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Are we in Danger of losing respect for our hobby? Pt1

Give Me Certificates with Soul…

      Recently I was looking at a couple of Victorian high values which the winning bidder had asked UPA to send for certificates of authenticity. That the stamps were genuine there was no doubt – and that was the reason why the new owner had asked us to send them to an expert Committee…

But what happened next set alarm bells ringing so I’m posing the question:

Is it time to open the debate upon ‘expertisation’ in 2018 and beyond, and consider fresh options appropriate to Collectors and the demands of the 21st Century?

       After a period-of-time, both stamps returned to my desk duly certified as genuine. No surprises there then – BUT the comments added about the quality of the stamps went into minutiae of over-zealous, back-slapping, self-congratulation that the expert had spotted this, and had also spotted that, which was combined with the other, so that the two scarce stamps no longer felt scarce – but they felt damaged, tarnished even by lack of respect for what they were and their rarity. Who would want to purchase these stamps from the buyer in the future with such damning, sterile certificates which failed to respect the stamps for what they were and the fact that I could pick up the phone and buy 100 penny blacks immediately, but I couldn’t pick up the phone and buy 5 of these stamps immediately?

I’m not, even for a moment, suggesting that we forget faults, but we should add ‘feeling’.

Let’s face it, in the UK nothing has changed ‘certificates-wise’ in the best part of 100 years… (except now we have access to high-quality digital images of rare stamps)

however, what has changed within the past few years is that increasingly buyers are not sending stamps to expert committees questioning whether they’re genuine. For the most part (overprints and postmarks excepted) they’re confident of that – but increasingly nowadays stamps are sent to Expert Committees for peace of mind of the condition of the stamp, and reassurance that intrinsically it is worth the price paid.

Philatelic Societies make a lot of money from ‘expertisation’. Has the time come for a radical re-think?

       In the United States stamps are certified as genuine and graded out of 100% for their quality. I’m suggesting that today’s’ collector obviously still needs authentication BUT combined with an appreciation of the condition of the stamp, related where possible, to the highest known quality example of that particular stamp. Philatelic Societies, deservedly so, make a lot of money from ‘expertisation’. Has the time come for a radical re-think so that ‘condition’ on certificates may be elevated to become a higher added value bonus for the collector buyer?

IF we start to relate condition specific to the status of that stamp printing/issue, we show renewed respect, feeling and appreciation for the integrity of our hobby Philately,



1 Comment

  1. Very true. And many new collectors often expect 100 year old stamps to be perforated as well as modern stamps. Auction describers are often guilty as well as “experts”. Gum is another issue. The gum of old mint stamps don’t hold up to age in fact many old-time collectors used to soak the gum off to “protect” the stamp as the gum deteriorated naturally, particularly when they came from humid climates. Philatelic knowledge should take these things into consideration as well .
    Philatelic Societies aren’t the only ones making money out of expertising, there are quite a few private individuals too who set them selves up as experts by virtue of their philatelic writings.

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