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Cancelled mint stamps

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George Jamieson28/01/2019 22:21:15
3 forum posts

Hi All,

I have received several VFU stamps that still have their original gum intact. So obviously they have not been through the post. How is this viewed by serious collectors ? How does it affect the desirability of such stamps ?


Alex29/01/2019 07:59:19
586 forum posts
13 photos

These CTO (cancelled To Order) stamps were once very common in beginners stamp packs. The Eastern European countries, especially, used to get rid of their surplus stock by applying a post cancellation and selling the stamps off in bulk at less than face value.

When I lived in Germany I would buy new issues at my local German Post Office and buy one mint stamp or set and request to have one set cancelled right there as well. This was popular with European collectors but less so with American / British collectors.

SG used to sell their CTO stamps at a lower price than postally used stamps. If you're talking about older stamps then a properly used stamp will be more desirable than a CTO, and may thus demand a slightly higher premium. However, this doesn't apply to modern stamps. Because of the problems of obtaining modern stamps with postally used cancellations (dealers have to find the stamps in the volumes required, remove them from the envelopes, dry them etc etc) many dealers are going back to buying CTO stamps directly from the postal authorities and selling these as VFU.

At the end of the day, personally, I'd be happy to have a CTO stamp in my collection if a 'proper' used stamp was unavailable and I have many such stamps in my collections.

George Jamieson29/01/2019 08:25:33
3 forum posts
Thanks Alex. I am renewing my interest and up until recently had not seen any CTO stamps. It doesn't seem right to accept them but as you say they are better than a gap in a collection.
Alex29/01/2019 10:49:29
586 forum posts
13 photos

As a stamp collector, I don't mind CTOs that much. However, if I put on my philatelist hat I think that I'd be less inclined to include CTOs in my 'good' collections.

But, looking at things as they stand, this stance is really suited to the older stamp issues. For one thing, less stamp sets were produced in the past. Secondly, more of those stamps were actually used on mail. Today there are so many stamps being produced, in larger sets, that the majority of stamps will never actually see a envelope, let alone a postmark. There are many folk who collect both mint and used stamps, and for many the only way they can have a cancelled stamp in their collection is if it has been CTO by the relevant post office.

I don't collect British stamps, so I don't know if they do CTO nowadays (I know that when I first came to the UK and tried to get some stamps CTO they refused). If this is still the case I don't know where collectors of used British stamps find their examples.

Carmen29/01/2019 12:41:55
650 forum posts
61 photos

I am a nutsy stamp collector, period, so I have no issues at all with collecting CTO - I do find them an interesting glance at history, i.e. Communist countries, decrying the Evil Capitalists by making a lot of money off the stamp collectors, for instance... disgust Not only would they sell surplus stock, they would print some just to sell them to collectors overseas: if you look at some you can tell that they were literally printed with a postmark as part of the design... it wasn't added separately or anything. #ohthecommunisthypocrisy Another particular favourite is countries with revolutions where royalty or anything like it was put to death and decried as the Evil Bourgeoisie, then issuing commemorative stamps for the death of Princess Diana (North Korea) I actually have a collecting category in my electronic software I call "Irony" for just such stamps.

That having been said, I have heard some stamp snobs (not in this forum!) refer to CTO as "wallpaper". They wouldn't be caught dead with them in their albums.

Enjoy your CTOs! Some of them are beautifully designed.

Trevor Bishop 129/01/2019 12:54:17
188 forum posts
58 photos

Hi George & Alex,

Yes like you I asked for stamps to be cancelled at the counter and they also refused . I have put large amounts /value of stamps on a stiffened letter and sent it Special delivery to myself , then they will cancel it at the counter and then it has to go through the postal service .

However if you ask for a light cancel or just catching a corner you risk a BIRO happy postman adding to it for good measure . Also having cancelled it at the counter the ink is still wet before it’s put in to a sack which resulted some less desirable smudged postmarks .

Soaking off stamps from fdcs is another option and often cheaper if bought a year or so later . Ideally it’s better to get a plain circle fdc cancel rather than a fancy decorative one .

I’ve found some nice fdcs which were put on plain envelopes, again less desirable and cheaper to buy .

As mentioned a Fdc type clean stamp is better than a gap or a heavy postmark .

Just my thoughts


George Jamieson30/01/2019 23:16:35
3 forum posts
Thanks everyone. So far from being frowned upon it is a widely accepted practice. So I'll use them to temporarily fill my gaps until something better comes along.
ken mulford12/06/2019 22:51:34
12 forum posts

As of late i have noticed a tendancy for sellers to advertise DY panes that are guillotined for first day covers as

if actually from DY booklets.

If i was to take a normal stamp and trim the perfs would it be acceptable to advertise them as imperf ?

To suggest that cto's are' beautifully' designed , someone has a vivid imagination.

Yes by some ones description to an attitude towards CTO's as being snobbish, i stand up and declare to the world i am a snob.

They are only fit for wallpaper.

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