This glossary defines nearly 300 terms frequently encountered by stamp collectors and cover collectors. Precise definitions for many philatelic terms do not exist. One collector, dealer or society may define a term in one way, while others will use the term in a slightly different way.
For special uses of some of the terms listed and defined here, contact the appropriate specialist collector group.
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Railway Post Office: Portable mail-handling equipment for sorting mail in transit on trains. The last official U.S. RPO ran June 30, 1977. RPOs were used in many countries. See also Mobile Post Office.
Receiving mark: A postmark or other postal marking applied by the receiving, rather than the originating, post office. See also Backstamp.
Redrawn: A stamp design that has been slightly altered yet maintains the basic design as originally issued.
Re-engraved: A stamp with an altered design as the result of a change made to a transfer roll or printing plate prior to a later printing, thereby distinguishing it from the original die.
Regional: Stamp sold or valid in a specific area of a stamp-issuing entity. Great Britain has issued stamps for the regions of Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Regionals are usually sold only in a given region but are often valid for postage throughout a country.
Registered mail: First-class mail with a numbered receipt, including a valuation of the registered item, for full or limited compensation if the mail is lost. Some countries have issued registered mail stamps. Registered mail is signed for by each postal employee who handles it.
Registration labels: Adhesive labels indicating the registry number and, often, the city of origin for registered articles sent through the mail.
Regummed: A stamp bearing adhesive from an unauthorized source.
Reissue: An official reprinting of a stamp from an obsolete or discontinued issue. Reissues are valid for postage. See also Reprint.
Remainders: Stocks of stamps remaining unsold at the time that an issue is declared obsolete by a post office. Some countries have sold remainders to the stamp trade at substantial discounts from face value. The countries normally mark the stamps with a distinctive cancel. Uncanceled remainders usually cannot be distinguished from stamps sold over the counter before the issue was invalidated.
Repaired stamp: A damaged stamp that has been repaired in some way to reinforce it or to make it resemble an undamaged stamp.
Replica: A reproduction of a stamp or cover. In the 19th century, replica stamps were sold as stamp album space fillers. Replica stamps are often printed in one color in a sheet containing a number of different designs. Replicas can sometimes deceive either a postal clerk or collectors.
Reprint: A stamp printed from the original plate, after the issue has ceased to be postally valid. Official reprints are sometimes made for presentation purposes or official collections. They are often distinguishable in some way from the originals: different colors, perforations, paper or gum. Private reprints, on the other hand, are usually produced strictly for sale to collectors and often closely resemble the original stamps. Private reprints normally sell for less than original copies. Reprints are not valid for postage. See also Reissue.
Retouch: The repairing of a damaged plate or die, often producing a minor, but detectable, difference in the design of the printed stamps.
Revenues: "Stamps representing the prepayment or payment of various taxes. Revenues are affixed to official documents and to merchandise. Some stamps, including many issues of the British Commonwealth, are inscribed ""Postage and Revenue'' and were available for either use. Such issues are usually worth less fiscally canceled than postally used. In some cases, revenues have been used provisionally as postage stamps. See also Fiscal."
Rocket mail: Mail flown in a rocket, even if only a short distance. Many rocket mail experiments have been conducted since 1931. Special labels, cachets or cancels usually note that mail was carried on a rocket.
Rotary plate: A curved or cylindrical printing plate used on a press that rotates the plate to make continuous impressions. Flat plates make single impressions.
Rouletting: The piercing of the paper between stamps to make their separation more convenient. No paper is actually removed from the sheet, as it is in perforating. Rouletting has been made by dash, sawtooth or wavy line.
Rural Free Delivery: System for free home delivery of mail in rural areas of the United States, begun just prior to the turn of the 20th century.
Rust: A brown mold resembling the rust in iron. Rust affects stamp paper and gum in tropical regions.
RPO: Railway Post Office. Portable mail-handling equipment for sorting mail in transit on trains. The last official U.S. RPO ran June 30, 1977. RPOs were used in many countries. See also Mobile Post Office.
RFD: Rural Free Delivery. System for free home delivery of mail in rural areas of the United States, begun just prior to the turn of the 20th century.