Buckingham First Day Covers

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A Glossary of Cover Collecting Terms

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When you first start collecting covers — and even when you’ve been collecting for a long time — there are always things to learn. We hope that this glossary of cover collecting terms will help you understand what to look out for and perhaps boost your ratings at Trivial Pursuit. If you can’t find what you are looking for or have other questions, please get in touch.

Air Letter
These are the special lightweight sheets you use to write letters on that are then folded into envelopes to post. Like normal envelopes these are collected when postmarked on the first day of their issue.
Bisect
A Bisect is a stamp cut in half with the Post Office’s permission. The best example was during the World War II occupation of Guernsey, when they ran short of 1d stamps; permission was given to cut 2d stamps in half to make two 1d stamps.
Block
A block of four stamps or more, which are all joined together
Booklet Pane or Stamp Book Pane
This is where a sheet or block of stamps is sold within a booklet. It all started in Luxembourg back in 1895, when someone thought booklets would be a handy way of keeping postage stamps safe in your wallet or pocket - with an added bonus that the Post Office could sell advertising space inside. The idea caught on and developed into what’s now a very popular form of collecting: Prestige Stamp booklets.
Cachet
Concorde CoverA cachet is basically a rubber stamp. It is NOT a postmark. Postmarks can only be applied by official Post Offices where as anyone can design a cachet and put it on their cover. A cachet makes a cover unique and tells its story. It might show that the cover has been carried – for example this cachet on our Concorde cover shows that it was flown on the very last flight of Concorde.
Alternatively, a cachet could be used to give information about a signer or a postmark.
First woman in Space A good example is this cover signed by the first woman in space. A superb signature but not very readable and of course, if people don’t know who has signed, they don’t understand the value of the cover. In this case, the cachet gives information about the autograph.
Hornby CoverQE2 Cover As Royal Mail no longer counts pre-decimal stamps as valid and will not postmark them, you will often see cachets used to cancel any old stamps on a cover in the manner of a postmark. In the same way, it might be used to cancel a Cinderella stamp. The cachet is the link that touches both the stamp and the envelope and ties them together. For example, this Hornby cover has a Hornby Cinderella, cancelled by a Hornby cachet while this QE2 cover is a prime example of cachets at their best! Details like cachets are what make a cover really special so they are worth looking out for.
Cancellation
Stamps are cancelled by a postmark, which shows they have been used and can’t be re-used to send a letter. Of course, in cover collecting terms, the “cancel” or postmark is extremely important. For more information, see postmark.

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Carried
Mail has been carried from the very early days by mail coach, sailing ships and early flights. This still carries on today and so, for example, when a new set of stamps features The Flying Scotsman, it adds extra interest and value to have it carried on board. You can usually tell if a cover has been carried by seeing if it has had a cachet added.
CDS (Circular Date Stamp)
Christmas CoverCircular Date Stamps are the bread-and-butter postmarks used on everyday mail by Post Office counters across the UK. A CDS postmark is very straight forward and only features the town’s name and the date. There is no picture. It you wanted to use a CDS postmark because the town is relevant to the stamp issue, you would have to go to the town’s local Post Office to get it. This 1980 Christmas cover has a CDS postmark from Nazareth (Wales!).
CEPT
This stands for the Conference of European Postal and Telecommunication Administrations, and the second of these was held in Torquay in 1961 and a special set of stamps were issued.
Certificate of Authenticity
Certificate of AuthenticityThis a certificate provided with an item to say that it is genuine. It may refer to the signature and confirm that it is a genuine autograph, not a print. Alternatively, it may verify that a cover has been genuinely carried.
This idea of having a certificate is new to the world of covers and stems from the autograph market where, with so many forgeries around, customers wanted reassurance that any signature they bought was genuine. We are slightly skeptical of Certificates of Authenticity. It seems to us that if someone is going to forge a signature, they are not likely to get a qualm of conscience about forging a certificate to go with it! As far as we are concerned, if you buy from a reputable source that you can trust, you should not need a certificate of authenticity – although we are delighted to provide one if you request it. We arrange the signatures for Buckingham Covers directly with the person signing and if we were ever challenged, could produce plenty of evidence to show that they are genuine (including the word of the signer themselves).
Remember that a certificate is only as good as the company that provides it. Be careful when buying autographs and check the company’s pedigree. Fraser’s, one of the leading suppliers of autographed photographs, destroys items if they are even slightly worried that the signature is a forgery. Internet Stamps (Buckingham Covers’ parent company) does the same. You need to check that whoever you buy from has the same policy and reputation for honesty. That way, their word on a certificate means something.

