cddstamps on stamps

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

 What’s in an Image Part II?

Hello and welcome to Part V of my series Caveat emptor. In the last  part I talked about images that show a set of stamps all touching each other, and  how this means you actually do not see  all that you  would buy if you purchased the lot for sale as shown.

Continuing the theme “what’s in an image” I thought I would talk about the quality of the image this time.

This can be a subjective topic of course, as what one person sees might be different from another  if only because the computer screens each are using give a better or worse image resolution.  Or maybe the viewer is looking at the stamps from, for example, an iPad or equivalent notebook or even a phone. Maybe the lighting conditions at the viewing location are different.  There may be,  and often are, also differences in the quality of the scanner being used by the seller, or the scanner settings, so this will also give a different image presentation of the stamp being scanned and displayed to the potential buyer.

There are many factors but ultimately let’s take a reasonable view and say all things being nearly equal what’s in an image?   Yes it comes down to buyer beware doesn‘t it. Well mostly it does.

I saw a stamp for sale and decided to prove to myself that what was being shown was not a reasonably correct representation of what was being sold.  Yes, I bought the stamp and when it arrived I compared the “screen for sale image” with the “actual stamp I had in my hand”.

All things being equal I think you will agree there is a rather significant difference.  Fortunately for me the price was not high.  Had it been I would not have tried the experiment but I was pretty sure I was correct in my thinking.   So buyer beware when viewing an image – take into account the price and ask yourself, especially if you do not know the seller or have not had previous dealings with the seller,  is this a fair price if the actual stamp is not,  let’s call it, as “clean” as it appears to be.

Another aspect to look out for is this: has the image been, let’s call it, enhanced.  I am on shaky ground here because some may say I can have no idea whether the image was enhanced or not and it is possibly unprofessional of me to even suggest it without proof in advance. I accept that  but I will show some examples and let you be the judge – let you make the assessment  - is this really the colour, shade, or even the whiteness or brightness shall I say of what a normal actual copy of the stamp looks like?  Ask yourself, is this really what the issued stamps looked like? Buyer beware!

Fig 1 below – can this stamp really have such whiteness and depth of brown?  Can the black backing paper  really have such white spots on it? Was this stamp issued with such whiteness and depth of brown colour contrast? 


   Fig 2 -  Image as per scan from my stock                 Fig 2a – Fig 2 enhanced with “colour correction”  

This stamp was issued in  May 1935,  85 years ago.  Given the printing technology of the day, the paper used and the ink used, what is the probability the colour today would be as in Fig 1? 

The stamp shown in Fig 2 and Fig 2a is from my stock. Fig 2a is just one click  on the computer – “auto colour correction”.    Buyer beware! 

I  use the example  of “auto colour correction” but there are of course other methods involving  chemicals for example, "washing" stamps is a more common expression but again Buyer Beware! 

I am using a stamp with no significant value for this example but a more expensive stamp could be a different matter. So, perhaps a rule of thumb might be - If a stamp looks too bright, that is, maybe too white or the colour too light or dark or pure shall I say, then maybe the image colour has been adjusted in some way, even if that way is simply by the settings on the scanner, which are not allowing for a very correct image representation of the actual image being scanned. What you get may well look different from what is shown on the screen, and if it does not then perhaps that raises other concerns.

For new collectors or less experienced collectors please take care. Look carefully. Ask yourself the questions I mentioned. Buyer beware!    



You be the judge!    The stamps on the left are from our stock.


Enjoy your stamps.  Have a great and safe day.  

Michael  or visit us here 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  What’s in an Image?

Hello  and welcome to Part IV of my series Caveat emptor. In the last  piece I finished up by saying I would talk more about the  images you see when you look at stamps offered for sale  on the internet, and what you might really be seeing.

I have written on this topic before on a few forums but the following is using my own purposely created images. These replicate what I see time and time again on various philatelic selling platforms. You can make your own mind up about what you buy of course, based on the images you see, but remember, Buyer beware!

I  don’t think I need to talk too much about these images but a few comments  might supplement them and give a perspective you might not appreciate until you receive the stamps you bought. I have  learnt the hard way.  So my comments are based on actual experiences.  


