Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
There are a number of collectors who have finished with the postage stamp part of their U.S. collections and are now working on stamps from the back of the book. Numeral postage due stamps are among the most pedestrian of U.S. issues. They certainly lack the glamor and appeal of airmail, newspaper or parcel post stamps, but they are still an integral part of a U.S. stamp collection.
One stamp that many collectors are looking for is the high-value 50¢ brown Numeral postage due stamp (Scott J7) from the 1879 series. The engraved stamp was printed on unwatermarked paper and perforated gauge 12.
The 2018 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp in unused hinged condition at $600, in used condition at $90, and in mint never-hinged condition at $1,600. Remember these values are for stamps in the grade of very fine, and that a very limited number of stamps meet that description. If you want one, you will have pay up for it.
For stamps in the slightly lower grade of fine-very fine, the Scott catalog values drop to $370, $60 and $900, respectively. Deciding what you can afford and what is acceptable for your collection is entirely up to you, making sure that you buy a fresh-looking stamp with nice strong color.
There are a lot stamps out there at greatly reduced prices because of their condition: straightedges, reperforated, fine grade or lower, blind perforations, heavy hinges, regummed, missing perforation teeth, short perforation teeth, heavy cancellations, thins, tears, inclusions and other major and minor defects.
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If you are willing to accept such a stamp, you can find them at a deep discount from Scott catalog value. But remember: You will be getting what you pay for. Beware of stamps with crayon or pencil cancels removed that have been regummed to look unused.