Condition of Stamps


The condition of a stamp is a very important factor in determining its value and desirability.  Philatelists classify different stamps in various categories depending on their condition.

Mint Never Hinged (MNH): An unused stamp that remain the same condition as it was manufactured.  It has its full original gum.  And there is no cancellation.

Unused: An unused stamp that may not have its gum completely due to hinging or other reasons. And there is no cancellation.

Used: A used stamp has served as postage, so it will not be gummed and have a cancellation.

There are other categories describing conditions of stamps that apply regardless of their used or unused status.  These categories are as follows: Superb, Very Fine, Good, Average, Poor, and Bad.

Superb: A superb copy is in outstanding condition and optimum in condition. The design is perfectly centered, which means stamp has equal margins all around. The color of the stamp is full and no fading. A Superb mint stamp has full original gum intact, and a used copy has a very light cancellation.  The Superb stamp has all perforations are complete.

Very Fine: A very fine stamp is in excellent condition.  The stamp has clean design and complete perforations. If mint, full original gum is intact. If used, the cancellation is light.  The design may not be as perfectly like superb condition.

Fine: A stamp in fine condition is an excellent copy with no flaws or defects. No perforations are missing. If mint, stamp may be lightly hinged.  If used, cancellation is fairly light. The design may be off center.

Good: A stamp in good condition is no serious flaws or defects and don’t have any thin spots. It may be quite off center and have a fairly heavy cancellation.

Average: A stamp in average condition does not show serious defects or damage. But it usually heavily cancelled, off center and might have short perforations.

Poor: A stamp in poor condition often torn, have thin spots or have several missing perforations. It may have heavy cancellations.

Bad: A stamp in bad condition has serious flaws or defects. They often badly discolored; have missing perforations, holes, tears and very heavy cancellations.

It may often be very difficult to obtain stamps in very fine to superb condition and collectors often must pay a premium for such copies.

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