Home Stamps Forum

New PSE grading adjustments

Anybody have an opinion on the new SMQ grading criteria? i.e. "Extremely minor faults" and
"Very minor faults." When I used to examine my stamps to submit I had fairly good handle on what was worth grading, now I have just have a headache, and am a little frightened to submit anything that isn't absolutely 100% perfect(and that might not even be a guarantee) For example the difference between a " corner perf tip crease" and a "corner perf crease" can be a whole grade and/or a devaluing mention on the cert itself of the fault. Seems REALLY tricky if not a toss-up as to which way the grader will go on the call between two very similar/close definition/descriptions. I mean what is the difference like half a millimeter? Mike if you happen to read this I'm still trying to figure out the ramifications of this of this now, so I can ask you some good questions later. But I keep coming up with so many possible variables that I think there needs to be another grade as much as a pain as that would be as well as a flood of resubmissions. But this whole "mystery grade" etc stuff seems to indicate that there are stamps that should fall somewhere between 90 and 95 and/or 95 and 98. Well now I'm starting to get myself confused again, gotta think about this some more.


  • If you're noting that the problem is complex, you're right!

    When we get a stamp with a small fault of some sort, we basically have three options. Ignore it, lower the grade slightly but don't mention it on the cert, and finally lower the grade and mention it on the cert. Which one we choose depends of course on the severity of the fault. Take an inclusion for instance. They typically have three components. Size, color and location on the stamp. Size can range from under .1 mm to .4 or .5 mm. Color can range from pale yellow brown to jet black, and location can range anywhere from being buried in the background of the design to right in the center of the cheek.

    All three of these can combine in a nearly infinite array of possibilities. So when we refer to a "tiny inclusion", or some such, it is really quite a tough call really.

    It is widely known that a mention of any fault on a cert virtually "kills" the stamp. Yet, those people buying really high grade stamps (and paying the price) need to be sure they're not getting stamps with faults, however minor. So this distinction between Extremely Minor Faults and Very Minor Faults just formalizes a practice we've been employing for some time. It gives us the flexibility to reduce the grade a bit for a tiny fault, yet not completely kill the stamp by mentioning it on the cert.

    This whole topic is easily one of the most vexing we face, and we have devoted many hours to a satisfactory solution. If you have other ideas, we'd love to hear them.
    Michael Sherman
    Director of Numismatics
  • Actually with the numerical grades set up as they are now, the grading adjustments make sense. I just am afraid to submit stamps that have a flaw/ fault or maybe a non-fault depending on the graders interpretation of the grading adjustments for what might be something that doesn't well fit any of the definitions. For example, I'm surprised that the grading guide still makes no mention of a fingerprint on the gum. If I had an exceptional stamp with a bare trace of a fingerprint(which I do) on the gum what kind of deduction would that incur? I have submitted 2 stamps that had fingerprints(that I did not notice) and both, upon return, were noted as such on the stockcard in pencil but I'm not sure how much that affected the grade. I AM glad it was not mentioned on the cert but have no idea what deduction was made. What about stamps of the same issue( same Scott #) that might have different types of gum "winter gum" I know I have seen some stamps with a crackled type gum that I wonder whether it is natural(due to the gums composition) or caused by environment. If this is a natural appearance for the gum but not on every stamp(due to different types of gum) is that a cause for deduction? How about a slight .5 delamination inside a perf hole, is that considered of the same magnitude as an actual tear of the same size? Another question: a stamp has a gum bend, BUT it is possible for the gum bend to NOT affect the grade. Is it the same criteria(severity of dark line, whiting up) as before? I assume so, as "minor natural gum bend" is under Extremely Minor Faults. But you could get still get a 98 on a stamp with a gum bend right?(seems you might have told me that in previous emails) What would that be called a "really very minor gum bend?" : ) I may have asked you this before also but what about the slightest "Tiny,light toned spot" on a used stamp? What if it is covered by a neat cancel for the most part? Would this be the same as an inclusion that is hiddeN in the printed part of the stamp? It seems whenever I get stamps that are possibly worth submitting I find some anomaly that doesn't fit the grading guides definitions. A tiny scuff is another flaw/fault I don't see mentioned so I don't know what the deduction would be. I had a coil pair downgraded for "rough perfs" as noted in pencil, what exactly constitutes that definition. I have seen many large banknotes with some pretty "rough" looking perfs that received pretty high grades, so is it just because it's common for that issue/#?
    This makes me think of coin grading where someone might break open a slab, resubmit the coin and get a higher grade on an originally questionable call. I would hate to see this start happening with stamps as it would undermine my confidence a bit in 3rd party grading.
    My ex-girlfriend was an art conservator and through her I gained much knowledge on that subject. I remember the drawing style used to depict recovered artifacts/objects that were discovered at digs. These simplified non-shaded types of pen and ink drawings(black and white) would be excellent for illustrating flaws on stamps(as an illustration in a grading guide). I think the original grading guide had a somewhat generic drawing showing things such as corner creases, internal tears etc. This was actually very informative. I do pen and ink drawings myself and would love to send you a couple to show you what I mean. This would be much easier to grasp by viewing than by a description in words only. One reason that artifacts/objects are done in pen and ink (instead of photography) with no shading, is to illustrate the physical characteristics of the item depicted without interference from shadow or color. An example of this is on page 6 of the grading guide. In the color photos of the gum side it is/would very difficult to photograph "minor gum skips" and even more difficult to contrast them to larger "gum skips."
    The new guide is excellent. It's neat to see that it is so thick now that it actually has a bound edge. Many excellent photos of actual stamps too. I was a little disappointed though to see that most of the issues do not indicate when a stamp illustrated is merely a 98 and the one next to it is a 98J, 95 and 95J and so on. This can get really confusing. Also why no illustrations of any stamps between Scott 573 and 704? I was hoping to see some of the rotary press issues, i.e. 632-642. There are several different stamps(#'s) with centering peculiar to the issue(plate spacing etc.). What about a separation of the Jamestown,Pan-Pacific, and other issues shown together? These issues surely don't all have the same production values in regards to average margin width, do they?
    Well my next chattering will be on gum grading(in a later post). Something needs to be done to afford VERY lightly hinged(no remnant,tiny remnant) OG stamps some REAL value as they currently are languishing between Used and NH with little potential for increase, mostly regardless of grade.
    Thanks for listening, hope you get a chance to read this Mike!
  • You raise some good points, and ask some interesting questions. However, I just don't have the time to prepare a long written response. I would however, be happy to speak with you on the phone since talking is faster than writing. Please feel free to call. Just call the PSE number on the last page of the grading guide, and ask to speak to me.
    Michael Sherman
    Director of Numismatics
  • Mike that's understandable, I know you must have many responsibilities and would like to say I appreciate your many responses to my inquiries about grading. I can try to actually make a call sometime, but I work 3rd shift, so I am awake at odd hours. The thing is I'm much more able to sit down and write out my questions and ideas in a more coherent manner. Although the post I wrote was a little long-winded and kind of skipped from one thing to another. I will have to figure out the time difference too since PSE is on the west coast and I live in the midwest. What is a good time to call when you are least busy(if there is such a time or day)?
Sign In or Register to comment.