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 


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