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Collecting Terminology

Often, the terminology used in the hobby of stamp and cover collecting can be confusing for new collectors or for existing collectors who are only familiar with certain aspects of the hobby. The purpose of this area of our site is to define many of the terms used within the hobby. If you have candidates to add to our list, please submit them via E-mail to us at

  1. Imperforate.  Stamps lacking any trace of perforations. Imperforate stamps may be created intentionally or as the result of a production error. Note: Valuable imperforate stamps that also have perforated versions available whose design and other characteristics (e.g., color, paper type, watermark) are identical, should only be purchased with a certificate of authenticity.

  2. Perforations.  The holes between stamps that facilitate separation of the stamps. Perforations come in many different sizes and are applied by U.S. and foreign governments and those contracted by those governments to produce stamps. In addition, perforations have been applied to imperforate stamps for use in vending machines. 

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