Illustrated Glossary of Precancels
by Colin Philip and Dave Philcox
© 1990, 2002 Precancel Stamp Society of Great
This Glossary has been compiled primarily to assist collectors new
to the fascinating field of precancel collecting, but the authors
hope that it also might help precancellists of longer standing who
want a quick reference to a topic which may have slipped their memory.
As in any sphere of activity, a wealth of terms and expressions has
evolved in precancel collecting and this jargon is often confusing
to beginner and specialist alike. We have attempted to include as
many relevant terms as we can think of, but inevitably some obvious
ones may have been omitted. Readers are invited and encouraged to
submit new terms and definitions, supply corrections to errors that
almost certainly have crept in, or to suggest more appropriate alternatives
to the ones given here. This second edition, produced as an online
version some 12 years after our original efforts, is an attempt to
bring the subject matter up to date and to include any new information
that has come to light in the intervening period. We have every intention
of maintaining this as a live document, amended from time to time
by our readers comments and other expert opinion.
In much of the text, the descriptive material refers to precancels
from the USA, being by far the largest user of these issues. To avoid
monotonous repetition, it may be assumed that, unless stated, the
US is implied.
A B C D E F G H IJ KL M NO P QR S T UV W
A, B, C, D:
(1) These letters are used in most European catalogues and
reference works to denote the aspect of the rectangular precancel overprint
in earlier Belgian and Luxembourg issues. They are used as follows:
A - precancels in which the text reads up (ie from
bottom to top of stamp),
B - text reads down,
C - text reads horizontally, and
D - text is inverted.
Types C and D are generally only found on roulettes (qv).
(2) The letters are also employed in the various Bureau Catalogues
to denote the four levels of centring which determine pricing adjustments.
the time it was a province of France (qv) a number of precancels
were issued for this North African country between 1924 and 1963. The styles
of overprint in this period were identical to those used in France. Algerian
precancels are listed and priced in French francs in Part 2 of the Yvert & Tellier
Catalogue, and in US dollars in the PSS Catalogue of France, Algeria, Tunisia
and Monaco (1983).
of definitive stamps, issued in 1975, which are commonly found precancelled,
both as Bureaus (particularly in the decimal range of values, eg 7.7¢,
7.9¢ and 8.4¢) and as locals.
Precancellation of stamps of this country was effected by
means of oversized holed perfins. Little is known other than stamps defaced
in this fashion often received additional cancellations at the office of
minor precancel issuing country of Europe that is best known
for the precancelled wrappers of the German and Austrian Alpine Association.
The first precancels were handstamps, but printed ones were in use
from 1910 until 1922, since which time no further precancels have been
issued. The precancel was printed on the wrapper and included a date
in the form, for example, MITTE JULI (middle of July), ENDE MARZ (end
of March), etc. The early journal stamps were also precancelled by
sticking them to a blank sheet of newspaper and allowing the newsprint
to provide the cancellation, thus paying the appropriate newspaper
In Canada, a stamp precancelled only by means of bars or lines, without
other printed identification. Two main categories can be distinguished;
the Early Bars issued from about 1889 to 1903, and the Later Bars
which made their appearance in 1922. The Early Bars consist of various
styles of parallel lines (sometimes including interrupted or wavy
lines), which in most cases were applied horizontally across the
stamp usually by means of rubber rollers. The Later Bars are straight,
continuous and parallel and were applied using plates made for the
(2) In the USA, precancel forerunners were produced
in the latter part of the 1800s by overprinting with bars or similar
designs, and are commonly known as Bar Types. Similarly, some of
the more recent National Bureau issues were precancelled with two
parallel bars and can be called Bar Types. The term is also used
to distinguish bars from lines in local precancels (see Bars & Lines
Bars and Lines:
identifying local precancels where the town and state have straight
bars or lines above and below, a bar is usually thicker than a line
and does not extend beyond the boundary of the stamp. On the other
hand, a line is generally thin and extends across many or all of
the stamps in a horizontal row.
