What is this? Terminology question

I know this has probably been hashed out many times before but what would you call these? Are they proofs? Miniature sheets? Presentation sheets?


  • Travis

    I'll leave others to give their opinion but my own casual research concludes that (some) philatelists are quite careless about their terminology at times which doesn't help us amateurs. I've been trying to get my head around "proofs" and trawling various websites to get a better understanding (not all the philatelic websites agree on the terminology either)

    In case it's of help to others here's what I've put together so far

    Proofs are impressions taken at different stages of the production process in order to check for quality and errors - literally to "prove" (approve) the work done to date. Proofs are made to examine a die or plate for defects or to compare the results of using different inks or colours.

    Proofs can be categorised into different types:

    Colour Proof - Proofs made in the adopted colour or colours.
    Trial colour proof - Proofs made in different colours from those adopted often to assess which colours work best with the design
    Die Proof - Upon completion of a master die, trial printings are taken. They are the final checks before the plate is made.
    Engraver's Proof - Trial impressions taken during the course of making the die.
    Plate Proof - The trial impressions from the printing plate before the actual issue. Usually they are ungummed and printed on card.
    Progressive proofs - as a stamp is gradually engraved it is necessary to check progress and a series of proofs are printed or 'pulled' from the die as it is developed.
    Hybrid proof - a proof on India paper, which is then mounted on a larger piece of cardboard.
    Posthumous die proof - pulls from the master die after the stamp has been printed normally produced for presentation purposes, as samples of the printer's work or to satisfy philatelic demand. Technically these aren't "proofs" as such as they're not used for "proving".

    Happy to be corrected on any of this

    PS Travis, maybe we should start building a glossary for LPS through the Journal?

  • Thanks Mik. Since Liberia printed up 1000s of "proofs" to sell as philatelic items, are they really proofs? I like the idea of a glossary!
  • Interesting question!

    I know that Cockrill at times used teh word "pulls" rather than "proofs" - ie printed from the die/plate but not for proofing purposes
    I've also seen the word "reprint" used

    I think any glossary would need to be put together by a mini-committee to ensure consensus but it would be good to see this tailored to Liberia
    Happy to help with this when I've finished the Index! :D

  • And as for MS and SS there's soem agreement and some differences

    It seems that all SS are MS but not all MS are SS!

    Stanley Gibbons states:
    "Miniature sheets originated to celebrate special events, particularly stamp exhibitions. Rather than the normal sheets with fifty or a hundred impressions, small sheets suitable for mounting in an album were produced, with perhaps one or four impressions and wide margins with space for commemorative inscriptions. "

    " Compare this to what a purist may call a ‘Souvenir Sheet’ where the selvage may contain a mixture of symbols, control numbers, printer’s monograms and details referring to the anniversary or event that is being celebrated. To add further confusion the tendency in the USA is to refer to all miniature sheets as ‘Souvenir Sheets’."

    According to Linns:

    "Souvenir sheets… usually have a wide margin or a lot of selvage with an inscription describing the event, person or thing being commemorated. Souvenir sheets can have a single stamp or up to 25 stamps or more. The stamps in a souvenir sheet might be available in other formats, such as panes or booklets, or they might be available only in the souvenir sheet. What distinguishes a souvenir sheet from a pane is that, although the stamps are postally valid, the postal authority that issued it generally intended it to be saved as a souvenir, rather than to be used for postage."


    "A miniature sheet is usually without marginal markings or text saying that the sheet was issued in conjunction with or to commemorate some event, which is what distinguishes it from a souvenir sheet."

    I've not found any explanation as to why a MS (as opposed to a SS) would be issued (other than the obvious - to make money)

    The consensus appears to be

    Miniature sheet:
    A smaller-than-normal pane of stamps issued only in that form or in addition to full panes. A miniature sheet is usually without marginal markings or text.

    Souvenir sheet: A small sheet of stamps, including one value or a set of stamps. A souvenir sheet usually has a wide margin and an inscription describing an event being commemorated. Stamps on a souvenir sheet may be perforated or imperforate. A souvenir sheet is normally postally valid.

  • Travis

    by the accepted definition these aren't souvenir sheets since they have no text or mention of an event

    Also, Ive not seen the term "presentation sheet" mentioned anywhere on the terminology websites - although in the case of Liberia this might be a useful addition

    "Reprints" might also be suitable - according to Linns a reprint is a stamp printed from the original die/plate but after the issue has ceased to be postally valid.
  • Travis,

    in issued colors, these were marketed as "deluxe sheetlets", at least later by Format. I don't know if they were ever sold over the counter in Liberia, but they were valid for franking, sometimes used to create FDCs, like the one shown with a deluxe sheetlet of Scott #747.
    Sheets with the exact same design, but in trial colors, are simply proofs.

