Fine Used Victorian GB Stamps Are Scarce
The reason for the scarcity is due to the cancellations used at the time as they were mainly designed to try and cover the stamp to prevent repeat use. It's not without reason they called early cancellation handstamps "obliterators".
It began with the Maltese Cross handstamps followed by the Barrel Oval marks introduced during 1844. Fine used stamps were only created when one of these cancellations actually missed the target and left a large part of Queen Victoria's profile visible. For the earlier imperforate, line engraved stamps a clear Queen's profile together with four good margins and no damage is usually designated superb used by many dealers and a hefty premium added to prices.
Come the era of the surface printed issues and the duplex cancellations start to occur from 1853 onward. The marks was still intended to act as an obliterator with the numeral and bars defacing the stamp leaving the circular date stamp clear to the left of the stamp for postal workers to read. It is therefore unusual to find stamps cancelled with a fine c.d.s. postmark as these are in fact mistakes! There are a few exceptions to this where stamps were used for telegraphic purposes or legal receipts. Once again, fine, well centered, surface printed stamps from Queen Victoria's reign usually command premium prices when neatly cancelled with a c.d.s. postmark.
High Value stamps were often used to send large and heavy items causing the use of heavy - usually smudged - parcel cancellations. However they were also used to document the payment for international telegraphs and, as use is difficult to determine on loose stamps, it is likely that this is where most very fine used high value stamps originate from.
Condition is a key factor in philately when it comes to the valuation of stamps. It cannot be emphasized enough how scarce truly fine used victorian stamps are and, as I proved only yesterday, it is definately worth scanning the online auctions for fine used victorian stamps that may be overlooked and valued as normal.
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