One topic I can cover very quickly are the pitfalls and the immense impact that condition has on price.
Impact of Condition on Price
This issue, probably more than most of the Canadian stamp issues during this time is very sensitive to price. Why this is the case is somewhat of a mystery, when all stamps from this period are very scarce in superlative grades. However, the fact remains that stamps of this issue in average condition are worth relatively little compared with those in very high condition grades. Take for example the half cent value, which catalogues $15 for a very fine mint example and $5 for fine mint. There is a 200% premium in the catalogue for NH stamps in very fine condition and a note that extremely fine examples are worth much more than VF.
For example in my store I have:
- A superb 96 lightly hinged example priced at $60 - 4 times the very fine price. It is perfect as far as the eye can tell, but with a light hinge mark.
- A very fine 84 NH example I have priced for $45 - full catalogue. Again, it looks perfect to the naked eye, but measurement of the margins under a calibrated magnifier reveals that the margins are not exactly equal.
- A very fine 80 lightly hinged example I have priced for $12.
- A very fine 75 hinged example I have priced for $9.
- A fine 70 hinged example I have priced for $4.
So you can see that the difference between the superb 96 and the fine 70 is $56 - or almost 15 times as much. If the superb 96 had also been never hinged, this would have been a $150-$200 stamp. If it had jumbo sized margins as well, add 50% to each price.
Because of the importance of centering and gum on this issue, these stamps have been quite extensively tampered with. The main things to watch for are:
- Re-perforating to create perfectly centered stamps.
- Re-gumming and re-distribution of gum.
- Application of fake or posthumous corner cancels to mint no gum stamps to create equally valuable superb used copies.
I have covered these types of shenanigans in other posts, so I won't go into great detail here. But suffice to say that perforations should be evenly spaced and should line up more or less perfectly with the "teeth"on opposite sides. Margins should be at least 1 mm on the largest side. If a stamp has margins less than 1 mm around on all four sides, chances are very good that it has been re-perforated.
The gum should be a smooth, shiny yellowish gum. Overly crackly, brownish or colourless white or matte gum may well not be original.
Postmarks should generally be dated 1908-1911 generally. If you are going to collect corner cancels, you should make sure that the ink is of a type that is consistent with that found on other used stamps of the period.