American Philatelic Society

ACS Stamp CompanyACS Stamp Company
Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to many frequently asked questions. If you have a question that isn't answered here or for more information about the American Philatelic Society, feel free to submit a question or call 1-814-933-3803. Our staff will be happy to assist.

Specific questions about APS departments or services should be forwarded to the appropriate staff member as listed at Headquarters Staff.

FAQ Topics


Who invented the postage stamp? What country issued the first postage stamp and when?

In what year and in what city was the first U.S. postage stamp made? Also, what image was on the first U.S. postage stamp?



Do self-adhesive stamps soak off?

What album would you recommend I purchase?

I have a postage stamp without any country's name. How can I determine where it is from?

What's the difference between a new unused stamp and a new unused stamp with some type of cancellation marks on the front? Are they both considered new unused for collection purposes?

What does F-VF mean?

What is the difference between carmine and red? Are there any color guides available to help me distinguish colors?

How can I tell the difference between stamps issued both with regular gum and as self-adhesives?

I have a stamp without any perforations. Is this a valuable error?

What does it mean for a stamp to be tagged? How do I determine this?

What is a watermark? How do I determine if a stamp has a watermark? Is it safe to use lighter fluid to detect a watermark?

What are semipostals and what are they used for?

What is a "cut square?"

What is an International Reply Coupon?

I found a dark blue stamp with the American Lung Association symbol in red on the left side. There is an angel in the bottom half of the stamp. Is this valuable?

I found some old documents with stamps in our attic. Are they valuable?

What is a cachet?

What is a frank?

What is a grill?

What is selvage?

I was told my cover would be worth more if the stamp were tied. What does this mean?

How do I get my kids/grandkids interested in stamp collecting?


United States Stamps

How do I collect a single of a self-adhesive?

What are the most popular U.S. stamps?

I have U.S. stamps with letters but no denominations? Are they still valid for postage?

May I photocopy U.S. stamps?

How many stamps do I need to save to have a plate block?

Who decides what stamps the U.S. issues? How can I request a stamp be issued for an event?

Is it legal to use old unused stamps?

How can I use precancelled stamps?

Buying/Obtaining Stamps

I would like to start collecting stamps but I don't have much money. Do you have any ideas for obtaining stamps inexpensively?

I would like to purchase a complete year set of stamps for my grandchild. How can I do this? My post office does not stock all new U.S. issues? How can I get them?

How do I obtain a first day of issue cancel?

I am interested in collecting stamps of a specific topic. How do I find out what stamps exist?

Inventorying/Valuing/Selling Stamps

What software exists to inventory stamp collections?

I found several stamps in a chest of drawers that I bought. How can I find out if they are worth anything?

Help! I just inherited a stamp collection. I'm not really interested in collecting or becoming a member, but I would still like to find out if it has any value and perhaps sell the collection. Can the APS offer me any assistance?

I have some old stamps that I may be interested in selling. How do I go about this?

Are used stamps of any value?

Tell me about the Face of Mars stamps. Are they really worth several thousand dollars?

How can I find out the value of my collection of 22 karat gold stamps?

I have some German stamps that say 1 Billion Marks. Are these valuable?

Advanced Information

Where would I look for information about quantities printed of any worldwide stamp?

How can I find out what the postage rate was in 1900?

I have an envelope with a T inside a hexagon? What does this mean?


What are the rarest or most expensive stamps?

Is there significance to a stamp being placed upside down on an envelope?

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