Scott 73 or 103

I went through the process to I’d this stamp! No grill , 12 perf. On white paper but not sure if it is “hard white paper”. You can see right through the stamp and when you flick it is has a brittle feel and sound could it be 103? Is there another way for me to determine? C66D43BF-B16B-4ADB-99FD-88E27B7A216A


  • 11 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Brett,
    There is a little known, but definitive way to determine the 103 from the 73. Why Scott doesn't mention this is beyond me. But there is a type of "Secret Mark" on the 103. 73

    The first stamp above is a 73. The second stamp is a 103.
    Advice of a "flick test" is one of the most idiotic methods of ID that has ever been suggested. Completely unreliable, and paper types vary, this method should be debunked as totally useless. (Not calling you idiotic, calling the perpetuation of such a ridiculous ID method as so).

    So what's the difference here? Have a look at the scroll in the upper left 2. And you will notice in both your example, and the 73 in this image, the lower curve is without design. However in the 103, there are 3 dots that are arranged around the lower curve of the scroll. This is a definitive identification mark of the 103.

    I swear, some of the "old timers" literally were information hogs, and I believe that the "flick test" was provided as disinformation as in my lifetime, I've never met an expertizer or dealer that can reliably (i.e. blind folded) ID this paper type from flicking it. Not to mention the risk of damaging scarce to rare stamps, it just shouldn't even be suggested. Especially when, a definitive ID mark like this exists. [End rant].
    But yes, yours is a very damaged, badly centered, garden variety 73. (Sorry).
  • Hey....I can't tell the diff
  • Correct me if I'm wrong but I think he's referring to these.Sc 103
  • Eugene, you are correct.
    Those 3 dots ONLY occur on 103.
  • I figured I would an excellent response to this one! Yo thought the flick test was pretty stupid myself how ref I read the information in more then one place ! Now that I have the real test I’ll never flick a stamp again! Maybe I’ll flick my bic and burn this garden variety stamp from 1865 ( c) JK. . I have see prices all over the lace for the 73 plus I’ve seen stamp listed in worse condition! I just don’t know the best way to price these so I just end up not listing them in fear of being laughed at
  • Hi Shawn, hopefully I can be of some guidance here.
    The "Black Jack" as this stamp is affectionately referred to, has a used value of $60. But what does that $60 mean?
    Stamps listed in the Scott Catalog (or the Scott Specialized Catalog of US Stamps), unless very explicitly stated otherwise, are for stamps with VF centering (Very Fine) and without any faults (thins, creases, perforation mangling, alterations, significant fading of color, changing of color, pin holes, reperforations, perfs trimmed, margins added, design features added or removed, grills added, grills removed, (in the case of unused stamps, no gum condition issues, hinges, redistribution of gum, gum repairs, gum loss, regumming). If the stamp is sound (none of what I just mentioned) and genuine (not a fake, forgeries or counterfeit), THEN the catalog value applies to the stamp. What many people fail to realize is that the stamp they have is NOT of the condition that the catalog value represents,

    The Scott Specialized Catalog until 2021 edition, contained a section in the middle the "Yellow Pages" that provided values for stamps in condition other than (and including) VF. Stamps are generally described in the grades (in progressively increasing quality and value) on a graded scale:
    50 - VG (Very Good)
    70 - F (Fine)
    75 - F/VF (Fine to Very Fine)
    80 - VF (Very Fine)
    85 - VF/XF (Very Fine to Extra Fine)
    90 - XF (Extra Fine)
    95 - XF-SUP (Extra Fine to Superior)
    98 to 100 - SUP (Superior)

    And one modifier which is "Jumbo", though Scott does not provide values for this special modifier, however SMQ (Stamp Market Quarterly) does for many issues.

    The vast majority of stamps available in the market place fall below VF. In addition, any of the impacts to other than "Sound" will lower the value of the stamp from moderate to major.

    So getting back to your 73, the centering is VG (Perforation cuts into the stamp image) So the VG value of a used 73 is not $60 rather $12.50 (let's keep it simple and call it $13). So any one of the faults I mentioned above impacts the value further. There are two categories of faults as well: Minor Fault and Major Fault. As it may be obvious, this is the depth of impact that the fault has. A 1mm tear between perfs is a minor fault, while a 3mm tear is a major fault. A "tiny corner crease" is a minor fault, a vertical crease is a major fault.
    Most major faults will reduce the value of a stamp by 25% to 50% (or more if it really impacts presentation). Pieces of the stamp missing (cut away, torn away, punched holes, etc) will have serious negative impact to value, reducing it's value by 90% - 95% (i.e. near valueless). If a stamp is particularly rare, then it may retain some better value, simply because there are so few of them. Take the Scott 164 for example, its an ugly stamp, with poor centering, with multiple pulled and short perfs, a nice leaf fancy cancel (though this adds no real value to the stamp), multiple pencil markings across the face, and (though not mentioned), a crease. Despite that, this stamp has a value of $375,500 when it last sold in 2004. But don't get your hopes up. I use the word "Rare" only in conjunction with material that has a value over $10,000. The 164 is "Unique" (there is only 1 known). The point here is it's also contextual. There are exceptions but VERY few, and on stamps with value under $5,000 this is unlikely to have much that will attract a buyer if there are serious multiple faults.

    So how should you list this item? I'm funny... I just can't throw away a stamp no matter how bad it may be damaged. I know when I was a young, early collector, that condition would not stop me from putting the stamp in my album if it filled the space. And that is exactly what these stamps are. "Space fillers". There is nothing wrong with selling space fillers. If you look in our store you will see a few listings we have as space fillers, which usually includes 5 to 6 stamps as a group, and listed as damaged space fillers. We may range from $5 - $60 for these depending on the actual CV of the items. One of the most painful philatelic disasters of my life was a collection that I bought that came in "hingeless" albums. This album had something like 32 rings in it's binder. One stamp slipped out as I turned the pages, and I didn't notice/realize it until I was turn the pages back to close the album. A $3 MNH VF centered Columbus had been caught between the rings and the pages and tore a 6mm tear in an L shape into the stamp. My $3,000 stamp was rendered a $300 damaged stamp (10% as I mentioned earlier). A massive hit to the profitability of that collection. I was just sick over it. But, it happened, and I had to roll with it.
    So to cap off this long explanation, essentially, any single major fault renders the value of the stamp almost valueless, depending on the actual rarity of the stamp. In the case of a VG centered 73, with multiple major faults, the stamp you have would be essentially valueless. It's a good candidate for a small filler group, for a budding new collector, who is just starting to fill out the pre-1900 section of their book.
  • NOW I see the dots....Thanks!
  • edited January 19 0 LikesVote Down left one fault out....can you guess which one? Obviously, just kidding....your info is very much appreciated!
  • edited January 20 0 LikesVote Down
    John, haha. Actually I left out several.
    For all stamps: Surface scuffs, internal tears, stains, toning, pen cancels (particularly on early US Postage stamps (may not apply to early revenues though), backstamps (particularly collectors marks made in ink), inclusions (foreign objects that make their way into paper, but could also be in the ink (i.e. fly specking, though I didn't even touch the subject of Errors, Freaks and Oddities, as these usually increase value, not decrease them).
    For Unused stamps: Perf disk indentation, inclusions (things stuck in the gum instead of stuck in the paper, like a perf disk), finger print in gum, no gum (for gummed stamps, does not include NGAI).

    In my defense it was 2am my time when I wrote that post, so I wasn't performing at 100%.
    Given more time I'm sure I could come up with a few more.
  • I read every sentence you write and then read it again! Thank you! My storm is coming along when you have a chance take a peak I love feedback
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