Battleship Proprietary Stamps:
1895 issue of revenue stamps was used to collect tax during the Spanish-American
War. The tax was levied on medicines, pills, etc., it became easier
to apply printed (usually dated) cancellations prior to the stamp
being stuck on the relevant bottle, box or packet. This precancellation
was authorized by the US Internal Revenue.
of the major precancel issuing countries of Europe, its precancels
can be neatly divided into two major categories: roulettes (qv) and
typos (qv), the latter still being produced at the time of
writing. Belgian precancels are easy to recognize, being a rectangular,
or truncated rectangular, box containing town or country names and
date, or more recently various styles of posthorn with or without
dates. The main source of information is provided by the Catalogue
Officiel des Timbres Préoblitérés de Belgique
known to collectors as Bicents, this series was first issued in 1932.
It is found cancelled locally and with DLEs, but never with
Bureaus. A Bicent catalogue was published in 1989.
on the Black 2¢ Harding Memorial Issue, 1923, in all states
of perforation. A catalogue specifically for these issues was published
by the PSS in 1983.
town of sHertogenbosch in Holland produced a large circulation
Catholic newspaper. Stamps used on the postal wrappers were first
stuck on to labels, then precancelled, and finally perforated again
prior to being stuck on to the wrappers and returned to the post
office for dispatch.
very difficult to identify, but usually consists of the town and
state names enclosed by a four-sided box, perhaps one of a series
of boxes. These normally extend beyond the edges of the stamp, leaving
perhaps part of the name and a vertical side between the parallel
lines. They are frequently applied with a roller canceller. There
are, however, a few precancels that are boxed and not between lines
only; these are so designed to fit within the margins of the stamp.
Examples of these are many of the City Type Coils (qv), eg Lynn
MA, L-3 and Champaign IL, L-1.
stamp precancelled by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing located
in Washington DC. They are identified by having clear, distinct impressions
using one of a small range of standard styles. Bureaus are listed
in a number of catalogues, the most popular being the Noble Official
Catalogue (64th ed., 1983) and the PSS Bureau Precancel Catalogue
(4th ed., 1997). There are about ten thousand collectible varieties,
covering towns, types, denominations and stamp issues and are one
of the most popular aspects of precancel collecting.
1889 until 1978, a major precancel issuing country of North America.
The various types which have appeared are described else-where (see
Bar Type, City Type and Numeral Type). Canadian precancels have
always been popular with collectors, and because demand usually exceeds
supply, their prices have remained high. A number of catalogues and
handbooks cater for Canadian collectors, the most general catalogue
being the Standard Canada Precancel Catalogue, 5th Ed., (2002).
Canada, a stamp which is precancelled with the names of the town
and province (sometimes abbreviated) and a distinctive pattern of
wavy or straight lines. Such stamps were used in 54 towns, some of
which are extremely scarce. They were introduced in 1903 and were
discontinued as the numeral types (qv) made their appearance
in the 1930s. The term may also be applied to a precancel from any
country that contains the name of a town or city in the cancellation.
In some US catalogues, a City Type is any non-Bureau precancel bearing
the name of a town or city.
City Type Coil:
used to describe a non-Bureau coil stamp that has been precancelled
by a special machine that also rewinds the coil in the process. These
are covered by the PSS City Type Coils Precancelled by Coil Machines
used for US precancels on stamps issued between 1895 and 1902
See Straight Edge.
of coil stamps, joined vertically or horizontally in the case of
the City Type Coils, and horizontally only in Bureau issues. In Bureaus,
one also finds gap pairs (qv), line pairs (qv), and
combination (line and gap) pairs (qv).
