US Stamps

American Philatelic Society stamp identifier makes a collector’s life easier

Apr 28, 2021, 9 AM
The header for this American Philatelic Society flyer promoting Quick I.D. presents a few of the stamps that the service can help to identify.

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

How many times have you held in your hand a stamp with inscriptions in a foreign language that you can’t find in your catalogs? Or you have a U.S. stamp that could be one of several different catalog numbers. It has happened to just about all of us.

In 2005, the American Philatelic Society introduced a rapid means of identifying puzzling or problematic stamps that do not require expertizing. Called APS Quick I.D., it is now handling more than a thousand submissions a year.

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Here is how it is described in the APS flyer presenting the program: “Are you considering buying a stamp online, but aren’t sure it is properly identified? Or maybe you have a question about a stamp you already own. Quick I.D., a member service offered by the American Philatelic Society, can help identify that troubling stamp at a low cost.

“For the collectors who have computer scanning capabilities, the process is quick and easy. Visit the website and follow the instructions.

“Provide a scan of each item you wish identified and send it to Quick I.D. as a .gif or .jpeg. It is surprising how much you can learn about a stamp or cover from a good scan.

“Send as many scans as you need, but send only one item per scan. Blocks, covers, or sheets will be counted as a single item. Sets of stamps may be submitted in a single scan, but the opinion will usually apply to one stamp in that set.”

“Quick I.D. Fees: $5 per scanned item (APS member price), or $10 per scanned item (non-APS member price).

“If questions about the authenticity of an item arise from viewing the scan, we will recommend that you submit the piece to the APEX [American Philatelic Expertizing Service] for expertizing.”

The latter sentence is important. Quick I.D. does not substitute for expertizing when needed, but it can eliminate the need for expertizing in a great many cases, such as the two described in this column.

Think of it as a means of triage to determine what needs to be expertized versus what is easily identifiable for what it is — or what it isn’t. An obvious forgery or repaired item would be identified as such by Quick I.D.