Quality requirements

The quality of stamps is an essential aspect of philately and can significantly impact their value and desirability among collectors. Several factors determine the quality of a stamp:

### 1. **Condition**
– **Mint Condition**: Stamps that are unused, with original gum intact and no signs of handling, are highly valued.
– **Used Condition**: While used stamps can also be valuable, their condition (cleanliness, legibility of cancellation, etc.) plays a crucial role.

### 2. **Centering**
– **Well-Centered**: Stamps with designs perfectly centered within the perforations are more desirable.
– **Off-Centered**: Stamps with designs skewed towards one side are less appealing.

### 3. **Perforations**
– **Intact Perforations**: Stamps with complete and undamaged perforations are preferred.
– **Damaged Perforations**: Missing or torn perforations decrease a stamp’s quality.

### 4. **Color**
– **Vibrant Colors**: Stamps with fresh and vibrant colors are considered high quality.
– **Faded Colors**: Stamps with faded or discolored prints are less attractive.

### 5. **Paper Quality**
– **Pristine Paper**: Stamps with clean, undamaged paper without tears, creases, or stains are ideal.
– **Damaged Paper**: Any imperfections like tears, creases, or stains detract from the stamp’s quality.

### 6. **Gum**
– **Original Gum**: For mint stamps, the presence of original, undisturbed gum is crucial.
– **No Gum or Regummed**: Stamps with no gum or those that have been regummed are considered lower quality.

### 7. **Postmarks**
– **Light and Clear Postmarks**: For used stamps, light and clear postmarks that do not obscure the design are preferred.
– **Heavy or Smudged Postmarks**: Postmarks that obscure the stamp’s design reduce its quality.

### 8. **Rarity and Demand**
– **Rarity**: Even if a stamp has minor imperfections, its rarity can make it highly valuable.
– **Demand**: The overall demand for a particular stamp also influences its market value.

### Example of Quality Assessment:
– A well-centered, mint condition stamp with intact perforations, vibrant color, and original gum will be considered high quality and more valuable.
– A used stamp with a clear, light postmark, intact perforations, and no damage will also be highly prized, though typically less than its mint counterpart.

### Resources for Quality Assessment:
– **Scott’s Catalogue**: Provides guidelines and values for stamps based on their quality.
– **Michel Catalogue**: A comprehensive catalog used in Europe with detailed quality criteria.

For more detailed information on assessing stamp quality, collectors can refer to philatelic literature or consult with professional appraisers and philatelic associations.