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Cinderella stamps
Tintagel Old Post Office CoverRemember Cinderella? She was the fairy-tale character who looked like a princess but was really a commoner in disguise. Cinderella stamps follow the same idea. They look like genuine postage stamps, but are really just decorative labels. A real postage stamp can only be issued by a genuine Post Office. However, anyone is welcome to design and print Cinderella stamps. They can’t be used for postage. They are very collectable and some people specialise just in Cinderella stamps. A Cinderella can bring a striking touch to a first day or commemorative cover. All our Cinderellas are mainly designed by Cath Buckingham and are unique to us.
This Tintagel Old Post Office (National Trust) first day cover has a unique Cinderella Tintagel stamp, cancelled with a cachet. For another example of a Cinderella, look at the Hornby cover shown in our definition of cachets.
Get a fuller history of the Cinderella here.
Commemorative Labels
Queen VictoriaRoyal Mail introduced commemorative labels to mark special events that did not have their own stamps. There issued a large commemorative label inside books of 4 or 6 1st Class Stamps. These were only issued around once or twice a year and are now discontinued altogether. The last commemorative label issued was on 29 January 2001 to mark the Centenary of the death of Queen Victoria. To see what it looked like, check out our Queen Victoria covers.
Commemoratives
Stamps that mark anniversaries, special events or important people are called commemorative stamps. Another way of describing commemoratives is as pictorial stamps (stamps with pictures rather than the Queen’s Head). Pictorial stamps were first introduced by Royal Mail (then known as the General Post Office or GPO) in 1962, although there were many fore-runners such as those issued for the Coronations, Olympic Games and the British Empire Exhibitions in 1924 and 1925.

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Commemorative Covers
Though sometimes it may feel like it, the Royal Mail cannot issue a pictorial stamp for every big occasion, so what dealers or even you yourself can do is produce a commemorative cover. For example, Royal Mail might not issue a new stamp to mark each of the Queen’s Birthdays, but there is nothing to stop you putting an existing royalty stamp on an envelope illustrated with a picture of the Queen and arrange to get it postmarked on the correct day in, say, London SW1 - and you have your own commemorative cover!
Since a commemorative cover is not about new stamps, the aim of the game is to find the most relevant old stamps to use. This can be a real challenge for the cover producer. You might find the perfect stamps but can you source out enough to produce all of your covers? When we made covers to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross in 2004, we searched high and low to find the Victoria Cross stamp from the 1990 Gallantry set but still couldn’t find enough to do all the covers that we’d planned. Of course, this makes our VC covers even more special.
60th Anniversary of D-Day CoverOur D-Day range is an example of different commemorative covers. Royal Mail decided not to produce stamps marking the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in 2004 but we felt it was important. Some of the veterans had told us they didn’t think they would be around to celebrate the 70th Anniversary so we wanted to make this occasion a big one. This particular example is a cover produced especially for Jim Wallwork DFM to sign. Mr Wallwork was the first glider pilot to enter France on D-Day. The cover is postmarked at Tarrant Rushton, where the gliders took off on 5 June 1944. The British stamps show the Distinguished Flying Medal (from a 1990 set of stamps), which is the medal awarded to Jim Wallwork for his services on D-Day. Next to it is a Queen Mother stamp (from 1980). Commemorative covers are also sometimes referred to as “souvenir” covers or “special issue” covers.
Condition
Stamps and covers are like antiques. Condition is everything. The best way of checking for defects is to hold a cover up to the light at eye level. Check each stamp for creases, bumps or tears. You can find out much more about Condition in our Essential Guide to Condition.
Cover
The term “cover” goes right back to the very start of the postal service. It was another word for an envelope. When the Victorians first started sending letters, they wrapped them up in paper (the “cover”) and wrote the address on that. In 1840, a Penny Black was stuck on a cover to put in the post and cancelled on that day. This was the start of the “first day cover” and they have been collected ever since.
We still use the word “cover” to refer to a collectable envelope. Of course, more specifically there are two types of cover: first day covers and commemorative covers.

