly what I had bid.  Ok, somebody beat me
> to it.  No problemo.  But beside the bid was the abbreviation
> emp.  I scoured the catalog itself and the list looking for
> an explanation, and couldn't find any.  Does anybody know what
> this means?  It could just as easily be a Spanish abbreviation
> as an English one. This was on about 10% of all of the sold
> items.  There was a separate list of unsold items.

That could be empate, meaning a draw. If you look at the conditions of auction you'll probably find some clause explaining their procedure in case of a draw, with the word empate appearing there.

Artur Marsy writes: When I was translating the description of my railway collection, I got a problem with finding the adequate philatelic terms of two following items:

          - post operated on railway stations 
          - post operated in mail-vans 

Of course I can translate word for word getting 'railway station post' and 'mail van post', but I suppose they aren't the terms used by philatelists.

Can anyone help me in this matter ?

Section 11.2 Recapito Autorizzato

David Walker writes: Subject: Re: 'recapito autorizzato' (Concessional letters) Concessionary Postage Labels, are labels without postal validity, but denoting a special tax on letters and packets which the Italian Post Office has permitted private companies and agencies to transmit and deliver since July 1928. These labels are inscribed Recapito Autorizzato (Authorized Delivery)

The issues are

Kingdom of Italy

1 July 1928 10c blue Arms of Savoy and Fasces 7 Jan 1930 10c brown Arms of Fasces

Socialist Republic of Italy

1944 10c brown Arms of Fasces overprinted with Fascist emblem and words 'Repubblica Sociale Italiana' 1944 10c brown Arms of Fasces overprinted with large Fascist emblemm Mar 1944 10c brown Arms of Fasces overprinted with small Fascist emblem

Royal Government

May 1945 40c on 10c brown with Royal Arms obliterating Arms of Fasces Aug 1945 40c brown Arms May 1946 1L brown Arms

Republic of Italy

1 June 1947 1L blue-green Italia 15 Nov 1947 8L rose-red Italia

2 July 1949 15L violet Italia (smaller than above) 1 Feb 1952 20L reddish violet Italia (smaller than above)

The definition came from Stanley Gibbons Philatelic Terms Illustrated by James Mackay, and the list from a combination of Sassone Blu and Stanley Gibbons catalogues

Section 11.3 Dunes

David Wyatt writes:

Subject: List of Dunes (was Re: Meaning of "CTO" / "dunes")

The typical `dune' was a small Arab emirate that contracted with a European or American commercial enterprise to produce stamps. The printers chose topics quantities and distribution outlets designed to maximize profits. Often, stuff was issued with several varieties (imperf, overprints, etc...) to improve sales. Since the `issuing' countries actually existed, and a handful of the stamps sometimes made their way into the country's post offices they can't quite be called bogus, but their legitimacy is marginal at best.

They fall into three general groupings, the Trucial States, the Federation of South Arabia, and the (North) Yemeni Civil War.

Trucial States.

There were seven Trucial States, all of which are now member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. When the British withdrew their management of postal service in the area c1964, each emirate began issuing their own stamps. One (Abu Dhabi) maintained a reasonable issuing policy and doesn't count as a `dune,' but the rest went wild. The smallest (Ajman) apparently holds the world all-time one-year record at 488 issues. (My Harris Citation album call the seven emirates the `seven sandy sheikhdoms'.)

Ajman             approx. 1964--1972
Dubai             approx. 1963--1972
Fujeira           approx. 1964--1972
Ras Al-Khaima     approx. 1964--1972
Sharjah           approx. 1964--1972
Umm Al-Qiwain     approx. 1964--1972

Stamps were also issued for two `dependencies' (actually territorial enclaves containing single villages):

Manama (dependency of Ajman)           approx. 1966--1971
Khor Fakkan (dependency of Sharjah)    approx. 1966--1971

Federation of South Arabia.

Prior to 1966 the British administered a crown colony with a collection of protectorate sheikhdoms as Aden. Two of the dependent states, Kathri and Qu'ati issued their own stamps. When the British withdrew in 1966 (actually, I think it was "beat a hasty retreat in the face of Egyptian-backed communist insurgents") they left a government in place called The Federation of South Arabia, which issued postage stamps. The insurgents called their rival state the Peoples' Republic of Southern Yemen and were in control of the country in short order. During the brief period of the Federation's effective existence, four member sheikhdoms made arrangements with outside printers to issue stamps. Perhaps a handful of the first issues made it into some of the local post offices, but the local regimes were deposed long before new stamps stopped appearing on the philatelic market.

Kathri         approx. 1966--1967       (legitimate stamps issued 1942--1966)
Mahra          approx. 1966--1967
Qu'ati         approx. 1966--1967       (legitimate stamps issued 1942--1966)
Upper Yaf'a    approx. 1967

In 1967, Upper Yaf'a had no post office.

