Q&A: US stamps

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Do you have a question about stamps / philately of USA and related areas (Canal Zone, Philippines, Hawaiji etc)? Your questions answered.

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Discussion about “ Q&A: US stamps ”

  1. mark wrote:

    Hi, could you find out values for the first historical precancels and email them to me, Which I believe was in 1916-1917 die # 627 new york,ny then the three later aug maine, springfield mass, and new orl la. I cant find any sales for bureau or pre-bureau stamp cancels, and why wont scott catalouges add this catagory and make stamp collecting more fun and rewarding by stating these facts? Keep people informed!

  2. Keijo wrote:

    Hi Mark,

    as I’m an “ordinarie worldwide collector” your question about US precancel values definitely falls out of my ballpark. LOL. But I think you should visit http://www.theswedishtiger.com, and definitely contact the owner of the site, Roger Kirby, for some assistance.

  3. Gayle Sullivan wrote:

    Ive two collections, my mothers which was started when she was young, and mine which she got me started with her extras. Ive been adding to this collection for 50 years. I recently pick up my books again and began going through all the boxes of stamps ive done nothing with and am now wondering what to do with these US stams that come with this sticky glue on them How does one go about taking them from the envelopes?/are there books for these? ETC?? Thank you for your help

  4. Keijo wrote:

    @Gayle… Please see this topic for some advice / discussion: Damn unsoakables (or if You can’t soak them…)

  5. L. wrote:

    Any idea what the current ‘civil war’ stamps will be worth in a few years? I have heard from a man who collects civil war items and stamps that I should get some for myself. They have so much information on them (the civil war stamps of 150 years).

  6. Keijo wrote:

    @L…. I think it’s very unlikely that any modern US stamp would gain any significant value increase in future. Modern stamps are printed in such huge quantities that unless something truly bizarre happens, I can’t foresee how these stamps would be worth more than their face value in mint, and catalog minimum as used.

  7. FRED MUGURUZA wrote:

    Keijo…don’t be so tragic…Let ‘L’ dream…

  8. mrprgrmr wrote:

    Here’s an odd little stamp. Anyone have any guesses what this is? Here are my clues: I found it in the U.S. section of an old album, circa 1945. It is small (14mm wide, 17mm tall). It pictures a Native American head with headdress and 5 cent denomination. My guess was that it was some sort of excise tax (cigarettes?) but I’m really just guessing.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/101073807386015574429/Stamps#5645884017977115922

  9. Keijo wrote:

    mrprgrmr… I’d be very tempted to say this is so called “toy stamp” (known as Kinderpost in Germany , or Post Enfantine in France). Stamps similar to this (notably smaller in size, imitating real stamp topics, sometimes with inscriptions but usually without) were part of children’s toy post office sets, hence the name.

    But this is just an educated guess, and I could be totally wrong.

  10. mrprgrmr wrote:

    Interesting. I suppose if we have play money, why not play stamps. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if I solve the mystery.

  11. Tucker wrote:

    Hey Keijo,

    Okay so i came across a stamp the other day that i think might be a score for my collection. As i understand it from the Scott Catalog, stamps before 1930 (or some set date) that have the original gum but have been hinged are still considered “mint”. And without the hinge mark it is referred to as “unhinged”. After 1930 it must been whole gum to be “mint”. Is this correct? I will post a picture of the back of the stamps if you have concerns because i think i have a “never hinged” and “mint” 1920’s 8c grant “neverhinged” worth $110 and $50

    Thanks

  12. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… Sounds like you have found a small gem :) Scott prices for mint apply to MNH (Mint Never Hinged) from 1935 onwards; for earlier issues mint prices are divided to MH (Mint Hinged) and MNH (Mint Never Hinged) the latter being always the more desired/valuable. Michel uses 1930 as the cut-off year for MH/MNH.

  13. Tucker wrote:

    thanks for the clarification. Unfortunatly it was a reissue of that stamp, i think rotary press or something a few years later, i am not sure on the differences except the later is 11×10 1/2 perf. and only worth a wopping $3 :(. I think i will go look up my old stamps from China to make me feel better

  14. Tucker wrote:

    OKay this might be kinda of a long shot, but i have a box with literally hundreds of duplicate stamps of a certain few types. I was reading on this blog and someone said the more duplicates you have the greater your chances of finding errors or differences. So does anyone know of any of the more common errors to look for in these certain stamps???

