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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Never Hinged?"

Sometimes, I find stamp collectors to be curious and confusing creatures.

Take the term "Never Hinged." Now, I can perfectly well understand the importance of "never hinged" if you are a collector of mint stamps. On older issues (especially!) the "never hinged" part can make a huge difference in the value of the stamp.

This stamp has at least 3 old hinge remnants... but will soaking
it REALLY make it "Never Hinged?"
However, over the past couple of years I've noticed a growing trend for sellers of stamps (on eBay, BidStart, Stamps2Go, the APS Stampstore and more) to use the expression "never hinged" when describing used stamps.

I'm sorry.... WHAT???

As a concept-- and from a logical perspective, the idea of a "used, never hinged" stamp makes absolutely no sense to me. For starters, "never hinged" is a GUM condition, not a STAMP condition. Aside from that, it makes no sense. If I have a used stamp with hinges on the back, I can simply soak them off, and suddenly my stamp becomes "never hinged." Basically... there is no way to tell whether or not a used stamp is "never hinged" or not. Maybe I'm cynical... but even if "it mattered," I doubt never hinged could exist for used stamps, on "the honors system."

Of course, "reading between the lines," I can (sort of) understand how the idea came about. European collectors (especially) tend to be concerned about the back of (especially) older/classic stamps... where a thick layer of multiple hinges may be hiding small thins or tears, or even writing. A messy back with lots of adhesions can hide a million sins... I know this well, from my years of buying stamps online, where you don't always get a chance to look at the back of stamps.

But from a semantics perspective, what we're really talking about here is a "clean back," rather than a "never hinged" back. Then again, maybe I am simply being too picky.

In the meantime, I can't help but having a chuckle, every time I see "never hinged" in the description of a used stamp.

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