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Pros And Cons Of Removing Revenue Stamps From Documents

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Posted 09/10/2020   8:48 pm  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add revenuecollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
We've had discussions about removing stamps from documents and covers, and how it's generally not recommended for 19th-century pieces unless the document/cover is tattered, incomplete, or remaining intact runs further risk of destabilization.

But what about stamps on pieces or covers or documents that are only partially complete? Then it becomes a bit more discretionary, especially if the stamps themselves are quite nice. It's quite plausible that one or more stamps removed from a cover or document could have higher appeal and/or marketability when separated and/or removed from the host.

So here's an example where the decision might not necessarily be obvious on its face to non-revenue-specialists:








It's a document fragment I purchased courtesy of The Bay of E, a portion of a court document. It has 5 examples of Scott R32a (catalogue value of $70 each). Most are quite lovely and appear to be sound. Separating these out as singles for inventory could be quite lucrative for a dealer.

Would you do it? Why or why not.




















(spoiler space)
















Setting aside for a moment the notion that we should preserve transactional documents like this rather than breaking them down, there is actually a much more prudent reason not to remove these stamps from the document fragment.

Looking at the attributes of the document, it's from the state of Oregon, dated November 7, 1865.

November 1865 is an inordinately late usage date for a genuine imperf. Late enough to raise red flags if the stamps were encountered off document. Sure the color and impression are right for an imperf printing, but that cancel date could quite likely give collectors pause.

However, while still intact and showing the context of the usage, it tells us that this is one of the "West Coast late usage imperfs". Imperfs and part perfs were generally long used up by this date... except for some reason in California and other west coast states. There must have been a hoard of these that sat in storage somewhere and then were liberated later to be utilized long after they ordinarily would have been seen. I've seen genuine California usages of imperfs as late as 1870.

While still on document, it's clear that they are genuine. Take them off document and there are collectors that would shy away from them JUST because of the cancel date.
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Posted 09/10/2020   8:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Over and above that, this stamp is scarce on document; 5 is that much scarcer. Of course I am a purist when it comes to stamps on documents, I don't think they should ever be removed unless they would be destroyed somehow by staying on.
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Posted 09/10/2020   11:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ericjackson to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I say leave them on the document. It is an attractive item as it is and there are enough VF examples of R32a available anyway. Adding five more accomplishes nothing.
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Posted 09/11/2020   12:43 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Eric. I was in no way considering removing the stamps from the document. I merely posted the question as a thought exercise.
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Posted 09/11/2020   11:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stallzer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Other than financial gain by someone looking to sell the stamps individually. What would be an argument (Pro) for removing the stamps? Would the document fetch more money with all the stamps or would the removed stamps fetch more? If I've learned anything from you over the years it's never remove stamps from a document. Neat document. Your trained eye never ceases to amaze me with the items you find.
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Posted 09/11/2020   12:23 pm  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sometimes the stamp being on document can greatly increase its market value, and sometimes not. From a historical perspective it's always preferable to leave the documents intact.

In this particular case, since there are multiple single stamps, and the document is only a fragment, in all likelihood the market value of the 5 individual stamps is higher than the 5 stamps on a single document.

Still, I ain't bustin' it up.
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Edited by revenuecollector - 09/11/2020 12:25 pm
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Posted 09/11/2020   4:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ericjackson to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Dan,

I wasn't suggesting that you might remove the stamps, I know you better than that. I was simply making my argument that the document should stay intact. It is a nice item as it is, too bad it is not all there.
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Posted 09/12/2020   6:26 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add postagedueguy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My rule of thumb is if a stamp still attached to where it was used - just leave it alone.
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Posted 09/15/2020   6:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
While I generally agree with the arguments here, they are all philatelic-centric. That is, you are concerned with the stamps, not the document. However, I have seen instances where a bank check or stock certificate has an attractive vignette visually marred by revenue stamps affixed over it. In such cases, if the stamp is common, you might increase the appeal of the document by removing it.
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Posted 09/15/2020   6:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revenuermd to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Greg,

I could not disagree more with you on a check with a stamp obscuring a vignette. If a check is required to have a tax paid on it, it is a crime to soak off the cheap stamp just to have the vignette in a collection.
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Ron Lesher
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Posted 09/15/2020   6:42 pm  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well, if you collect/study vignettes more so than stamps, wouldn't that make a difference in your prioritization?
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Posted 09/15/2020   6:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I cannot imagine that any document, cover, or card is "improved" by having important pieces removed from it...just my opinion.
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Posted 09/18/2020   02:38 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Well, if you collect/study vignettes more so than stamps, wouldn't that make a difference in your prioritization?


Exactly. And as this is a philatelic forum there won't be many who favor the removal of a stamp. I personally would be very resistant to doing so. But if you were a numismatic dealer who saw that removing a stamp would make an item more saleable to his numismatic clientele, I can see it happening.

But let's alter this argument a little -- if the revenue stamp was not tied to the document with a cancel, would it be a sin to remove and reaffix a common stamp in a more appealing area?
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Posted 09/18/2020   09:40 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
if the revenue stamp was not tied to the document with a cancel, would it be a sin to remove and reaffix a common stamp in a more appealing area?


To me personally, that could be infinitely MORE egregious than the original scenario. Moving the stamp or worse, replacing the stamp with one not original to the document is IMO unethical unless revealed. Even so, I would avoid such items, as they have now been tampered with and are not original.

I know that it is relatively common with 19th century covers to lift the stamp for authentication and then replace it on the cover. Again, to me this constitutes an item that has been tampered with and severely diminishes the value and appeal, at least it does for me.

Case in point: the recently listed small provisional IR handstamp, R157a. There was an example on document with a cert saying that the stamp had been lifted and replaced. I decided against pursuing it specifically for that reason. I subsequently obtained an example on the same document type, but tied. I paid the same for the latter as the former would have cost, but in my mind at least, having an undisrupted example is infinitely preferable.
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Edited by revenuecollector - 09/18/2020 09:42 am
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Posted 09/18/2020   2:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revenuermd to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To add to Dan's comments. I generally agree that tampering is verboten. There may be reasons that conservation efforts are called for in which case a stamp would be removed so that the rest of the document can be properly treated (e.g., de-acidifaction). In the museum world, such conservation treatment must be documented and kept with the object. That should not affect the value, as long as the treatment is documented and kept with the object. But to treat and throw away the documentation is a crime in my opinion, as I think Dan would agree.
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Ron Lesher
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Posted 09/18/2020   4:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add m and m to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
in my opinion any undisclosed alteration conservation or repair of an item, stamp or document is unethical.



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