cddstamps on stamps

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

Monday, September 04, 2023

Collectors Buying With Confidence – Is that really the colour of the stamp being sold?

In my previous article I briefly wrote about removing self-adhesives stamps from envelopes, at least at a high level, and I did not, deliberately, address every type of gum. I hope it was useful.

But just as a follow up one of my very knowledgeable and kind readers did write to add the point that some GB in particular no longer have the water-soluble layer between the stamp and the glue. Modern Great Britain self-adhesives have been like this since 2009 - not just Machins, but current definitives and self-adhesive special stamps and miniature sheets.   I will add that I do not know the gum (glue) type found in other county’s stamps but  I expect over the years those gums have  changed and  also are no longer water soluble or have a water soluble layer as was commented for GB stamps.  Collectors would perhaps be wise to learn the gum types before thinking or trying to remove a stamps from an envelope – if that is what they want to do.

Anyway, today; One thing I did mentioned in my last post was the scanning of the stamp so I thought that would be the topic here. And the Collector Buying With Confidence question is, is that really the colour of the stamp being sold?

My example in the previous article was perhaps useful but not specific for this topic and neither was the example I used on colour in the article showing the two Italian stamps.

This time I want to take the topic further and talk about the deliberate – because I contend it is unlikely to be anything other than deliberate  – changing or enhancing of the colour of the image of the stamp being listed.  

While I suggested the GB Machin had been colour adjusted for the purposes of the scan as it was a self-adhesive stamp that had been removed from the envelope or paper it was used on, I would like to take that aspect a stage further and talk about colour or scanner colour adjustments for a normal stamp.

As a starter I will also mention that many stamps were printed in different shades. These are well documented in the various catalogs like Scott, SG and Michel for example.  Colour identification can be rather tricky and depending on catalog pricing can mean a large difference in potential value between two stamps which are apparently the same.

I have never seen scanning colour enhancements for online marketplace listings done to a suggest or support a stamp being of a higher value than it is.  But, I have seen many examples of stamps that just were not issued in the colour shown. Why?  To better present the stamp I  would  think.

More commonly this is because the seller  -  it would seem from all the  evidence and examples one can quite easily see for oneself – has  brightened the  image.   Why?    The answer is either, by accident, by a poor setting on the scanner, or to make the image more attractive in its listing presentation.

Some people I know will argue with me that this does not happen. I argue it does and there is adequate proof if one cares to take the time to look.   Of course we don’t see it until we are looking for a stamp we want to buy and we see many copies of the one, all side by side, that we can obviously compare and then we notice one or more are, let’s just, say very bright, or very  dark or whatever has happened to “enhance” the colour presentation.   Some examples to show brightness:  A copy of the stamp in the colour / shade it was issued – it was not issued in a very bright shade -  Example 1, showing Front and Reverse and another copy, Example 2,  the stamp “brightened”.


 Example 1  from a direct scan of the stamp from my scanner.


  Example 2 as listed for sale, somewhere, once.



Example 3     the first example after brightening on the scanner.


There are two ways the second stamp  (Example 2) can come across as so bright.  One, the image was brightened when scanned.  Two, it was soaked in compound to clean it, to in fact bleach it. The bleaching is probably not the cause for the brightness as the cancel is still very strong in colour. And, the hinge mark has not been cleaned as one might expect from a “bleach” clean.


But let’s try it once more.  This time with even more complex colour adjustment.




My example are not  intended to be that close for comparison but for the purpose of showing how the scan can be brightened.  And why brighten?  As I said earlier, to better present the stamp. The brighter image looks far more attractive and collectible, doesn’t it.

One more example. And this time showing the stamp as it was received (left image) and then an image of the actual stamp  as listed for sale.



 A useful addition to any GB collection.  The actual listing was rather attractive.  The reality was what I expected. I suspect the sellers’ scanner was not working very well at the time it was scanned!!

So, Collectors Buying with Confidence – do look carefully and learn to understand what you are seeing. It is ok to buy a brightened stamp  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 might get a rare colour shade!!!


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


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