Philatelic and Postal History Primer
Types of Collections - Maximum Cards, Proofs and Essays

Introduction//Stamp Types//Collection Types//Getting Started//Associations

Types of Collections - Maximum Cards, Proofs and Essays

A Maximum Card is a full size pictorial postcard often showing an enlargement of the stamp design. They may also depict a design related to the stamp. They will have either the pictured stamp or a design related to the stamp affixed to the pictorial side and are canceled with the First Day of Issue cancellation
Illustrated on the left is a
Maximum Card picturing the stamp design and an official First Day Cancel of the 1990 Rhode Island Statehood issue.

Proofs are impressions taken from an approved die, plate or stone in which the design and color are the same as on the issued stamp. Trial Color Proofs are impressions taken from approved dies, plates or stones in varying colors. 

Essays are impressions of the design that differs in some way from the stamp as issued

Illustrated to your left from top to bottom are a Proof of the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue, an Essay and the Actual Stamp as issued.

You can see that the proof follows the color scheme of the actual stamp while the essay is of a different color scheme than the actual stamp.

Some Dealers sell items which are labeled as Proof Cards. Although, they are not actual Proofs, they are a popular collection item. Proof Cards are 6x9 inch embossed cards with artist proof quality illustrations and they include the stamp with the First Day of Issue cancellation. The reverse side of the Proof Card includes a description of the new stamp. Proof Cards are beautifully done and look great framed and displayed on the wall of your Stamp Den. Proof Cards were only produced for the 1977 to 1997 stamp issues and all of them were produced as First Edition Artist Proofs. Proof Cards are sometimes hard to find as only a few dealers carry them as part of their inventory. You will usually find them in a dealers miscellaneous section and many of them were sold in sets only. 

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