How to grade your stamps
How to grade your stamps
Fancy joining the pros? Here's a starter guide on how to grade your stamps
One of the most important factors when it comes to determining the value of a stamp is its "grade". This method of rating the overall quality of the stamp is usually carried out by an expert (who will then provide a certificate), but you can get a good idea of your stamp's grade by following a few basic steps.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has this magnificent King George V seahorse for sale that has been given a Mint grading due to its fantastic centring, complete absence of faults, as well as fantastic colour and impression
It should be noted that the grade of a stamp is separate from its condition, yet both rely heavily on each other. For example, if you have a stamp that has a high grade but is in poor condition, its value is still likely to be low - and vice versa.
Grading is determined largely by a combination of three factors: soundness, centring and eye appeal.
Soundness is the term used to describe presence or absence of defects in the stamp, such as gum skips, pinholes or colour fading. The different levels of soundness span from Faultless to Severe Fault and there are detailed guides online that will help you to determine the level that your stamp is at.
Centring is the position of the design on the paper. Obviously, a stamp where the design cuts into the perforations is less aesthetically pleasing than an example that is well centred with four equal margins, and this plays a large role in its value.
Grading the centring of a stamp is a more complicated business than soundness, as different printing techniques have been used over the years and have gradually become more precise. Therefore, what may be a good grading for an early stamp could be a poor result for a more modern issue. This mainly liesin the addition ofperforations, and while a sheet may have been printed correctly, the perforationscan bemisaligned, leading to the appearance of poor centring.
However, if your knowledge of the stamps within your collecting area is sufficiently advanced, you will soon recognise what issues are poorly centred and will be able to determine the grading accordingly. Levels range from Gem to Good.
And soto the third aspect: eye appeal. This is simply the attractiveness of a stamp and depends on its colour, the quality of anycancellations, impressionand freshness.
As previously mentioned, this is just a rough guide to grading and, depending on your country and which issue you collect, there willbe varying opinions.For stamps over acertain value, you will need acertificate from a professional authenticator before selling- read our guide on choosing an authenticator