Notes from the Past

Tete-Beche and Se-Tenant

Tete-beche is a French expression used in philately to refer to stamps joined together, one of which is inverted in relation to the other.

Naturally, such varieties must be left unsevered, since, once separated, the stamps are normal.

Most Tete-beche varieties come about in the course of printing stamps in specially arranged sheets for stamp booklet production.  Germany and Switzerland, to name just two countries, offer many examples.

In the early day of French stamp production, tete-beche varieties occurred when a cliche was placed in the printing plate upside down in relation to the others.

It is possible for dissimilar stamps to exist both tete-beche and se-tenant simultaneously.

The term se-tenant refers to two or more unsevered, but different, stamps.

A stamp from a stamp booklet with an adjacent stamp-sized tab bearing an advertisement, a postal service message, or some printed design is said to be "se-tenant with" the tab.

In describing such a variety, the expression "se-tenant" is usually qualified as "pair se-tenant" or "se-tenant block of four," etc.

The practice of printing a sheet with several different se-tenant designs or values is increasingly common. 


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Three Q-Z
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted October 30, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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