to describe precancelled coil pairs where the gap between the ends
of the lines showing the joining of the two halves of the precancel
printing cylinder coincides with the line produced during the printing
of the stamp themselves. In other words, a combination of a line
and gap pair. Due to the different sizes of the cylinders used in
the printing of coil stamps and the subsequent precancelling, a line-gap
situation occurs only every 204 stamps, showing the scarcity value
of such pairs. See Coil Pair, Gap Pair, Line Pair.
the UK, this term is used to describe overprinted security endorsements
employed by private firms, local authorities, banks, etc., on ordinary
postage stamps used for receipt duty and other fiscal purposes between
1853 and 1971. They have the appearance of precancels, but in general
were not valid for any form of postage. With the abolition of the
2d receipt tax in 1971, the holders of printed stock were authorized
to use up stocks as normal postage for a period of six months.
precancel made, usually fraudulently, to imitate a legally issued
and used device.
World War II, an enclave of East Prussia in what is now Poland and
called Gdansk. In 1920 an order was issued that all stamps of 1 mark
or over to be used for affixing to parcel cards should be cancelled
with a rubber or cork cancellation before attaching the stamps. The
most common designs of these precancels are stars and crosses.
A term applied to precancels that have an extra marking
in the form of a date and users initials printed or handstamped
upon them. In 1938 the US Post Office Department ruled that when
an item of mail required postage of 6¢ or more, then all precancels
used for the purpose must have imprinted on them the initials of
the user and the month and year of usage. Collectors recognize several
different categories in which to subdivide these issues; these are
described elsewhere in this Glossary. See Handstamp Dated Controls,
Integral Precancels, Printed Dated Controls.
printed on a stamp at an angle from the normal horizontal or vertical
position. Catalogues consider any cancel at an angle of 22° or
more to be a diagonal.
Discontinued Post Office:
A Post Office that has closed down or no longer exists.
Generally referred to as a DPO.
1995 the US Postal Service issued three stamps that were forerunners
of many more which have caused dispute among collectors of Bureau
issues. One of the originals depicts the front of an automobile for
Bulk Rate usage while the other shows the rear of another car - Auto
Tail Fin for First Class Cards. Bureau purists consider these
not to be Bureau precancel issues, but this is countered by the fact
that the USPS cites them as precancels in its own USPS Stamp Catalogue.
The collector is left to decide what they are.
See Double Line Electro below.
with two normal impressions, either both in the same plane, or one
Double Line Electro:
distinctive and attractive type of precancel bearing the town and
state name in a variety of styles between two pairs of parallel lines.
Most of these are produced from electroplates consisting of 100 subjects
supplied by the US Government. In addition, there are towns which
have a similar style of precancel produced from locally made plates;
these are not usually included in a DLE collection and are excluded
from the standard catalogues on the topic of which the most recent
is the 1999 edition of the Catalogue of Double Line Electro Precancels,
published by the PSS.
see Discontinued Post Office.
Term usually applied to the US definitive issues of
1922-1931, in all states of perforation.
known as an electro, is a printing plate, usually of 25, 50 or 100
subjects, used when large numbers of precancels are needed. Such
plates are generally made by the US Post Office and supplied to the
various local post offices. Washington supplied the first electros
in 1913. Precancels produced this way are easily distinguished by
a sharp and clear impression, often in shiny black ink.
used for precancels with misspelling in the town or state names,
or with missing punctuation (eg full stops or periods).
earliest Bureau Prints (qv) which were issued in 1916 as an
experiment in precancellation by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Only three cities were supplied with these stamps: New Orleans LA,
Augusta ME, and Springfield MA.
precancel that does not match any known accepted example.
A stamp which has been precancelled as a favour to a
collector or individual post office customer and not genuinely issued
in bulk to authorised users.
Synonymous with Counterfeit (qv).
