Determining A Grade For Perforated Mint Stamps

In the case of perforated stamps, the factors that apply to imperforate stamps will all apply, except that now there are two additional attributes to consider that are not relevant to imperforate stamps: (1) how well centered the design is within the margins and (2) how intact, even and well defined the perforations are. 5 points are reallocated from each of the paper freshness and colour attributes and assigned to the perforation attribute. So, the scale used to evaluate the paper freshness and colour is the same as for imperforate used stamps.

 The factors are thus evaluated:

 1. Ampleness of margins and centering within them - 0-70 points:

  •  70 points - The margins are fully clear of the design on all sides. In addition, the margins will all be of equal width as far as the eye can tell, using a calibrated loupe to accurately measure the width of the margins. Even after staring at the stamp for a considerable length of time, it will be next to impossible to pick one margin that as being wider than the others. Multiples will have perfectly even margins both on the outside of the multiple and inside, between the stamps.
  • 68 points - The margins are also fully clear of the design on all sides. At first glance, it will appear as though the margins are of equal width. It will only be after very careful examination with a calibrated loupe that it will become apparent that one margin is very slightly larger than the other three, which will all be of equal width. Multiples will be evaluated in the same way with respect to both outer margins and inner margins.
  • 64 points - The margins are fully clear of the design on all sides. Opposing margins will be perfectly balanced, being the same width, although the two pairs of margins will not all be the same width (i.e. top and bottom may be slightly wider than left and right). On multiples, the opposing outer margins will be perfectly balanced and the inner margins will be even in the sense that the perforations are aligned down the centre of the gutters between each stamp in the multiple.
  • 54 points - The margins are fully clear of the design on all sides, with the centering appearing to be more or less perfect at first glance. A second glance reveals that the margins are not at all of uniform width, being only nicely balanced.  The outer margins of multiples will be much the same as with single stamps, with the inner margins being even, or the outer margins may be perfectly balanced, but the inner perforations will be ever so slightly off centre in one direction.
  • 50 points - The margins are fully clear of the design and the width of the margins will be well balanced. Upon close examination, it will be apparent that they are not of equal width, but they will be well balanced. On multiples the outer margins will either be similar to single stamps with balanced inner margins, or the outer margins will be balanced, but the inner perforation rows or columns will be slightly off centre in two directions.
  • 45 points - The margins are clear of the design on all sides, but it is fairly obvious that they are not of equal width, but they are almost equal, with no margins being much closer to the design. On multiples, the inner and outer margins will be as with single stamps.
  • 40 points - The margins are clear of the design on all sides, but are very clearly unbalanced, with one or two margins being clearly wider than the others. When one margin is unbalanced, it will be quite close to the perforations. Multiples will be as single stamps with both the inner and outer margins being unbalanced.
  • 35 points - The margins are clear of the design on all sides, but are very clearly unbalanced, with one or two margins being clearly wider than the others, and both being very close to the perforations. Multiples will be as single stamps, with both the inner and outer margins being unbalanced.
  • 30 points - The margins clear the design on all sides, but are very unbalanced with one or two margins just touching the perforations.  On multiples, either the outer margins will be unbalanced and just touching the perforations, or the inner margins will be just touching the perforations on one side, or both sets of margins will be just touching the perforations, but will not be cutting into the design.
  • 25 points - The perforations clearly cut into the design on one side, although not deeply (i.e. less than 1 mm). On multiples this will be true of either one outer margin, or one inner margin.
  • 20 points - The perforations clearly cut into the design on two sides. Again they will not cut into the design by more than 1 mm on any given side. On multiples, this will be true of either one outer margin and one inner margin, both outer margins, or both inner margins.
  • 5 points - The perforations cut into the design deeply on one side (i.e. by more than 1 mm). On multiples, this will be true of either one outer margin or one inner margin.
  • 0 points - The perforations cut deeply into the design on two or more sides. On multiples, this will be true of either one outer margin and one inner margin, both outer margins, or both inner margins.

2. Paper freshness -  0-5 points:

  • 5 points - The paper is bright and fresh, showing no signs of discolouration.
  • 4 points - The paper is fresh, but not bright.
  • 3 points - The paper is not visibly toned, although not particularly fresh. There may be a small gum soak affecting a few perforation tips. 
  • 2 points - The paper shows some very light overall toning.
  • 1 point - The paper has noticeable toning, although it is not deep.
  • 0 points - The paper is heavily toned or has visible staining, or has a large gum soak the size of a hinge end. 