    842. 3c purple Jefferson
    1035. 3c purple Statue of liberty
    1036. 4c pink Abraham Lincoln
    1068. 3c Green New Hampshire
    1069. 3c blue Great Lakes
    1070. 3c blue atoms
    1071. 3c brown Fort Ticonderoga
    1338. 6c American Flag
    1393-4. 6c and 8c Eisenhower

  15. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… Shifted perforations are always possible (see this Eisenhower stamp from my collection: http://www.stampcollectingblog.com/1971-eisenhower-error.php ).
    The American Flag series are quite easy target for color shifts / registrations errors of different levels (like any early multi-colored issues).

    Then there’s the stuff listed in Scott & other catalogs (omitted tagging etc)

  16. Tucker wrote:

    So i was going through my stamps and noticed a few color differences and the scott catalogs did not mention color differences. Is this just aging/ accidental or are these abnormal and possibly valuable color differences (by valuable i mean worth more than the origional)? Here is a scan of a few examples…

    http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m551/tuckwilli/USStamps.jpg

    I was also wondering about cut cancels. If a stamp is cut canceled or punched with little holes, does that make it essentially worthless?

  17. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… I’d say it’s aging or being washed too long for all these… Never seen a 3c Lincoln on that color though, so it could be exposed to some chemical.

    Re, punched little holes… These can be a perfins (usually many small holes making a pattern or letters), or revenue cancel (usually just one larger hole). For some they make stamp damaged / worth less, for others (like me) they make the stamp more interesting and worth more… Here are some of my perfins: http://www.stampcollectingblog.com/topic/perfins

  18. Tucker wrote:

    okay i have a fair amount of perfins, would you like me to send some in stamp exchange because i dont really care for them?

  19. Keijo wrote:

    @tucker… Please do; they are lots of fun :)

  20. Carol Ligda-Wong wrote:

    Tucker… I’ve never seen anything like the background on your brown 4-cent Washington. The lines are sloped and not horizontal. Keijo, anyone, want to comment??

  21. Keijo wrote:

    @Carol… Good catch. I totally missed that one… I’ve seen something similar caused by cheap scanner/camera on some auction etc. photos… But if those slopy lines exist on the stamp, then I’ve never seen anything similar either.

  22. Fred Muguruza wrote:

    Sloped lines…hmm! it’s weird…I don’t have even that elusive 4cent in horizontal lines…hmm WEIRD!!! well… good nite everyone!

  23. Tucker wrote:

    hmmm there are sooo many different variations for early u.s. stamps it would kill someone to self-identify exactly every stamp correctly. I guess i will one day go to a dealer and see what he has to say. Nobody said anything about my stamp from Spain on the link above. It looks to me like one stamp has pink ink covering the whole stamp while the other is nearly white. Could this be because the plate ran out of ink??

  24. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… Re, Spanish stamp… I’ve seen quite a few similar ones. These have somewhat fugitive red ink, so likely the white variation is simply washed out due to too long/hot soak in water.

  25. Tucker wrote:

    Thats dissapointing. okay so im still new to a lot of things in the stamp world. Here is a photo of a cover i found and the previous owner had written #64, which means if that is the case it has a minimum value of $180. Though i am pretty certain (as i have learned to assume in the stamp world) that it is most likely the cheapest version of the stamp ($3.00). How would a tear of this magnitude effect the value??? Lets assume its worth $180, where would it be after looking at the damage?

    http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m551/tuckwilli/stamponcover.jpg

  26. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… That’s a hard question… The catalog values are guidelines for fault free copies; even smallest of faults drop the value significantly and damages as large as this make anything except highly unique items a spacefiller. So the value is fully up to demand and supply…. Personally I would not pay anything for item like this. But I’m sure out there are collectors who would value this a bit more as a space filler / postal history item.

  27. Tucker wrote:

    More stamps i’m having a hard time identifying. I’m especially curious about the California tax one and anything you could tell me about it.

    http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m551/tuckwilli/sta.jpg

  28. Keijo wrote:

    @Tucker… That’s way too small of an picture to tell anything. Please, upload a a higher resolution / larger picture … In general I can say that I know very little about US revenues.

  29. Tucker wrote:

    ahhh wtf the picture was not so tiny when i uploaded… freaking internet

  30. Jackson Davis wrote:

    I’m Jackson and 12 years old. I have an active stamp campaign for “York” the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark. Please check out my facebook page – Vote 4 York Black Heritage Stamp 2013. On Feb. 18th, I will be a featured guest at the The National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. Here are the event details.

    http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/museum/1b_calendar.html?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D97485130

    Thanks,
    Jackson

  31. Keijo wrote:

    @Jackson… Wow. That is pretty awesome achievement already.

