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AL - Address Label         HW - Hand Written Address
AP - Address Printed   MC - Wavy line Machine Cancel Postmark
AT - Address Typed     ML - Missing Label
CDS - Counter or Circular Date Stamp Postmark    MS - Miniature Sheet
FDC - First Day Cover    NVI - Non Value Indicators such as 1st & 2nd Class
FDI - First Day of Issue Postmark       ORD - Ordinary set of Stamps (Non Phosphor)
FPO - Forces Post Office    PHOS - Phosphor Set of Stamps
HS - Special Handstamp Postmark SHC - Special Handstamp Centre
  TPO - Travelling Post Office



Cover – A cover is an envelope. Philatelic covers have elaborate designs on them.  

Cinderella Cover – cover produced by an individual or organisation for a specific issue, with the local First Day Of Issue (FDI), Counter Date Stamp (CDS) or Special Handstamp Postmark (HS) applied on the First Day of Issue of the stamps.

Definitive Cover – cover with small stamps with the monarch's head.

First Day Cover (FDC) – a specially designed envelope, with new issue postage stamps, postmarked on the first day those stamps were sold by the Post Office.

Maxi Card or Maximum Card – forerunner to the PHQ card series, a postcard & stamp with a postmark appropriate to both the stamp & postcard. 

Official or Sponsored Cover - produced by private organisation or cover producer, who sponsor a Special Handstamp Postmark (HS) for their cover.

PHQ Card - postcard features an enlargement of a British stamp issued by the Royal mail since 1973. PHQ stands for Postal Headquarters.

Postal History – postage stamps, covers & other items illustrating postal history, including old letters & postmarks from the last 400+ years. Rare postmarks are now as highly prized as scarce stamps.

Presentation Pack –features a GB stamp issue in a colourful & informative wallet.

Signed Cover – personally autographed by a famous person e.g. a famous actor, artist, author, musician, pilot, politician, sports star.

Souvenir or Commemorative Cover – cover with pictorial or definitive stamps. Covers usually issued for special anniversaries or events.

Thematic Cover – cover & stamps with a similar subject or theme e.g. Churchill, football, Olympics, trains, royalty etc.

Travelling Post Office (TPO) - postmark applied on Mail Trains, relevant to all train related stamp issues. Travelling Post Office Mail Trains were retired by Royal Mail in March 2004.


  1. Special Handstamps (HS)- pictorial postmark specially applied by trained Royal Mail staff at one of their five regional Special Handstamp Centres (SHC).
  2. Ordinary First Day of Issue Postmarks  (FDI) - circular with the date, location & words 'First Day of Issue'. First introduced with the 1964 Shakespeare issue & withdrawn after the 1998 Christmas issue.
  3. Counter or Circular Date Stamp Postmarks (CDS) – the everyday postmarks used at Post Office counters. Prior to June 1993 used Registered Post to a get cds cancellation, though some accommodating Post Offices did them, now you have to use Royal Mail's Special Delivery Service.
  4. Slogan postmarks - machine postmarks applied to most mail, a circle showing the date, town & an advertising slogan or wavy line. Highly sought after if the slogan is relevant to the stamp issue.
  5. Meter Marks - applied in-house by companies using their own franking machines for everyday business post, usually contain company logos or text  relevant to the stamp issue. The stamps are postmarked by Royal Mail with a Special Handstamp (HS) or Circular Date Stamp (CDS).


Please contact me if you have any questions regarding Cover Collecting or Philately.

Richard Park, Specialist Philatelic Dealer


Phone: 07747 803220 

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