Abbreviation Symbol  
PC - postcard +  
PPC - Picture card    
IPC - illustrated card    
CV - cover * Cover or entrie
Doc. D document
Reg. - register mail    
NGAI - no gum as issued («) unused, no gum
NG - no gum    
H. - hinged « mint, hinged
LH - lightly hinged    
HR - Hinge Remnant    
DG- Disturbed gum    
MNH «« mint, never hinged
RG - Re-gummed    
  r used on piece
cds - circular date cancel ¤ used, cancelled
pmk - post mark    
  BK Complete booklet
  BP Booklet pane
  PB Block of 4 or larger
  E essay
  P proof
  S Specimen
  TRC Trail color proof
    Book / newspaper



This Page Is Here To Help You Decipher The Stamps Abbreviations And Tell You What The Terms Mean.

Used Or Unused

Determination of whether a stamp is used or unused relies on it's cancellation. If the stamp has been cancelled it is used, if it has not been cancelled it is unused. Gum is irrelevant, some used stamps still have their gum and some unused stamps have no gum.

There is one exception to this rule and that is precancelled stamps. Precancelled stamps are stamps that in fact are cancelled before they are even purchased from the Post Office. Older pre-cancelled stamps usually will have the name of a city and state printed in black over top of the stamp design. Newer pre-cancelled stamps are generally imprinted with the type of rate they are to pay right in the design of the stamp. They may say "bulk rate" or "pre-sorted" or whichever rate the stamp is designed to pay. Stamp you receive on your "junk mail" are generally precancels. These stamps are not normally cancelled when they go through the mail stream, they remain uncancelled but are still used. In the case of precancelled stamps the gum is the determining factor, full gum means the stamp is unused, no gum means the stamp is used. Some pre-cancels do get cancelled in the mail stream and this of course makes them used.

Gum Condition

Gum is an important factor in determining a stamp's value. Some collectors care very little about the gum side of the stamp, other collectors only collect stamps that have pristine gum. Even if you fall into the first category, you should be aware of the conditions that affect gum, there is no sense in paying NH prices for NG stamps.

Here are some common terms, including those just used.

NH - Never hinged - The stamp has never had a hinge applied to it. NH has an expanded meaning though, the gum must be in like new condition with no marks of any kind whether made by a hinge or by something else.

H - Hinged - The gum has had a hinge applied to it.

LH - lightly hinged - The gum has had a hinge applied, but the mark left is unusually small or light.

Hinge Remnant - The gum has had a hinge applied to it and a portion of the hinge was so difficult to remove that it was left in place, attached to the stamp.

Disturbed gum - The gum has been damaged in some way other than hinging. This can include fingerprints, glazing, bubbling or anything else that affects the gum.

No gum - The stamp is unused and has no gum.

RG - Re-gummed - The stamp has had new gum applied to it in place of the original gum. This is most often done to try and deceive buyers into believing they are buying an original gum, never hinged stamp. There is nothing wrong with the buying or selling of re-gummed stamps as long as both parties know the true condition of the stamp. Regummed stamps generally will sell at or slightly above the price of a NG stamp.

Gum skip - When the gum was applied during manufacture it was not spread completely over the stamp and it left a portion of the stamp without gum. It's usually a thin line of area left ungummed.

MNH - Mint or Mint Never Hinged - Mint means the stamp is in new condition, as it was when it was purchased from the Post Office. Many times you will see stamps listed as "Mint NH" or "MNH", this is a misuse of terminology as it is redundant. By saying mint, you are already saying NH as that is the condition it was in when it was purchased by the post office. Even though it's technically incorrect, MNH is still a commonnly used term.


Besides catalog value, this is the most important factor in judging a stamp's value to most people. Centering is how well the design of the stamp is centered within the perforations or edge of the stamp. I have included images of a stamp in each grade as I list the grades.

S - Superb The stamp design is very nearly perfectly centered within the perforations

XF - Extremely Fine - The stamp design is just towards the top, but still very nicely centered, almost perfect.

VF - Very fine - The design is further off from center, but still well away from the edge and very attractive.

F - Fine - The determination of fine is that the design can be very close to the edge, but it cannot be cut by the perforations

AVG - Average - The design is cut into by the perforations


There are quite a few different types of faults that can affect a stamp, all will reduce the value by varying degrees. How much the value is reduced is dependent upon a lot of factors - severity and type of fault, rarity of stamp and the disposition of the buyer and seller.

