Glossary of Terms

Cachet
A picture or design that is drawn, imprinted, stamped, or otherwise attached to the cover. Cachets usually are designed around a single theme such as a holiday (ie, Christmas), a ship-related event (ie, Shakedown Cruise), historical anniversary (ie, State admission to the Union), etc. Cachets typically identify the sponsor, director, and / or artist. Examples

Cancel
A cancel (or cancellation) is the hand or machine applied mark that is used to "cancel" the stamp on the cover. It frequently consists of two sections: a round dial that contains the name of the ship along with the cancellation date; and "killer" bars that are applied on top of the stamp and thus mark it as used.

The Universal Ship Cancellation Society publishes and sells an excellent reference: Catalog of United States Naval Postmarks (ISBN 0-9657316-0-X). The Museum has received permission from the Universal Ship Cancellation Society to reprint a detailed description of the classification of Naval Postmarks. Examples are provided where possible.

Censor Mark
A marking applied to the outside of a cover to indicate that it has passed inspection by authorities and contains no sensitive military information.

Circular Date Stamp
See Dial.

Corner Card
A Corner Card represents the return address of a ship or shore station and is pre-printed, stamped, typed, or written in the upper left-hand corner of regular or offical business (ie, penalty) envelopes. Examples

Cover
Some postal medium (typically an envelope or postcard but not always) that may or may not have actually gone through the postal system. A cover can have zero, one, or more stamps, zero, one, or more cancels, and zero, one, or more cachets.

Crosby Cachet
A very popular style of cachet created by Walter G. Crosby during the 1930's and 40's that contains a small, real photo at the bottom. Examples

Dial
The part of the cancel that usually contains the name of the ship or shore station and the cancellation date. The dial is typically round although other styles exist. Examples

Hand Cancel
A cancel that is applied using a hand-held device.

Hand Colored
A printed cachet that was subsequently colored or tinted.

Hand Painted
A cachet that is drawn or painted directly on the cover (ie, original art).

Hull Designation
The code letters preceding the hull number of a Navy ship which indicate the type of ship or service she provides. Examples are:

Hull Number
The Navy sequential number based on service classification and assigned after authorization of a ship. The combination of Ship Designation and Hull Number should uniquely identify a ship. Examples are:

Killer
The part of the cancel usually to the right of the dial that is applied over the stamp(s) to mark them as used. Several types of killers are used in Naval Cancels. One of the most common is a set of bars (usually referred to as "killer bars") which sometimes contain text between them. This "killer bar text" is referred to as the Killer Bar Legend. Examples

Locy System

The Collection uses "The Locy System for Classifying Naval Postmarks, As Revised ©, of the Universal Ship Cancellation Society" to classify all cancels and other postmarks found on Naval Covers displayed in the Collection.

The Universal Ship Cancellation Society publishes and sells an excellent reference: Catalog of United States Naval Postmarks (ISBN 0-9657316-0-X). The Museum has received permission from the Universal Ship Cancellation Society to reprint a detailed description of the classification of Naval Postmarks. Examples are provided where possible.

Machine Cancel
A cancel that is applied by a postal cancelling machine.

Naval Cover
A cover related to naval ships or other naval matters (shore installations, historical events, etc). See Cover for more information.

Oval Killer
A rubber stamp with two ovals, one inside the other. It is used to cancel stamps often on parcels or registered mail. If it contains the ship's name between the ovals, it is called a Parcel Post Oval (PPO).

Paquebot
A cancel applied in a port on other than that country's stamps as authorized by treaty members of the Universal Postal Union. A variety of spellings exist, depending on country of origin. An accompanying straight line marking is also usually found on Paquebot covers.

Parcel Post Box
A square or rectangular cancel similar in function to the Parcel Post Oval.

Parcel Post Oval
See Oval Killer.

Parcel Post Roller
A cancel with killer bars on a cylinder, used to run over a large number of stamps on a package, but occasionally found on a cover.

Penalty Envelope
An "Official Business" envelope, usually legal size, that contains the words: "Penalty for private use...." Examples

Philatelic Cover
A cover specifically serviced for a collector, frequently unaddressed, with or without a cachet.

Postage Meter
An impression that is machine-printed directly on an envelope or on an adhesive strip and indicating ship/station name, date and amount of postage.

Provisional Cancel
A cancel of original government issue which has been modified in some way by the postal clerk.

SDA
An acromyn used by the Museum to denote a Cachet Sponsor (S), Director or Designer (D), and/or Artist (A).

Serif Font
A style of font sometimes used for text in the cancel dial. Serif characters have a small triangle (flag) at the ends of some letters. Examples

Ship's Seal
A seal sometimes found on naval covers that includes the U.S. Navy Department emblem and the ship's name. Typically, the seal is colorless and is embossed (deeply imprinted) on the cover. Sometimes the ship's seal is in the form of a sticker pasted to the cover. Examples

Target Killer
A rubber stamp canceler, usually a series of concentric circles, and without the ship's name or date. It is most often used on parcels or registered mail.

Thermograph
A process in which a cachet is printed, then coated with a powder and heated in an electric furnace to produce a raised surface.

 


Last Updated: October 31, 2000
Copyright 2004 Naval Cover Museum