by Michalis Tseriotis


(This article appeared in Philotelia, No. 648, January – February, 2008. Michael Tseriotis presents his views on the use of the terms proofs and essays as they are used in Greek philately. An article by Louis Basel on this subject is also presented on this web site which will be published in a forthcoming article of Philotelia.)



I read with great interest the article of L. Fanchini in Philotelia (no. 644) referring to the terms Proofs and Essays and their appli­cation to the large Hermes heads, as well as N. Asimakopulos' letter published in the following number.


I fully agree that it would be worth trying an effort for a precise definition of those terms in Greek philatelic terminology, I should, however, point out that there is no general consensus, even between the most philatelically advanced countries.


Consulting the classical work Funda­mentals of Philately,[1] we find the following terms, which, as it is more than obvious, differ completely from the definitions of French origin mentioned by L.F.:




"Any design or part of a design, es­sayed to or produced by a government (or established mail carrier) for a stamp, and differing in design in any particular form from an officially issued stamp. There are die essays, plate essays, and forms of ex­perimental essays, as well as unfinished or incomplete designs that may form part of a finally approved design".


Immediately afterwards, L. N. Williams himself continues:


"On the eastern side of the Atlantic, the term essay has, strongly, the implication of an attempt to show what the stamp would look like actually when printed. The Ameri­can definition includes -and was intended by its authors to include- the large-size drawings or models.”




"Any impression from an officially ap­proved design die, plate or stone, or a new plate made from the approved die in which the design is exactly like the stamp as of­ficially sold to the public, regardless of the color, kind of paper or material on which it is printed, or any experimental treatment to which it was subjected and not used on stamps sold to the public. Proofs were not sold to the public."


According also to L. N. Williams:


plate proof: printing from the printing base[4]

color trial: printing in a color other than that of the issued stamp

color proof: printing, for approval of the color, in the color of the issued stamp.


Taking into consideration the above, I would like to make some remarks regard­ing the four categories of proofs and es­says as analyzed by L.F.


At this point I would like to stress that, as far as the effort to establish a fixed phila­telic terminology is concerned, I am totally against the replacement, in certain cases, of the term δοκίμιo [dokimio] by another word, as it was suggested by a good friend. The Greek term δοκίμιo [dokimio] reflects sufficiently both terms essay and proof. It can be further defined, as the case may be. (Cases, of course, such as artist's sketch or printers' waste, might be explicitly speci­fied with the use of other Greek terms).


a. Progressive proofs


The term progressive die proofs reflects exactly their nature. We would, probably, define them as *@6\:4" BD@`*@L :ZJD"H [dokimia proodou mitras] or *@6\:4" $"2:4"\"H BD@`*@L :ZJD"H [dokimia vathmiaias proodou mitras].


b. Final Proofs


Essentially, they are not final die proofs because, as N. Asimakopulos correctly mentioned in his letter, they retain the first wavy line intact. We should rather classify them to the previous category.


c. Essays


All those which have different color from the one of the printed stamp (color trials), we might call them *@6\:4" PDf:"J@H [d. chromatos], *@6\:4" PDT:VJT< [d. chromaton] or *@6\:4" PDT:"J4F:f< [d. chromatismon]. All those which have the same color with the printed stamp (color proofs), may be characterized as @D4FJ46@b *@6\:4"  [d. oristikou chroma­tos] or *@6\:4" @D4FJ46V [oristika d. chromatos].


These two categories are, as per L. N. Williams, the plate proofs, which in Greek are called *@6\:4" B8V6"H [d. plakas].


d. Imprimaturs


This term is absolutely correct for these and I have been using it during the last 25 years instead of the traditional term, Barre essays. In Greek the term would be attrib­uted as ,(6,6D4:X<" *@6\:4" BD@H ,6JbBTF0 [egekrimena d. pros ektyposi] [5] or with some other similar phrase which may describe suf­ficiently the nature of these printings.


Finally, 1 believe that the quest for the various terms should not be restricted to the large Hermes heads, but to constitute a basis for finalizing Greek philatelic ter­minology, regarding all stamp issues, as far as, the chapter essays, proofs etc. is concerned.

[1] L. N. Williams, Fundamentals of Philately, American Philatelic Society, State College Pennsylvania, revision 1990, p. 116 et seq.

[2] Definition furnished by the Essay-Proof Soci­ety in Essay Proof Journal, vol. 1 (January 1944), p. 31.

[3] Similar definition by the Essay-Proof Society.

[4] Printing plate etc.

[5] The idea of approval is contained in the Latin term imprimatur = go ahead and print.