Dear friends, often in our beloved hobby (which for some has become a profession) we question the need, opportunity, usefulness of having certificates of expertise/guarantee that can enhance or at least adequately describe our collectible stamps.
But is the certificate really an added value to our piece?
First of all we need to divide the cases.
I am interested in a piece featured in an auction or dealer sale.
Well in this case if the stamp or the set already has one or more certificates, the first thing to do is understand their reliability. It will certainly be important to look at the piece and understand it, then read the certificates to understand whether they describe the object correctly or not. But this is not for everyone.
Anyone who is not able to independently evaluate the piece has two options: blindly believe in what the certificate states or subject the piece to an appraisal entrusted to their trusted operator.
This second operation can and must be done even if the piece of our desires is not accompanied by a certificate; the description of the lots should normally be faithful and accurate, but it almost never is, and therefore it has no real reliability.
In these cases, therefore, the certificate is certainly useful, because it allows us to acquire a piece in the collection which has a formal guarantee of a certain importance, which depends on the reliability of the certificate itself; and this is the value of the certificate, its reliability, the credibility enjoyed by the operator who drew it up.
A second case series brings us to the material we already have.
I have an advanced collection of stamps, some with certificates, some without, and I would like to enhance it.
Well in this case the cases are similar, but now the stamps are ours, so when does it really make sense to certify them?
If they have a certificate, what is written above applies, i.e. you need to try to understand how reliable that certificate is and this information depends on:
  • Certificate extender;
  • History of the certificate (a very old certificate may be very reliable but the stamp may have changed its quality status);
  • Type of certificate (There could be a very reliable certificate on a Postal History object but which however does not describe anything regarding tariffs, routing, use of stamps etc., and is therefore insufficient);
If the pieces do not have a certificate, it is necessary to see the origin of the lot, the value and the importance it has in the collection. For example, if I purchased a high value piece to complete a series but it is not certified and that piece greatly enhances the series, I better be sure that the piece is fine because one day, if it were not so, the value of my collection would be heavily reduced, while an important original and quality piece in a collection enhances it and certainly raises its potential interest in the future that we want to sell or that our heirs want to sell.
In short, the expert or guarantee certificate, if it is necessary to request it, certainly has a cost but this is well justified if this document is a certificate of authenticity signed by a competent, reliable and above all accredited person.
So does the certificate have value or not and if so, how much is it worth?
I hope that my little dissertation will help you to independently answer this important question.
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Giovanni Pernarella

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