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Problem With Expertizing; #28B Example

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Posted 01/20/2020   6:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Andyrich74 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don't comment much on the higher-end US stamps and associated certs and so on, but this thread is depressing and really has changed what and how I collect (meaning this thread and the multiple others with some fairly wild variances regarding certificates.) It is a shame to see that certificates; while always clearly stating "we are of the opinion" can be so wildly different.

Where once I had ambitions of completing a lot of the Early US/Classics, I don't know if I really want to even pursue them anymore; really on the basis of spending thousands for a stamp that theoretically has been expertised 4 times with 4 differing opinions; as one thread in the past few months illustrated.

As I said to Funcitypapa one night at dinner; I'm having more much fun collecting and hunting down Ecuadorian (and now Belgian Congo, French Guinea...and so forth) stamps than I am dealing with a US 120 and the now 3.5 months it has been in the hands of the APS just to tell me if it has/has not a cleaned cancel and is just simply a real live stamp.

The whole certification thing just seems like it is not worth it any more from the standpoint of a collector who simply wants to know that he is spending his/her hard earned currency on is simply what is being advertised.. I don't mean to imply that the various organizations that provide certs are intentionally providing bad or poor/incorrect advice; personally (and I will reiterate "my personal opinion only" to be clear) I think most appear to be like most dealers, most are honest most of the time but they are all human and subject to error.

Kind of refreshing, in all honesty and quite true that I've had a lot of enjoyment out of hunting down and mounting several countries with lots of lower-cost stamps than sweating whether to rely on a certificate and roll the dice on the US 121 I want, as an example. Easier just not to play the game.

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Edited by Andyrich74 - 01/20/2020 6:48 pm
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Posted 01/20/2020   7:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Philazilla to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I recently bought a 28A on extension from a reputable dealer - and it had a good PF cert from the mid 2000s and an earlier good cert from PSE. I sent it back in to the PF (along with both previous certs) and their new opinion is that it is reperfed. I understand that both the PF and PSE upgraded their equipment maybe 5 years ago and they can now detect some of the more clever reperfing jobs (as well as other issues). LOTS of 28b, 28A, and 34 stamps that were previously certified as sound are not coming back as reperfed.

The expertizing agencies are undoubtedly getting better at detecting frauds and fakes. I really don't get the antagonism towards the expertizing agencies here. They are not perfect, but they are a great good for the hobby.

Collectors need to know which issues are problematic, and when new certs are needed. First, any certs before about 1990 are totally useless other than for provenance and historical interest. For coil stamps, especially flat plate coils, certs before about 2000 are useless. For a few problematic stamps (the ones listed above), don't accept a cert before about 2016. And for some stamps, you don't really need certs at all (zepps, for example). FWIW, I don't accept any certificates before 2000 at all, and for anything over $1000, I want a cert within the last couple years.

I wish the agencies would publish some of their findings so it isn't a dark art to everyone. They are very willing to talk to you if you call them up.
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Posted 01/20/2020   8:07 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The downside of having old certs publicly available is that the incorrect ones are sitting there without any indication that they are now considered incorrect. I assume they do not have the resources to maintain the older certs in the database but keeping them without updating and/or linking them supports nefarious activities.

But the upside is that with enough time and effort hobbyists can dig out a lot of this information themselves by using the database.

So my opinion is 'something is better than nothing'.

I also concur with Andy but feel on balance it is better to shed light on the challenges of our hobby vs. only having 'upbeat' articles or discussions. There is not really any philatelic press we can count on to do investigative reporting or serve as watchdog. So communities like this one can fill the vacuum by offering everyone a platform for a wide variety of opinions and perspectives for folks to consider.
Don
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Posted 01/20/2020   8:08 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
And as technology continues to be utilized more and stamp expertizing becomes increasingly sophisticated the hobby will experience some real pain as opinions that formed the basis of substantial financial decisions are overturned and amended. And then the new opinions will be changed to some degree as ever more sophisticated means and methods are used to reexamine stamps. It was bound to happen in this era. Expertizing methodology was static and almost completely reliant upon reference material, watermark fluid, magnifying glasses and low power microscopes (relative to what is now in play) for many decades. Along came the VSC6000 and now the VSC8000. The Philatelic Foundation uses a Bruker XRF Spectrometer. The times they have-a-changed and it will not all be fun to watch.

Can we even assume that humans will always be involved in the process? Really?

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Posted 01/20/2020   8:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add alub to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The problem with the Scott #27 example above is the older cert mentions reperfing and the one a few months old does not.
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Posted 01/20/2020   9:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add funcitypapa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Philazilla: with all due respect, I could not disagree with you more. The discrepancies on the opinions shown on this thread and referred to on other threads, all involve relatively recent or very recent certs not what I would call remote certs. I don't see any certs from the 1980's or early 1990's here except for the PSE cert on the 28b. The idea of immediately discounting all certs prior to 1990 even those held by one person for decades, never even occurred to me.

I have purchased what I would consider expensive US stamps with certs from what is being referred to as the dark ages and never felt bad about it or the need to update the cert purely on its age. In fact I think this reliance on expensive equipment by expertizing organizations to point out characteristics about a tiny piece of paper that cannot be determined by sight, magnifiers, perf gauge, watermark fluid or low power microscope raises the question as to why we need information that can only be gleaned by such machines. In the end we are talking about a hobby here. I can understand using such technology to study the human body, the space program and the like —-but a stamp?

