A               

A - 1.) a marginal marking used on flat plates indicating uniform vertical spacing between columns of stamps.  This marking was intended to assist operators of perforating equipment.  2.) the prefix letter used by the American Bank Note Co. in front of the plate number on its modern stamp production.

"A" Combination Press - a webfed, eight color press (three intaglio colors and five gravure colors) in use at the BEP from 1973 to 1993.  It created panes with floating plate numbers.

"A" Grill - one of several types of grills used in the 19th century, which covers the entire stamp.  Example: Scott 79.

A.R. - a postal marking used on registered mail to foreign countries; an abbreviation of “Avis de reception,” indicating return receipt service is requested

"A" Stamps - nondenominated stamps issued in 1978 with an assigned postage value of 15¢.

Abroad - see Offices Abroad.

AC Tagging - Added to Color tagging.  See also Phosphored Ink.

Achrovure Division of Union-Camp, Corp. - private printer of the 1968 6¢ Walt Disney commemorativeScott 1355.

Acknowledgement of Receipt Service - see Return Receipt.

Add-on - a cachet added to a first day cover subsequent to its cancellation.

Advertised Letter - a letter which was advertised in a newspaper by the post office in an attempt to induce the addressee to claim it. Advertising of letters ended in the early 1920s.

Advertising Cover - a cover with an inscription or illustration advertising some product or service of the sender.

AEF - see American Expeditionary Force.

*Aerogram - a sheet of paper with a strategically placed stamp-like indicium that prepays air mail  postage.  After the message and the name and address of the recipient are written, the sheet is folded, sealed and mailed.  No enclosures are permitted.  Also see Private AerogramScott numbers for aerograms and air mail stamped envelopes begin with UC.

Affixing Machine - a machine that affixes stamps to an envelope, card or wrapper.  The first affixing machines appeared in the 1850s but were not widely used until the early 20th century

Air Letter Sheet - see Aerogram.

*Air Mail - the carrying of mail by airplane or other airship.  This service, provided for a fee, originated in 1918.  Since 1977 no separate fee has been charged for domestic air mail service.

Air Mail Field - a postal facility located at an air mail field.  Frequently the abbreviation AMF appears in postmarks applied at such facilities.

Air Mail Postal Card - a postal card intended to be sent by air mailScott numbers begin with UXC.

Air Mail Semi-Official Stamps - privately printed stamps issued for a balloon flight in 1877 and an airplane flight in 1911.  see Buffalo Balloon and Rodgers Aerial PostScott numbers are prefixed with CL.

Air Mail Special Delivery Stamp - a stamp that pays the fee both for air mail and special delivery.  Although the first two air mail stamps of 1918 also provided for special delivery service, they are not generally included in the category of Air Mail Special Delivery Stamps.  Scott numbers for air mail special delivery stamps begin with CE.

*Air Mail Stamp - a stamp paying the postage for air mail.  Since 1977 Air Mail stamps are issued only for international air mail.  Scott numbers for air mail stamps are prefixed with C.

Air Mail Stamped Envelope - a stamped envelope intended for air mail service.  Scott numbers for air mail stamped envelopes and aerograms are prefixed with UC.

Air Post Semi-Official Stamps - see Buffalo Balloon and Rodgers Aerial Post.

Air Post Stamp - see Air Mail Stamp.

Airlift - see Parcel Airlift.

Albino Stationery - a stamped envelope on which the embossed stamp-like indicium is entirely lacking in intended color.

Allied Military Government Stamps - postage stamps issued following World War II by the Allied Military Government for use in Italy, France, Germany and Austria.  Most of these stamps were printed by the BEP.  These stamps are unlisted by the Scott Specialized Catalogue but are regarded by many collectors as belonging within the family of US stamps.

Ambulance Bag - a nickname for the plastic bags used by the USPS to deliver mail that has been damaged.  Paper envelopes serving a similar purpose were used by the Post Office as long ago as the mid-19th century.

American Bank Note Co. - a contractor which printed postage stamps from 1879 to 1894, the Overrun Nations stamps of 1943-44, and various issues since 1979.

American Commemorative Cancellations - commemorative pages sold on a subscription basis by the USPS since 2002.  Previously known as souvenir pages.

*American Design Series - series of definitive  postage stamps that begun in 2002 with the 5¢ American Toleware coil postage stampScott 3612.

American Expeditionary Force - the American Forces in Europe during World War I for which two different booklets of stamps were produced.  The booklets contained panes of 30 stamps each, sometimes called AEF panes.  Scott 498f & 499f.

American Packaging Corp. - subcontractor to Sennett Security Products for stamp printing.   Example: Scott 3052, the 1999 33¢ Rose stamp.

American Philatelic Center - the home of the American Philatelic Society and the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

American Philatelic Expertizing Service - service of the APS that renders authoritative opinions on the genuineness of stamps and covers.

