Showing posts from September, 2015

Much Ado About Catalogue Values - Clearing Up Common Misconceptions

There are probably few topics in philately that are of greater consequence and that involve more misunderstanding among collections and dealers alike than catalogue values. It has been my experience over the past 37 years that most collectors have a wholly unrealistic idea of the relationship between catalogue values and market values, and what they should expect to pay for the stamps in their collection. This lack of realism exists on both sides of the spectrum: collectors who think that their stamps are worth way more than they actually are, and those who think that stamps that are actually scarce and expensive should be way cheaper.

One of the most widely held, and in my opinion mistaken beliefs about the relationship between market value and catalogue value is that market value is always a more or less fixed percentage of the catalogue value. You can often hear collectors say:"I never pay more than 1/3 of Gibbons", "Gibbons is way overpriced" or " I never …

Removing Stamp Hinges and Hinge Remainders Safely

The Problem

Today's topic concerns the removal of old stamp hinges from mint and used stamps that you acquire, particularly the dangers associated with doing so and some techniques for determining whether or not it is possible to safely remove a hinge and then for ensuring their safe removal. This post generally refers to mint stamps, as most used stamps can simply be soaked in water to remove the hinge remnant. However there are some notable exceptions. For example, many high value stamps of the British Commonwealth are printed in doubly fugitive inks and will fade with exposure to water. Other issues, such as the Queen Wilhelmina issues of the Dutch East Indies are printed in watercolour and will completely disappear when soaked. So in those cases, the comments here are completely relevant.

Collectors tend not to like hinge remainders on stamps, one reason being that they feel they do not know what lies underneath the hinge. There is some concern that unscrupulous dealers have a…

Philatelic Evangelism

I wanted to take some time today to address one of my pet beefs with the philatelic establishment and some collectors in this hobby. My issue is with the obsession with expert certificates and the readiness with which some collectors are prepared to label a stamp "fake" even when they can't explain how they know it to be so.

I want to start by relaying a story of something that happened to me three or four years ago. I had listed some 1c and 2c coil stamps from the Canadian Admiral Issue that were issued in 1913. These were the ones with the horizontal perforation 8. I identified the second 2c as a fake. They are shown below:

Shortly after I listed them, I got an e-mail from an e-bay member informing me that he and a group of other philatelists had taken it upon themselves to police e-bay's listings and identify coils that they thought had been faked. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was certain that both my 2c coils were fake.

Naturally, I was polite in my r…

My Grading System

Despite being a full time stamp dealer for the past 2 months, I have yet to post to this blog. I've been very busy working with my Canadian material, trying to get Queen Victoria finished, which I expect to do by the end of this month. After that, I plan to move on to Nigeria Queen Victoria starting with Lagos. Then I will be posting almost daily as I sort all the printings of the Lagos stamps out and get the material listed on E-bay. 
In the meantime, I thought I would re-produce a post that I just wrote and published in my Canadian blog dealing with my grading system which I developed in response to my observation that the standard grading systems were not doing an adequate job of differentiating quality on stamps and covers. Also, they were resulting in any stamp with a fault, no matter how minor being relegated to low grade status. This did not make very much sense to me at all. So I came up with my own system, which follows the standard system and tweaks it where necessary.