I will  talk about what and how you might see stamps presented from a sellers point of view,  implying some do nots, and, from a collectors point of view on how to interpret what you may be seeing, or not seeing.


Fig 1 shows a set of Mint Never Hinged stamps.  This is  very often what you will see.  The seller is      subconsciously communicating, in my view anyway,  I don’t have the time or inclination to properly show  what I am selling,  and I  don’t really  understand the fact they are mint with full gum.

Fig 1:

This issue with  gums can be many but the most obvious one is that with the slightest moisture the gum side might stick to the face side of the touching stamp.  You think I am exaggerating here?    Have you experienced  the gums on  many Malta,  Rhodesia or Papua New Guinea issues from around the 1970s? There are many others of course,   Eastern Europe comes to mind.  Gums stick very  easily.  By the time the stamps reach you the buyer,  if they are packed like this as they usually are when they are displayed like this, you could be in trouble.     Sure, full refund if not  happy is the  answer people tell me.  Well actually it is not when the buyer says  full refund if returned in 14 or even 28 days  - can you do that with todays mail services impacted by the corona virus  effect on international  and even some domestic mail services?    Probably not. Or, what if the buyer says they were ok when they left us.  Buyer beware. 


If you are looking at Mint stamps  I recommend you look for stamps packed as in Fig 2.     Yes with a set of  so many stamps they need to overlap  but with each stamp in a black mount you can be  confident there will be no gum sticking to other stamps.

Fig 2:

And  to take this one step further if we at cddstamps show for sale a mint stamp with full gum,  and the image is just of the stamp, when we pack to inventory after scanning we always put it in a  mount.  For safety -  It is to us the professional thing to do - and you always get your Mint stamp in a mount.


Now what about used stamps? Well  here is an example as shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3: 

What do you see?  Perhaps what the seller wants you to see. And again I am speaking from actual experience here. The message is  you see what the seller sees and that could well be influenced by the experience and philatelic knowledge and standards of the seller. 


I am not saying right and wrong - I am saying   different standards, different values and different understanding about stamp collecting and stamp selling.    Buyer beware of course. If your standards and expectations are different from those of the seller  then the image displays will not always show that.


Here is another view of the same set. What do you see?     Description: Used.     Used might mean different  things to different  sellers and different buyers.  Personally we prefer showing the set like this, as in Figure 4:


Then again let’s look at  this issue once more.    A selling display might look like this  as in Fig 5. Also with  Description: Used

Fig 5 

 But were we to show the image another way the stamps would look like this.    You have to look carefully because with this small image the creases do not really show!

Fig 6 

 I hope this was informative and perhaps useful?     Talking about images showing details like creases,  perhaps for my next article  I will  talk more on the size and resolution of the images being displayed for collectors to use to make  their judgement about whether to buy or not to buy.   Buyer beware.


Stay safe and safely enjoy your philately    

Michael and at   our shop here   Hope to see you :-) 

Monday, September 14, 2020

    Stamp images - scanning and phone camera images                                                                                      

In the last article I finished by  commenting about an image being a scan or a photograph. This  third article in the series “Caveat emptor” is  going to briefly discuss this:   what is an acceptable image of a stamp for sale on the internet? A somewhat subjective topic but perhaps I can put some perspectives out there for consideration.


I would like to start by saying the answer is very simple: a stamp scanned at 600 dpi and cropped to a small margin. It really is that simple. Or is it? In general terms I think yes, it is that simple.


In more contentious terms I will go as far as to say if the  image shown is a phone / camera image then -   Danger Will Robinson!  You could well be about to make a mistake in judging the quality  of the stamp being shown and / or the credibility of the seller.   But, and of course there is always a but, I use phone camera images at times and  you wouldn’t question my credibility, would you?  😊  And   just so I am clear,  there is no rule, just a guidance. I am sure many sellers who use a phone camera are excellent sellers.


Having set the scene  let me explain further.


As a first rule of thumb you will always get a better, sharper, cleaner image by scanning a stamp and 600 dpi is a good resolution. And, that includes scanning both the front and the gum side.  Consistency is important of course but it starts to demonstrate to a potential buyer  that the seller knows what they are doing, that they care and want to ensure their potential buying audience sees the most correct and clear image of what they are selling.