  32. Brenda wrote:

    I purchased a while back a few USP Year sets and just recently I just opened one of them, something made me want to take a look at those stamps. Unfortantely most of the stamps that were sealed in the plastic pouches were all stuck together. My question to all, what should I do? start soaking and try to save most. I fear the rest of the packets I have are in the same situation. I thought I would ask what would you do?. Do you have any suggestions. (this is my first time with your blog and I hope I’m replying in the right spot) best regards. Brenda

  33. Keijo wrote:

    @Brenda… I recall reading (on other stamp site) about similar issues with some (older) Canadian year sets. I don’t recall if the cause was wrong kind plastic or improper storage conditions (too much pressure,humidity etc).

    Anyway… From collectibles point of view, they sound pretty much like a goner. The stamps are no longer “post office fresh” mint, and as such they have little to none appeal to most collectors. As I don’t collect year sets/books (or mint stamps), I’m sure those knowing more about the topic will chime in their opinions/advice.

  34. Carol Ligda-Wong wrote:

    Brenda, I would recommend soaking them so as not to damage the image, if they are stuck together. Uncancelled stamps without gum are very collectible, albeit less valuable, even though they are not quite “used” and are definitely no longer mint.

  35. Fred Muguruza wrote:

    Waist of time and money Brenda…in that condition bang them straight to the bin…sorry!

  36. Jorma wrote:

    I found some grilled USA stamps and now I’m wondering is there any tricky way to analyze what kind of grill it is. I have tried to count points, measure dimensions, take a scan and photoand so on. theswedishtiger.com is helpful but still I’m not sure do I have stamp worth of 1$ or 1000’s $!

  37. Keijo wrote:

    @Jorma… Not really my cup of tea as I’ve got zero US stamps with grills :| But I think you could try the foil trick I used with Greece Hermes & Iris stamps. I would assume the grill would show slightly better when transferred to foil.

  38. Jorma wrote:

    Thanks Keijo, it works and result was:
    2c – Black or gray black
    F Grill – Points go down. Measures 9 x 13mm. 11 or 12 x 15 to 17 points.
    Scott #93 – 1867

  39. Keijo wrote:

    @Jorma… It worked? Excellent!

  40. Colin Stafford wrote:

    I collect USA stamps and have a Scott Catalogue. Can anyone tell me exactly what is meant by the Perforation “Serpentine Die Cut Vert” as in the 1995 Christmas Issue Scott no. 3014 – 17? I understand the “Die Cut Vert” bit, but what does the “Serpentine bit tell me?

  41. Keijo wrote:

    @Colin… When talking about perforations, serpentine look like this:

    Finland serpentine stamp

    As far as I know, the Granduchy of Finland was the only country ever to use serpentine rouletting. The stamps were extremely difficult to separate from each other, and most serpentine stamps lack several teeth.

    What Scott calls as “Serpentine Die cut” is basically a die cut with wavy-like punchure:
    US3011

  42. Colin wrote:

    Thanks Keijo, I wonder why Scott use the term Serpentine instead of stating the actual perforation size. I’ve tried to look on Scott website to ask, but they don’t have a forum, so I’ll remain ignorant and go back to my S.G. catalogue – difficult though when I’m buying from the Bidstart auctions which use Scott!

  43. Keijo wrote:

    @Colin… Actually my copy of Scott (US Specialized) does state the perforation – it’s 11.2 for Scott #3013-3017 (whereas #3008-3011 of the same design have 11.25 die cut on 2,3 or 4 sides). But as the #3008-3012 are the only vertically cut stamps with design, you basically do not need to know the actual perforation to id them properly.

  44. Seth wrote:

    Hi Keijo,
    I wonder if you have any idea what these rather striking ‘American football shaped’ postmarks are. They look like something a bit beyond the ordinary.

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/2173540/img003.jpg

    More generally, I have just started considering whether some postmarks might be worth collecting. Like you, I only collect stamps removed from paper and this is obviously not the ideal format for looking at postmarks. Still, some may be important. The question then is what to keep and what to look out for? For example the stamp on the left has a purple postmark (sorry the scan isn’t very good but I think you can see). Is this the sort of material that has worth retaining? Postmarks do open up another whole field and I am currently a bit confused about where to start or if to start at all…!

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

  45. Keijo wrote:

    @Seth… The ‘American football shaped’ postmarks are known as ‘numbered shoe-print killers’ made by canceling device called duplex (check this Wikipedia entry for further details). They are very common, but definitely eye-catching…. The postmark on 50c Susan.B.Anthony stamps looks like a part of box-shaped (parcel) postmark; again somewhat common (especially as high value stamps like these were mostly used on parcels etc).

