Friday, December 19, 2008

Hinged or Unhinged - An Opinion

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.


  1. I agree with Joes point of view on Mint Stamps. I am happy to Purchase MLH stamps and only buy NHM if there is no availability of the former. my rationale is that Hingeless Albums, per se, were not available until the 70`s, so all Mint Stamps in Collections before then were hinged. The MNH Phenomenon is an artificial one foisted on Collectors by Dealers etc to increase their Profits, and unessary. Mike Morris. UK

  2. The term MNH refers to condition. Condition is an issue with used stamps such as stamps which are heavily cancelled vs light cancel. Condition may be a personal preference, but try selling mint or used stamps that aren't in good condition and you'll want yours in good condition, mint or used. A pet peeve of mine is stamps hinged into a circuit book which I can hardly remove without damaging the stamp itself. Did anything ever come from Subway's effort to reproduce the Dennison hinges?

  3. Subway has put out a hinge that works well on used stamps but has not solved the problem for mint stamps. I understand that they are still trying to solve this problem but so far have not had any success. I belive it has something to do with applying a double layer of adhesive on the hinge that is causing the problem.