Four and Five Liners:
early (1893) experimental French precancels which were printed in
positions A, B or C across the stamp. They are generally very scarce
and rarely found in good condition.
major European precancel country, such stamps have been issued by
France, for strictly postal purposes, continually since 1893. Before
this date, various issues of definitive and newspaper stamps had
been precancelled by newspaper text. Only three major precancel styles
have been used. Until 1954 the precancellation was applied to selected
values from a range of definitive issues, and only rarely was a new
value added which was found only in the precancelled state. From
1954, however, some precancels are only found in this state and since
1975 a new issue of stamps has been released annually. French precancels
are listed in a number of catalogues including the Cérès
Catalogue and Part 1 of the Yvert & Tellier Catalogue (both priced
in French francs) and in the PSS Catalogue of France, Algeria, Tunisia
and Monaco (1983), priced in US dollars.
the printing of Bureau coil stamps, an obvious gap in the lines of
the precancel show after every twelfth impression. This indicates
the joining of the two halves of the precancel cylinder. Smaller
and less obvious gaps occur after every sixth impression.
Precancelled sheets of stamps similar to those used
in the USA, Canada, etc., were never sanctioned in this country,
but within the newspaper industry there has been a long
history of precancellation of both stamps and postal stationery.
In the 1860s and 70s both the Times and Stamford Mercury (qv) newspapers
had permission to impress stamps on the paper, which did not require
subsequent cancellation, and several private firms were also allowed
to precancel their mail with handstamps not used for any other purpose.
Further information can be found in The Newspaper and Almanac
Stamps of Great Britain and Ireland by Chandler and Dagnall,
published by GB Philatelic Publications, Ltd., 1981.
These are used by the smaller post offices where only
a small number of precancels is required. They usually consist of
5, 10, 15 or 25 subjects and are mostly made from rubber, metal (often
called a stereotype) or vinyl. Each of these categories is described
Handstamp Dated Controls:
Controls (qv) - where the date and firms initials are
applied to an already precancelled stamp by means of a hand-stamp.
The stamp may be a Bureau print, or a locally precancelled one.
1911 to the early 1920s, this European country employed a special
roller device to precancel stamps used for mailing newspapers. The
cancellations consisted of 2 concentric circles, with the town name
in between. Within the inner circle, the space was either left blank,
or contained the last two digits of the year of issue. This part
of the cancel had the appearance of a very small 2-ring circular
date stamp. To complete the precancel these circles were connected
by some straight parallel lines and spaced such that each stamp received
a circular cancel. By far the majority of these precancels are to
be found on the 1899-1913 1¢ lilac definitive stamp.
1959 the Dutch PTT began issuing literature on stamps to collectors
in envelopes that had been precancelled. This continued until 1964.
Again in 1985, under proper authority, private bulk mailing companies
undertook the precancelling of envelopes for junk mail.
minor precancel issuing country of Europe in which, from 1900 to
1914, newspaper publishers were authorised to precancel newspaper
stamps. These were used exclusively for the franking of newspapers
that were sent in a wrapper. The stamps are generally scarce and
the subject is covered in a monograph Hungarian Precancels,
by Otto Schäffling and published by the Society for Hungarian
Control (qv) precancels in which the dating and initialling
portion is applied in the same operation that puts the city, state,
lines, etc., on the stamp. In other words, it is an integrated process,
the printing plate or handstamp performing the precancelling and
dating at the same time. All such precancels, therefore, are local
issues (ie non-Bureau).
Year greetings cards have been issued, in conjunction with a lottery
giving the recipient a chance to win a prize, since 1949. These have
been so popular that in 1961, to alleviate the work of the Post Office,
the cards were precancelled with special designs. If used only for
New Year greetings and posted within a prescribed period, they required
no additional postage and were not further cancelled. An additional
1 yen postage was needed if sent outside this period.
set of US definitive stamps, first issued in 1954, which are
commonly found precancelled, both as Bureaus and locally.
is indicated by a vertical line in the same colour ink as the stamp
itself, running between an occasional pair of stamps. This shows
the join where subject plates are attached to the cylinder. As there
are ten such plates attached, one line pair occurs every 17 stamps.
Another name used in some catalogues and literature
to denote combination pairs (qv).