To a degree, I think we are all taking this a little too seriously. I also get the sense that this is predominantly an American fixation on American stamps. I don't get the sense that the rest of the world looks at expertization quite the way that we do. So, I second Andy's thoughts about the craziness of sinking significant sums in the US product when the emphasis on perfection seems a little out of control and expertization somewhat of a moving target.

If you enjoy the hobby, and money is taken out of the equation, there is a wide world of stamps out there, classic and otherwise equally beautiful to the US issues, far less expensive and without the anxiety that your monetary expenditures will suddenly become worthless, because although you derive the same emotional satisfaction, your out of pocket costs were considerably less to begin with.

Unless of course, this is your means of income or retirement plan. Just one man's opinion.
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Posted 01/20/2020   9:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Very well stated funcitypapa.
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Posted 01/20/2020   9:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add funcitypapa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would also add: to those who believe that the certifiers of old were more focused on stamp ID as opposed to condition——I think that stamp ID IS more important than reporting a tiny flaw. For example I think it is much more important that a Scott 271a or 272a is identified as being on USIR paper than whether such a stamp has a tiny perf crease or light diagonal crease.

I wonder whether the rest of the world participated in the certification or grading process like we do in the US or buys into our need to endlessly recertify. I suspect not.
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Edited by funcitypapa - 01/20/2020 9:54 pm
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Posted 01/20/2020   10:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stallzer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Is the certification process the byproduct of American business? We have always had the best shysters and when there is a way to turn a $2 item into a $2000 item one has to be alerted. The US trails in forgeries by a long shot. Fournier and Spiro brothers weren't Americans so many countries are dependent upon certs for high dollar items. Grading has always been there in F / VF / XF, the numerical grading just made it more granular.
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Posted 01/21/2020   06:48 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add m and m to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don no slight intended or inferred on your idea.
older certs as previously stated concentrated largely on id and not on condition. grading along with its hype of perfection, has imo ruined the hobby. calling faults on submitted items weather previously certed "clean" is now a necessity due to the value (real or artificial) assigned to not necessarily scare items. opening the data bases of cert issuing entities is a good idea, but as surmised costs are an issue. this also applies to the idea of any form of comparison of submitted items. both would benefit the hobby.
sites such as this one which seek to educate all who want to learn are, and will continue to be important to the hobby. opinions paid or otherwise are just that.
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Posted 01/21/2020   07:45 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
m and m,
Agreed.
The issue with managing older certs is a growing problem and one that is not going away. I think the day is quickly coming where stamp ink chemistry will be easily analyzed and this overturn a huge number of previous misidentified stamp colors and certs. I do not think that technological improvements should reflect poorly on the certification organizations but the lack of good database administration of linking previous certs and 'certification reversions' will loom even larger. This is an mounting issue that is not simply 'going to go away'.

On a database and technology level linking certs is not significant but is indeed a resource impact. For example, it would take me about a week or so to link the certs in a database the size of PFs. And then it would take about an hour or two each month to keep it updated. But there may be internal concerns that linking the certs would result in a black eye, that illustrating evolving or differing opinions for the same stamp will be seen as 'bad'. (Which this thread pretty much exemplifies.) In my opinion when an organization addresses their mistakes and makes improvements they are being managed correctly and increases the value of their products and services.

There are obviously a number of different types of 'certification revisions'; some represent evolutions of technology, some very challenging and debatable stamp attributes, some are mistaken opinions, and a few are typos, clerical, or database errors. There are even some 'certification revisions' which are completely legitimate such as a stamp which was changed (due to alteration, damage, or other changed condition) since the last time it was certified.

But no matter how or what drives a 'certification revision' in my opinion it is important to be able to link them in a cert database. As this thread also demonstrates, there are already folks who are linking certs themselves in personal spreadsheets. If I were running one of the certification organizations I would rather be in control of the database linking and messaging (and glean the goodwill in providing this service) then having it done by my customers.

Lastly, I have an email from 6 years ago where a certification organization acknowledged a mistake in one of their certifications which is publicly listed. It was for a forged US local stamp and the certification opinion was that it was legitimate. The certification and stamp was being used as a reference by others to sell similar stamp forgeries. In the email the organization committed to flagging/noting the incorrect cert in their database. This was never done and to this day the cert is still in the database (last time I looked). The point I want to make is that while making a cert database public is great it requires some level of resources applied to on-going administration. A cert database is not a static thing, the data is dynamic. Databases (and websites) are not like writing a book where you publish it and you are done. They are like a magazine that demands constant attention and management.

In a post above I offered to help widglo46 with his spreadsheet but frankly I would rather help improve the certification database itself. If PF does not have the resources to apply I am willing to donate my time to helping them link the certs in their database.
Don
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Posted 01/21/2020   07:45 am  Show Profile Check sinclair2010's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add sinclair2010 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
How about this? Who thinks if any of the three certs for the OP's first 28b are accurate? I am positive that none of them are getting it right.
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Posted 01/21/2020   08:05 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Personally, I trust the people who wrote the first two certs a lot more then the people who wrote the last one.
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Posted 01/21/2020   08:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The day is approaching when the expert(s) signing off on the cert will be the SuperPhilatelic XRD8900 V2.1. You will be able to scan the barcode on the cert and see the technical data related to the opinion.
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Posted 01/21/2020   09:10 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don't get your hopes up for that one.
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