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Definitives
These are the very familiar, every-day postage stamps which feature the monarch’s head and are sold over a long period of time. The first low value definitives picturing Queen Elizabeth II are called Wildings because the portrait was taken by the firm of Dorothy Wilding, Ltd. The current portrait Queen’s Head has been used on definitive stamps since 1967 and is probably the most reproduced portrait of all time. This portrait was designed by Arnold Machin, so current definitive stamps are also known as Machins.
What was less well known until recently is that Machin designed his sculpture using a photograph of the Queen taken by Professor John Hedgecoe. In 2001, however, Professor Hedgecoe successfully took Royal Mail to court after it denied his part in designing the stamps. If you are interested in this history, you will enjoy our Wildings cover signed by Professor Hedgecoe. From 2005, Buckingham Covers has produced covers marking new definitives.
Denomination
Woodland Animals CoverThis refers to the postage value given on a stamp such as 20p or £1.12. Sometimes stamps are issued with non-value indicators (NVIs) such as “1st class”. However, NVI values are periodically reviewed. When all the postage values on one cover are added together, that gives the face value of the cover. For example, the Woodland Animals cover illustrated here has a face value of £1.40 (5 first class stamps worth 28p each).
Dorothy Wilding
Dorothy Wilding was the photographer who took the image of Queen Elizabeth II used on the first definitives of her reign in the early 1950’s and 1960’s. They became known as ‘Wildings’.
Double
Icons of 1969 CoverThe term “double” simply refers to a cover have two of something. It can be used to describe the number of signatures (a “double-signed” cover has been signed by two different people) or the number of postmarks (a “double-postmarked” cover has two different postmarks). A double-postmarked cover often commemorates two different but relevant dates. For example, our Icons of 1969 cover illustrated here is postmarked twice on the last day of Concorde and on the date of the last Blue Ribband crossing of the QE2.

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Error
This term refers to either a stamp or a cover with an unintentional mistake, such as a printing or design fault. Very occasionally you may find an error stamp on a cover. More often, an error on a cover is due to a mistake on the envelope or the postmark design. Errors on covers include: missing colours, missing gold blocking and an incorrect postmark. Errors on stamps include missing perforations (imperforate) and missing colours. Sometimes, the Queen’s Head is missing. Cath and Tony Buckingham once found a whole sheet of the 1972 churches stamps missing the Queen’s Head and used them to produce just 6 first day covers - something to watch out for!
Errors are phenomenally collectable. Due to Royal Mail’s very high standard of inspection, very few stamps or postmarks with errors slip through the net. At Internet Stamps, we try to inspect all our covers just as thoroughly so hopefully you won’t ever get an error from us – but if you do, keep it safe!
Europa
This is a set of stamps issued once a year on a common theme with the rest of Europe. For example if this year’s theme was Birds, then during the year each country participating would issue stamps on that theme. Though not the same stamp in each country they can normally be spotted by a small Europa logo.
Face Value
This refers to the postage value given on a stamp such as 20p or £1.12.
FDC (First Day Cover)
This is a cover featuring new postage stamps, postmarked on the first day that those new stamps are on sale.

