STEP 1 – CHOOSING YOUR FIRST STAMPS
When describing the postmarks of the nineteenth century, the word ‘obliteration’ is synonymous with ‘cancellation’ – because, of course, that was what they were designed to do – to ‘obliterate’ the stamp in such a way as to prevent any opportunity for reuse.
The Maltese cross is an attractive cancellation, especially when applied in red or one of the ‘fancy’ colours, but many early Great Britain line-engraved adhesives are heavily cancelled by over-inked black crosses, which detract considerably from the beauty of the stamps.
A ‘fine’ cancellation should be lightly applied, if possible leaving a substantial part of the design – ideally including the Queen’s profile – clear of the cancellation. Also desirable are well centred examples displaying all, or nearly all of the cancellation on the stamp. This is particularly true where the cancellation is more significant than the stamp, such as a Wotton- under- Edge Maltese cross. Here, you would want to have as full a cancellation as possible, although it would still be preferable to have it lightly applied.
What’s the damage?
We have looked at some aspects of damage in this series, notably in relation to perforations, so let us conclude by reviewing other aspects of damage. All young collectors are advised from the outset to avoid torn stamps, and the advice obviously holds good throughout one’s philatelic life. However, that is not to say that all torn stamps are worthless, because even a torn example of a desirable stamp is still collectable and can therefore command a price. [Read more…]
For modern stamps, an intact sheet margin should not add to the value, although one might expect to pay a small premium for a plate block or imprint block over the price for a plain block of four. For most of the earlier twentieth century stamps, also, a plain margin will do little for a stamp’s value, but if that piece of margin includes a control number, plate number or printer’s imprint then the difference can be very significant indeed! [Read more…]
A guide to Stanley Gibbons’ definition of ‘fine’
The quality and overall condition of a stamp are vital when determining its value and each feature of a stamp has to be considered. The state of the gum on the reverse, the condition of the margins and perforations and whether it has faded or sustained damage are just some of the factors that can have a dramatic impact. The article below covers the subject in great detail and is essential reading.
What exactly does ‘fine’ mean and how do slight defects affect the price? To quote in full the relevant paragraph in the introduction to the current Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps Catalogue; ‘The prices quoted in this catalogue are the estimated selling prices of Stanley Gibbons Ltd at the time of publication. They are, unless it is specifically stated otherwise, for examples in fine condition for the issue concerned. Superb examples are worth more, those of a lower quality, considerably less.’ This single paragraph is probably the most significant piece of information in the entire catalogue – but one that is frequently ignored or forgotten. The big question, of course, is just how much more is ‘more’ and how much less is ‘less’? [Read more…]
Another feature which has long been a part of the ‘Stamp Improver’s’ repertoire has been the adding of margins to stamps which have been deficient in them. Once again, this ‘service’ has developed because of the premium placed by collectors on ‘fine four-margin’ examples of stamps like the Penny Black. [Read more…]
The Stamp Catalogue
The stamp catalogue, basically a dealer’s price-list, is a most essential work of reference for the stamp collector. It provides complete, detailed lists of all the postage stamps issued by every country in the world from the earliest days, with information about dates of issue, commemorative events, face values, colours and designs, and – if it is a fairly new catalogue – the current prices of the stamps, unused and postally used. For the beginner and general collector the most useful catalogue is the Stanley Gibbons Simplified Catalogue of Stamps of the World published in five volumes. This catalogue contains all the details – except perforations, watermarks, designers, printers and varieties – the average collector needs for every country. [Read more…]
Before you purchase your first stamp album you should have some plan in your mind, even just a few thoughts and inclinations, on the likely progress and eventual scope of your collection. Most beginners buy, or are given, a monster packet of stamps and a printed album with a page for every country. Sooner or later you will run out of space and the surplus stamps of some countries will be scattered untidily on other pages. In these circumstances enthusiasm may flag, as the only solution is a larger album with all the work of rearranging your stamps! [Read more…]
There are two main ways in which collectors can mount their stamps to album pages. The original method involves using hinges, small pieces of special gummed paper which allow the collector to attach stamps directly to an album page.
Plastic mounts meanwhile enable collectors to present their stamps in albums without physically attaching the stamps themselves to pages. Stamps are placed inside protective plastic mounts and the mount is then attached to the page, meaning unmounted mint stamps can remain in pristine condition whilst still appearing in an album. Mounts are available already ‘cut to size’ or in strips that can then be cut to the correct size depending upon the size of stamp. [Read more…]