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Describing the Condition of stamps
A guide


      There is no area of philately that is so little understood as that of quality.

      Among modern collectors, the word perfection is far to often used to apply to modern perforated issues that have been supplied by the Post Office or a new issue service in pristine condition. Thankfully, for those who appreciate quality in the earlier issues, there are few who share their tastes, but sadly even fewer who know and understand what goes to make up quality. The intention is not to make every collector a condition freak, but for them to recognise perfection along with the other grades when they see them.

      Once I know what these highest grade items look like, I know as a collector that I must often be satisfied with something less

      What should make it into a collection ?

  1. It must be good looking
    This is a visual hobby

  2. It must match the standard
    It should be up to the standard of the other stamps of the same issue that are already in the collection

  3. Exceptions
    If it does not qualify under the first two rules it can be included if it has some outstanding feature

      Imperforate stamps - 1840 onwards

      With the imperforate issues, there are seven grades ....

  1. Perfection
  2. Superb
  3. Very fine
  4. Fine
  5. Good
  6. Fair
  7. Poor
      Impression of the stamp

      To qualify for the top two grades, the printing must be perfectly clean and the colour clear
      Note - A rubbed stamp can not higher than grade 5

      Cancellation / Postmark

      This must be perfectly clear and either centrally placed or to the right of the design.
      To qualify for grades 1, 2 and 3 it must be clear of the profile and corner letters

      Lightly but cloudy cancelled or heavily but clear cancelled can be no higher than grade 4

      Margins

      These criteria relate to the seven grades listed above

  1. Extra large margins on all sides
  2. Large margins on all sides
  3. At least normal margins on all sides
  4. Margins on all sides with not more than 2 below normal
  5. Margins on at least two sides with the others not cut into
  6. Slightly cut into, but still satisfactory for plating
  7. All others
      The back of the stamp

      Clear and perfect on grades 1, 2 and 3
      Slightly discoloured or soiled - grades 4 and 5
      A slight tear, (not exceeding 1/16 of an inch), or a slight thin reduces a stamp to grade 5 at best
      A combination of these defects or a single one in a greater degree, will reduce the stamp to grades 6 and 7


Stamps cancelled with the Maltese Cross
Black stamps used for presentation only - the same grades apply to the early red and blue stamps



stamp


Grade 1


stamp


Grade 2


stamp


Grade 3


stamp


Grade 4


stamp


Grade 4 / 5


stamp


Grade 5


stamp


Grade 6


stamp


Grade 6 / 7


stamp


Grade 7



      Imperforate stamps - with the 1844 cancellation

      In general the preceding comments apply, however, there is an additional factor that has to be taken into account.
      The standard of condition is generally lowered by the heavier cancellations




stamp


Grade 1


stamp


Grade 2


stamp


Grade 3


stamp


Grade 4


stamp


Grade 4 / 5


stamp


Grade 5


stamp


Grade 5 / 6


stamp


Grade 6 / 7


stamp


Grade 7



      Perforated stamps

      The preceding comments apply regarding the quality of the impression, cancellation and the state of the back of the stamp.
      Once again the standard of condition is generally lowered by the heavier duplex, (twin CDS and numeral), cancellations.

      To qualify for grades 1, 2 and 3, the perforations must be complette with a CDS postmark
      Postmarks showing any part of the killer, (numeral), section are at best grade 4
  1. Perfectly centred
  2. Slightly off centre, either vertically or horizontally
  3. Slightly off centre, both vertically and horizontally

  4. Perfectly centred - lightly cancelled
  5. Slightly off centre, either vertically or horizontally and lightly cancellled
  6. Slightly off centre, both vertically and horizontally and lightly cancelled

  7. Perfectly centred - heavier cancel
  8. Slightly off centre, either vertically or horizontally with heavier cancel
  9. Slightly off centre, both vertically and horizontally with heavier cancel




stamp


Grade 1


stamp


Grade 2


stamp


Grade 3


stamp


Grade 4 / 5


stamp


Grade 5


stamp


Grade 6


stamp


Grade 7


stamp


Grade 8


stamp


Grade 9