cddstamps on stamps

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

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 😀


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