What Are the Basics of Middle Eastern Stamp Collecting?

The Middle East is an interesting theme for a stamp collection and includes countries like Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and Lebanon. The available stamps range from modern, inexpensive stamps available in bulk quantities to very rare stamps dating back to the introduction of the postal service in the associated country. Before committing to expensive purchases, new collectors should conduct some research to determine the values of different stamps as well as learn about stamp collecting terminology, such as "hinged," "unhinged," and "block" stamps.

What Is a Hinged Stamp?

Stamp hinges are small, rectangular pieces of glassine paper, a special semi-transparent paper that is moderately resistant to air and moisture. The hinges usually have gum on one side that allows collectors to mount stamps on album pages. When the hinges are dry, it is possible to remove the stamp, leaving only a small trace of the hinge. An "unhinged" stamp has no traces of a hinge but may not have the original gum either, while a "never hinged" or "NH" stamp has never had a hinge affixed to it and usually still has the original gum.

What Are Stamp Blocks?

Stamp blocks are groups of stamps joined along perforated edges. Most commonly, a block comprises four stamps in a rectangular or square formation, although different configurations are available, including those with more stamps. Some blocks still have the gutter affixed, which is a small piece of selvedge that may contain a plate number. Blocks with gutters are very desirable as collectibles.