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FDI (First Day of Issue) Postmark
The First Day of Issue postmark appeared for the very first time in slogan form in 1963, followed by a circular postmark for the 1964 Shakespeare stamps. Strictly speaking the term “FDI postmark” should only be used to describe postmarks sponsored by Royal Mail but the term is often more widely used to cover any cover with a pictorial postmark dated on the first day of a new set of stamps. Royal Mail reserve the right to the wording “First Day of Issue” so you will never find these words in a sponsored British postmark.
First Flights
Since the earliest flights special covers have been carried on board to commemorate them. These are widely collected in their own right but on a few occasions they coincide with a new stamp coming out and so can be a ‘double’ first.
Frank or Franking
Another way of describing the postmark.
Greetings Stamps
Greetings Stamps were a Royal Mail marketing experiment to encourage social mail and meet the needs of big retailers such as WH Smiths, which wanted to sell more interesting stamps. The idea was to offer the public attractive stamps, available all year round, to use for letters and greetings cards. Greetings Stamps were first issued in 1989 in books of ten stamps. There were discontinued in 1997.
GPO
This is short for General Post Office, which was what Royal Mail was previously called.

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Machins
See definitive
Miniature Sheets
RHS CoverMiniature sheets are a way of presenting a set of stamps by joining together within a frame to form a picture or a striking image. Sometimes the frame gives information about the stamps. They were originally issued to help raise funds for the huge International Stamp and Cover Exhibition, which is hosted by Britain every decade. They proved so popular that miniature sheets are currently issued by Royal Mail around 6-7 times a year and offer a different way of displaying new stamps. They are nearly always se-tenant in format.
RHS CoverMiniature sheets are available on covers. Some collectors specialise just in miniature sheet covers, others prefer to leave them and just buy the individual stamp covers, while other collectors like to own both versions for each new issue. These Royal Horticultural Society first day covers are an example of both styles. In the Minature Sheet version (top), you will see all the stamps are joined together within a black frame.
Compare it to the lower illustration, which is the stamps version of the same cover. You will see that all the stamps below are the same as the ones inside the miniature sheet above. The difference is all in the presentation!
Mulready
This is an early example of postal stationery (Issued 6th May 1840, the same day as the Penny Black). It was available either as an envelope or a foldable letter (like an air letter). These already had the postage paid and have a special illustration on the front. Though very rare, they do exist postmarked on the first day of issue.
NVI (Non-Value Indicator)
See denomination

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Occasions Stamps
These were Royal Mail’s next idea to replace the Greetings stamps. Again, these were designed to be cheerful, attractive stamps to encourage social post such as greetings cards. Royal Mail issued the first Occasions set of stamps in 2001 and introduced the idea of Smilers at the same time.
Official Covers
This term can have two meanings so if you see something described as “official” check the context carefully to see which meaning is being used!
Meaning 1: An official cover is one officially produced for an organisation, such as The National Trust or the National Army Museum. It means that the cover producer has been chosen by the organisation to produce a cover and that the organisation has given permission for the cover to use their name, logo or brand. It is a big honour to be selected to produce a cover for another organisation and is something we take very seriously. To see a list of all the different partner organisations that we have worked with, click here.
RSA CoverThis kind of official cover is extremely collectable, especially when the organisation is immediately relevant to the stamp issue. An example is this Royal Society of Arts first day cover that we produced for the Royal Society of Arts when their 250th Anniversary was marked with a set of British stamps.
Meaning 2: The other meaning of an “official cover” is essentially the same as saying the cover is a certain brand. Some collectors will only collect certain brands of cover and to be true to the brand, the cover and the postmark must be designed by the same company. If a cover producer borrows a postmark designed by someone else (see postmark), it makes the cover “unofficial”.
Buckingham Covers is one of the leading brands of luxury British covers worldwide and can be identified by our stag logo which you can see at the top of this page.

