Wait a minute. What about those stamps that have the graded certificate stating that they are ďGem 100Ē? They are faulty too? The answer is, yes, they probably are faulty. Follow me a minute.

My listing of stamps in the early material contains a lot of detail. In my opinion, itís more detailed than any other dealer offers. There is a short perf here, a tiny thin there, that one has a light crease, and so forth. Maybe Iím doing myself a disservice by noting all of these faults? I donít think so. I think Iím being honest with my customers so that they know precisely what they are buying.

Sometimes condition is subjective. Two different collectors (or dealers) may differ in opinion about a stamp. For example, a hinge mark. Sometimes a certificate will say ďpreviously hinged.Ē I go over that stamp with a fine tooth comb and I canít find any evidence of a hinge mark.

Sometimes the opposite occurs. I look at a certificate that doesnít note any faults, and then I see a perforation that looks a little more blunt (or short) than the rest. This condition is in the photo of the certificate, but the committee didnít mention it in its opinion. To me, I think itís worth noting.

In my opinion, any fault that is easily seen with the naked eye or at least a 5x or 10x magnifier should be noted. I try to go over my material with a fine tooth comb. I use a 30x magnifier to some of my work. But Iím human and things occasionally slip by.

Here is my point. If you put every stamp under, say, an electron microscope (which magnifies to about 10 million power), Iím sure you can find faults with many, if not all, stamps. A paper fiber here or there is out of place. There is an area of a stamp 1 micron across that is thinner than the rest of the paper.

This creates a grey area for the hobby. In the case of very trivial faults, these are going to be noted by some people and sometimes they are not going to be noted by others. As accurate as we try to be with certificates and so forth, there is some wiggle room for subjectivity.

Iím not suggesting that this grey area is bad. Iím just saying that at some level, you can probably find faults with just about any stamp. The question is, where do you stop looking? For me, itís with the naked eye or at most a 10x magnifier. Any fault smaller than that probably isnít perceptible to the human eye. In some cases, weíre going to have to agree to disagree. Short of putting every stamp under the eye of an electron microscope and noting every molecule that is out of place, there just isnít a concrete absolute formula to follow. There will be differences in opinion and we have to respect one another.

To the collector whose collection is full of certified stamps with all ďGem 100Ē descriptions, Iím sorry if I ruined your day!