Iíve talked about certificates of authenticity in the past. In general, they are a good thing. One of the challenges though is in certifying stamps that donít have tremendous value: is it worth the cost of the certificate? In that category are damaged copies of valuable stamps that arenít going to sell for huge sums of money.

The Philatelic Foundation recently announced that they have a new rate structure for these kinds of stamps. A stamp with a catalog value of $5000 to $10,000 will cost $75 to certify it. A stamp at $10,000 or more in catalog value can be certified for $100 or 5.5% of their fair market value.

If the stamp is damaged and worth significantly less than its catalog value, the owner can obtain a certificate without shelling out a lot of money. Here is the caveat though. Itís impossible to put a precise value on every damaged stamp based on the extent of its damage. For example, will a small thin or light crease be included in this area? Probably not. Will a stamp nearly torn in half qualify Ė probably. What about a used stamp with a heavy cancel or a large thin? How big does the thin have to be before it falls into this area? There are going to have to be some judgment calls here. Not everyone is going to agree. The PF has set a standard of 25% or less of catalog value for the fair market value of an item. That seems reasonable. But again, who determines when an item meets that 25% threshold and when it doesnít? There is going to be some gray areas here when estimating an items fair market value.

This is a step in the right direction. You can get a certificate of authenticity on damaged copies of expensive stamps. The stamps will go through the same scrutiny as undamaged copies. This will help the hobby.