American Philatelic Research Library - largest private philatelic library in the United States, with extensive resources for researchers and collectors.

*American Philatelic Society - largest philatelic organization in the United States.

American Postal Machines Co. - major manufacturer of cancelling machines in use from the 1880s to the 1940s.  This company is known for its flag cancels.

*Americana Issue - series of definitive  stamps that began in 1975.  The first Scott # is 1581.

Ameripex '86 - one in a series of international stamp shows hosted once every decade in the U.S.  Ameripex '86 was held in Chicago in 1986.  A stamp (Scott 2145), souvenir sheets (Scott 2216-2219) and an Air Mail Postal Card (Scott UXC23) were issued in conjunction with this show.

AMF - see Air Mail Field.

AMG - see Allied Military Government.

AMSD - see Air Mail Special Delivery.

Andreotti Press - a seven color gravure press installed at the BEP in 1970. The first stamp printed by this press was the 1971 Missouri Statehood Issue (Scott 1426).  In addition to stamps this press also produced aerograms.

Aniline Ink - a fugitive ink made with synthetic organic pigments produced as derivatives of nitrobenzene.  Aniline ink was used in the production of stamp ink from before the Washington-Franklin era until its importation from Germany became impossible during World War I.  When inferior quality aniline ink was used, bleeding of pigment resulted in stamps known as pink backs.  Aniline ink was also used to surcharge some revenue stamps.

APC - see Automated Postal Center.

APEX - see American Philatelic Expertizing Service.

APO - see Army and Air Force Post Office.

APRL - see American Philatelic Research Library.

APS - see American Philatelic Society.

Army and Air Force Post Office - (formerly Army Post Office)  A U.S. post office established for military units overseas.  APOs, as they are called, first established in 1917, are designated by a number.

Army Flights - 1.) air mail flights flown by army pilots from May 15 to August 11, 1918.  Beginning August 12, 1918 the mail was flown by civilian pilots.  2.) air mail flights flown by army air corp pilots during a short, disastrous "emergency" period in 1934 when President Roosevelt cancelled CAM contracts.

Arrow - a marginal marking, shaped like a "V" which served as a guide for cutting sheets into smaller units, and as a guide in the perforation process.

Arrow Block - margin block with a "V" shaped marginal marking.

Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd. - private printer of postage stamps since in 1991, and of stamped envelopes since 2008.  Printer of the first commemoratives produced exclusively by offset lithography, the 1992 Wildflowers Stamps paneScott 2647-2696.

Atherton Shift - a striking double transfer on the 1861 2¢ black Andrew Jackson postage stamp.

Atlanta Trial Color Proofs - proofs, in various colors, of previously issued stamps, created for display at the 1881 Atlanta Cotton Exposition.  Example: Scott 116TC.

Attached Rate Handstamp - A handstamp of a circular postmark to which is attached a postage rate value or the word "PAID" or "Free."  Used in the 1830s and 1840s.

Attleboro Perforations - perforations privately applied to imperforate flat plate stamps by the Attleboro Stamp Co. for use in an affixing machine.

Attleboro Stamp Co. - a stamp company in Massachusetts that produced private coils for use in its own affixing machine.

August Issues - nickname for a group of essays and trial color proofs once erroneously given catalogue status as postage stamps.  The nickname derives from the belief that they were printed in August 1861.  Example:  Scott 63-E11e.

Austrian Occupation Issues - see Allied Military Government Stamps.

Auto-wound - 1.) the semi-automatic, mechanical process of creating coil stamps from manually assembled flat plate sheets, introduced at the BEP in 1910.  2.) a phrase printed on the coil leader of some stamps.

Automated Postal Center - a machine introduced by the United States Postal Service in 2004 allowing customers to use a debit or credit card to purchase computer-generated postage stamps and also mail items.

Automatic Canceling Machines - canceling machines introduced in 1963 when phosphor tagging was introduced.  These machines replaced manual canceling machines.

*Auxiliary Marking - postal marking applied to covers indicating that the covers were given special attention due to some special circumstance.  Examples: "Postage Due," "Return to Sender," and "Refused."   Auxiliary markings are sometimes known as Instructional Markings.

Avery Dennison - private printer of postage stamps beginning in 1991 with the 29¢ Libery Torch, Scott 2531A.

Avery International - private printer of postage stamps beginning in 1990 with the 25¢ Flag self-adhesive stamp, Scott 2475.  Previously Avery International provided pressure sensitive materials for other stamps, including the first self-adhesive stamp, the 1974 10¢ Dove Weathervane, Scott 1552.

AVSEC Clearance Stamp - AVSEC is USPS shorthand for “Aviation Security.”   This auxiliary marking was introduced in 2002 as a security feature.


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