cddstamps on stamps

my thoughts on stamps, stamp collecting, philately in general and maybe a few other topics !

Friday, September 08, 2023

Collectors Buying With Confidence – colours, and corroboration

Hello,  back again after a few days doing other things.  But on the subject of colours and shades, two points.   A reader wrote to me telling me they never priced a stamp by colour unless they were 100% certain, especially for much higher priced copies and shades. A very wise practice and one that we as collectors should remember.   More on this later. Second, I thought I would just show a few GB Downey Heads.

One of my areas of collecting interest is Great Britain George V Downey Heads. GB stamps issued between 1911 and 1912; basically a green one, the ½d value and a red one, the 1d. I am being flippant of course because while there were only the two basic colours there were many shades, a few perforation varieties, and die varieties and a few watermark varieties, not the least which included inverted and sideways watermarks.  Downey Heads make for a fascinating and challenging study and collecting area.  And, one where the advice of, don’t sell as a colour shade unless very sure, is very relevant.

I sometimes look to see if I can fill a gap or two even though those missing stamps are rather expensive. What I often find are copies for sale which I have to look at twice in the listing because the colour is just not right.  Bright Green is very bright green, but not that bright.   Carmine is carmine but not that deep.

Let me start at the beginning, of my album,  and show a few stamps.  I hope this displays well enough to get the general impression of a few, and I mean just a few, of the various shades of this issue.


As a collector, one thing we could look for when buying stamps with various shades is to see if the seller mentions, sold with a certificate - especially for much higher priced stamps – or,  that the stamp has  have come from a control study or reference collection  That can mean the  collector or seller has spent time seriously studying the stamps and  referencing  copies against other copies to more correctly  establish the colour differences.As a collector  this  really is  collectors buying with confidence if we are seeing such  details, maybe even better to say provenance..

These two factors can at least add some degree of certainty to the correctness, of such detail is in fact provided, of the description and hopefully catalog reference of the stamp being sold.

Another picture.  This image shows a few of the 1d stamps with notes.  Probably does not reproduce well but this shows the Control Block detail that is also an interesting and useful collecting area of interest, not the least because the Control markings can help in determining the printer, in this case it was Somerset House.   Shame these are all singles because pairs are more desirable. A study area in its own right one might say.  Why the number 12? that was used to show the year, in this case 1912.


Anyway, colours and shades can be a rabbit hole to go down at times but can add interest and a challenge to our collecting, but need us as collectors to be weary when buying.

One last image. A stamp I had to buy, just to prove to myself it was not the colour in the scan. Of course it was not – or I would have discovered a new shade variety or perhaps even better.  See more below in closing remarks.        

Obviously ? colour adjusted? (the bottom stamp  is as it was shown for sale, the stamp above is exactly the colour of the stamp received).  Colour adjusted perhaps by the seller to improve presentation or what?  We as the collector have to decide.  Anyone knowing their Downey Heads would probably not see it like that.

So, Collectors Buying With Confidence – do look carefully and learn to understand what you are seeing. It is ok to buy a brightened stamp or a stamp that looks like the colour has been adjusted, or perhaps the scanner was really bad?  if it is the one you want, but do be prepared for it to be as you might  expect based on the catalog and not as the image shown in the listing. 

Of course, you just may get a rare colour shade!!!   I started by saying my gaps are hard and expensive to fill.   So I will close with what I am looking for, as you might be asking 😊   -  SG 337, (specialist N 10 – 4 c)  deep bright scarlet watermark reversed. Sadly I keep coming up with the Scarlet shade. Just imagine if the seller of the stamp above had really got it wrong!

 Michael …. Please visit my online store    where I think you will see quality and appropriately described stamps.  


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