Jim Forte Postal History

(800) 594-3837 or (702) 791-6828
Fax (702) 369-9139
P.O. Box 94822 Las Vegas, NV 89193

Condition Notes

There are three types of condition notes. First are the basic explanations about the state of the cover which would  not be considered defects. Second is to describe any defects. Finally, if the size of the cover is anything other than standard size, the size must be noted.

Always leave two spaces between the period after the last word of the previous section and the start of this section.

1ab National Seal c1910 Domestic use. Reverse franked.

If there is at least one stamp on on the front of a cover there is no need to note any reverse franking.

1c (2) and 3c San Martin 1920 Bahia Blanca PPC (Plaza Italia - Monumento a Garibaldi) to Praha - Nusle, Czechoslovakia. Franked view side.

You will commonly note either reverse franking or view side franking. You will also commonly describe overpaid and underpaid rates. These are the states of a cover which do not note defects.

Describing condition defects is a bit tricky. The idea is not write a novel describing the condition of a cover. Do not minutely describe the wear of commercial mail of the last 50 to 150 years. Do note significant faults. Always try to include some mitigating word like small or light. Standardized terminology is very important. You will receive guidance about what defects to note.

2K Coat of Arms Overprinted Flugpost 1.50 K 1.50, 3K Coat of Arms Overprinted Flugpost 2.50 K 2.50, K Coat of Arms Overprinted Flugpost and 3h and 12h Austrian Crown 1918 Lemberg, Lwow First Flight to Vienna. Muller 70. Crease. EUROPEAN SIZE

20c Map 1932 Miami, Fla. Airmail to Panama City, Panama. Ragged at left.

Ragged refers to uneven reductions.

Directional markings are top, bottom, left and right. Use only these, not wording like upper or lower. They can be compound, such as top left. Always include at.

80c Napoleon III 1867 Paris Numeral 3 in star with red hs 3 and boxed hs PD to Philadelphia, Penn. with sl Par Steamer Pr. los Etats-Unis. Ragged at right and stamp damaged.

Some condition notes always required a directional note. These are:

  • Reduced

  • Ragged

  • Tear

  • Opening tear

  • Corner clipped

  • Corner rounded

Some condition notes require a directional note some times. These are:

  • Crease - If note near the center of the covers

  • Stain - If located in a distinct part of the cover

  • Discoloration - If the discoloration is in a limited area.

  • Edge crease - If localized.

If there are more than one stamp on the cover, and some stamps are sound and some one or more stamps are damaged, indicate which are damaged.

If there is more than one defect which must be noted, make a compound phrase with commas as needed and the use of use or the word 'and'. For example, use 'Crease and reduced at right' or 'Stain and opening tear at top. DO NOT use "Crease.  Ragged at right"  or 'Stain.  Opening tear at top'

Cover states, like 'Reverse franked' DO NOT get combined with defects. For example, use 'Reduced at right.  Reverse franked.' Please note the double space between the cover state and the defect. DO NOT use 'Reduced at right and reverse franked.'

Cover sizes, like 'MONARCH SIZE' DO NOT get combined with defects. For example use 'Reduced at right.  MONARCH SIZE'  Please note the double space between the defect and the cover size. DO NOT use 'Reduced at right and MONARCH SIZE'

Do not detail the nature of stamp damage. When a stamp is obviously damaged, just note stamp damaged. An unobtrusive short perforation or crease is not to be noted unless the stamp is an integral part of the value of the cover.

Soldier's Free Mail 1919 Australia Imp. Forces Base Post Office Alexandria, Egypt to Johannesburg, South Africa. Corner card Y.M.C.A. Reduced at right.

Reduced refers to an even reduction visible from the front of the cover. Reduction of up to 1/4 inch not affecting the visible aspects of the cover from the front are not noted.

3 1/2d KGVI (2) and 1/6 Mercury and Hemispheres 1944 Turramora, N.S.W. Airmail to Richmansmanth, England. Australia Censor. Small opening tears at top.

1 1/2d KEVIII 1937 Coulsdon, Surrey to Footscray, Australia with violet sl Undelivered For Reason Stated Return To Sender, reverse boxed sl Unknown By Letter Carrier At Footscray and Dead Letter Office Melbourne cds. No back flap and creases.

Reverse damage is held to a much lower standard than damage visible from the front. Always note missing parts of the cover, like No back flap. Since covers have to be opened somehow, opening tears only visible from the back are not to be noted unless they affect an integral part of the cover, like reverse advertising.

When describing a cover front, use the words FRONT ONLY in capital letters as the last word of the description. Since a parcel label or partial parcel wrapper is by definition, a front, do not add front only.

2c KGV Overprinted Belize Relief Fund Plus 2 Cents (4), 3c KGV Overprinted Belize Relief Fund Plus 3 Cents (4), and 5c KGV Overprinted Belize Relief Fund Plus 5 Cents (4) 1932 Registration, Belize British Honduras Air to San Francisco, Cal.  Philatelic.

A philatelic cover is a cover created by a collector for the purpose of obtaining a particular marking or stamps usage. This should be noted. Some of the ways to tell a philatelic cover is by being sealed without contents, a very fresh appearance that belies carrying mail, a rubberstamped or addressograph address, and being addressed to a know collector. First Flights and First Days are by definition philatelic, so philatelic does not need to be noted.

21c Computer Vended Postage Coil and 29c Eagle and Shield 1993 Detroit, MI Airmail to Edinburgh, Scotland. Stamp Collector Mail.

Stamp collector and stamp dealer mail is a term that should be used to note a cover that has a franking that would only be used by a stamp dealer or stamp collector. Most commonly, this is the use of a stamp many years after its issue. It is differentiated from a philatelic cover in that it had a mail purpose. It is easiest identified by the sender or the receiver being a known collector or dealer. However, it would not be appropriate for a cover from a stamp dealer or stamp collector that was franked with appropriate postage.

Cover Sizes

50c Eucharistic Congress (2) 1938 Fort Stotzenburg Trans Pacific Airmail to San Antonio, Texas.  MONARCH SIZE

100R King Manuel II Overprinted Republica 1912 Lisboa Central Registered to Geneva, Switzerland.  EUROPEAN SIZE

4 1/2d meter 1944 Johannesburg to Waynesboro, Pa. with sl Per Direct Steamer. LEGAL SIZE

The most common condition note will be about the cover size.

Standard Size - Up to a 6 3/4 envelope - No larger than 6 3/4" by 4". This size is assumed and is not noted.

Monarch Size - No taller than Standard, but wider, up to 7 3/4" wide.

European Size - Taller and possibly wider than standard size. Maximum size is 5 1/4" tall by 7 3/4" wide.

Legal Size - Standard business size envelope, no taller than 5", no wider than 10 1/2".

Oversize - Any cover larger than any of these noted sizes. It is described in a listing as OVERSIZE height x width like OVERSIZE 6 X 9 inches. Please spell out inches. Never use "quotation" marks to denote inches or in any other part of the description

I suggest making a template in the size of a standard cover. If the cover is taller then it is European Size. If it is wider but not taller then it is Monarch Size.

Always describe the size in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It should always be the last words in the description. Do not use a period.

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