edited May 2019 in Questions 4 LikesVote Down
Ctos are a grey area for me, now that it comes to listing some of these "hybrids". How do you handle them? Specifically, I've run into Russian sets that are corner-cancelled with various states of NH gum, hinged gum or no gum. How does one price these and does the backside's situation affect listing and pricing? Appreciate any ithoughts.


  • 28 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • CTOs -darn tried to edit the title without success.
  • Ron, easy answer is treat as used for pricing. Most countries undesirable while few are good off the top of my head.
  • Hi Ron,

    Ron If you don't mind I'll take a run at this. I am from Serbia, David is from Russia, with that said if you are (the hypothetical you) going to collect Eastern Europe you are going to add CTO to your albums, at some point you just will. French Africa, same thing. No one called out the PRC several years ago when that junk was trading higher than gold, and all of it used is practically CTO, doubt you'd find someone telling you that that material is undesirable. Scott clearly states for the CTO offenders that prices listed after such and such point are for CTO.

    And the truth of the matter is this, the bulk of the buyers out there are filling Scott internationals, minkus master globals, the general world collector. I don't get specialists on here seeking rare district overprints from the Mexico Hidalgo's or paper varieties on the Numeral issues. Just normal collectors filling spaces. When I do list something CTO from Russia I usually include it in the listings title as CTO but not always, it depends on my mood that day. And it always sells, always.

    One more point here, when dealing with Russia & Eastern Europe, it is good to keep in mind that those Governments short printed one value from many sets from the 1950's-1980's and it is not always the hi value from the set. And when you handle the same material year in and year out in volume you see what is never showing up but the catalog doesn't reflect it in the price All we handle private treaty is these countries, almost 35 years now, and I have a folder full of clients looking for many of these stamps from said period, with notes telling us CTO is fine because they have been looking for years and will pay full blown Scott even for a CTO copy, because it just isn't out there.

    Kitty R
  • By the way, the reference to PRC as junk wasn't to imply it is junk, just dealer speak. Sorry!
  • Andrew, thanks for the short and sweet answer. Kitty, your response is exemplary; demonstrating the best these forums have to offer. It's invaluable being able to draw from the collective (pun intended) experience of the body here on Hipstamps.
  • Ron there is much I've learned from you gents just reading for hours on here is like getting a PhD in philately for free! Your very kind, thank you!
  • I also want to apologize for the way this translates, dragon voice software is jinky when you have a heavy accent, Lol especially if you sound like Stalin in a dress.
  • CTO's are more accepted / popular in Europe than they are in the US, or so I've been told.
  • Kitty, very good explanation. (I hope you don't look like Stalin in a dress!)

    One thing to remember about CTOs is that most often the CTO is what you can find as postally used copies are scarce, and often sell for much more than a CTO.
  • Now there's an opening I couldn't ignore. LOL

  • Well that little pic on here is me, so I hope not, Ted that is a riot!!! That's to funny!
  • Ted actually posted a picture of himself on a typical Saturday night.
  • You know something George, that is a truism. I only ever get asked if a CTO is never hinged from Europe, If it's never hinged they usually sell to someone over there, Hmm.

    Well Ted and I have at least nice legs and good taste in dresses in common!
  • Too bad the same can't be said for Ted's face!
  • edited May 2019 0 LikesVote Down
    CTOs from Australia, China, Labuan, North Borneo, and select others can be more sought after. David, I haven't heard a CTO sell as mint never hinged because they are favor cancelled and couldn't be used for postal service.
  • Maybe that didn't translate properly, lets try that again, I have had a few customers the last several years from Europe ask if a stamp I had up as a CTO was Hinged or never hinged stating they only accept CTO if it has not been hinged, something about the condition of the gum whatever,. Never dealt with that question from someone in the US about a CTO and I have sheets of CTO"s that are never hinged, Soviet year sets in full sheets all NH so they exist.
  • edited May 2019 0 LikesVote Down
    Full sets of ctos in sheets MNH ... wow! Now there's a specialty niche. Suddenly my stock is looking rather meager :-)
  • I remember a lively discussion back in the old StampWants days (maybe 10+ years ago?) when there were differences of opinion about the efficacy of a CTO-NH designation. Well, this discussion goes to prove that indeed it does matter to some!
  • yes but they can't me called mint technically because they have this stupid cancel in between the corners. iIl post a picture of what I mean and you can see for your self what it looks like, a cto never hinged sheet. we bought them in the 90's around the time mystic was doing their soviet year sets thing, we bought the cto's Don Sundman bought the MNH stuff all from the same source
  • In my experience folks in PRC China treat CTO stamps the same as MNH stamps, they do not want hinges on either.

