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US 32c Flag over Porch Terminology
(page updated: Sep 13/01)

Date of printing
Format
Gum
Positions
Peaks and Valleys
Divots
Clean-cut vs. Horizontal micro-cuts
PNCs
Mint booklets/coils


Date of printing Dates (25k)In the lower left corner of each stamp is a small date that indicates the year of printing (this design feature is relatively new to the world of United Stamps).

This is the first method of sorting the Flag over Porch stamps.

There are six different year-styles that are found on the Flag over Porch design:

  • Large blue 1995
  • Small blue 1995
  • Red 1995
  • Blue 1996
  • Red 1996
  • Red 1997
  • Top


    Format Formats (40k)The Flag over Porch design appeared in the three basic formats: sheet, coil, and booklet. All coils have a straight edge at the top and bottom; stamps from booklets exist with one straight edge, two adjacent straight edges, and no straight edges. By the way, some of the self-adhesive coils were placed on backing paper with a small separation between two adjacent stamps. Although typically this is considered the first method of sorting your stamps, in this case, it is actually the third sorting method that we will suggest. Top


    Gum Gum (14k)If we are sorting used stamps, how can gum be an applicable method of sorting? In this case, we are talking about water-activated stamps versus self-adhesive stamps, which can be easily identified by a look at the perforations:

    Water-activated stamps (ie. the typical stamp that requires a "lick" to apply the stamp to the envelope) are always perforated with holes. When the stamps are separated from their larger format (sheet, coil, or booklet), the resulting separation always leaves a "rough" edge, such as small paper fibers being easily visible (or short perfs, etc.).

    Self-adhesive stamps do not have perforation "holes", although a single stamp would suggest that. The stamps are sliced with simulated perforations, but still attached to backing paper that is not separated in any way (at least most of the time). Two adjacent stamps touch each other on the coil or booklet pane. Once removed from the backing paper, however, multiples (ie. pair or block) are not (usually) possible. Top


    Positions Collectors of used booklet singles like to reassemble the booklet pane. Depending on the booklet, there are a maximum of nine (9) possible positions that can be identified, based on one or more straight edges (if any): straight edge (s/e) at left and top, top only, top and right, right only, right and bottom, bottom only, bottom and left, left only. That's 8 positions plus a single that has no straight edge gives us a potential of 9 positions. However, if a label(s) is present, then one or more of these positions is not applicable. If you have hundreds (or thousands) of these booklet singles, then separating them into the various positions is the next logical step. Top


    Peaks and Valleys Peaks (16k)These terms refer the "perforations" found on self-adhesive stamps. A peak is the perforation; a valley is the "hole" of the perforation (in this case, the illustration at right speaks a 1000 words). On water-activated stamps that are actually perforated (punched holes), the opposite sides of a stamp will always have the same number of holes (ie. mirror images of each other). However, since two adjacent self-adhesive stamps touch each other on the coil or booklet pane, opposite sides of the same stamp are not necessarily mirror images.

    The peak/valley sorting method can take one of two forms: on booklet stamps, does a peak or a valley appear as the first element of the stamp at the upper left corner? (for booklet stamps that have a straight edge at the top and left sides, you will need to check another side of the stamp). On coil stamps, how many peaks are there on a given side (and, in at least one case, which comes first, a peak or a valley)? Top


    Divots These are found (or not found) on some self-adhesive booklet panes. The corner intersection of four stamps will appear very straight and sharp or appear rounded due to a "divot"-type cut. [I am still trying to get a good illustration]. The corner of the stamp is nicked slightly - this is to improve the ease of removing a stamp from the pane. Divots were only applied at the "perforated" corners, not at an outside edge of the stamp where there is a straight-edge. This affect shows clearly when you have a mint pane of stamps. However, for single stamps, it is a bit harder to tell the difference. It is quite easy to create a rounded edge (ie. a divot-type) by simply touching the corners in a rough manner. Thus, for used stamps, you may or may not want to specialize to this degree. Top


    Clean-cut vs. Horizontal micro-cuts vs. Serpentine Die cuttingOne of the self-adhesive coil stamps exists with two different methods of simulated perforation cutting. You may or may not want to specialize to this degree, however, the stamps are clearly different. Top


    PNCs PNC (18k)PNCs (Plate Number Coils) is perhaps one of the most popular collecting interests in modern United States stamps. Stamps issued in coil format since 1981 have included, on every 20-35 stamps, a small plate number printed at the bottom of the stamp design.

    In the stamp illustrated at right, notice the group of 5 small 1's centered at the bottom of the stamp (just below the stamp design). Each coloured number represents a colour used to print this stamp. In this case, there were 5 different coloured printing plates used. As a plate became worn it would be replaced with a new plate and a new number would be assigned.


    Mint booklets and coils Although this site was developed to sort your used singles, this section is a brief discussion for those collectors of mint booklets and coils.

    Booklets: along with plate numbers being printed on selvedge, various covers and backings exist. These combinations result in a large number of booklets being needed to complete a full collection.

    Coils: a couple of the self-adhesive coils exist with counting numbers printed on the backing paper (every 20th stamp or so). These are typically collected in strips of 5 or more. Top


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