The (North) Yemeni Civil War.

The Kingdom of Yemen (sometimes called North Yemen to distinguish it from the aforementioned (South) Yemen) was driven from the capital city (San'a?) in 1962 by Egyptian-backed insurgents. Royalist forces, backed by Saudi Arabia, held out in the Northern regions of the country until the Saudi's extended diplomatic recognition to the Yemen Arab Republic in 1970. During the eight-year civil war, both sides used stamps as a means of propaganda and a means of raising revenue. With the Royalists defeated in 1970, the surviving Yemen Arab Republic settled down to a slightly more realistic issuing policy.

Mutawakelite Kingdom of Yemen    approx. 1962--1970  (legit. 1926--c1962)
Yemen Arab Republic              approx. 1962--1972  (legit. since c1972)

Other Entirely Bogus Entities.

Stamps have appeared on the philatelic market for Arab territories or Arab-sounding placenames which are entirely bogus.

Abd El-Kuri
Dhufar                   (a region in western Oman)
Government of Himriyya   (actually a Trucial village)
Oman Imamate State       (not to be confused with the legit. Sultanate of Oman)
State of Oman            (not to be confused with the legit. Sultanate of Oman)

How do you know you're looking at a `dune' stamp? The signs are (1) big and colourful stamp, (2) A place name you probably can't find on most maps, and/or (3) topical themes that have nothing to do with the country issuing the stamps. Popular sixties and seventies themes for these things were the American space program, Kennedy, Churchill, the Olympics, etc...

Comments, corrections welcome. (And if anyone has an Abd El-Kuri or Himriyya stamp to trade, let me know!)

Marc Kaplan writes: Dunes = a derogatory term (which we probably ought not use) for the various small middle eastern stamp issuing entities which typically don't have any domestic use for the masses of pretty perforated pictures they issue and instead are selling them to (usually unsophisticated) stamp collectors.

Norman Hinton writes: DUNES = American slang term for small Arabic countries who issue a great many stamps, most of which go directly to dealers without ever getting to the countries which supposedly `use' them. Some `dune' isues are not even listed in the Scott catalog, or are listed with remarks that they may never have been part of the country's postal system.

Robert R. Wellman writes: Dunes=Some Middle Eastern states that have issued stamps principally to be issuing and selling stamps. Frequently, when purchasing mixtures of stamps, honest dealers will indicate `No Dunes' meaning none of these stamps are included in the mixture.

Section 11.4 CTO

Marc Kaplan writes:

CTO = cancelled to order. These are mint stamps with cancellations printed on them, usually in full sheets, so that they can be sold to collectors at a significant discount from face value. They usually still have full, undisturbed gum. Whether or not you want them depends upon what you collect and why. Those who are only interested in postally used stamps don't like them.

Norman Hinton writes:

CTO = "cancelled to order". Many small and/or poor contries, or countries who depend on stamp sales for money, will deliberately cancel large numbers of stamps and sell them to dealers: the stamps are cancelled but never went through the post. I personally despise them: I want either Mint or Cancelled, not some half-way state. I patronize dealers who advertise `no CTO' in their offerings.

Robert R. Wellman writes: CTO=Cancelled to Order, usually done when post offices are getting rid of a surfeit of stamps, or as a favor, or for stamp collectors. In the GB and Commonwealth area, CTOs are usually next to worthless.

Section 11.5 Colours

There are numerous different colours and not all languages have words for each colour. If you want to be sure about the colours, get a colour guide from your local stamp shop, e.g. the MICHEL Farbenf"uhrer or the Stanley Gibbons Stamp Colour Key (200 colours, $14--20).

Try to use standard colours in your descriptions and steer away from colournames such as `chocolate', `brick-red' etc.. The German MICHEL Katalog uses the following 24 colours (based on the Ostwaldschen Farbenkreis):

                          gr"unlich-)gelb 
                      gelboliv       orangegelb 
                   olivgr"un            orange 
                gelblichgr"un              rotorange 
              gr"un                           orangerot 
            blaugr"un                            rot 
gr"unblau karminrot 
gr"unlichblau karmin 
blau purpur 
kobalt violettpurpur 
violettultramarin violett 
violettblau bl"aulichviolett 
blauviolett 

The brighter shades of `karmin' are called rosa, the darker shades of yellow or orange are called brown. Dark shades are indicated by the use of the prefixes: schwarz-, dunkel-, grau-. Brighter shades (S"attigungsstufen) are made by using the prefixes: lebhaft-, mittel-, hell-, matt-, weiss- or the postfix: -weiss.

Section 11.6 Abbreviations

Section 11.7 Abbreviations found on stamps

Section 11.8 Overprints

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