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I don't know if sellers are just ignorant when it comes to the detection of regummed stamps or they know what they are selling but hoping that YOU are the ignorant one. But, what I do see are lots of stamps sold as having original gum but which are actually regummed. I also see many stamps described as being "Mint" (which, to me, denotes the presence of original gum) and then noted as having a catalogue value of that of a stamp having original gum but described as either being Regummed or without gum. As far as I (and most reputable dealers) are concerned, the value of a regummed stamp is essentially the same as that of a stamp that is without gum.
You might ask "Why Bother?" Why would someone go through the trouble and expense to regum a stamp? In case you were not aware,the Scott catalog severely devalues stamps that are without gum. For example the value of a $2.00 Columbian with original gum is catalogued at $1,200 and one without gum at $600. They value a $2.00 Madison, #312, at $1,200 with original gum and at only $300 for one without gum. You can look throughout the catalogue and find all the other stamps valued with and without gum and you will see what a large difference there is between the two. Not every stamp is valued without gum, however. Scott tends to stick to the higher valued items when valuing these stamps without gum. Personally, I would like to see all Unused stamps prior to 1910 valued without gum just as they are valued as Never Hinged. With this in mind, it should be evident as to why stamps are regummed. Quite simply, because they are worth more with gum than without! And, there are many sellers (not only on Ebay) that will offer regummed stamps (whether knowingly or unknowingly) as those having original gum simply because they can sell it for more money. And, believe me, there are MANY collectors who not only can't tell the difference between one having original gum and one that has been regummed. In fact, there are many collectors that don't even know ABOUT regumming!
What I will attempt to do in this primer is give you some basic guides you can use to help you to detect the presence of regumming.
One of the things you should remember first and foremost when looking at a stamp for the presence of regumming is that all US stamps were gummed BEFORE they were perforated. This process leaves one of the tell-tale signs of the presense of original gum. If you look at the perforations under a magnifying loupe or glass (I use a simple 5x glass but a good 10x or 15x glass may work better for you) you should see tiny areas around the perfs where the gum is missing. This is due to the perforating machine slightly tearing the paper fibers during the perforation process. During that process, minute bits of the gum is removed around the perf. On regummed stamps, you would generally not see these areas of missing gum simply for the fact this is nearly impossible to duplicate. I will state, though, that with today's technology, the regummers are getting better and better and I have seen some VERY good jobs where it was very difficult to tell whether the subject stamp was regummed. Take a look a following example.
(In order to see these examples, you will have to copy the link and paste them into a new window on your browser. I do apologize for having to do it this way but the pictures do not show well otherwise)
The stamp on the left has been regummed and the one on the right has original gum. If you look closely, you can see the "feathering" of the perfs on the stamp with original gum and traces of the "after market" gum on the one on the left.
Here is a close-up of these two stamps.
Another sign that a stamp has been regummed is if you lightly run you finger across the perfs and they feel stiff or sharp, it is a good indication that the stamp has been regummed. What you should feel is the "feathering" of the perfs from having been separated without any extra gum having seeped into the paper fibers. Again, keep in mind that stamps were perforated AFTER having been originally gummed. This method is not foolproof but, after you gain some experience in detecting the presence of regumming, you will get a feel for it.
Here are a couple of other examples:
After examining many many stamps over a period of time, you will also get a "feel" for what original gum looks like on a given issue. I can often tell just by looking at the gum of a stamp whether it is original or not as the gum on any specific issue has a certain consistency and color to it that is rarely duplicated with regumming. I realize that most collectors do not have access to the quantities of stamps that dealers do. This is why I strongly recommend buying only from recognized and reputable sellers and/or getting those more expensive stamps certified if you have any doubts as to their authenticity.
Addendum: I have been asked how does one detect regumming on imperfs where you don't have the perf tips to look at. These issues are not as easy to detect as perforated issues. For me, again, I can usually tell just by looking at the gum as the gum on issues like US #343-47 and the 1909 Commemoratives have a distinct texture to them. But, if you look at the edges of the stamps you can sometimes see regum seepage along the edges and on the face of the stamp. You won't see that on stamps that have original gum. Also, regumming tends to be a bit unevenly applied. I have also noticed that under certain atmospheric (very humid or very dry) conditions, regummed stamps will tend to "curl" in a way that stamps with original gum do not.
I see a lot of regummed stamps offered on Ebay by sellers who, as far as I'm concerened, should know better. That is, I would think that, since they have been selling on Ebay for many years, you would think that, by now, they would have enough experience to detect and identify stamps they are selling as being regummed. But, for whatever reason they don't. I think they have a responsiblity to the collecting community to promote the hobby and not give it a black eye. Wouldn't you think that a seller that has a feedback rating of over 5,000 would know the difference between a regummed stamp and one that has original gum? Yet I see so many regummed stamps offered as having original gum. Educate yourself. It's your best defense against unscrupulous and ignorant sellers.
As with any of my guides, I will be happy to answer any questions or offer my opinion on any stamp being offered on Ebay. You may write to me at GSQUARED7@JUNO.COM.
GERMANY #B316-17 Mint NH - 1941 Lubeck Set
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