    I had no idea anyone cared until a couple buyers brought me up to speed a few years ago. That's why you'll see I mention "hinged" on CTO stamps if they're from PRC nowadays.
  • Technically they ARE mint. Mint is narrowly defined as "from the post office" or as you would buy them from the post office. Most ctos are cancelled on press - as part of the printing process or by the postal authority itself in their facilities and shipped "from the mint". There is no such thing as CTO/used just as there is no such thing as Mint/hinged. CTOs seem to be a variation of Mint, just not collectible in a lot of collector's eyes. A friend who was an old time dealer in a store insisted that there was only Mint, Unused, and Used with the latter two assumed to be hinged. CTO, to him was just a postal aurhority way of making money off stupid collectors and weren't worth the space in his store. (told you he was old time).
    Funny thing about it is I don't collect CTOs, but I'll sell them at the drop of a hat.
  • Wayne, the catalog publishers disagree with you, and consider CTO to be USED. CTO stamps are valued as used, often with a notation in the catalog that postally used stamps are worth more (sometimes substantially more). Exceptions to this where used values are for postally used stamps are also notated with the accompanying statement that CTOs are worth considerably less than postally used stamps.

    CTOs are created as such to prevent such stamps from seeing postal duty. Thus, they are not mint, and are not valid for postage. Also, the government that issues CTOs do so for the sole purpose to acquire hard currency through their sale. If a seller wants to describe a CTO tamp as having never hinged gum, I'm fine with that as long as the seller doesn't use the mint value to price the CTO. The catalogs support my statement.

    Terminology used in this hobby is used for all different things using the same word. Terms ares often used intentionally for a dealer/seller to attempt to obtain a higher selling price, when in fact the item is mis-described. Fraud? You be the judge. It behooves all of us to try to use the correct terminology when describing stamps per the terminology used in the catalogs. After all, catalogs are what we use to price our stamps. To use only the values, and not apply the values to the condition of the stamp, is, in my opinion, fraudulent.
  • Hi all ( especially ron ) ...In my 50+ years of being in philately, i found out that cto stamps in general are not sorted after at all except for the bottom right stamp in the block of 4. You see a genuinely used stamp that had gone through the mail can only be cancelled at the bottom left ( that is if it was not sent through a letter sorting machine and bar cancelled. ... There is no way a letter will have a stamp cancelled on the top 2 or 1 bottom right stamps as the name of the town and possible date will not be on there..I learnt this when i was about 10 years old in my stamp club at elementary school in the late 1960's. In the late 1970's to early 1980's i found that tearing the sheet up into singles and taking to the post office and postmarking them on the bottom left corners gave me more of a selling return. ( As that was the introduction to the meter printing system, stamps were not used much by post office staff as it was too much work. I personally requested stamps to be used after them weighing the package. ) Naturally i washed or soaked the gum off ..Then with the introduction of peel and stick stamps, they were easily noticed by the perforation widths..Please see the picture as an example of a block torn from the sheet and compare with a peel and stick item from the roll or a booklet or a forever stamp of present day. That is when i used to go to stamp shop after stamp shop and buy stamps postmarked on the bottom left corner but only stamps from the sheet. With all the stamps i bought, i eventually sold them at a handsome profit and built a garage for the home... There were times i received in the mail packages and i could not help the positioning of the cancel and that is when i left the block as a whole.. There are all sorts of facets in collecting stamps..Most collectors go for MNH but i prefer to seek out the cancelled stamps stated above as they are harder to find..I dont worry about centering more than the postmark positioning and that the stamp has to be from a sheet than a peel and stick booklet... I am willing to answer any question as best to my capability but please remember i have only had half a century's experience...lol 10c blk 6
  • When I first started collecting, back when the Scott Catalog was one volume, I got confused by the two columns of prices in the Catalog. My 15 year old brother, wise beyond his years, patiently told me (again) the first was for "Unused" stamps the second was for "Used" stamps. OK, fine. There were two kinds of stamps - used and unused - all was right with the world.

