Question: What is the difference between mint and unused?--R.S.A.
Answer: Mint means a stamp with original gum as issued, but the gum may be disturbed by such things as a hinge mark or fingerprint. An unused stamp has never been canceled but has none of its original gum. Mint stamps are obviously worth more because they more nearly approximate their original post office condition.
Herman Herst Jr., the famous retired stamp dealer now living in Florida, says gum is the most valuable thing in the world, by weight. Gum is more valuable than uranium or precious rubies.
A rare early U.S. stamp with full original gum may be auctioned for $5,000. Without gum (but still unused), it could be worth only $2,000. This price discrepancy has led to faking of gum by crooks. When buying an expensive mint stamp, be certain that you are getting original gum and not a stamp that has been regummed.
If you don't know your stamps, know your stamp dealer. Most reputable dealers will cheerfully refund your money if you buy a mint stamp from them and then send it to one of the recognized expertizing services that rules the stamp has fake gum.
Q: What do OG and NH mean?--T.R.A.
A: Original gum and never hinged. Gum is the "glue" put on the backs of stamps to facilitate licking and sticking them on envelopes. OG indicates original gum, as issued by the government post office, but it may be disturbed by such things as hinge marks or fingerprints. And NH means original gum that is undisturbed, never hinged or otherwise damaged. Collectors often pay a lot of money for a rare stamp with original gum.
Q: What is the value of these U.S. items? Nebraska overprints of 1929 issues, one cent through 10 cents. Coil line pairs of 1939, one cent through 10 cents. And 1932 six-cent coils.--J.P.
A: Your Nebraska overprint set catalogues at $281 and retails for about $150 to $200 if in nice unhinged mint condition. The coils of 1939 are worth about $20 for the set of nine denominations and about $80 if in line pairs. (A line pair is two stamps from a roll, as used in vending machines, with a postal service printed line between them, usually inked along the perforation holes separating the two stamps.) The six-cent coil of 1932 is worth about $15 as a pair and $40 for a line pair. If any of these stamps are off-center (design close to the perforations) or have disturbed gum on the backs, they are worth somewhat less.
Jan. 30-Feb.2--Long Beach Philatelic and Numismatic Exposition at the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. Almost 400 stamp and coin dealers will be present to buy and sell. This is the largest combined stamp and coin show on the West Coast. Hours: Jan. 30 and 31 and Feb. 1, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Feb. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission $1.50, free to children under 12 accompanied by an adult and to senior citizens over 62.
Barry Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.