As I set out on my epic quest to collect all things Albert Decaris, I made a decision to collect all stamps with his name attached. In hindsight this can perhaps be viewed as slightly deranged! And maybe it is. But I prefer to think of it as a decision made out of naivety. I simply did not know what I was getting myself into. For instance I did not know of the numerous definitive sets with several values of the same design bearing his name. I did not know that he worked on several omnibus sets, which were often printed with 21 different colony names, for instance the Victory issue. Of course, after having armed myself with this new knowledge, I could have changed my mind and amended my collection parameters. But, truth be told, I set myself an interesting - far more challenging than I first thought - goal, and I decided to stick to it. I have spoken with many different collectors since I have started this thrilling adventure, and some, like me, have chosen to go down the path of collecting everything, while some collect one example of each design. Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer. Collecting is a very personal thing and we are free to choose our own collecting goals.
There is, however, one parameter within this sphere of collecting that for me is still somewhat of a conundrum. The un-hinged vs hinged debate. I have noticed there to be a tendency for those in the "un-hinged" camp to frown upon those who choose to be less selective with their mint stamp purchases. I think this is quite unfair. Let me first say that I do fully understand the idea of the preference of un-hinged stamps for high-end collections. After all, a hinge mark literally is damage to the stamp. Having said that though, is this consideration of such vital import to a collection that is primarily to admire what is on the front of the stamp! I collect engraved stamps, which means that I collect the small pieces of art adorning one side of a piece of paper. So long as it doesn't show on the front, does what's on the back really matter? When it comes to an artwork that we hang on the wall, do we really care what the back of the frame looks like?
I really do think that simply going un-hinged with a collection because it's commonly regarded as the "done thing" is not the best approach. I know there are those who will vehemently disagree with me, citing reasons sch as "value" and "depreciation". This is totally fine. As I said earlier, we can choose how we wish to collect. But when I first stared to collect I was told in no uncertain terms by a dealer that collecting anything other than un-hinged was a total waste of time. Is it really? Now that I have a few years of experience under my belt, I really don't believe so. But at the time it really scared me because when buying stamps there is still a premium on unhinged merchandise. which is fair enough. But what if your budget doesn't allow you to pay that premium? Do you simply give up? Most assuredly not! If, like me, you collect engraved art, you are paying to admire the beauty of the art. Plain and simple! Don't be pressurised into spending more than what you need to spend. And whatever you do, don't be bullied out of what can be an immensely enriching and thoroughly rewarding hobby.
To be perfectly frank, if I were to restrict myself to un-hinged copies of all my Decaris stamps, there would be no way I would be able to collect all his omnibus issues, all his definitive issues, and all his high value airmail issues. When it comes down to it, I am actually really very happy that "hinged" stamps have less value! It means I can buy more volume for quite a reduction in price. So, go forth and collect in whatever way you want!
Anyway, that's enough ranting from me. I will, however, end by posing a question. Take a look at the image below. Does it really matter if there is a tiny mark on the back of this stunning piece of art?
Until next time...