    Then, my long awaited "Stamp Identifier" from H.E. Harris came in the mail. It was great...it was FREE! But, along with them came "a selection of stamps for your approval". According the the letter enclosed, I had to look at them and keep what I wanted, sending back the ones I didn't want along with a check (from my mom). Cool. I was getting sick of those big orange bags of stamps. As I looked I noticed that printed on some of the envelopes was MNH. What the hell did THAT mean. My brother, a little less patiently, explained that it meant "Mint, Never Hinged"...and mint meant "fresh from the mint as the post office sold them". OK, fine. But there was no column of prices in Scott for "Mint". My brother, his voice rising a little, said "It's the same as Unused, stupid."

    But, EVERYBODY KNEW THAT COINS CAME FROM THE MINT - STAMPS COME FROM THE BEP (at lease wayback then). "It just sounds better", he was screaming now, "just like when I sold my bike to Davey, I told him it was in MINT condition." I decided to leave the room just in case my father came in to see what was going on (and to avoid the knock down drag out that was bound to happen).

    I was only 11, but I wasn't stupid. "Mint" meant "Unused" but somehow better and thus more expensive. I wondered if this Harris guy was trying to rip me off. My brother ripped off Davey. But then my hamster was smarter than Davey. It's a wonder I didn't just pack it all in and start a rock collection (no such thing as Mint there). Years later I ran across a "CTO/NH OG" - a cancelled stamp with Original gum. I was older and wiser by then, I ignored it and went on enjoying collecting.
  • It would help if people would read the introduction to the catalogs (all brands) as the questions about information and terminology so often asked in philatelic forums is explained there.
  • edited May 2019 4 LikesVote Down
    Perhaps, unlike THE Bible, our catalog "bibles" don't profess an infallability. The authors don't claim divine inspiration nor should we attribute such to them as evidenced by modifications through years of publishing. They certainly don't reflect market reality when setting prices for stamp values. But as Michael has stated, they do a relatively decent job of qualifying and defining many aspects of their treatment of philatelic matters therein. More often, it seems, that segments of the collector base are the basis for evolving "truths" and have decided things like pristine, undisturbed gum now confer such mint stamps to the most coveted status, and subsequently highest pricing to the point of deeming anything less as illegitimately referred to as "mint" (never hinged designation is thusly unnecessarily redundant). Such is the prerogative if enough collectors follow suit. Fortunately we hardly are composed of such a lock-step mentality but rather customize our hobby to our individual persuasions. I've known a least one old-time collector who would disregard the "superior value" of a newly acquired unhinged stamp only to promptly hinge that thing and proudly mount it among his herd of like-treated individuals. And another who took up the challenge of searching out double straight edged sheet corner stamps, arguing they were far rarer than others and that he had little competition in his quest. So, perhaps, strictly rendering CTOs as this or that becomes less important especially since they rebelliously defy clean assignment, a sort of unloved half breed reluctantly embraced as a postally produced profit driven accommodation for collectors.
  • Ron, Michael always states it as it is scripture or not. They don't call him the General for nothing.
  • Well, look at the continuing number of posts and questions regarding terminology in the hobby. One question results in several different explanations and definitions. If we don't have consistency in the hobby, then we are just a rabble.
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