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 Post subject: PTS Statement regarding Shade Variations
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:00 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Norfolk
Interesting to read this in the Newsletter - could it be added here, for the benefit of those who read these boards, but are not GBPS members ?


 Post subject: Re: PTS Statement regarding Shade Variations
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 12:00 am
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As requested. Of course, we encourage anyone reading this who is not a GBPS member to join. :)




The PTS has received numerous enquiries and complaints -- written and verbal -- concerning unlisted shades, whether previously recorded or not, being offered for sale accompanied by certificates from the 'Hendon' expert committee. Questions have been put to us as to why these many extra shades have not come to light in the intervening 100 years and whether the prices being asked for them are reasonable.

We wrote to Mr Trevor Harris of the Hendon Stamp Company, who is the principal of the 'Hendon' expert committee asking for his comments and, on receipt of his reply, made some follow-up enquiries to the answers he gave. Our response is based on those replies.


The nuances of shade on the Royal Cypher watermark issue (and many other issues) are theoretically without limit. In order that collectors are not overwhelmed by minor colour differences, stamp catalogues list only the main shade variations (bands) and the specialised catalogues also the principle intermediate shades in between.

Thus the main shades (only) are to be found in the Stanley Gibbons Concise and Commonwealth catalogues, whilst the extra (intermediate) colours are listed in the GB Specialised catalogue. Shades generally qualify for a listing where it is known that differences are constant or due to a deliberate change in the printing process and, in both cases, where single stamps can be readily identified as belonging to one colour group or another.

RPSL Ltd, the expert committee for the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPS), will certify specialised shades up to and including those found in the GB Specialised catalogue 'within the shade bands' where appropriate, whilst the PTS and the British Philatelic Association (BPA) do not identify Royal Cypher shades to any greater level of specialisation than that found in the Stanley Gibbons Concise catalogue. All three committees give opinions on the Seahorse issues. The respective committees' opinions are given on the basis of comparison with reference collections by more than one (often several) different people. In this way mistakes, whilst not unknown, are few.

Nonetheless, it should be clear from the caveat 'within the known shade bands' that further and more specialised differentiation is possible. For the sake of simplicity we refer to this further differentiation as 'unlisted shades'. Whether collectors wish to add unlisted shades to their collections is a matter for those collectors alone. In forming an opinion they may wish to consider the following:

  • In a letter to the PTS Mr Harris states 'My list of unlisted shades was compiled in consultation with Patrick Pearson of the Expert Committee at the RPS London'. In reply ('to protest at its content') the RPS makes it clear that the RPS in no way endorses Mr Harris' 'certification nor [his] reference collection' ... 'most [shades] being totally meaningless other than being pretty' and 'we discourage your attempt to multiply the numbers'.
  • In the same letter to the PTS Mr Harris states that Mr Ross Candlish (trading as Candlish McCleery), a dealer of great expertise specialising in the GV issues of Great Britain and generally considered expert on GV 'has acknowledged that my certificates for unlisted GV shades is [sic] consistent'. In reply Mr Candlish states 'I have never acknowledged that Hendon certificates for unlisted KGV shades is [sic] consistent'. Mr Candlish at the same time has advised the PTS that he will not be adding to his current listings; he will follow Messrs Stanley Gibbons Specialised numbering as usual.
  • Stanley Gibbons have also confirmed they will not be listing any supplementary GB GV shades, further to the ones already in their catalogues, when based solely on a 'Hendon' opinion.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a committee is 'a group of people appointed for a specific function'. The 'Hendon' committee comprises only Mr Trevor Harris. Mr Harris is a professional philatelist of considerable experience, though not a PTS member. Mr Harris has advised the PTS that no second opinion is sought (by Mr Harris) to verify his judgement. 'I do not need to seek advice from anyone else, neither do I need to ask anyone else's opinion'. Second and further opinions are usually considered advisable, even essential, by expert committees, by way of check or balance.
  • Mr Harris markets the new finds he himself has certified. There is nothing illegal in doing so, but the potential conflict of interest is self-evident.
  • Prices being asked for new finds of this type remain a matter between buyer and seller. To the PTS, however, they seem to be optimistically high; we have asked for, but not been given, any rationale as to how price levels have been set, other than to be told that other dealers have been 'consulted'. The PTS bases its unease on a comparison for asking prices for this unlisted material, with established current market values for already-known scarce shades; for most values, the scarcest of the established shades trade for around one-third (or less) of the debutante, unlisted material. Market values are established over time, often measured in years, when true relative scarcity is properly established, as is the demand.
  • PTS members are reminded that only stamps sold with RPS, BPA or PTS certificates (with a positive opinion) are considered automatically authenticated by the PTS. Stamps sent for certification to any of these bodies, whether accompanied by a 'Hendon' certificate or not, will only be considered in the light of current policies and shade banding (see above).

The stamp market is nonetheless a free market and a high price does not necessarily mean an unfair price; true value can only be perceived in the context of future re-sale prices, back to the trade or at auction. The PTS cannot give any specific guidance on this point; collectors must make up their own minds as to probable trends. We do recommend that in coming to a conclusion they think carefully about all the implications.

If, having done so, they are comfortable with the answer, then proceed. If not, these are the words used by Mr Harris himself, 'If people ... do not like the unlisted shades ... the answer is simple -- tell them not to buy them'.

The PTS does not recognise the aforementioned unlisted GV shades and will not offer opinions or adjudications on such material through its normal disputes procedures, or in any other way.

15 July 2015

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