United States — Look for the 1914 1¢ green George Washington rotary-press-printed coil stamp perforated gauge 10 vertically (Scott 452). The 2015 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp at $10 in unused hinged condition, at $17.50 with the value in italics in used condition, and at $21 in mint never-hinged condition.
Pairs are valued at $25 in unused hinged condition, $55 with the value in italics in used condition, and $55 in mint never-hinged condition.
Unused examples are common enough, but genuinely used examples are really quite scarce. Covers used in the right time period also pretty scarce.
A known counterfeit is easy to tell because it is offset (totally flat printing) rather than engraved, so expertizing isn’t really necessary for this one.
Now is a good time to buy this stamp as a single or as a pair in any of the three valued conditions at or near the Scott catalog values.
It is surprisingly difficult to find examples in grades of very fine or better. When looking to buy, make sure the stamp has the single-line “U S P S” watermark clearly visible.
The look-alike stamp on unwatermarked paper (Scott 490), which is a lighter shade of green, is very common and inexpensive.
Tip of the Week
Soviet Union — In the past several months, the value of the Russian ruble has declined by 60 percent, and the end might not be in sight. In the world of stamps, the Russian market still has strong demand, but prices are down a bit.
Our benchmark for the Russian market is the 1964 1r green Tokyo Olympics souvenir sheet, which was tipped in the columns of April 14, 2008; May 11, 2009; Dec. 10, 2012; and Jan. 13, 2014. This sheet was issued in July 1964 as part of a set of six stamps and a red souvenir sheet honoring the XVIII Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo (Scott 2921-2926).
We tip the green sheet again now, not so much to tell you to buy it, as to give you a yardstick for the broader Russian stamp market. In the 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, the green souvenir sheet is not listed, but it is noted and valued at $175 in mint never-hinged condition following the set of six Tokyo Olympics stamps.
When the ruble was riding high, this souvenir sheet was selling for $225 to $250. At present, it is selling for about $195 to $200. This indicates that Russian stamps are holding their value fairly well against the declining value of the ruble. — H.G. & R.M.