What is a definitive postage stamp?
A definitive postage stamp is a postage stamp that is issued for an extended period of time and is intended for everyday domestic mail use. Unlike commemorative stamps, which are issued for a limited time to honor special events or people, definitive stamps are the workhorses of the postal system, used to send regular mail.
Characteristics of definitive stamps
Definitive stamps typically have a few key characteristics that set them apart from other types of stamps:
- Longevity: Definitive stamps are designed to be used for an extended period of time, often years or even decades. They are not tied to a specific event or anniversary.
- Standardized design: While commemorative stamps often feature unique designs, definitive stamps usually have a consistent design that is used across multiple issues. This helps to make them easily recognizable.
- Denomination: Definitive stamps display their monetary value, making it easy for customers to know how much postage is required for different weights and sizes of mail.
- Mass production: Definitive stamps are printed in large quantities to meet the ongoing demand for regular mail. This makes them more readily available and affordable compared to limited edition stamps.
Why are definitive stamps important?
Definitive stamps play a crucial role in the functioning of a postal system. They are the backbone of everyday mail, allowing people to send letters, bills, and other important documents. Without definitive stamps, the postal system would be unable to efficiently handle the volume of regular mail. They are also an important source of revenue for postal services, as the sale of stamps helps fund the operation and maintenance of the postal infrastructure.
Collecting definitive stamps
While definitive stamps may not have the same allure as rare or limited edition stamps, they still hold value for collectors. Some collectors specialize in collecting and studying definitive stamps, as they provide a rich snapshot of a country’s postal history and design evolution. Collectors may focus on specific periods, countries, or design variations within the definitive stamp series.
When collecting definitive stamps, there are several factors to consider:
- Design variations: Definitive stamps often go through design changes over their lifetime. Collectors may aim to gather different versions of a particular stamp, such as different color variations or perforation varieties.
- Errors and varieties: Just like any other stamp, definitive stamps can have printing errors or production varieties. These variations can be highly sought after by collectors and may command a higher price.
- Postal history: Definitive stamps can also provide insights into the postal infrastructure and services of a country during a particular time period. Collectors interested in postal history may study how definitive stamps were used and canceled during different eras.
In summary, a definitive postage stamp is a long-lasting postage stamp that is used for everyday domestic mail. They are characterized by their longevity, standardized design, denomination, and mass production. Definitive stamps play a crucial role in the efficient functioning of a postal system and are an important source of revenue. While they may not have the same collectible value as rare stamps, definitive stamps still hold value for collectors interested in postal history and design variations.