SP - Short perf - Short Perforation. This is when one or more of the perforation tips is not as long as it should be, but a portion of the tip is still present.

PP - Pulled perf - Pulled perforation. This is when a perforation tip is completely missing. A severely pulled perf can even mean some of the stamp has been taken away with the perf tip.

SE - Straight edge - This is when one one or more edges of the stamp do not have perforations. Some sheet stamps were made with straight edges on some sides of the sheets, other straight edges come from trimming the perforations off. Do not confuse a straight edged sheet stamp with a coil stamp that always has two edges without perforations, a booklet stamp that can have one, two or three edges without perforations, or an imperforate stamp that has no perforations.

RP - Re-perf - Re-perforated - This is an alteration made to the stamp to add perforations to one or more edges. Just like re-gumming it is often done by a dishonest person to try and improve the value of a stamp buy making it appear like what it is not. Re-perforations often occur on stamps with straight edges to make them look like fully perforated stamps. It is also often done to imperforate stamps to try and change them into a more expensive coil or sheet stamps with the same design.

Thin - A stamp with a thin has an area on the back where some of the paper has been removed. There will be a spot that is thinner than the remainder of the stamp. A thin can range from a very small speck, to as large as the entire stamp.

Gum bend - Gum crease - Gum wrinkle - This is a natural occurrence in many flat plate printed stamps. When the stamps were made the paper had a tendency to shrink. The gum did not shrink at the same rate so the stamps would wrinkle up. Most often on the issues where these wrinkles are common, they do not lower the value of the stamp. If they are severe, or if there are a lot on one stamp, they can then lower the value.

Face Scrape - A face scrape is where a portion of the front side of the stamp has been scraped away, leaving a spot in the stamp design.

Inclusion - An inclusion is a foreign piece of material that has been pressed into the paper when the paper was manufactured. It is normally a brown or black spot that can be on the front, back or in the middle of the stamp.

Tears - stains - creases - pinholes - holes - corner missing - missing pieces - These are other faults that can affect a stamp, they are just as they sound I do not think further definition is needed. 






Banknotes and coins Unc Uncirculated
AU About Uncirculated
XF Extremely Fine
VF Very fine
F Fine
VG Very good
G Good
FR fair
PR poor


Grading Guide - Definition Of Terms

UNCIRCULATED: UNC A perfectly preserved note, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. Paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding, folding or bending. No light handling is present, no compromise, a perfect note. An uncirculated note will have its original, natural sheen.

ABOUT UNCIRCULATED: AU A virtually perfect note, with some minor handling. May show very slight evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center, but not both. An AU note can not be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually "broken" the surface of the note. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not rounded.

EXTREMELY FINE: EF(XF) A very attractive note, with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners may show only the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be the slightest sign of wear where a fold meets the edge.

VERY FINE: VF An attractive note, but with more evidence of handling and wear. May have several folds both vertically and horizontally. Paper may have minimal dirt, or possible colour smudging. Paper itself is still relatively crisp and floppy. There are no tears into the border area, although the edges do show slight wear. Corners also show wear but not full rounding.

FINE: A note which shows considerable circulation, with many folds, creases and wrinkling. Paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness. Edges may show much handling, with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. Colours are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a Fine F note. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.

VERY GOOD: A well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks, tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may sometimes be seen at center from excessive folding. Staple holes and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but NO pieces of the note can be missing. A note in VG condition may still have an overall not unattractive appearance.

GOOD: A well worn and heavily used note. Normal damage from prolonged circulation will include strong multiple folds and creases, stains, pinholes and/or staple holes, dirt, discoloration, edge tears, center hole, rounded corners and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti is commonly seen on notes in G condition.

FAIR: FR A totally limp, dirty and very well used note. Larger pieces may be half torn off or missing besides the defects mentioned under the Good category. Tears will be larger, obscured portions of the note will be bigger.

POOR: PR A "rag" with severe damage because of wear, staining, pieces missing, graffiti, larger holes. May have tape holding pieces of the note together. Trimming may have taken place to remove rough edges. A Poor note is desirable only as a "filler" or when such a note is the only one known of that particular issue