STAMP COLLECTING - Stamp Grading

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Stamp Collecting STAMP GRADING


Perfect in all respects. The finest quality.
A rare grade.
 
Extremely Fine or Extra-Fine:


Close to perfect.
Design is well-centered. Margins are even all around. Designs of even the earliest issues are well clear of the perfs on all sides.
Imperforates have even margins that are wider than usual for that particular issue.
Cancels are light and neat.
Mint have OG.
Condition: Rich, bright color. Clean. Perfs intact.
Condition: no faults.
Many early stamps are never seen in this condition.
 
Very Fine:


Design is balanced and well-centered. There are ample margins, though not necessarily perfectly even.
Imperforates have three normal sized margins.
Cancels are light and neat.
Mint have OG.
Condition: Rich, bright color. Clean. Perfs intact.
Condition: no faults.
Grade used for most catalog values.
 
Fine/Very Fine:


Design is "slightly" off-center, or may be off-center either horizontally or vertically but not both. Design is well clear of the perfs.
Imperforates have two normal size margins, and design does not touch the edge.
Cancels do not detract from the design of the stamp.
Mint have LH or HH, depending on the age of the issue.
Condition: no faults.
 
Fine:


Design is "noticeably" off-center both horizontally and vertically. The design barely misses the perfs, but they do not cut into the design.
Early issues have perfs or separations that may cut into the design.
Imperforates have thin margins.
Cancels may be heavier than usual, perhaps even obscuring the design.
Mint have LH or HH, depending on the age of the issue.
Condition: no faults.
 
Good or Average:


Design is off-center and perfs may cut into the design.
Cancel is heavy and obscures the stamp's design.
No tears or thin spots.
Lowest collectible grade.
 
Poor:


Design is off center and the perforations cut far into the design.
Cancellation is thick and heavy, smeared, blurred.
Generally not suitable for a collection.
 


Condition
Condition is a description of the physical characteristics of the stamp's paper, ink and gum in the case of mint stamps. An adequate description should be as concise as possible but use as many words as necessary to fairly described the stamp.

A rare, early British colonial issue from the tropics may have several faults that must be addressed and the description might be as long as this paragraph. However, older issues with faults may still be desireable because of the price and rarity of faultless examples, some of which may no longer exist.

 

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