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Identifying Stamps


Part of the challenge, and part of the fun of stamp collecting is accurately identifying stamps.

You might think it would be easy to do and for the most part it is very easy to do. But sometimes it can be a bit tricky to accurately identify a stamp. Especially the oldest of stamps.

Here I help you understand the various properties and attributes of stamps that are used to correctly identify them.


Here are a whole lot of 2 cent George Washington Stamps that need to be identified and properly placed in the stamp album. This work can be tedious but it is fun nonetheless.

Identifying stamps

The Design - This is usually the first thing we go to! What is the picture on the stamp? Often times, the design on a stamp is unique to one particular issue.

The design of a stamp

The Writing on the Stamp:

Often times there are words on stamps, particularly with commemoratives. This text is usually unique so it is very easy to look it up. This stamp is a 1962 issue stamp. Scott # 1193

The denomination of a stamp

The Denomination - This stamp can be a bit tricky to figure out. But, it is a ten cent stamp and that gives us a clue as to what time period it is from. That narrows down our search a lot.

Perforations, full, vertical, horizontal.


various coil stamps


Coming: perforation spacing.


An over printed stamp

Overprints -

Coming :

  • The size of the stamp
  • Commemorative or Definitive?
  • The year is right on the stamp!
  • The Type of paper.
  • Ultraviolet light (Tagging)
  • Watermarking
  • Secret Marks



The philosophy of stamp collecting - Stamp collecting very neatly fulfills some basic human traits. I also call this article the Crow, the organizer, the Historian and the Banker.


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