It's a question that seems paradoxical, but is very relevant in many of today's online transactions. Many collectors (not just newbies!) are in the habit of purchasing online without having viewed the material and without having asked some trusted expert for a direct examination of the object; result: you often buy the certificates and not the stamps they describe, and if you don't know the meaning and value of those certificates well you risk getting into big trouble.
The collector is in fact divided into different types, we can summarize some of them:
  • Collectors who love stamps for their history, for what they represent, are passionate about the sector even if not particularly competent but they range across different sectors and typologies.
  • Collectors who focus on a specific sector, specialize a lot in that sector and know it inside out, but they range very little and often, outside of their specific sector, they know very little or nothing at all.
  • Collectors who read a lot (especially blogs), try to study and acquire skills online, but have no real direct experience with stamps, buy when they can but without a particular address, try to make peaches and think they know the subject, but often they are very wrong (and will never admit it).
The typologies do not end with these few groups but my intention was just to give an example; generally the second type is not subject to the charm of the certificate and tends to look at the stamp first of all, but being very sectoral in its interests it has little influence on the philatelic market as it will only buy particular things, which for it have an important but often very significant meaning. personal, and commercially therefore they are irrelevant.
The other three typologies that I have listed can instead be victims of "certificate disease" or rather not focusing on the stamp they buy because they blindly "trust" the piece of paper that accompanies it.
It goes without saying that for certain important stamps, the certificate is obviously essential, it helps the collector in understanding the stamp, it guarantees the piece for its authenticity and (in theory) also for cataloguing; but no certificate, even if it belongs to an accredited and valid philatelic expert, will ever be able to replace the direct vision of the piece, nor the history behind a great piece.
Few in the world can boast knowledge of the history of collectible stamps from the Italian area, and many today cannot know it because they have not experienced the events that led that object, today, to be rare, difficult to find or widely collected.
In the philatelic market you therefore need to know how to move, and you cannot do it independently, but you need to rely on a professional figure, to avoid getting big scams, spend your money well and also bring home an economic result that is valid in the future.
You don't buy certificates but stamps; and if you don't have the expertise to understand its goodness, quality and typology, you must have the humility to rely on those who can.
Would you face a criminal case without having a good lawyer at your side? Maybe yes, if you were lawyers yourselves!
Would you prepare a final balance sheet for your company without relying on a valid accountant? Perhaps yes, if you yourself were a graduate in economics and business and with extensive experience in the field of financial statement preparation.
Being a philatelist is no different, even in the philately sector there are professionals and you must rely on them; and as for lawyers or accountants, choose the right one for you and who inspires maximum trust in you, knowing how to demonstrate in facts that that trust is well placed.
No one would hire a second-rate lawyer who gets drunk in the evening and is late to court in the morning, nor an accountant who runs away with the cash at the first opportunity; so you cannot hire a philatelic professional who is not more than trustworthy and does not have the right references and the right credit.
But the concept remains the same as the title of the post:
you don't buy certificates but stamps; and in order to be able to do this by reducing the risks to the minimum possible, we need to be able to be aware of those stamps that interest us, directly if we are really strong in the sector (not if we just think we are) or through the right people if we are not sufficiently prepared or perhaps we find ourselves unable to personally verify the objects of our desire.
In the image the Verde Oliva di Modena sheet, issue with dot after the number, UNICO NOTO , H. Avi certificate, ex Craveri collection. There were a few other sheets of this stamp from Emilio Diena's archive, but WITHOUT GUM, some were cut to sell blocks and quatrains; the matter is known to the historical memory of experts and for this reason the c. 5 olive is in fact the only example in the Ancient Italian States in which the new stamp without gum is worth - according to the Sassone catalog - only 5% of the new one with gum.
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