By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
For many collectors, the high-value classic stamps of the 19th century might seem forever beyond their reach. However, unused stamps in no-gum condition or stamps that have been regummed and are valued as having no gum can be a real bargain.
For example, the $3 Columbus Describing His Third Voyage stamp (Scott 243) from the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue has a 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers value of $1,500 in unused hinged condition.
But an example in the grade of very fine in unused no-gum condition is valued at just $750. For collectors who simply can’t afford a sound original-gum example, no gum is the ideal flaw.
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An example in no-gum condition without other faults or flaws is generally worth more than the same stamp in original-gum condition with a minor flaw. Some dealers reflect this understanding in their pricing, while others only know how to price as a percentage of Scott catalog value.
An example in the grade of very fine and no-gum condition without other defects is a good buy in the $550-to-$700 price range. Make sure that the stamp that you buy is either the beautiful yellow-green color or the olive-green shade. Blue-green examples have likely been bleached or cleaned.
Don’t worry about being offered a stamp that has had a pen cancellation removed. While pen cancellations were common on most classic issues, the high denomination Columbians were seldom canceled by pen.