    As for what to keep… I would say that keep anything that pleases your eye and collecting desires. The further you collect, the more likely You are always to learn new tidbits that reshape your interests.

  46. Mark S. wrote:

    Seth, i know there are some collectors who will collect the Duplex numbered postmarks, and they try to get a single stamp with as many different duplex numbers as possible.

    Its one of those collections of the hobby, i just think.. “Uhm.. okay. I collect weird, but that outdoes me” :)

  47. chastity wrote:

    not sure what the year is but they are 15 cents that has WC Fields picture on them and it has arts and entertainment on them

  48. Keijo wrote:

    @Chastity… These are USA stamps, issued in 1980. Scott #1803. Mint/unused copy is worth the face value (15 cents), whereas used copies are extremely common and their value is very close to non-existing.

  49. Stacee wrote:

    I need some advice. I have a collection of USPS press release copies of stamps that my mother collected while working for there during the early 90’s. They are matted and framed into a nice decor set. I am looking to sell them, but have no idea of where to begin. I would think that someone that collects stamps might find them interesting. I was going to listed it all on Craigslist, but have no idea of what to start with in value.

    Any suggestions on how I should handle this? Or even what to title listing to describe what they are?
    I have posted pictures on google+ so, hopefully you can see what I am talking about. https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/117855980917671597593/albums/5845739981140369841

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  50. Keijo wrote:

    @Stacee… I doubt these are not ‘official’ press release stamps. At least here in Europe, press copies of stamps are somewhat identical in size to actual stamps (however, they usually have obfuscated face value, so that they can’t be used to pay postage); whereas these seem to be postcard size. I honestly don’t know if USPS did the same. But I’m pretty confident that more knowledgeable US based collectors will educate us both pretty soon :lol:

  51. Judy wrote:

    I collected stamps as a little girl in the 50’s and was also given a relative’s huge collection. It’s fun to look at, but doubt there’s anything rare in it. What I am wondering about is a first issue of the US 2000 stamp. My brother in law was on the stamp selection committee at the time and arranged for us to receive these. One on 12/31/1999 and two on 1/1/2000. All postmarked (not mailed) Washington, DC. Any thoughts?

  52. Keijo wrote:

    @Judy… Items like you described are ‘millenium memorabilia’ that stamp collectors and postal agencies worldwide created in somewhat large numbers. There’s no special value with them besides the memories they can bring up…

  53. Seth wrote:

    The last few evenings I have been sorting through a big pile of American definitives (old to recent). The more I look at those from around 1995 onwards, I am coming to the conclusion these are pretty hard-work and complicated. The main thing I am noticing is that there often so many different font styles for the year imprint, even for those from the same year. If one combines with that collecting all the different margin positions for sheets and coils, the run of stamps for each design is extensive.

    Have you any idea why these different fonts were used? Was it done on purpose to make collecting more interesting! Also in specialised catalogues, would these variations be individually listed? I know that is all a bit general, but you never know, you may have they key that unlocks this issue…

  54. Keijo wrote:

    @Seth…

    Have you any idea why these different fonts were used

    I think it relates mostly to fact that each lot was prepared by different printer (maybe because the print runs were such massive, maybe they just wanted the best deal).

    All in all its not just US, it’s more or less everywhere. For example the UK’s Country stamps (for England, Scottland etc) have been printed by De la Rue and Walsall. They look very similar at first, but there are slight differences in fonts etc. details. You just need to know what to look ;)

    Also in specialised catalogues, would these variations be individually listed?

    Actually you don’t have to go even into specialized catalogs. Even the basic editions of Scott/Michel/SG/Yvert go a long way giving either major or minor listings to most of the known variations.

    And then there’s tons of specialized literature, websites etc. about these. One of my favorites is this: http://www.ro-klinger.de/flagoverporch/

  55. Alan wrote:

    Hi
    I have a 15cents Black/White stamp with Abraham Lincoln depicted on it, but as I know nothing on stamps could I have your comments please.

  56. Keijo wrote:

    @Alan… Based on description, it sounds as You have one of the 1866 definitive postage stamps. If real, in excellent condition(!!), and nicely centered(!!!) it should buy You a dinner at a fancy restaurant. However, most copies available fail to pass one or more of these requirements and sell for MUCH LESS (so you may have to settle for plain cheese burger, or a drive-in meal). If interested in selling, I would recommend You locate a stamp stamp dealer specializing in classic US stamps.

