Monday, July 22, 2013

Collecting : My collection 04 f

Some examples of how the la Gasse-meter works :

Some examples of the stamps I tested:

1. Make sure the stamp is exactly in the middle of the central square:

full scan
2. Make sure the overlay is exactly in the position of the cancel

scan in detail
3. Result : 150
This is a very good cancel indeed; 150% of the value
the box indicates : 150
Another example:

1. Placing the stamp:
full scan
2. Placing the overlay:
Here, the cancel is bigger then the overlay indicator,
so you'll have to find the center of the cancel.

scan in detail
3. Reading the scale:
scale : 150
The scale indicates a 150%, but the cancel isn't clear enough to reach that percentage.
Altough it's very well centred, due to the lightness of the cancel, the value is lower.
So certainly a 'downgrade' to me.

Last example:

1. Here I placed a larger stamp on the A-sheet.
The hight is larger than the width, so we have to adjust the hight when placing the stamp.
If the stamp is wider than its hight, we have to adjust the width of course.

full scan
2. Placing the overlay:
adjusting the stamp to the compass, and the 2nd compass to the stamp

3. The result:
aww, only 40
With small 'classic' stamps, the value would be 40%, but as this stamp is larger, it's in fact a very good cancel too, as we can see the full name of the city (here : Bucureci - Bucarest) and the full date of cancelation : here Jan. 28, 1914.
Definitively an 'upgrade' to me.

Lesson to be learned.
This is a handy tool but it's not a Bible.

Have fun measuring !

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Collecting : My collection 04 e

Now to the serious work...

In order to convince each and everyone of searching for good cancels, a little help.
For long I was searching for an 'instrument' to determinate the quality of a cancelation.
Is there a 'standard' way to determinate whether a cancel is good, very good, or even excellent?
Of course, a lot depends on what kind of feeling you have yourself when looking at a used stamp.

If a cancel was made within an acceptable timeframe after the stamp was issued, then we're on the good way.
A 'black penny' with a year 2010 cancel is out of the question.
Secondly, with very old stamps, and perfect cancellations... always be careful for forgeries.
Better ask a specialist.

For 99% of our collections : this little, but oh so useful instrument :

This 'meter' was developed by the dutchman P. A. la Gasse.
It was meant for determinating the quality of small round cancels on early dutch stamps, but it can be used for any kind of 'classic' stamps.
For modern stamps, large sized stamps or irregular shaped stamps it's also useful, as long as you put the 'to be measured stamp' perfectly in the middle of the A-sheet (as shown below).

La Gasse 'cancelation meter'
How it works : put the stamp in the middle of the compass card.
Make sure it's perfectly in the middle, for bigger stamps, or round stamps for example, put the centre of the stamp exactly in the middle of the page.
(N O Z W = Noord, Oost, Zuid, West, or North, East, South, West)

detail A-sheet la Gasse

Now we need the second sheet of the la Gasse-meter.
This should be printed on a transparent foil, an be put over the first (A)sheet.
The exact size of the sheets doesn't matter too much, as long as A and B sheet are exactly the same size!
La Gasse - sheet B
As the B-sheet is transparant, you can turn the B-sheet, so that the compass equals the cancel.
North of the compass should be north-side of the cancel.
The circles on the compass are to be placed on the cancel and the line west-east become the horizon of the cancel.

La Gasse compass - detail

If you do so, the little box (south of the Z-point) will show a number on the scale, printed on the underneath A-sheet. (scale from 0 to 200)

the box will show the 'value' of the cancel, as indicated in the A-sheet below

The scale in the box gives an upgrade of downgrade of the catalogue value in %
200% doubles the catalogue price, 50% brings it down to half the price.

... to be continued...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Collecting : My collection 04 d

How about the last qualification for used stamps.
In the previous article I wrote about the last of the 3 qualification labels (XYZ) for unused stamps.
For (postally) used stamps, there's also a third category, the Z-factor

Again, the qualification runs from 5 (luxe) to 0 (bad).
As you've seen, I have mentionned postally used stamps and not 'cancelled' stamps.
For obvious reasons, I skipp the 'CTO' (Cancelled to Order) stamps from this list.
As those cancels are ment to be 'luxe' cancels, they aren't always and you can find them in each of the 6 categories.
However, the stamps with CTO cancels were never postally used, so the value -for me- is nill.

Some stamps (old communist countries) are very rare postally used, and even catalogues mention them as 'valuable' - just because there's no other alternative.
Also mass cancelations by certain countries (see previous articles) are mentionned in the catalogue with a limited value.
see :

The Z-digit:

"5" is the qualification for LUXE cancelations.
The city of cancelation has to be visible and straight up, (max. declination of 10%)
The cancel has to be clear, no ink spots or second cancel on the stamp.
The year has to be visible (and within the time of use of the stamp)
- for 'forever' stamps, a timeframe of +/- 3 years from the date of issue
The cancel has to be completely or nearly completely on the stamp, without damaging the image of the stamp.

Sweden n° 21 - issued November 1918  - cancel Eskilstunar
cancelled 16 April 1919

"4" is for all very good cancels, who miss one (or two) of the above mentionned requirements.
and I have to admit, most of the stamps are like this in my collection... some examples:

Sweden n° 21 - issued 1/7/1872  - cancel Osthammar
no luxe : cancel not sharp
Sweden n° 28 - issued May 1877  - cancel Stockholm
no luxe : declination is 90°
Sweden n° 32 - issued May 1877  - cancel Stockholm
no luxe : cancel 6 years after issuing date
Sweden n° 33 - issued July 1877  - cancel Kristine....
no luxe : cancel incomplete and pale
Sweden n° 33 - issued June 1877  - cancel Stockholm
no luxe : cancel is interrupted by a second cancel

"3" is for all other 'very good' cancels, city and year are (partially visible) and can be deducted.
even up-side-down cancels or late cancels (up to 10 years) are ok.

very good cancels - Sweden 1911

"2" City or date are only partially recognisable and/or multiple cancels

good cancel - Sweden 1918

"1" anything below qualification "2" with somehow a recognisable cancel

poor cancels - Sweden
"0" for meaningless (wavy lines, black spots, advertisement) or tiny cancels

meaningless cancel - Sweden
Some 'classical' stamps (UK, Mexico, US, ...) have cancels without city or date.
This does not mean that those cancels are to be labeled with a "0"
Some of those cancels can be traced by year and/or city of use!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Collecting : My collection 04 c

The last digit in my qualification system...

I told you earlier about the X-factor (perforations), the Y-factor (margins or centering), and now the final and maybe most interesting Z-factor...

For unused stamps we will use it to give a qualification to the gum, for (postally) used stamps, the quality of the cancel.

Let's first talk about unused (MNH) stamps

The Z-digit:

"5" MNH  means Mint, never hinged. *** or ** in catalogues
stamps have the original gum, no spots, no mark of any kind (except an expert's mark - for professionals)

"4" MLH menas Mint, lightly hinged. * in catalogues
The original hinge was removed or a small part remains on the stamp, furtheron no defects to the gum, no spots

"3" MH, Mint and hinged.
The hinge mark is still visible, or is removed but a larger part of the stamp is affected

X Y 5                                        X Y 4                                        X Y 3
 "2" Mint (as in 'unused'), minimum 50% of the original gum is still on the stamp

"1" Mint (unused) less then 50% of the original gum is left on the stamp

"0" MNG (mint no gum) (*) in catalogues
Unused stamps, but no (original) gum left - can be a used stamp without any cancel

X Y 2                                        X Y 1                                        X Y 0
For the qualification of cancelled stamps, see next article ...