(1) Generally used to denote a non-Bureau precancel, ie one
produced or ordered locally in the town or city in which it is needed.
It can also have a more restricted meaning when it refers to a precancel
style that is more or less unique to a particular town or city and
does not match any of the standard types classified in the Official
Style Chart (qv).
(2) The term is some-times used synonymously with roulettes (qv) when
referring to Belgian precancels.
small European country issued precancels between 1900 to 1925 and,
like neighbouring Belgium, can be categorised into two main types:
roulettes (qv) and typos (qv). The roulettes were issued
first, the precancel consisting of a rectangular box, mainly reading
up or down (qv), and containing the words LUXEMBOURG VILLE
and the year of issue. The typos, issued from 1904 to 1925, were
various definitive stamps overprinted horizontally with the word
LUXEMBOURG and below it the last two digits of the year of issue.
Luxembourg precancels are listed and priced in the Prifix Catalogue.
precancels, worded Manila, P.I. and similar, are actually
anti-theft cancels used by firms in the Philippines and have no postal
rotary machine that prints through a wax stencil stretched over the
curved surface of a cylindrical drum. Precancels produced on such
a machine are also called mimeographs. Since the stencils are almost
always cut on a typewriter, the precancels generally have a typewritten
have been issued by Monaco since 1943, with identical styles of overprint
to those of France (qv). Again like France, separate issues
of stamps have been produced annually from 1975 to the present day.
Monaco precancels are listed in a number of catalogues including
the Cerès Catalogue and Part 1 of the Yvert & Tellier
Catalogue (both priced in French francs) and in the PSS Catalogue
of France, Algeria, Tunisia and Monaco (1983), priced in US dollars.
1978, US Bureau prints for individual town and cities were discontinued
and were replaced by a precancel in the form of a pair of horizontal
parallel lines across the stamps. Since then a number of different
types have been issued, generally inscribed with an indication of
the usage rather than location of point of mailing. All these Bureaus
are known as National types.
denotes stamps that were applied to sheets of blank newsprint and
then cancelled by the printed text of the newspaper. In the early
1860s France collected tax on newspapers by using postage stamps
for this purpose and followed this in 1868 by the introduction of
special Newspaper Stamps. Other countries employing this type of
precancellation include Austria, Belgium, Italy and Turkey.
Canada, a stamp which is precancelled with a numeral within two pairs
of parallel lines. This numeral denotes the town or city, and is
the number allocated in the Dominion Post Office Money Order system.
It is formed of either four digits or a capital X followed by three
digits. Such stamps were used in 47 towns, being introduced gradually
in the 1930s and discontinued in the early 1950s.
Official Style Chart:
A chart, published by the Precancel Stamp Society, Inc.,
which classified precancelling overprints applied under authority
of the US Post Office Department. The classification is divided into
sections, each representing a variation in the method of precancellation.
Each distinct precancel style is assigned a number in the following
|| City type coils
||Electroplates for use by local printer
||Rubber handstamps made under government
|| Stereotype handstamps made under government
||Vinyl handstamps made under government
1879 issue of postage due stamps were precancelled by the New York
Post Office throughout its range of values. The device consisted
of a ring of dots giving the appearance of a string of pearls and
surrounding a monogram of the letters N and Y at right angles, one
superimposed upon the other.
used for the commonest state of Bureau coil pairs; ie those
not showing gaps, lines, or combinations of these.
Playing Card Precancel:
Bureau of Engraving and Printing also overprinted Playing Card tax
stamps in a similar manner to Bureau prints. Although not valid for
any form of postage, these issues often form part of a Bureau precancel
times precancelled mail inadvertently passes through the normal postal
system and emerges bearing a post cancellation. This usually detracts
from the value of the stamp and in most cases such examples may be
discarded. There are, however, a few instances where such copies
are desirable, because of the rarity of precancels without the post
cancellation. The best example of this is the 3¢ coil Bureau
from Buffalo, NY (illustrated) of which less than ten copies are
known not post cancelled.