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Overprint
Coronation CoverThis refers to when something new is printed on a stamp or cover that was not part of the original design. An example is this 1953 Coronation cover where you’ll see ‘Tangier’ has been printed over the stamps.
Paquebot
Paquebot is an international agreement about Ship Mail that was developed in the days when international travel was all done by sea. Most journeys took at least several days so it was usual that the travelers onboard would want to write and send letters. Delivering mail posted at sea required co-operation from all different international postal services so they had to set up a system. It was agreed that, while in the open sea (neutral territory), each ship is territory of the country that owns her. Therefore a letter written on a British ship can use a British stamp, even when the British ship is far away from her home country. When the ship reaches a port, the officer is able to pass the mail to the local post office whatever the country and the mail will be delivered without any extra charge. In the 1890s, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) introduced "Paquebot" postmarks which had a common datestamp and the word “Paquebot” written by hand or stamped on to the envelope. Of course, this has very interesting implications for cover collectors.
QM2 Cover Paquebot postmarks are not only evidence that a cover has been carried onboard a ship and posted at sea. They are also very collectable postmarks in their own right. Unfortunately, when we tried to arrange Paquebot postmarks in 2004, we were told by Royal Mail and Cunard that although the principals of sending mail by ship remain the same, Paquebot postmarks are no longer in use. This QM2 cover with “posted at sea” cachet tries to recapture the feel of the Paquebot covers.
Pane
A block of stamps and pictures that make up a page of a Prestige Stamp Booklet or normal Stamp Book.

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Perforations
This refers to when a sheet of stamps has a line of small holes at the edges to make it easier to tear the stamps out the sheet without damaging the rest. Perforations are something of a tradition. Even recent self-adhesive stamps have had perforations for decoration although they do not need to be separated as they peel individually from backing paper. Perforations are a very important part of a cover’s condition. Most of our stamps arrive from Royal Mail in sheets of 25 or 50 and so one of our team has to separate all the stamps ready to be stuck on the cover. This can be a nerve-wracking job when you first start!
Phosphor
This was a new way of automatic letter sorting tested in the 1960s. Phosphor is a type of coating that was put on the stamps and could be recognised by machines. During the experimental period in the mid-1960s, commemorative stamps were issued two formats: with phosphor bands (phos) and without (non-phos). These days all stamps have phosphor coating (if it is missing it would count as an error). To see the phosphor you need to hold up any recent Royal Mail stamp to the light. The phosphor appears as dull strips on the stamp.
PHQ Cards
These are postcards that feature an enlargement of each stamp in a set. The British Post Office was one of the first to publish these cards. This led to the name ("PHQ" is short for Post Office Head Quarters). Early PHQ cards are very elusive to find as they were produced in such small numbers.
PHQ cards can be bought mint or with stamps and postmarks. The latter is a fantastic and unusual way of collecting new postmarks. From January 2004 to December 2007, we offered a PHQ Card service for each new issue set of stamps, where we stuck the matching stamp on each PHQ card (either on the front or the back) and arranged for it to get the most relevant and complimentary postmark available. We produced these sets in small numbers and some popular issues such as Lord of the Rings from February 2004, seem impossible to find these days. We sold out at the time. We stopped this service in 2007 to focus on our covers and stamp sheets and we have very few PHQ sets left in stock - but if you're after anything in particular, it is always worth asking us!
Woodland AnimalsThis Woodland Animals PHQ card set shows a complete set of cards, with the stamps and postmarks on the back. You’ll see that the stamp matches the picture on the card and the postmark is relevant (eg. A badger postmark on badger card).
Miniature sheets on PHQ cards are a tricky one. The face value of the miniature sheet is the same as all the stamps in the set. This means that a single miniature sheet PHQ card costs the same as the entire matching set of cards. Because of this, we did not offer miniature sheet PHQ cards to start with. The first miniature sheet PHQ card we ever produced was for the 2004 Father Christmas issue and from then on, we produced miniature sheet cards by request only so they are very rare indeed.
Our holy grail of PHQ card sets are from the Classic Locomotives issue in January 2004 and as mentioned, the Lord of the Rings issue from February 2004. If you have any you want to sell, please email Betty.
PHQ Cards are also known as Stamp Cards or Maxi Cards/Maximum cards.

