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The Condition of Stamps

As with all antiques and collectables, condition is extremely important when it comes to putting a value on your stamps. The general advice is to buy the best condition that you can afford; but with a 1929 PUC £1 currently selling for upward of £700 unmounted mint, there are certain stamps that some of us can only dream of. Below is a brief guide to the condition of stamps and some of the terminology used;


UM (Unmounted Mint) - aka MNH (Mint Never Hinged)
An unused stamp with perfect (undisturbed) gum. Completely without faults and often referred to as "post office fresh" or "fine mint". This is the very best quality available.

MM (Mounted Mint) - aka MH (Mint Hinged)
An unused stamp which has been previously hinged and therefore shows some signs of gum disturbance. Some stamps may be lightly mounted mint to the point of appearing unmounted unless scrutinized very carefully. Others can be more heavily hinged. The price differences between certain unmounted and mounted stamps (Great Britain George V, for instance) can vary dramatically.

A stamp which appears to be mint but is without gum. Some collectors take the view that, as you don't see the back of the stamp in the album, gum is not that important, while others insist that to be genuinely "mint" and therefore not "unused" a stamp must have its original gum.

Mint/Unused Filler
An unused stamp with a fault of one sort or another. These may or may not have gum.

l-r: UM, MM & Mint Filler


VFU (Very Fine Used)
The best quality of used stamps available. Always without faults and with a light, clean circular date stamp (cds).

FU (Fine Used)
Still without faults but the cancel may be slightly heavier if its a cds, otherwise a light "wavy-line" cancel for certain stamps with a higher face-value.

U / GU (Used/Good Used/Sound Used)
A stamp without faults but with a heavier cancel.

Exactly that; a stamp with faults but which fills a space. Faults could range from an odd missing perf to a large tear or heavy thin. For more valuable stamps spacefillers are a useful way for collectors to fill those annoying"missing teeth" in their albums.

l-r: VFU, FU, GU & Filler

*This guide is an original work and is an opinion on the general consensus of philatelists. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions below:

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