Sunday, December 19, 2010

"The Importance of Condition"

A few days ago the website posted an article from the firm of Stanley Gibbons concerning "what exactly does ‘fine’ mean, and what effect might a slight defect have upon the price?" My understanding is that the piece is from the Stanley Gibbons’ 2011 Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840-1970 catalogue.

In spite of what might appear to be a narrow focus, this 7000+ word article is a mine of information about Commonwealth stamp collecting. Making it even better, most of the comments could apply to many countries. Topics covered include Gum; Margins; Perforations; Nibbled, Short or Pulled?; Wing Margins, Marginal Premium; What's the Damage?; Perfins; Fading; Cancellation Quality; Circular Datestamps; Manuscript Cancellations; Telegraphic Postmarks; Forged Cancellations; and Cancelled to Order.

Here are just some sample quotes that hopefully will send you to read the main article:

"Just as in the case of wing margins and perfins...fashions are changing in relation to cancellations. In the past, the aim was to find stamps on which the cancellation fell across just one corner of the design, leaving the major part of it clear. Today, interest in exactly where and when the stamp was cancelled, not to mention the possibility that such partial cancellations may have been forged, have made clear, centrally applied or ‘socked-on-the-nose’ cancellations much more desirable – although, again, they do need to be lightly applied."

"Fiscally used stamps are normally much cheaper than postally used examples, even with the significant increase in interest in revenue stamps which has taken place in the last decade. However, individual post offices in a number of countries have resorted to this form of cancellation from time to time and examples are sometimes even more desirable than the same stamp with a clear dated postmark."

"While on the subject of ‘drawn in by hand’, collectors in the past – including some very eminent ones – were in the habit of ‘enhancing’ slightly unclear postal markings by drawing over them in Indian ink."

"Many businesses in Asian countries, especially forwarding agents, were in the habit of cancelling their stamps with ‘chops’, while individuals frequently wrote across them in manuscript in order to discourage theft."

"As the volume of worldwide stamp issues has escalated in the last 30 years and the cost of having postally used stamps removed from envelopes, soaked, dried and sorted has risen, it is no longer practicable for the stamp trade to supply fine postally used examples of most modern issues. They are therefore supplied cancelled by the postal administration concerned at the same price as mint examples...."

You can find the entire article on the website.

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