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Stamp dealers online

The study of stamps, sometimes referred to as philately, has a respected history. While not every philatelist collects stamps, many do. Some stamp collectors begin to collect stamps when they're quite young. Stamp dealers online now offer collectors the possibility of seeing stamps they might never have had a chance to see before. If you're just starting out as a collector, here are a few tips about the "jargon" you'll see on many stamp collecting sites.

Grades of Stamps

Many stamp dealers grade their stamps according to a widely accepted grading scale ranging from poor to superb. It would probably be a good idea to look at an online or other guide to these ratings to get a sense of what each means. Many dealers, however, will provide a more detailed description of each stamp as well an overall grade, so you will likely learn some about grades by simply reading over a number of descriptions.

One of the elements that goes into a stamp grade is how well centered its image is. A superbly graded stamp, like the 1915 3 cent violet stamp available at Bruce MacDonald Stamps, is somewhat rare. If you look at the image carefully, you'll note that the image is very well centered between the perforations. A stamp with a lesser grade, such a fine or even very fine, will likely have margins that are at least a little off-centered.

Used or Not Used

Stamps are also graded according to their level of use. If a stamp has been cancelled, it is considered used. If it hasn't been, then it's an unused stamp. There are other considerations that many collectors take into consideration, such as the condition of the gum on the back side of the stamp. If a stamp is in "mint" condition, that means it's in the same condition it was when it was purchased. Gum in this condition is called unhinged, which means it has no marks.

Learning the language of stamp collecting can help you to make good purchases for your growing collection.
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