  57. Aleksandar wrote:

    Hi Keijo and other friend collectors,
    I need help with this stamp. (Michel: 1522A-F and Scott: 1894-1896)

    http://s14.postimg.org/6g90vjb0x/USA_M_1522.jpg

    I’m not quite sure of the exact number in catalogues (eather Michel or Scott). So…

    Thanks in advance

  58. Keijo wrote:

    @Aleksander… True, that’s the 1981 20c definitive (Michel: 1522A-F and Scott: 1894-1896) that comes in number of perforation variants.

    But I would say your copy is straightly none of them, because

    Mi 1522 A / Sc 1894e – sheet stamp, all sides perforated, comb perf 11
    Mi 1522 C / Sc 1895 – coil stamp, top and bottom imperf, perf 10
    Mi 1522 D / Sc 1896 – booklet stamp, perforated on 3 sides (left or right edge imperf), perf 11 x 10 3/4
    Mi 1522 E / Sc 1896 – booklet stamp, perforated on 2 sides (left or right edge imperf + bottom or top imperf), , perf 11 x 10 3/4
    Mi 1522 F / Sc 1894 – sheet stamp, all sides perforated, line perf 11

    Based on the looks of perforations, I would say your copy is line perforated meaning it’s Mi 1522 F / Sc 1894 that has been cut from the bottom (likely with scissors, but it could also be margin copy from the bottom of sheet)

  59. John wrote:

    Can any body out there confirm the use of nondenominational stamps such as bulk rate , non profit… etc which have a value; be used in combination with other denominated or not to make up first class rates eg. 2 presorted snowflake stamps 2014- 10 cent value + a 30 cent stamps

  60. ikeyPikey wrote:

    The misuse of these stamps has a tiny impact on postal revenue so people get away with all sorts of stuff; much of the work is done by machine, and postal clerks get points for the number of pieces they process, not the US pennies, EU cents, etc, that they make someone else down the line collect from a customer.My, uh, two cents.

    Cheers,

    ikeyPikey

  61. John wrote:

    What would the value of these USA postmaster early stamped envelopes be worth?

    http://clevelandohiousa.tripod.com/usapostmasterstamp/

    John, Cleveland Ohio

  62. Keijo wrote:

    @John… I know absolutely nothing of these, but I’ll start with $1 :mrgreen: :lol:

    Seriously speaking, hopefully khj or some other ‘US expert’ will chime in to share their opinion sooner or later. Alternatively, you might want to post your inquiry on Frajola’s Philamercury (that place is swarming with serious US classic era collectors).

  63. Lori Griner wrote:

    Hi,

    I have a really cool revenue (described on eBay) “UNUSED 1863 UNITED STATES INTERNAL REVENUE COTTON BALE TAGS. In original as found condition, 5″ x 2 1/4″, each with 9″ wire and bale barb, front reading UNITED STATES INTERNAL REVENUE, and in small print at the bottom: Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1863 by Porter Fitch, in the Clerk’s office of the Dist. Court, for the South, Dist., N. Y. On the back DUTY PAID., with spaces for day of, 186-, Signed, COLLECTOR, District of, WEIGHT, LBS, No., and Marks. In what appears to be heavy stiff paper, no tears, in excellent unused condition.”

    Is it worth the $50.00 I paid?

  64. Keijo wrote:

    @Lori… Hard to say… As it’s not a stamp / revenue but a ‘tag’, there are no catalog prices for this kind of stuff, but more what the potential buyers (if you find any) will pay.

    I do notice that on eBay same seller has sold similar item three times over the past year, and is now selling a fourth. Always $50…. Personally I would not pay nowhere that much; maybe $5-10 max; but on the other hand I don’t know much about the topic. I simply assume that cotton bale tags must be somewhat common / low in demand.

    What’s a bit more worrying is that the seller is using same image time and again. And if it’s the same item, I would not describe it as ‘excellent unused condition.’ There’s very clear toning/blemish on couple of spots, and potential mold on bottom corners.

    Just my 5 cents worth… Hopefully khj or RevenueCollector will chime in and share their knowledge, as US items such as these are way more in their ballpark.
    -k-

  65. Marcus Howard wrote:

    Hello, 
    I have own a 1893 Colombian Set (Full Set) in mint condition.   Any idea on estimated value?
    Thanks, 
    Marcus

  66. Keijo wrote:

    @Marcus… It’s really all about condition with items of this value range.

    If they’re above average specimens (ie. fault free: good centering, good color, no reperfs, no folds/creases/thins or other physical damages), then anywhere north of full catalog value will do them justice. And if they’re of lesser quality, then head deep south.

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