A Guide to Stamp Grades & Philatelic Abbreviations We Use

On this website, we sometimes abbreviate stamp descriptions. Here's a list of commonly used philatelic abbreviations for stamp grades and their meanings. We also explain other stamp collecting terms you may encounter. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.

UM/MNH = Unmounted Mint. Mint or unused condition with intact original gum. No evidence of previous hinge marks.

MM/MH = Mounted Mint. Mint or unused with original gum. Will be hinged or mounted, or show signs of previously being so. Sometimes can be additionally specified as lightly or heavily mounted.

VFU = Very Fine Used. A fine stamp with a light cancellation/postmark which is often very legible.

FU = Fine Used. A fine stamp with a good or moderate postmark

GU = Good Used. A reasonable stamp with perhaps a tiny crease or heavier postmark, or the centring could be very off. Not the best but often acceptable.

AU = Average or Fair Used. A stamp with small defects; including thins, very rough postmarks or pulled/ragged perforations.

SF = Space or Gap Filler. Clear faults that are usually undesirable; such as heavily trimmed perforations, noticeable thins or tears, cuts or repairs.

SUPERB/XF = Extremely Fine. Can apply to used or mint stamps when the usual grades don't do enough justice. along the lines of a stamp or a feature on a stamp that is extremely appealing and you'd appreciate seeing in a magazine or see at an exhibition.

SG = Stanley Gibbons. The SG reference consists of either a number and/or letter, which is then used to locate the corresponding stamp in the specific Stanley Gibbons Concise country catalogue.

Spec = Specialised Catalogue. This will be a series of letters and numbers and refers to the more specialised Stanley Gibbons catalogues.

Cat = Catalogue Value. When providing a Catalogue Value, we refer to the current or most recent Stanley Gibbons catalogues. It's important to note that this value is purely informational and does not represent the retail price of a stamp.

The majority of the stamps we list include the SG number, denomination, colour, and corresponding grade or quality. If we believe additional information is necessary, we will supplement the description with relevant details and include accompanying high resolution images as part of the overall description.

In my next blog post, I talk about the intricacies of assessing the condition of stamps and how it will help you assign specific gradings to your stamps. It is important to note, however, that grading can be subjective at times. Happy collecting - Dan.


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