This page explains, illustrates, and translates to Portuguese (when known) some of the philatelic terms used in this site, in alphabetic order. Clicking on a term lists the entries where it occurs. Clicking on a image leads to the corresponding stamp issue.
A brochure (pagela) is a leaflet published by the Portuguese Post about a stamp issue. It depicts the stamps and the first day cover or cancellation, provides technical data, and includes a short text (in Portuguese, English and French) about the issue’s subject. The Post started producing information leaflets with photographic proofs of the stamps in 1947. The current type of brochures started with the Tropical Medicine Congress issue (1958).
One way to improve the quality of paper is to coat it chemically, e.g. to make it water-resistant. Chalk-surfaced paper (papel porcelana) has a coating made of chalk (calcium carbonate), which results in a high level of gloss and allows for high resolution printing. The coating turns black if touched with a silver object. Stamps made of this paper should not be soaked, as it ruins the coating. Although “chalky paper” is sometimes used as a synonym of “chalk-surfaced paper”, it should refer to similar paper that does not react to silver.
Composite stamps have a design that spreads over more than one stamp, i.e. certain graphic elements overlap two stamps. Introduced by Poland in 1957, composite stamps only became popular with many postal administrations in recent years. From browsing the Afinsa catalogue, it seems the Portuguese Post issued more composite stamps from 2000 on.
A coupon is a se-tenant attachment to a stamp. It may convey additional information, e.g. by showing a work of the person depicted on the stamp, or be used just for decorative or advertising purposes. Coupons often occur in booklets.
Definitive stamps (emissões base) are used for ordinary postal purposes, and as such printed in very large quantities and put on sale for a long period, contrary to commemorative stamps and other special issues. The definitive series (i.e. with multiple issues) of the Portuguese Republic are the following ones, with date ranges showing when new stamps were issued. The printing and circulation date ranges are longer.
- 1912–30: Ceres
- 1931–38: Lusiads
- 1943–49: Caravel
- 1953–55: Knight
- 1972–75: Landscapes and Monuments
- 1978–83: Work instruments
- 1985–89: Traditional architecture
- 1990–94: Navigators
- 1995–99: 19th century professions
- 2000–04: Birds
- 2005–06: Masks
- 2007–10: Public urban transport
- 2011– : Feasts
Enamelled paper (papel esmalte) is glazed paper coated with a mixture of zinc white and glue, thus having a very glossy but brittle surface. From Mackay’s book, it seems that the Portuguese Post is the main postal user of this type of paper. A quick browsing of the Afinsa catalogue shows that almost every Portuguese stamp and miniature sheet since 1975 has been printed on enamelled paper.
Europa stamps were first issued in 1956 by the six countries belonging to the European Coal and Steel Community (the precursor of the European Union), then from 1960 on by the members of the Conference of European Post and Telecommunication Administrations (CEPT), and since 1993 by the members of the association of European public postal operators (PostEurop). Europa stamps therefore bear one of two different logos. Portugal, as one of the 19 founding members of CEPT, started issuing Europa stamps in 1960. Before 1974, Europa stamps had a common design, usually of symbolic nature, but since then each administration chooses their own designs, subject to a theme agreed among the CEPT or PostEurop members, thus allowing each country to showcase their own history, landmarks, culture, etc. A complete list of the common designs and themes can be found in the Europa issue Wikipedia article.
Glazed paper (papel lustrado) is a non-coated highly-calendered paper. Calendering, another way of improving paper meant to be printed, is a mechanical process which smoothes the surface and makes it glossy. Glazed paper is sometimes confused with enamelled paper, but the latter is more glossy.
A joint issue (emissão conjunta) occurs “when two or more independent postal administrations sign an agreement to create new postage stamps or items for postal use with a common interest and issue them within a pre-defined timeframe”, according to the Joint Stamp Issues Society (JSIS). For example, Europa issues until 1973 are considered joint issues, but those afterwards aren’t, because they are independently designed and issued over several months, only the general topic having been agreed. I believe Portugal’s first non-Europa joint issue was with Spain in 1986.
Although the JSIS defines the term differently, an omnibus issue (emissão comum) is usually defined as a set of stamps, often with the same design, from a larger number of not necessarily independent postal administrations. The Vasco da Gama stamps issued in 1898 by Portugal and its colonies form the world’s first omnibus issue. In the 1960s, the Portuguese omnibus issues had a different design for the overseas territories and for the mainland.
Official stamps (selos de serviço oficial) are used by governments for official correspondence. In Portugal, official stamps were used from 1 July 1939 to 31 December 1975 for normal post in closed envelopes from government departments to individuals. For registered mail, normal stamps of the required value were added.
Phosphor bands are rectangular areas of a phosphorescent substance that is overprinted, inked or impregnated onto stamps and fluoresces under ultraviolet light, thus helping mechanized processing of mail. The Portuguese Post Office used phosphor bands from 1975 to the early 1990s. Some stamps were issued both with and without phosphor band. Other stamps were issued with a phosphor band but haven’t the band when part of a miniature sheet. Most often, there is a single vertical band along the left margin of the stamp, but occasionally two vertical bands were used.
Many stamps are printed on the back (impressos no verso) with various symbols, numbers or text, e.g. the stamp’s denomination (Greece, 1861–80), advertisements (Great Britain 1887), graphite lines to help sort mail (Great Britain, 1957). The Portuguese Post pioneered the backprinting of commemorative stamps in 1895, with the St. Anthony set featuring a prayer in Latin on the back. Stamps with multi-lingual descriptive texts on the back were issued in the late 1960s to mid 1970s. Text on the back has also been used as a security measure in the Landscape and Monuments definitive series.
Printer’s imprint is the name of the printer on the margin of a stamp or sheet. From quickly browsing the Afinsa catalogue images, it seems the President Carmona stamps (1945) are the first with a printer’s imprint (Courvoisier S.A.), and the Guerra Junqueiro issue (1951) is the first with the imprint of the Mint (Casa da Moeda), where most Portuguese stamps have been printed.
Recess printing (talhe doce), also known as intaglio or line engraving, consists of etching lines into a soft steel or copper plate to form the image of the stamp in reverse. The etching’s recesses are filled with ink and the plate is pressed on paper.
Se-tenant is a French expression describing adjoining stamps or labels that differ in value, design or some other attribute. This occurs frequently in booklets, coil strips and composite designs.
Wove paper (papel liso) has no special texture or processing. It is typically made from vegetable fibres turned into a pulp, which is then whitened and spread over a wire mesh. The paper is then pressed, dried, rolled, and cut.
Technological advances have made it possible to print stamps on materials other than paper. For example, cork, one of Portugal’s main exports, can nowadays be processed into malleable thin sheets used in clothing, umbrellas, and stamps. The world’s first stamp made of cork (cortiça) was issued in 2007 by the Portuguese Post Office.