There is no single definition of a pre-cancel, but perhaps
the most satisfactory is that given by the US Precancel Stamp Society,
Inc., which states that ... a precancel is any postage stamp,
stamped stationery, or revenue stamp which has been cancelled prior
to the actual use for which it was issued, by, under the supervision
of, or with permission of proper authority, with a device that was
used for no form of post-cancelling by the same office. Various
countries introduced precancels as a means of saving time and reducing
costs in handling certain classes of mail. This was done by allowing
authorised users to affix stamps already cancelled on to bulk mail,
thus avoiding a time-consuming step in processing at the post office.
Countries that have issued precancels have different regulations
governing their use, but in general they are employed by mail order
companies which handle large quantities of bulk matter. In most countries,
the general public are not permitted to use them; only authorised
users may do so.
As well as the United States, which is by far the largest
precancel issuing country, Canada, Belgium, France and Monaco have
made substantial use of the system. Other countries have used precancels
on an experimental or limited basis; these include Luxembourg, Algeria,
Tunisia, Hungary, Turkey, Danzig, Austria, United Nations and even
A monthly magazine, first published in 1940, which
is the Official Organ of the Precancel Stamp Society, Inc. in
the United States of America.
The French word for precancel. Also called Préo.
set of US definitive stamps, first issued in 1937, which are commonly
found precancelled, both as Bureaus and locally.
A common US term for a stamp in the Presidential Series.
Printed Dated Controls:
Controls (qv) where the date and users initials are
printed (not hand-stamped) on an already precancelled stamp. The
stamp may be a Bureau print, or locally precancelled. These are covered
by the Official Printed Dated Control Catalogue (2001).
Prominent Americans Series:
set of US definitive stamps, first issued in 1965, which are commonly
found precancelled, both as Bureaus and locally.
The abbreviation by which the Precancel Stamp Society
Inc., of the United States is commonly known.
term of affection used for the once rarest Bureau precancel; Liberty
MO, #102, of which only 30 copies are known to exist. This has since
been replaced by several other more modern issues, with the rarest,
Phenix City AL, #743, having only one copy known.
(See Box Cancel).
term applied to a class of Belgian and Luxembourg precancel that
was produced locally using a rubber roller. The design consisted
of a rectangular box containing the name of the town or city in which
the stamp was used and the year of issue. In the case of Belgium,
the town name usually appeared in both French and Flemish, and was
first issued in 1894, lasting until the 1930s, when typos valid
for the whole of the country became available. Luxembourg (qv) had
a much smaller issue and period of use. Roulettes can be distinguished
from typos (qv) of the same period and town by their much
inferior quality and often blurred impressions. They can be considered
as analogous to some local precancel issues in the USA.
were supplied to post offices where only a small number of precancels
were required. No further supplies were issued after 1932 when stereotype
handstamps became available (qv).
are mainly early American precancels not bearing any indication of
the state or city of usage. The majority in this category are the
lines and bars issues (qv), but also included here are various
monograms such as G from Glastonbury CT and M from
Menominee MI, as also are the 5-point stars from Glen Allen VA and
Andover NY. Listings of such issues may be found in Silent
Precancels - Lines, Bars and Designs by David W Smith (1995).
1878, the Stamford Mercury newspaper was given permission to use
stamped to order wrappers that would be precancelled as required
with a canceller incorporating the 742 Stamford duplex. Stamped wrappers
were taken to the Stamford Post Office for cancelling. On return
they were addressed and wrapped round the newspaper for sorting and
dispatch without further handling by the Post Office. This practice
is continued to the present, making it the only current GB precancel.
replaced the earlier rubber handstamps that tended to wear and distort
rapidly. Made from metal, the stereotypes were supplied until 1958
when they were replaced by vinyl plastic devices (qv).
with one or two adjacent edges lacking perforations as issued. These
occur on margin or corner stamps, most frequently seen on Canadian
precancels. A third straight edge, seen on coil stamps and more commonly
known as a clipped edge, is usually due to the perforations being
removed by automatic stamping machines.