  • and to add to the confusion Stanley Gibbons says:

    "A Sheet of stamps containing a much smaller number than the normal sheet (pane) format ...always including more than one copy of each stamp design ."

    So according to SG Manfred's cover stamp isn't a sheetlet!

    And Linns refuses to use "sheetlet" as a word at all commenting that it "can mean just about anything"

    Back to square 1 ?
  • I don't know ... to me, differentiating between souvenir sheets, mini- or miniature sheets, presentation sheets or even "deluxe sheet(let)s" seems like hair-splitting. The German Michel-Katalog refers to all stamps issued in very small sheets (= sheetlets) as "Blocks". It doesn't matter whether they contain one stamp or a few, are perforated or imperforate, commemorative or definitive issues, or whether there is an inscription in the selvage or not. Apparently, the first Block of all time listed by Michel is this issue of Luxembourg 1923. BTW, the small crown in the lower right corner is punched-out, not printed. And Scott calls it a souvenir sheet.

    However, if you are searching for them it is useful to use a term that seems to be established now, which is "deluxe sheet*".

  • Manfred

    you may be right about hair splitting - however it's also a source of confusion and misunderstanding if we can't agree which term to use for what

    Also, Cockrill suggests that Hayman may have come up with the first miniature sheets in the 1892 issue where he had the $1, $2 and $5 printed in sheets of 10 and with the 1984 Postage Due where he had single stamps printed in the middle of a sheetlet!
  • I think miniature sheets are very limited in number. Like what Waterlow did for their 1910 exhibition.

    I think souvenir sheets are made purposefully in mass quantities for sale to the public.
  • Plate proofs are also working proofs. Not just for color trial proofs.

    Following are plate proof progressive trials. Just as die proof progressive trials...

  • I would read "Fundamentals of Philately" by LN and M Williams. published 1971 by the A.P.S.
  • The postage dues definitely would have qualified as the first SS - had they been issued.
    Personally, I think the term souvenir sheet is the most honest one, because it gets right to the point of what this is about: although valid for franking, the main purpose is to keep it as a souvenir, unlike normal stamp sheets.
    As for the term "deluxe sheet(let)", I suspect it was coined to point out that these are special editions of stamps that are normally available in a regular sheet format. This, of course, is also true for some stamps in souvenir sheets, but you don't usually find the whole set in this format, as in the case of deluxe sheetlets.
  • The other thing that we need to differentiate is "surcharge" versus "re-valuation".

    Cockrill calls almost things surcharges. Some are added values - some are re-valuation.

    This is a key problem. Surcharges are added value. Not many Liberian stamps have "added value".

    Most Liberian stamps are revalued.
  • especially in the 19-teens
  • edited October 2021
    I personally like the idea of "presentation sheets" as suggested by Travis

    Some would be definite souvenir sheets for a specific event, others are just sheets presenting specific Liberia stamps for collectors

    I suspect the term "de-luxe" came from someone trying to boost interest in sales by suggesting that somehow these were "special" and high class!
  • Bryant

    not sure I fully understand the difference between a surcharge and a re-valaution

    eg the 1916 red cross (B1-B15) show a surcharge (according to Scott)
    whereas the 1941 air (C17-C26) are also surcharged (according to Scott) but with the surcharge showning the new value (=re-valuation)?
  • Mik,

    I was wondering the same thing. I believe Bryant wants to distinguish between an overprint stating the new value and one indicating an addition to the existing value. However, I don't know of any stamps where the overprint would state an added value. The "+XXX" on stamps usually either makes them or turns them into semi-postals, but that doesn't change the face value, only the price. That's called a surtax. So, is a surcharge an overprinted surtax, then?

    I must admit I am a bit at a loss, too...

    BTW, the oldest philatelic definition of "surcharge" I could find so far states that it is "something added to a stamp which does not form part of the original design". (Philatelic Record, Stanley, Gibbons & Co., London, April 1884: Vol 6, No. 63, page 68)
    Back then, it was clearly used as a synonym of "overprint". I suspect it was taken from the French, where "surcharge" really simply means "overload", or, in the context of printing, "overprint"; it has nothing to do with the English word "charges". Well, it has the same roots, obviously, but the French "charge" is closer related to the English "cargo" than "charges". A false friend.
  • Talking with various philatelic judges, they all consider a surcharge to be "added value".

    The only added value overprints are the semi-postal and the LFF overprints.

    Generally, but not all, Liberian stamps with overprints that revalue the stamps have the original value obliterated.
  • I saw the following auction with what appears to be Bileski propaganda. Maybe he is the source of the term "presentation sheets".

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