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A Rant About Professional Grading

June 3, 2011

Before I get into the topic at hand, first let me preface my comments with:

  1. I fully realize that professional grading really isn't widely accepted in revenue collecting circles; this was more of an exercise in curiosity, and
  2. When discussing the stamps shown below, I am concentrating on the margins only and not on other potential aspects of grading such as soundness, color, paper, etc.

There appears to me to be somewhat of an illogical disconnect in the manner that imperforate and perforated stamps are treated when it comes to professional grading. The former are apparently given much wider latitude with respect to the unevenness of the centering and margin copies. A margin imperforate stamp that is unevenly centered due to the presence of excess margins is not penalized; instead it is treated as if the excess were not there. Perforated jumbos are not given the same benefit.

Let's look at two examples that illustrate this. First is a lovely R33a:

It's a margin copy with excess margins at top and right. When grading this stamp, it would be treated similar to what is shown in the next image. Presumably this is so that there is no incentive for unethical collectors or dealers to trim away excess margin areas in hopes of obtaining higher grades.

So why then, are perforated jumbos NOT treated the same and given the same lattitude? Perforated stamps are held to a tougher standard.

The stamp below, a new acquisition, is the perfect example. It is the largest jumbo perforated 1st issue revenue I have ever seen. The initial reaction of everyone who has seen it to date is "Wow!" It doesn't need a grade; it stands on its own. Yet out of curiosity, I showed it to one of the owners of one of the major extertizers. His initial reaction too was "Wow!".

Yet after extensive scrutiny, and because perforated stamps are treated differently from imperforate stamps, he said that the highest grade the stamp would probably garner is 85J, because the top and bottom margins are lopsided.

To me this logically makes no sense, especially in light of the above imperforate example. The margins on all 4 sides, even using the same masking exercise as above, would result in a jumbo stamp, so why is it penalized for the excess vertical margins?

What is to keep some enterprising individual from having the top and/or bottom reperfed to eliminate the excess and thus be rewarded with a much higher grade?

As the stamp currently stands, a graded cert would actually be a negative if selling the stamp... and no, I have absolutely NO intent of ever vandalizing such a piece. Moreover, in revenue circles, the stamp would stand on its own merits. The unevenness of the margins is not perceived as a negative; they're just freaking huge.

So-called "professional grading" makes no sense to me...

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