|Stamps for Dummies
Are Used or Unused Stamps
Worth More ?
One of the commonest questions we are
asked, especially by non-collectors, is "Which
are more valuable; mint or used stamps ?"
I usually don't get the chance to explain the
answer in detail, so here it is - in more detail
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that
question. The value of absolutely every stamp is
determined by just two factors; supply and demand.
But let me try to explain here some of the ways in
which the supply and demand balance can be different
in mint stamps and used stamps.
First of all, some definitions;
"Mint" normally means a stamp as it would have
been originally sold over the post office counter.
Broadly, stamp collectors tend to mean an unused
stamp which still has its original gum.
"Unused" is generally the term for a stamp that
is not cancelled, but has lost the original gum (or
some of it).
"Used" relates to a stamp that has been through
the post, i.e. it has been used for its original
purpose, and you would normally expect such a stamp
to have a postmark ("cancel"/"cancellation").
"Fiscally used" means that the stamp has been
used to pay a fee on a document, other than a
payment for postage. Many fiscally used stamps are
cancelled by rubber stamps, or are signed over by
hand, or have just a datestamp, but there are some
difficult ones that have fiscal cancels that look
You will also see references to "unmounted
mint" ("M.N.H. for "mint never hinged" in the USA)
or mounted mint. This is because many stamps have
been mounted in albums over the years, and if this
has been done using a stamp hinge this will leave a
mark on the gum, meaning that it is "mounted mint".
Many collectors prefer unmounted mint over mounted
mint, and in fact some collectors only want them