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Pictorials
See Commemoratives.
Postage Due
This is a special stamp used to collect a fee where a letter does not have enough postage on it to get it delivered. Getting these, especially the high values, can be tricky as you need to send it, without a stamp, from somewhere where you know an exact amount will be owed to delivery. Cover dealers have even been known to post covers from abroad to try and get the right postage due stamp.
Postal Stationery
These are cards or envelopes with the stamp already printed on them.
Postmark
The postmark is one of the most important features of a cover. Stamps are cancelled by a postmark, which shows they have been used and can’t be re-used to send a letter. The postmark also shows the date and place where the item was posted. On a cover, the postmark should touch each stamp and link them to the envelope.
Red Cross West WillowPostmarks came to the foreground in the early 1960s, when collectors started to demand more interesting cancellations on their first day covers. For the Red Cross issue in 1963, a special Florence Nightingale cover was posted at her birthplace, West Wellow, which is now worth around £90-£100. The Botanical Conference issue of 1964 featured primroses on the stamps, so one cover dealer posted his covers at Primrose Valley. This kind of relevant postmark made a cover worth often ten times more than the same cover with a standard postmark issued by the Philatelic Bureau at Edinburgh (a place with no connection to the stamps).
These days anyone – cover dealers, organisations or even individuals - can sponsor a Royal Mail postmark. They need to design the postmark, get it approved by Royal Mail and then pay a fee. The postmark then becomes the property of Royal Mail and anyone is allowed to use it on their covers. This means that to a certain extent, most cover producers “borrow” other people’s postmarks. However, to be official”, a postmark has to be on the cover produced by the organisation that sponsored the postmark in the first place. All our official postmarks are designed by Cath Buckingham.
Royal Mail is very strict about postmarking. As well as meticulously checking all postmark designs before approving them, the Handstamp Centres (which is where postmarks get applied) will not postmark covers that arrive after the date on the postmark. Cover producers have to meet the deadline!
Pictorial postmarks are also known as Special Handstamps.
Pre-Release
This is a new stamp postmarked on a date before it is officially issued. For every recent issue there is probably a cover somewhere in the country with an early date and these are worth a small premium.
Prestige Stamp Booklets or PSBs
Jayne Eyre SetThis refers to a souvenir booklet that includes blocks or pages of stamps along with informational pages and illustrations. These are colourful and high quality. Some cover collectors like to specialise in PSB covers, where each whole pane is carefully torn out of the booklet, stuck on a cover and postmarked on the day of issue, producing a set of covers. Our PSB sets are usually produced in small numbers and make a very interesting niche in the collecting world. An example is this PSB set produced for the Jane Eyre issue in March 2005.

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Regionals
These are definitive stamps issued in a country which is part of the United Kingdom, but not England, and will have that country’s crest in the corner. In the 1950’s that included Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, but now regionals are just issued for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Reissues, Reprints & Reproductions
Castles Reissue CoverThis is when Royal Mail officially reprints a stamp that is out of use. 2005 is the most recent example of this. Royal Mail are re-issuing the popular Castles set of stamps from 1955, which featured Edinburgh, Windsor, Carrickfergus and Caernarfon castles. The values in the set at the time were 2/6d, 5/, 10/- and £1. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of these Castles high values, Royal Mail is issuing a miniature sheet on 22nd March 2005 which features the 1955 designs. The sheet has been brought up to speed with the decimal age by including two 50p stamps (Carrickfergus and Windsor) and two £1 stamps (Edinburgh and Caernarfon). Similar miniature sheets were issued in December 2000 and May 2003 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the issue of the Wilding low value definitives.
You can see the re-issued Castles miniature sheet on our cover illustrated here.
Self Adhesive Stamps
Instead of having gum on the reverse that needs to be wet in order to stick, self adhesive stamps are already sticky and are peeled from a backing paper like stickers.
Se-tenant
Farm Animals CoverSe-tenant comes from the French word meaning “held together” and refers to when stamps of different value or design are joined together. More often than not, sheets of stamps all have the same value, so se-tenants are less usual. A recent example of a se-tenant set is on this Farm Animals cover.
We see our covers as miniature works of art that are treasured as a whole, combining cover illustration, postmark, stamps and, perhaps, an autograph. We usually, therefore, separate se-tenant stamp sets on our covers, to compliment the overall look. Most of our collectors prefer this. However, some collectors like to keep the integrity of a se-tenant issue so when se-tenant stamps are issued, we often produce a limited number of se-tenant covers on a plain envelope.

