Centering Grading

I posted earlier regarding the 10-1000 times price increase sellers ask for XF/S and Gem stamps over a SCV very fine stamp. Looking over many listed XF+ stamps, I realized many are not XF+ based on the Scott Catalog grading guide. Many would only be very fine at best. I could upload many examples of what I said, to prove my point, but you can browse the listing and see for yourself. I think it would be in everyone's best interest for all stamps listed XF and better, be required to be accompanied by a Certificate from a Professional Stamp Expertise Service, such as PSE, verifying the centering grade. Or doing away with the centering grading all together on the listing, and let the buyer decide based on the image posted. As with so many things anymore, it comes down to money, to put XF/S after a stamp is a way to create more money for the seller. Lets all do our best to list our stamps accurately and not mislead collectors into believing a stamp is a gem, when in reality it is a VF stamp.


  • 54 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I never include centering grading in any of my listings. Although Scott provides guidance, there's still too much subjectivity in grading if done strictly by 'eyeballing.' Let the buyers decide for themselves if the centering meets their collecting needs.
  • Stuart: "it comes down to money, to put XF/S after a stamp is a way to create more money for the seller"

    You nailed that on the head. That is exactly what it is. Want to stop the lunacy of ridiculously over-priced stamps that someone declares to be "gem" without a certificate? Ignore those sellers, and buy elsewhere. Now, you could ask the seller for a certificate, and if they don't have one, buy the stamp, get a certificate. When you get the certificate, if it doesn't state what the seller sold the stamp as, file a complaint with the site you bought the stamp, and file a claim of "not as described" with PayPal, and mail fraud with the post office. You'll get you money back for the purchase from PayPal, but not necessarily the cost of the certificate unless the seller agreed to reimburse you for the certificate if it returns a verdict other than as the item was described. Alot of work? Yes, but there's nothing else one can do.

    Other than that, it is up to the buyer to decide if they want to waste their money on such stamps. They have a right to spend their money how they want. So, it's best to move on and worry about one own's collection rather than others. You won't convince those who want to pay the extra money to not do it.
  • xxx   498    mnh
    Here is a rather common US 498 of attractive centering. I acquired it back when one could choose from a dealer's inventory and the only price distinction was hinged or unhinged. Motivated more by aesthetics in centering and a mild pragmatism in mnh (primarily because it was promoted as more desirable), I sought out such examples which was fairly easy in modern era US. Unfortunately that inexpensive playground gave way to what you both are talking about with respect to centering and gum. The never hinged movement, for me, took a degree of fun out of the hobby, for now I had to choose whether to adhere to that "requirement" and pass on otherwise acceptable (even well-centered) copies or buck the trend and collect front side stamps, realizing the diminishing audience and possible resale value of them. Then came this emphasis on prime examples of dead on centering, often commanding ever-increasing exorbitant prices ....if you wanted "the best". In this 498, I could justify
    some premium but is it worth paying for a certificate (officially awarding it a centering designation) and then throw some arbitrary "it'll-cost-you-dearly" price on it? It's troubling when money overshadows the other more enjoyable aspects of the hobby.
  • 1 of those 3 listings you linked to, Andrew, is from a 1st class BS artist of a dealer whom I've come to despise. Too bad he doesn't share Cornell's bad luck.
  • How often do you see jumbo stamps advertised as SUPERB?
  • When Scott came out with the SMQ catalog and pricing, everything changed. Many sellers are now using the SMQ price when they list the SCV for their listing. For me, I am perfectly content with a true VF stamp. As others have mentioned, its your money, if 1 or 2 millimeters one way or the other is worth 10 times the value or more, thats for you to decide. Be interesting to see what some Dealers would offer you for the same XF+ stamp they are asking $500+ for.
  • "Be interesting to see what some Dealers would offer you for the same XF+ stamp they are asking $500+ for."

    That's easy, 25 cents, because they'll tell you that it's a common stamp.
  • It's a bit of sham when someone takes a .25 cent stamp gets it graded then wants hundreds in my opinion but that's the PSE grading for you.

  • Agreed. When I saw an asking price of $1000 for #300 superb with certificate, of which they printed 11,200,000 and has a VF SCV of about 10 cents, I had to pinch myself, and make sure I was not mis-reading the listing. I wasn't. To repeat myself, I will take the VF copy and the $999.90. Do collectors actually pay dealers these ridiculous prices or is it just done for entertainment value and to promote PSE, APS and other Expertising Services?
  • People pay the prices. If they didn't, this grading scheme would have disappeared a long time ago.
  • Investors pay these prices...collectors not so much...
  • "" . . . has a VF SCV of about 10 cents"

    This is USA #300, you're talking about? Maybe you need a more recent Scott Catalog (Scott hasn't valued any stamp as low as 10c in decades). I see a MNH CV of $30, and retail listings for $12. SMQ lists #300 in Superb 98 grade at $750. So, yeah, the dealer is being a little wishful in his pricing. But, that doesn't make it a sham. It's free-market capitalism, and it's nothing to get upset over, as there were 11,200,000 printed -- so, there's plenty more where that one came from, many of them in a grade, and at a price that is more in line with your wants.
  • edited June 25 1 LikesVote Down
    Ted 750 that's a scam and hurts the stamp collecting community. Close to perfect stamps are rarer and deserve a premium but not thousands of percentages higher than the stamp's catalogue. More realistic prices will actually sell but these dealers are either super greedy or rip off artists.