Such collections are formed by collecting one stamp
of each issue of the US bearing a precancel. All types within an
issue are collected, such as watermarks, perforations, types of printing
group name for the smaller US protected areas and non-mainland States
that use, or have used, precancels. Puerto Rico, Canal Zone, DC and
the Pacific Islands such as Guam are included in this category.
Towns & Types:
This term is usually applied to those collections in
which one stamp is collected for each type of precancel from each
town. The stamp issue or denomination is not considered important.
It is estimated that in the US there are almost 41,000 distinct types
from over 21,000 different towns, and known combinations of these
T&T's number in excess of 4 million varieties. Because of this
vast number, most collectors limit their activities to a single,
or a specific range of, states, or to a particular denomination or
stamp issue. A general catalogue covering these issues is the PSS
Town and Type Catalogue of the United States and Territories, 6th
stamps of Great Britain are regularly precancelled with one or two,
usually vertical, thick black lines for use in training Post Office
employees. A wide range of revenue and fiscal stamps handled by the
Post Office are also similarly cancelled.
Algeria, this neighbouring North African country was issued with
a small number of precancels between 1926 and 1947 while it was under
French control. The type of overprint used was identical to that
of France and only eight stamp values were precancelled. Tunisian
precancels are listed and priced in Part 2 of the Yvert & Tellier
the turn of the century, Turkish stamps were applied to newspapers
and were cancelled during the printing process by the newsprint.
The main interest lies in the different languages which can be
found in the precancel; those known include English, French,
Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Armenian.
term used to denote Belgian precancels produced centrally using typographic
printing methods. They are somewhat analogous to the Bureau prints (qv) in
the USA. The early typos were similar in design to the roulettes (qv),
and were first issued in 1906 for Brussels. In subsequent years,
only six other towns were supplied with them: Antwerp, Ghent, Louvain,
Liege, Charleroi and Verviers. In 1930 a universal precancel bearing
the name of Belgium in both French and Flemish was issued, and towards
the end of that decade the name was dropped and replaced by a posthorn
symbol. In later years, various style changes have taken place.
to electroplates, in that they are printed in a printing press, typesets
differ by using standard metal type rather than a solid piece of
metal as is the case with electros. The inscription is set as many
times as it is desired to precancel stamps in one impression.
one stamp denomination has been precancelled; the 1½¢ stamp
of the first US issue. It had been widely believed that many
counterfeit examples existed. However it is now considered that
there were two different printings - letterpress and offset -
with the microscopically clearer printing being from the letterpress,
those from the offset originally being thought of as the counterfeit.
Universal Style Chart:
A chart produced by Hoover Bros in 1948 to classify
US precancels. It is now largely superseded by the PSS Official Style
Up (and Down):
the precancel is applied vertically to the upright design of the
stamp and reading from the bottom towards the top is known as reading
up, or simply UP. The reverse, of course, is DOWN. In the case of
a cancel on a horizontal design, normal is up, while down gives an
inverted impression. However, in Bureau issues, irrespective of design,
all stamps are cancelled across the narrow width, making the normal
reading down. In five cases there is an error in cancelling the 20¢ stamp
of the Early Series, where the precancel reads up from the right
side, eg Detroit MI.
of the larger (particularly tobacco) companies cancelled stamps by
means of an overprint bearing the initials or name of the company
sending mail. Usually seen on the 5¢ values issued around the
turn of the century, stamps thus cancelled rarely received additional
post office cancellations.
are the most recent type of handstamp used in post offices needing
only small numbers of precancels. They replaced stereotype metal
handstamps in 1958 (qv).
The German word for precancel.
Term used for precancels received as a result of written
application to relevant post offices.