Submitting an Application for a Certificate
By Martin F. Stempien, Jr., Office Manager for The Philatelic Foundation
When stamps and covers arrive at The Philatelic Foundation for expertizing, their first stop is on my desk. As secretary to the Expert Committee, I review the application forms for certificates of opinion to make certain they are complete. Often I notice ways in which our customers can make the submission process easier for both themselves and our expertizing staff.
For example, a major needless expense occurs every time a submitter of several items fails to mail them together in the same registered and insured envelope. Some customers mistakenly think that because they filled out a separate application for each item, each item must come in a separate envelope.
Based on my observations over a number of months, I offer the following tips for sending the Expert Committee items for authentication:
- Read all the fine print on the back of the application.
- Fill out the application as completely as possible. The signature at the bottom is particularly important since itconstitutes a contract for us to do work for you. For the application to be valid, it must be signed.
- Don’t worry if you are unsure which of several catalog numbers is correct for your item. Just put down the number you think is right. We will identify the correct number as part of our opinion.
- We use Scott catalog numbers and descriptions almost exclusively, but if you have other catalogs and numbers for an item not listed by Scott or listed differently in Scott, include them in the “brief description” section. We also use Scott-listed colors. If you think you have a color variety, mention that in the “brief description” section as well.
- Placing an amount on the “fair market or catalog value” line is extremely important. We can’t guess how much you value your item. Your figure is the one used to assess the value of your item in the rare event it becomes lost in the mail. This figure is also the value on which certification charges are based. Finally, it is the insurance value placed on the item while it is in our possession.The catalog value of the item in Scott is the lowest acceptable figure in this space.
- Enclose your telephone numbers for both day and evening. If the item is to be held for pick-up, we can phone you whenever it is ready. If a question concerning your item arises, we can also contact you more speedily. Your fax number and e-mail address would also be useful.
- If you have specific questions to ask about your item, write your questions on a small piece of paper to be included with your item in our working folder. Any supplementary information should be attached in a similar manner. No name or personal identification should appear on any attachments.
- If you want a “plate position” (the PF no longer offers cover analysis), please indicate this in the “brief description” section. Note that an additional fee of $25 applies to this service (see “Certificate Fees” item #1c on the back of the application). Be aware that because many stamps have not yet been completely plated, a plating question cannot be answered in all cases. The same may be true concerning the origin of a cancellation. In such cases, a “decline opinion” as to plate position or cancel origin is not a “bad” opinion.
- In the “brief description” section, be very brief. Mention, for example, only a colored cancellation or a plate variety for a stamp. In the case of a cover, mention only the important features visible on the front. In any case, your description will be edited into our office style and reduced to fit the space available in our computer file for this section (three lines, each with 49 spaces).
- If you have changed your address since the last time you sent items, please send both your old and new addresses. Your item(s) can then be returned to the right address. Otherwise we have to check whether you are the J. Johnson who lived in Oshkosh, WI, or the one who lived in Tulsa, OK, before moving to San Francisco. Only then can we enter the item(s) into our computer. To keep continuity in our records, we try not to change your computerized account code even if you change your address.
- When submitting our application form to us, remember to send both parts of the form to us (or, if you are downloading the form from this web site, always include a duplicate of your form). We cannot begin to process your item without both copies of the form. The pink form, after numbering, becomes a permanent part of the file for your item. The blue form (or the duplicate you submit with the signed original) is returned to you as a receipt for the item you have submitted. It carries the same unique number as the pink form (at top right) and identifies your item in our computer files. In writing to us about an item, you should cite this number so we can call up your file from our data bank.
- You must submit a separate application for each item. For example, three stamps in a set require three applications. However, you can send all items together in the same registered envelope insured for what you consider them to be worth. If the envelope never arrives, you will have to submit a claim to your local post office and/or your insurance carrier, based on the figure you insured the items for. Photocopy both the item and the application, so you will have a good record of what you sent to us until your blue receipt arrives.
- If you have private insurance to cover your material in the mails, treat your items as your insurer directs. We will return your items to you (except for pick-up items) by registered mail insured for the aggregate value designated by you. You can make special arrangements for returns by “express” service.
- In sending items, please take care in packing them. Do not tape an item to an application! Put stamps on inert stock cards placed in glassine envelopes, and put covers in plastic pochettes. Try to keep each item and its application together. In the case of a number of stamps, place them on a stock card in the order of your application forms. This helps to keep “look-alikes” from getting mixed up. A cardboard stiffener in the envelope always helps protect the contents.
- Please do not send each stamp or cover sealed in a tiny packet. Someone has to get the stamp out so it can be examined, and damage is possible no matter how much care is taken. Give your items room to breathe. If you are worried about water damage, enclose the whole group in a plastic bag, which you can seal with mending tape.
- Finally, we will not usually accept from the postal or express carrier a packet that has been ripped open or water damaged. We will refuse delivery and instruct them to return the packet to you, so you can assess any losses.
- Please click the following link to obtain an application for a certificate.