A gum soak is a translucency caused when the gum has been over-moistened, causing it to bleed through the stamp to the front. It is usually the result of over-zealous hinging. 

3. Clarity and strength of printing impression - 0-5 points:

  • 5 points - The impression is razor-sharp, with all finer details of the design being clearly visible. The stamp appears almost like a proof.
  • 3 points - The impression is reasonably strong and detailed, but some of the shading lines may merge into one another, but no ink stripping will be visible.
  • 2 points - The impression is neither crisp nor weak, with some but not all of the finer details being visible. On lithographed or typographed (surface printed) stamps, there will be some patchiness (ink-stripping) visible.
  • 0 points - The impression is weak, heavily blurred or there may be extensive ink stripping.

4. Freshness and depth of colour - 0-5 points: 

  • 5 points - Unusually deep and rich colour. Appears as fresh as the day the stamp was printed.
  • 4 points - Post office fresh colour that shows no oxidation or fading.
  • 3 points - Full and true colour that is not faded, but is not post office fresh, and does not appear aged.
  • 2 points - Colour is not faded, although it is not fresh, and appears slightly aged.
  • 1 point - Colour shows some very mild fading or other discolouration, or is otherwise uneven.
  • 0 points - Colour is noticeably faded, although not changed.

5. Absence of visual paper flaws - 0-5 points:

  • 5 points - No visible paper inclusions, no visible creases, no margin nicks, no visible thin spots, no visible tears or visible scuffs.
  • 4 points - May be a slightly noticeable paper inclusion but no other flaws.
  • 3 points - May be a small margin nick but no other flaws.
  • 2 points - May have a small inclusion and a small margin nick, or only a very small scuff.
  • 1 point - May have a small corner crease, but no other flaws.
  • 0 points - Has one or more visible closed tears, thin spots or large surface scuff.

6. Definition, intactness and uniformity of the perforations - 0-10 points:

  • 10 points - The perforations are all well defined, intact and are of even length on all sides of the stamp.
  • 8 points - The perforations are all well defined and intact, but are of uneven length. However, none of the perforation teeth are less than half the length of a full tooth. There may be one short perforation. A short perforation tooth is one which is less than half the length of a full tooth.
  • 6 points - The perforations are complete and intact, but there are two short perforations. 
  • 5 points - The perforations are not well defined, but are intact on all sides of the stamp. This score applies to issues with rough perforations, such as early St. Vincent. Alternatively, there may be one missing, but not pulled perforation.
  • 4 points - The perforations are rough, and almost, but not entirely intact on all sides. Alternatively, the perforations are well defined and intact, but there are three short perfs. 
  • 2 Points - The perforations are intact, but there are four short perforations.
  • 0 points - The perforations are rough and there are several missing teeth, especially at the corners of the stamp. Alternatively there is more than one pulled perf, or more than four short perfs.

It should be noted that the following serious faults reduce the grade of an item as follows:

  1. Missing piece. - 90 points.
  2. Colour heavily faded or altered. - 70 points.
  3. Tears that are more than 2 mm long. - 60 points.

Less serious faults reduce the grade of items as follows:

  1. Creases that break the paper - 30 points.
  2. Creases that do not break the paper, being light bends - 5 points each, or 10 points if a more than a bend, but not breaking the paper.
  3. Shallow thins - 30 points if larger than a pencil tip eraser and visible from the front; 20 points if larger than a pencil tip eraser and not visible from the front; 10 points if not larger than a pencil tip eraser, not visible from the front; 5 points if smaller than a pencil tip eraser, and only visible in watermark fluid, or when backlit.
  4. Closed tears: 30 points if 1-2 mm in length; 10 points if 0.5 mm - 1 mm long and 5 points if less than 0.5 mm long. 
  5. Creased perforation teeth - 5 points per tooth.
  6. Perforations clipped off - 30 points.

You will notice that we have not mentioned the issue of the gum on mint stamps at all. Gum does not affect the grade of a stamp as it is a purely non-visual characteristic. It does affect the price of course. Generally, with respect to gum, we describe it as NH when there are no gum disturbances at all, LH, when there is a small and light disturbance from 1 or 2 hingings and no hinge remnant. The term OG is used to cover all manner of other gum disturbances in situations where substantially all the gum remains on the stamp. "Large part OG" is used when 50-75% of the gum remains and "small part OG" is used when less than 50% of the original gum remains on a stamp.