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Signer
Someone who has signed one of our covers. The correct term of course is “signatory” but it doesn’t trip off the tongue so well, so with apologies to the Oxford Dictionary, we use our own word instead!
Slogan
This is the type of postmark you see on most mail today, where you get the date and then three or four ‘wavy’ lines. The best known is probably ‘Don’t forget your postcode’. These type of postmarks do appear on first day covers and are very collectable if the postmark connects with the subject of the stamps. They are very hard to get as you have to place the stamps correctly and the machines are known to ‘eat’ covers.
Smilers
Farm Animals SmilersThis is a Royal Mail marketing initiative, introduced at the International StampShow 2000 with the 1990 set of Greetings stamps. The idea is that anyone can put their own chosen picture (perhaps a photograph or a logo) as label next to a stamp (a bit like a Cinderella). This has proved a popular, personalised way to mark births, marriages and promote companies. Many different Smiler issues have followed, including Father Christmas in 2004 and Farm Animals in 2005. The name “Smilers” was chosen because they are designed to be used as celebrations of happy events.
For collectors. Royal Mail produce Generic versions of the Smiler stamps. Instead of being personalised, these versions have relevant decorative labels printed alongside the stamps instead. For an example, have a look at the pictures next to each stamp on our Farm Animals smiler covers above.
Sorting Machine
These are machines used to sort, or at least partly sort, the mail. As new ones came in to operation or were trialled they printed the post with different postmarks and these are collected.
Souvenir Sheet
This is a form of miniature sheet where small sheet are joined together inside a specially designed frame. These are usually se-tenant.

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Special Handstamp
These are pictorial postmarks, applied by trained Royal Mail staff in Special Handstamps Centres across the country. See postmark for more information.
Thematic
A single cover or a collection of covers that relates to a particular theme. Many collectors prefer to only collect covers that fit their passion. For example, we produce a series of railway, military and motor-racing covers. All these are themed covers. Themed covers are usually commemorative covers.
TPO (Travelling Post Office)
Age of Steam CoverUp until 2004, much of the mail was sorted overnight while on a special Royal Mail train, traveling towards their delivery destination. Post carried and sorted this way received a circular date stamp postmark applied to mail sorted overnight in special Royal Mail train carriages. TPO postmarks have always been popular with collectors and even more so, now the system is no longer used. We produced covers to mark the last day of the TPO service.

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Triple
The term triple simply refers to a cover that has three of something. It can be used to describe the number of signatures (a “triple-signed” cover has been signed by three different people) or the number of postmarks (a “triple-postmarked” cover has three different postmarks). It is worth noting that Royal Mail will not postmark a cover more than 2 times, so a triple-postmarked cover will probably feature at least one non-GB postmark. If a cover has more than one postmark, it is usually to commemorate different relevant dates. For example, our triple postmarked Concorde cover (sorry, we have no illustration of BCSP07IOM) has one GB postmark and two postmarks from the Isle of Man. The dates are of the last ever Concorde flight from New York to London (Isle of Man), the last Concorde flight ever (GB) and on the Centenary of Powered Flight (Isle of Man).
Undedicated
This refers to the signature on a cover or photograph. An “undedicated” signature is a straight-forward autograph where someone signs their name and nothing else. A “dedicated” signature in comparison is where the signer has personalised their autograph by dedicating it to someone (eg. “To Sue, with best wishes”). As a rule, although a dedicated signature is extra special to the person mentioned in the dedication, it is less valuable in the future than an undedicated signature.

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Buckingham Covers Limited, registered in England No. 03877048 is part of Internet Stamps Group Limited, registered in England No. 03497867. Registered office for both: Warren House, Shearway Rd, Folkestone, Kent CT19 4BF, UK.
Tel. (+44)01303 278 137. Email. betty@buckinghamcovers.com

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