Glossary

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The Glossary contains definitions for terms that are significant to Naval Covers.

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, designer, and / or artist. Examples The Universal Ship Cancellation Society publishes and sells an excellent reference, Naval Cover Cachet Makers Catalog, providing information on known cachet makers and exmaples of their cachets.
Cancel
See Postmark.
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. Typically used only during times of war.
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
Designation
The code letters preceding the hull number of a Navy ship which indicate the type of ship or service she provides. Examples are:
  • BB - Battleship
  • CV - Aircraft Carrier

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 by hand.

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

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:

  • BB-39 = Battleship U.S.S. Arizona
  • CV-6 = Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Enterprise

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. The Museum has received permission from the Universal Ship Cancellation Society to reprint a detailed description of the classification of Naval Postmarks.

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

A Naval Cover is any envelope, postcard, or other postal medium that is mailed from or somehow related to a naval vessel, location, or event. Beginning in 1908, post offices were established on board U.S. Navy ships and each ship had one or more postmarks to "cancel" the stamps used on the cover. The postmark, or cancellation, would usually have the ship's name and the date that the cover was cancelled.

Starting in the 1930's, covers with printed designs, called cachets, began appearing and established a large following. Many different cachets were designed and sent to various ships to be cancelled and mailed. Some cachets were designed for a specific ship while others were generic (perhaps for a holiday or commemorating an historical event) and sent to many different ships. World War II severely curtailed the creation and distribution of cachets and while covers with cachets are still created today, the phenomenon has never regained its pre-war level of enthusiasm.

NOTS
A abbreviation for "Naval Overseas Transportation Service". This service was for transporting troops home after World War I.

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.

P.C.E.C.
Patriotic Cover Exchange Club

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. Regular mail or "sailor" mail are examples of non-philatelic mail.

Postmark
A postmark (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. 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.

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.


 


 

If you would like to add a new term or update an existing term, then either contact the Curator or edit this page yourself. See Editing The Glossary Page for detailed information on editing this page.

 


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