Proofs are stamp impressions that the printers make usually before the stamps go to press to show to postal officials for final approval of the stamp design, color and printing quality. All printers produce proofs before they print stamps but not all countries release them to the stamp collecting public. The availability of proofs varies tremendously. At the most liberal end of the spectrum, France and the French Community are the most prolific sellers of their proofs. Die Proofs (proofs with one impression to the sheet which are made from the single die before the sheet is made up) and imperfs (which are really plate proofs) are readily available and are sold for many issues to subscribers to the new issue services. Proof collecting has always been part of mainstream France and Colonies collecting. Great Britain and Colonies are at the other end of the spectrum with Proofs not regularly issued, hard to find and often quite pricey. The United States, to my mind, is more or less the Goldilocks of proof issuers, with a “just right” policy of scarce but not expensive Nineteenth Century proofs and little in the way of modern proof material to make collecting difficult for novices. Proofs are the earliest impressions off the plate or die and they are carefully printed and have a brightness and freshness that have long made them popular.

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