Guideline for Bidding in Auction

Catalogue Value Versus Estimate

In our printed catalogues and in our website listings, we commonly refer to the Scott Catalogue price. If a catalogue price is not available then we will give an estimated value. Below is an example of how the listings appear. Lot 2088 lists Scott Catalogue value. Lot 2089 lists our estimated value.
 
Lot Sym. Lot Description  
2088   1c Blue, Ty. II, Major Plate Crack (7 var). Positions 2L, 13L and 23L2, three of the five positions showing the flaw, used, margins to slightly in, Very Good-Fine examples of these scarce positions 1,125.00
2089   1c Blue, Ty. II (7). Used, seven singles and two strips of three, some plated, includes huge corner copy of Position 1L2 (bit smudgy cancel), stamps in one strip of three (ms. cancel) are Pos. 23-25L2 (left stamp major plate crack), slightly mixed quality, Fine lot E. 300-400


The Relationship Between Condition and Value

Stamps can be found in a wide range of conditions, which can significantly affect value. The following factors affect condition: Gum, centering, impression, size of margins, color, perforations, overall appearance, clearness, color and type of cancel (for used stamps) and the presence or lack of faults.

Some stamps are simply not found in perfectly centered and superb condition. In some instances, we have published census information illustrating every recorded example of the rarest of these stamps. This allows collectors to examine the entire supply to determine which are the best examples in existence, and to track their sales history. These can be seen at our website in the Siegel Encyclopedia, in the Census section.

In most instances grades are based exclusively on centering. However, for stamps where the example offered is the finest or among the finest for the issue, or for other rarities such as certain 19th Century stamps in Mint Never-hinged condition, we apply a relative grading scale to more adequately reflect the rarity of those particular stamps.

For an explanation of symbols, grading terms and for our chart on gum terms, please refer to the Grading Terms and Abbreviations page of our website.

Bidders are also encouraged to search through the online archives of our past auctions, to look for comparable examples and their selling price as a guide to bidding. Catalogues are available from 1997 onwards in the Prices Realized section of our website.

Below are several examples of the $5.00 Columbian. As the prices realized indicates, condition is a significant factor in value. In some cases stamps will bring less than Scott Catalogue value. In other instances, stamps will bring many multiples of catalogue value.

Sale No. Lot No. Symb. Description Catalogue value Realized (hammer)
824 259
never hinged

$5.00 Columbian (245). Pristine Mint N.H. state, perfectly centered with massive margins evenly framing design, intense shade and proof-like impression on brilliant white paper, long full perforations

EXTREMELY FINE GEM. AS PERFECT AND FRESH AS THE DAY IT WAS PURCHASED AT THE POST OFFICE IN 1893. ARGUABLY THE FINEST MINT NEVER HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE $5.00 COLUMBIAN IN EXISTENCE.

We could not begin to count the number of $5.00 Columbian stamps sold by the Siegel firm over 70 years. However, the number of Extremely Fine, Mint Never Hinged, examples could probably be counted on two hands, and, if they were assembled for comparison, we seriously doubt if any could surpass (or match) the stamp offered here. This gem from the Maine Safe Deposit Box find must have been carefully selected from a sheet in 1893 and kept hidden from light, moisture and handling for the past 107 years.

$8,000.00 $45,000.00
829 552 never hinged

$5.00 Columbian (245). Mint N.H., choice centering, proof-like impression on bright white paper, post-office fresh, tiny natural inclusion (not mentioned on certificate)

EXTREMELY FINE. A RARE MINT NEVER-HINGED $5.00 COLUMBIAN WITH SUPERB CENTERING AND REMARKABLY FRESHNESS.

In our 2000 Rarities sale, we offered a $5.00 Columbian in Extremely Fine Mint N.H. condition, which came from the Maine Safe Deposit Box find. It realized $45,000. To prepare our description of that stamp, we surveyed dozens of auction catalogues, searching for Mint Never-Hinged examples in Extremely Fine grade. We found no more than ten stamps, some from auctions dating back 40 years, and there is no guarantee that all of the stamps previously described as Mint N.H. would pass the test today. The rarity of the $5.00 Columbian in Mint N.H. condition is easily explained. For more than a century, collectors have proudly hinged this highest value of the Columbian set in their albums, and the vast majority of stamps have not escaped the hinge. Only the break-up of blocks, which rarely contain Mint N.H. stamps, has provided the few Extremely Fine Mint N.H. $5.00 Columbian stamps extant today.

The stamp offered here does not have the margin width of the $45,000 Maine Find stamp, but it is remarkably fresh and almost perfectly centered. In our opinion, the current Scott value of $8,000 for Very Fine Mint N.H. condition does not adequately convey the market demand. We will not be surprised to see this stamp bring two or more times Scott Catalogue value.

$8,000.00 $17,500.00
881 717
original gum

$5.00 Columbian (245). Original gum, lightly hinged, intense shade and impression, perfectly centered with wide balanced margins

EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A SUPERB EXAMPLE OF THE $5.00 COLUMBIAN.

With 1999 P.F. certificate

$3,100.00 $6,000.00
883 3216 original gum

$5.00 Columbian (245). Original gum, barely hinged, sharp proof-like impression, fresh and Very Fine, with 1971, 1989 and 2003 P.F. certificates

$3,100.00 $2,500.00
848 1865 original gum

$5.00 Columbian (245). Original gum, small h.r., sharp impression, Fine

$3,250.00 $1,100.00
836 1668 original gum

$5.00 Columbian (245). Original gum, h.r., proof-like impression, few tiny thins at top, Fine

$3,750.00 $500.00
843 1548
no gum

$5.00 Columbian (245). Unused (no gum), deep shade and proof-like impression, two short perfs at right, otherwise Fine

$1,750.00 $400.00