Two scanned examples below and as found, not exaggerated by me. Surely we would look more favourably towards Fig 2  than Fig 1 - all other things being considered?  Well actually no,  I would go as far as to say I would discard Fig 1;   the person is telling me they do not really understand philately if that is what they think is an acceptable image to present to a collector. But that is your choice   Buyer beware!


Fig 1                                                                      Fig 2


I mentioned  that you could be about to make a mistake if you  favour towards a  phone / camera image, well especially a bad one as so many it seems to me tend to be.  Five  reasons:  one, the  person taking it has  little to no appreciation of philately in my view; two, they do not know how to use a phone camera properly; three  they obviously do not care about the collector and  correctly displaying what they are selling; four, they are not prepared to invest a few dollars buying a scanner or they have a scanner in their printer – who doesn’t in this day and age - and do not  know its value to them as a stamp seller; and five, they have completely ignored the advice written time and time again on various philatelic stamps boards or they do not read the boards because they are not philatelists!    But as I say, I am sure many sellers who use a phone camera are excellent sellers.


You may say I am being a bit too harsh or was I distracted by the  head and hair line in that image to the left! Well ok maybe at times but I argue if the seller  is a  serious philatelist selling a stamp  and they want to convey the accurate details of the stamp or stamps they will  show a good clear image.  Surely that is a fundamental starting point  when selling something. Unless there is something to hide? Probably not, as  it seems most sellers are just  trying to sell a few stamps,  but buyer beware none the less.

The wording description might read    stamp as shown in scan.   If applied to a  good image with appropriate descriptive text that is probably acceptable. But, unless there is a description, perhaps the wording  “stamp as shown in the scan” is a little misleading?  Just saying. Buyer beware.

Now I  mentioned that I use the  phone camera at times.  Yes, to show phosphor differences  particularly on Great Britain Machins and also on GB Security Machins where I think it is worthwhile showing the date and source code in addition to the listing description.  Not easy and certainly not as good as a 600 dpi scan but I have yet to work out how to scan stamps when in a dark room with my UV light! or with the stamp at an angle for the light to show the iridescent lettering.



This has been brief.   There are so many more  images I could show so in the next article in this series I will talk about what and how you might see stamps presented in images and, from a sellers point of view some do nots, and, from a collectors point of view how to interpret what you may be seeing, or not seeing.  Buyer beware.


Stay safe and safely enjoy your philately    

Michael and at   our shop here   Hope to see you 😀

Friday, September 11, 2020

Hello  This is the second in my new series of articles. I hope you find this interesting and useful both as a collector and if you sell on the internet then perhaps this will  help you make sure you always show the correct image of the stamp you are selling.

Caveat emptor,  is the theme of this series of articles.  This is one of my own experiences and mistakes.  I listed the stamp shown above in my shop.  Major failing on my part. Why? because there is a little black dot showing. Can you spot it? It shows in the enlarged image. 

 Fig 1 Above:  original scan with close in view - but nota flaw of even uncatalogued flaw just a black spot on the stock card  


 Fig 2  scan of the reverse of the stamp  in stack card and then when stock card cleaned. 

Well the customer did and even though the listing description of the stamp, including words and SG catalogue number to make it very clear what the stamp was and what it’s condition was, the customer assumed it was a flaw that  I, as the seller, had missed, and one he could pick up really cheap, even though no such flaw is listed! 

Stamp purchased, stamp delivered and grumpy buyer sends grumpy message saying I did not send the stamp I showed for sale. Buyer beware!   Yes, and Seller beware! Even if the buyer sort of was wrong because of the detail in my listing description, one might claim the buyer was technically correct.

Yes my error. I refunded, and apologised and explained and wrote off the stamp.  Sometimes we have to experience things to learn things.

How do I avoid this again. Well I now have a strict practice of scanning both the front and the reverse of the stamp if it is a) a mint copy and b) if it has a cat value of usually $5 to 10  or more.

When the reverse is scanned any spot of dirt or dust from the stock sheet immediately shows up.  (Fig 2 shows the black spot on the stock sheet not on the stamp. And, I scan at 600 dpi so any tiny black, or whatever colour, spot shows up clearly.   If I see such a mark when I see the scan of the reverse a quick check will show me if there is mark also showing on the face of the stamp.  I rescan the stamp and we have a correct image for our potential buyers. And yes, I do try to make sure my stock cards are VERY clean, but specs of dirt and or dust can happen and can make an image difference.

