How To Understand Serial Numbers of Plate Blocks

Postage stamp collecting is a hobby that has a long history. With postage stamps created to flatter and make each area of origin or area of destination as desirable as possible, people have instantly fallen in love with postage stamps and the various images and even artworks that are printed on the stamps. The idea of having such finely made photographs and paintings on a small and handy piece of paper for just a few cents has always enticed many. If you are a beginner in the field of stamp collecting, it is important to understand what the serial numbers of plate blocks signify. Here are the ways to do this.

  1. Use stamp catalogs. Because the hobby of collecting stamps has gained such popularity, a wide variety of publications and reference materials have been printed to provide both amateurs and serious enthusiasts with information about anything and everything about post stamps, including the serial numbers on the plate blocks. Using these materials, you will not only find out the plate block is an uncut set of stamps that still lie in the original sheet of paper and with the perforated edges still intact. Instead, you will also learn that the plate block serial numbers are the digits that are printed on the white corner of the stamps. Even better, these reference books and stamp catalogs will also help you determine the value of your plate block and whether the serial number printed in it is authentic. A good example of a reliable catalog is the Specialized Catalog of U.S. Stamps and Covers which can even have information on topics like fabric block, bowl block, weight block, the memory quilt and plate oil.
  2. Determine the age. Another factor that will help you to better understand the plate block serial number is the age and period when the plate block was created. Throughout the ages, the number of rows and columns that the regular plate block contains has changed. By determining the age, you will be able to determine the authenticity of the plate block – if the serial number claims that the block was created in the 1940s but the cut and the number of individual stamps is not consistent with the usual practices of plate block manufacturers at the time, you may be facing a fake. Keep in mind, however, that some countries vary how their plate blocks are made and how many stamps are put in each.
  3. Determine the type. Finally, determine the type of plate block that you are dealing with. The serial number will not always be placed on the corners of a square shaped plate block. There are also items that are printed on plate coils. Plate coils are a series of stamps that are printed side by side and laid out in a coil, instead of on a square block. The serial number on plate coils are different from those in blocks, since the numbers are printed on the outer edge of the coil instead of on the margins of the rectangle.

With these steps, you will get a better understanding of how plate block serial numbers are used and how they vary between the various types of stamps. Once you understand this, you can use the serial numbers to add value to the stamps that you are collecting. If you auction a plate block complete with an authentic serial number on stamp collector’s auctions and sales, you can even get a quick hundred bucks or more.


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