Map Stamp Scanning


mos_scanning_logoIn 2010, planning began on the Map Stamp Scanning Project. After about one year of discussions with the officers and project leader, we plan to open the project for member participation from the Spring of 2011.

Project Overview

The Maps on Stamps (MoS) Checklist compiled by the CartoPhilatelic Society is recognized by both Society members and fellow non-member philatelists an indispensable aid for the cataloging and identification of cartophilatelic stamps. Currently, the format of the checklist is text based, and no images of the listed stamps are supplied. The goal of the Map Stamp Scanning Project is to create high quality scanned images of the stamps listed in the Society’s “Maps on Stamps” (MoS) Checklist. The Project will provide a structured framework with methodology, and management procedures that will facilitate and encourage member participation in helping to create scanned images of the stamps listed in the MoS Checklist.While a number of discussions have taken place between the Officers, along with some scanning activities taking place by various individual members, the potential of scanning of all the stamps listed in the MoS Checklist is a daunting task. While the merit of having stamp images for the checklist is easily understood, there are additional benefits of the images that extend far beyond this single use in the Checklist, with a multitude of potential applications waiting to be considered.

Technical Details

There are two parts to the Project. The first part, deals with the actual scanning requirements of the stamps, while the second part, specifies the structure and naming conventions (identification codes) of the filenames assigned to the scanned images.


Over the past year, the Project Leader has investigated various methodologies to determine the optimal set of requirements and techniques needed to produce the scanned images of stamps from the Checklist.

Master Image Sample (600 dpi resolution)

An initial draft set of requirements has been formulated which are general enough that virtually all scanners and scanning software will be able to easily conform to these requirements.

Suitable stamps for scanning should be mint, with no cancellation marks. The quality of the stamps shall be fine to very fine.

The stamps shall be placed on black colored stock sheet/ card for scanning. It is preferable that the clear film of the stock sheet shall cover the entire size, not only part, of the stamp. This is to prevent a “line of variation” between the film and non-film parts will be visible in the scan. While this is method preferable it is not required, as many collectors may store their stamps in different types of pages.

Stamps will be placed in their correct orientation and seated at right angles on the stock card, to minimize any rotation.

The stamps shall be scanned in RGB 24bit color, with the raw scanned images having a resolution of 600 DPI. The scanned images shall be saved as uncompressed TIFF files. A processed scanned image will be referred to as the master image. Lower resolution images will be produced automatically by batch processing using the master image as input, depending on the required application or use.

The stamps will be scanned only once, at 600 DPI, and then raw image will be submitted to the project leader. While 600 DPI may seem like too high a resolution, as shown in the sample image above, the idea is to create a versitle archive of high quality master images that will be useful will into the future, for applications and viewing systems which do not exist today.

Naming Conventions

In addition to scanning, there also exists a need to devise a unique identification and coding scheme for the scanned images. This type of identification code would be encoded as the filename of each scanned image, and would link the related stamp image to the specific entry in the Checklist. Prior to finalizing an indentification code, a brief research summary would examine currently used schemes or other proposed solutions. Any identification scheme would address both present and former stamp issuing authorities. The primary function of the unique identification codes from this work would be used as the filenames of the scanned images additional future uses for these codes may exist.

While some members may feel that the length or structure of the identification code adds unnecessary complexity in dealing with the images, typically users would not be directly interacting with the scanned images in that manner.

One possible identification code would be a structured alpha-numeric string, divided into sections specifying country of origin, date of issue, one or more catalog entries, grade, and possibly others.

The task of defining the initial identification code structure would be assigned to members of the Project team that are interested in this work, and/or involved with managing the archive. After the identification code structure has been adopted, team members that are scanning their stamps may wish to attach filenames in the specified structure to each stamp, however this is not a required task of the team members.

The creation of a suitable identification code for the scanned images is something that requires more discussion with interested members of the Project team. Commencement of the project and scanning of the images can take place prior to any final decisions on the identification code. The identification codes could even be assigned near the end of the scanning process, without causing serious delays or problems for the Project.