For collectors, if the stamp has a relatively decent  selling price ask for a scan of the face and the reverse if one is not given and if a “black spot” is seen on an image and you are unsure of the stamp quality. Ask for a new scan to reconfirm that the “black spot”  or whatever the mark is that you can see,  is either a) a flaw, b) perhaps a piece of dust. or c) a bad mark on the face of the stamp or d) even a mark on the stock card.



Here is one more example. This happened to me only a few days ago. 
Because I scan at 600dpi when it came to crop and save this stamp image  I  noticed a slight tinge of red on the stamp.(Fig 3 Top)   A close look showed me there was actually some red ink on the stock card.   Rescanned the stamp (Fig 4 Lower) and although it needs careful viewing the revised image is the correct image of the stamp.  This is not an expensive stamp of course but that red mark could well have deterred a potential buyer.  A useful  tip for sellers  perhaps?   

You are using a camera to scan your stamp?   Hmmm…   perhaps that is not  the best for your collectors. Just a thought.  And  now I have another topic to write about – camera images -  buyer beware on this topic.

 Have a brilliant and philatelic weekend -- Stay safe and safely enjoy your philately    

Michael and at   our shop here   Hope to see you :-) 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Hello, yes it has been a while since I wrote. I have been posting more on Twitter and Instagram.  Is blogging  a fading thing or what?  I am not sure.  But I  had the idea I should start something new.  One  cannot write much on Twitter or Instagram after all.  Mostly these past months my writings have been very random.  Maybe a bit boring?

So a  concerted effort to start something very new.  Not sure how many others write this stuff  - it might be considered too subjective or speculative in some minds. In my mind it needs to be said in this internet day and age.   

I have written on this topic many times in \Internet Philatelic Dealers Association forums. Now  for the benefit (I hope) of collectors (yes, and perhaps even people who sell stamps) I am writing my thoughts on my blog.   Perhaps no holds barred.😀   I think what I have to offer will be worthwhile to you as a collector  All it takes is people to write a comment to say not useful and I can stop, can't I,or change tack.

Also a lot of what I write will be based on actual experiences  not conjecture but actual  happenings.

For example, 4 weeks ago I wrote a piece on actual image of stamp received v actual image of stamp as offered for sale.  Real life experiences. I bought the stamp to prove  my thinking was not wrong.  Perhaps you read it and found it  thought provoking?   A few days before that I  showed another image  for a similar reason. This new series of articles will be along those lines. 

 Lets start than -  oh and I welcome examples / feedback / commentary just write to me at 

Caveat emptor!     catchy eh!! 😀  that is the title of the series.   "Let the buyer beware".  As I guess everyone knows it is the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality of what they are buying before they complete the purchase. It basically is used as a legal disclaimer.   I think that means "cop out" in plain English. .... anyway think of the words carefully.   .."buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality before they buy....."    Interesting... when you are buying something on the internet,  - talking stamps and only stamps here - you cannot check the quality you rely on the description and images from the seller.    A very much 'buyer beware" situation. and of course it leaves it wide open to the seller to say whatever they want, post whatever image they want, without recourse. 

Arghh....  I hear sellers already pouncing on me....  but we have a no quibble return policy....     if you pay the mail charges  and within a certain time period  maybe you do - that might have easily applied before corona virus of course  - the mail back in 14 days - but not anymore in any international situation, and, anyway,  what a a pain in the neck for small value items.. easier to just let it go and move on and remember to not buy from that seller again       - hey there are 1000's ( literally no exaggeration) of sellers on the internet selling stamps. 

Let's start then,  a simple one to get us going  yes the image at the top of this piece -   Would you buy these?  Caveat emptor.   whatever the description, you have no recourse if you do and you find all sorts of damage and toning and missing perfs. and if you collect this material you have probably already seen the colouring is rather suspect! Oh! and is that a scan or a photograph? all sorts of "maybe" signs to be aware of  in that. I will cover all this and more in the coming weeks and months, I hope 

 Stay safe and safely enjoy your philately    Michael and at our shop here    

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