    US 300 used is .25 mint around $10 and MNH maybe $15 I didn't consult Scott's. But he might have been referring to a post like this

    Honestly the stamp in the listing isn't worth anywhere near the asking price maybe one dollar or two imo.
  • I don't know why anyone thinks this is hurting the stamp collecting community. In my opinion it helps keep the hobby alive, the more interest the better - whether it is an investor or collector.
  • You're right, Larry. It has no detrimental affect. It only bothers people envious that they are not getting that kind of money for their own stamps. It is sour grapes ad absurdum.

    On Wall Street, they have a saying, "Mr Market doesn't care what you think."
    What something is or isn't worth to YOU is irrelevant. The market sets the price. If the market feels that stamp is overpriced, it won't sell.

    The fact is, a check of his feedback shows that there is a market for stamps priced 100 times lesser quality uncertified examples. Because YOU wouldn't pay that much doesn't mean it's a scam. There is no deception; nothing has been misrepresented. Even if he is asking well above the published SMQ value, that's his right, just as it is your right to decline his offer and instead buy any one of thousands of others on the market at a lower price.

  • Hopefully those making such purchases are cognizant of the hobby's oft-seen gap between dealer-sourced purchase price and private collector liquidation price, and have accepted the gamble of return on investment. What is distressing to me are how naive, vulnerable elderly have been taken in by the likes of gold foil stamps and Franklin Mint products, only later to discover themselves (or their inheritors) the folly of the investment.
  • edited June 25 0 LikesVote Down
    Ted you don't honestly believe that nonsense do you because I have boxes of US 300 some are in better shape that would mean I have a treasure chest of gold haha fools gold that is because they are worth a quarter each.
  • I forgot to specify that the #300 that I mentioned earlier was used. And the asking price was around a $1000. I agree with Ted, nobody is holding a gun to your head, its your choice and your money. It may have been the one Andrew posted a link for, and the seller recently lowered the price.
  • Ted, very well stated.
  • The fact that the seller quickly lowered the price speaks volumes...
  • I am thinking a common stamp like #300 used is worth slightly more than the price of the certificate
  • This stamp #330 was listed as a "gem" at a strong price. It is F/VF at best. Why would a knowledgeable collector/dealer list a stamp such as this as a gem? There are many similar centered stamps listed XF and above. The obvious answer is money. Comments?
  • Centering - First, PSE experts consider a stamps centering, and indicate their opinion as follows:
    GEM - Perfectly-balanced margins Post Office Fresh (POF)

    Superb - Perfectly-balanced normal sized margins, POF

    XF/S - Not quite perfectly-centered, POF

    XF - Extremely well-centered margins, POF

    VF/XF - Almost extremely well-centered, POF

    VF - Very well-centered, POF

    F/VF - Margins reasonably clear on all sides

    F - Margins just clear on one or more sides

    VG/F - Perfs touch or cut stamp design slightly

    VG - Perfs cut into stamp design

    GEM - 100

    Superb - 98

    XF/S - 95

    XF - 90

    VF/XF - 85

    VF - 80

    F/VF - 75

    F - 70

    VG/F - 60

    VG - 50

    G/VG- 40

    G - 30

    F/G - 20

    F - 10

    P - 5

  • "Why would a knowledgeable collector/dealer list a stamp such as this as a gem? "

    For the same reason he uses the word "bargain" in his store name. He creates "alternate facts."
    This dealer is not held in high regard by any collector I know.
  • "This dealer is not held in high regard by any collector I know."

    The same applies to most dealers...One I used to work for would ask that his helpers be particularly cautious when this guy was sniffing around his table at shows as stamps would have a tendency to "disappear" whenever he was around. He even caught him at it once, and the story line was that he picked them up by accident along with his other personal stuff he had placed on the table.
  • edited June 30 2 LikesVote Down
    After looking over most dealer's inventory and pricing, I tend to agree. Bargains are few and far between. I also collect older cars and I see the same thing. I have learned you are better off buying from collectors than dealers. Most Dealer inventory is purchased from collectors who have passed on, or have lost interest in stamp collecting. Dealers are a essential part of stamp collecting and I mean no disrespect. There is nobody forcing us to pay their "bargain" prices. I prefer to buy from individual collectors whenever I can. I do my best to price my offerings at a price where I would feel comfortable buying them at. I was 5 years old when my Mom bought me
    $1 U.S. album and some commemorative packets at a Ben Franklin's 5&10 store in 1959. I want
    my stamps to go to someone who will appreciate and enjoy them, rather than a dealer who is only looking at the profit potential.
  • edited July 1 3 LikesVote Down
    Old Car 8x12 300 dpi
    Look Stuart ...a well-centered "gem" ...could use paint
  • edited July 1 1 LikesVote Down
    Its a bargain at $10,000 I'm sure, just ask the dealer. A friend of mine just drove half way across the country to look at car that was no where near what he was expecting. Said he was glad he went. He was about ready to buy it based on the description and pictures and glad he went to look first.
  • Sometimes ordering stamps online is like a box of chocolates ....
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