Definitions and terminology

Author: David Letch   Date Posted:7 September 2015 

Items listed on this website are described following the classifications and categories used in the most recent and definitive text on Australian KGV Definitives, the Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue: King George V, Centenary of the King George V Defintives, 1914-2014. This catalogue lists only a relatively small selection of the known KGV plate varieties, so additional references are used to identify the plate varieties that have been identified for each specific KGV issue. The relevant references for each issue are listed in the description for each KGV issue on this website. Please note that research is continuing on all issues, and new research may change some of the classifications used, particularly as more Unlocated Constant Varieties (UCV's) are successfully plated.

The condition of Items described on this Website follows established conventions.

For used (postmarked) stamps, condition descriptions relate to the postmark. Additional references are made to describe any faults such as short or damaged perforations, stains, creases or tears. Thus, a used stamp may be graded as "Fine Used" on the basis of the postmark, but it may have perforation faults. Importantly, descriptions of used stamps on this Website provide a grading for the postmark and a description of any faults. For mint (not postally-used) stamps, there are no postmarks (except for Cancelled-to-Order stamps), but much more emphasis is placed on the condition of the back of the stamp. Condition gradings are based on gum condition and the impact of any hinging that may have occurred during the history of the stamp, as well as the usual identification of perforation faults, creases or stains. For both used and mint stamps, an assessment of the centering is an important element of the description. Perfectly centered stamps are scarce, especially for the earlier issues, and these command a premium. Very poorly centered stamps are usually valued significantly less than catalogue prices.

The following terms are used on this Website to describe used stamps:

  • Used condition  Very heavy or badly smudged postmarks (below-average)
  • Good Used condition Machine cancellations including duplex, parcel or slogan cancellations, heavy or multiple circular datestamps, (average)
  • Fine Used condition Circular datestamp cancellations, circular duplex cancellations, Square Circle or attractive parcel or registered letter cancellations, coloured cancellations (above average)
  • Very Fine Used condition Especially fine circular datestamp cancellations covering less than 25% of the stamp (well above average)
  • Cancelled-to-Order  Must be cancelled GPO Melbourne or GPO Brisbane specifically for collector's sets (not postally-used)

The following terms are used on this Website to describe mint stamps:

  • Unused condition No gum, usually soaked off ( well below average)
  • Mint condition Usually Unhinged, but with disturbed gum (heavily stripped, water-affected, "bubbled", heavily cracked, toned or aged) (well below average)
  • Mint Heavy Hinged condition (MHH) Large hinge remainders, frequently multiple layers of hinges (below average)
  • Mint Hinged condition (MH) Modest hinge remainders, may have some small areas of stripped gum (average)
  • Mint Lightly Hinged condition (MLH) Light hinge traces, otherwise fresh gum condition (above average)
  • Mint Very Lightly Hinged condition (MVLH) Very light hinge traces or tiny areas of stripped gum, almost no evidence of any hinging and otherwise fresh gum condition (well above average)
  • Mint Unhinged condition No evidence of any history of hinging, fresh original gum condition. Absolutely not re-gummed (re-gummed stamps must be described as such!)

Some Australian KGV stamps are now 100 years of age, so perfectly preserved specimens are understandably relatively scarce items. Stamps that are well centered, fresh and faultless command a premium above listed catalogue prices. Faults are described accurately and honestly, and detailed images of the front and back of the stamps are provided for inspection. Keep in mind that collecting KGV varieties involves a slightly different decision-making process and assessment of stamp condition than collecting a set of representative KGV stamps. When collecting a set of KGV stamps, say for example, a simplified set of 72 KGV issues represented on the "Seven Seas" album pages in Mint condition, I personally prefer to look for well-centered stamps with strong colours and fresh appearance from the front, rather than Mint Unhinged stamps that are poorly centered. Ideally, I would look for well-centered Mint Unhinged stamps, but I could be waiting a very long time to put my set together! When collecting KGV variety stamps, I look for stamps that exhibit the variety, and ideally, any of the other significant indicators that confirm the variety or specific States of the variety. In many cases, a dated postmark is a bonus, because that can assist in tracking the development of some of the plate flaws. These factors are of greater significance than minor faults, because one is attempting to assemble a collection of plate flaws rather than perfect specimens of each issue. Whatever your preference, I have aimed to provide you with all of the infomation you need to make an informed choice.