At a recent meeting of the local stamp club I mentioned that I hinge all the stamps in my collection. An amazed look came over the face of several members, one of whom asked, “Even the Mint Never Hinged (MNH) ones?” Yes, I replied. The amazed look became one of shock. So be it and here is my opinion.
First, let me state that I am not a big fan of mint stamps. For me they are like an unread book. They have not achieved the purpose for which they were produced. Yes, I do have mint stamps in my collection but only to show a full design not obscured by a postmark. I even show the gum side of some stamps because they illustrate a point about the types of gum used on an issue. Generally, however, I am most excited and enamored of a clear, neat, socked-on-the-nose cancel, especially if it is unusual. So, although I do acquire some mint stamps I refuse to pay a premium for MNH and thus I am very happy with a lightly hinged one.
I think people who pay multiples for MNH stamps when they could acquire a nice, lightly hinged copy at a much lower price are really gum collectors not stamp-collectors. I feel they should mount all their MNH stamps gum side up so they can show what they paid all that money for. I would never want a collection of “CDs Never Listed To”, “DVDs Never Viewed” or “Books Never Read” so why a collection of “Mint Never Hinged” stamps? For me, the stamp is the thing and the gum is only part of the picture.
As a philatelist I study the paper, printing, gum, method of separation, design, usage and any other aspect of the stamp. Focusing on just the gum is missing the point as far as I am concerned.
Now, I know that the MNH phenomenon is well established so that train probably has already left the station with me standing on the platform. That is fine with me. I want to make it clear that I am not telling you how or what to collect, just how I do so. You may agree or disagree.