Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in general

We all have and handle these from time to time. "Back of book", Revenues, "Cinderellas", duty stamps and all kinds of other stamp like labels. Discuss them all HERE!

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RogerE
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Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in general

Post by RogerE »

Hello especially to fellow Cinderella enthusiasts, but hello also to any fellow Philatelists who might like to reflect on the philosophical aspects of what we do. :D

I've been posting some thoughts about the general processes of Defining and Classifying
as they arise in philately.

So far my posts have evolved from looking at a question by kiwidude, on a group of items that turned out to be Belgian matchbox labels from around the 1950s. The discussions can be found at https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=86228

But now that the discussion there is moving away from the original post by kiwidude and into more general territory, ViccyVFU has suggested that I might like to start a new topic
where the general questions about Defining and Classifying might be pursued without risking
moderator ire for straying "off topic". So here we are. :!:

If I understand the Rules correctly, the first post in a new thread has to include an image, so let's begin with a specific question and two scans, of items currently listed on eBay.

Q: Are the following items Cinderella stamps? Why/why not?

(A) eBay #132868971375, described as "Egypt 1884 Four Interpostal Official Seals Kerr Type IX in blue TAHTA, SUEZ"
Image(B) eBay #233207306238, described as "Germany Cinderella Better Quality Siegelmarken Letter Seal Incl. Military #5"
Image

In an earlier post (in that matchbox labels discussion) I asked a similar question, and added
Before you decide on your answer, I invite you to think about the process of reaching a
position on questions like this...

Defining and Classifying

It is well-known that there are two competing viewpoints possible whenever it comes to matters of definition: there are the Includers and the Excluders. The Includers like to include
whatever they can, and extend the boundaries of their classification scheme as widely and generously as possible. The Excluders want to narrow down and tighten the boundaries, and exclude the doubtful cases as problematic and unwelcome. To their opponents, the Includers
are guilty of sins of commission, while the Excluders are guilty of sins of omission.

It is likewise well-known that there are two competing viewpoints possible whenever it comes to matters of classification: there are the Lumpers and the Splitters. The Lumpers like to have
relatively few categories, and lump together instances with many shared characteristics. The Splitters are happy to have numerous categories, and to distinguish instances based on one or a few distinctly different characteristics. To their opponents, the Lumpers are guilty of inattention to detail, while the Splitters are guilty of pedantic hairsplitting...

{I think there is no "right" answer here. We just need to recognise that different positions, if based on careful reasoning, are acceptable, and we should respect the right of others to reach different conclusions from our own.}
Well, the corresponding question in the matchbox label context produced two "No" responses and one "Yes", with various levels of input on "Why?/Why not?" Typically it's the "outliers" of a category that raise the most challenges.

I find the response by ViccyVFU thoughtful and relevant, with distinctions based on classifying questions
as either closed questions (e.g. Yes/No response is sufficient) or open questions (where justification or explanatory content is appropriate and expected).

I've started this new thread Defining and Classifying in response to the suggestion by ViccyVFU, so perhaps we can anticipate discussion of the Q about the illustrated postal seals within that context?
/RogerE :D

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by ViccyVFU »

Well, I'm not sure both your statements of "it is well known" are necessarily "commonly agreed facts".

I suspect most people, most days, don't really give it much thought at all, and even if they do "chance onto the topic", take the two outlying positions you state as "two ends of a continuous scale". (By stating them, are you declaring yourself as an excluder/lumper?.... Sounds a bit Willie Wonker'ish :D )

We all operate our own defining and classification systems, and sometimes they are co-incident with more widely known ("standards"), but often they are not.

When Kiwidude lumped his matchbox labels in with Cinderella ... that's fine for his purposes, but he may come unstuck when communicating with others - either to sell, or display (especially on an international stage).

The whole purpose of a classification system is that it "is fit for purpose", and if the purpose is "knowing how many albums to buy", it can be at one level, but if its "to compete at an international level", then clearly there needs to be a commonly understood framework for people to hang their exhibits from.

You have "excluders" and "includers", "splitters" and "lumpers", but you can also broadly classify peoples' systems by "over simplifiers" and "over complicators" when critiquing their approach.

Those are the two endpints - in between there is a whole "fairly normal distribution" of people "doing their own thing".

At its most basic level, a classification system should have "as many categories as are individually necessary, and collectively sufficient" to categorise the items under consideration.

When you clear a house, you might have a single category called chattels.
But that may not be enough detail, so you break it to furniture, glassware, china, collections, ephemera etc.
But the collections may require more detail, so you break it stamps, coins, bullion, etc.
But the stamps may require more detail, so you break it by major collection.

.... at the bottom of every classification system are the little bits that really fit "None Of The Above" (NOTA), which is my random category. Once I have a NOTA under £500 all is good, in terms of analysis and realisations (and the taxman will leave me in peace).

Every classification system usually has a NOTA class.
Its where we put all the bits "that simply don't fit our model", and we try not to spend too long on it ... because another important characteristic of a good classification system is "Expediency".

Its important to realise that a NOTA class is usually completely different for each household, and is rarely affected by changes in definition. For example, if I had a collection of matchboxes or matchbox labels (or a completely unidentified collection - it happens!!), then it might initially make it into the general heading of ephemera, but it would not be lumped in with stamps "just for convenience".

When you lump differing collections like that together at auctions, the public punish you financially, as they have to do more work (and "those that do the work deserve the reward" etc.). A £10 collection of beermats can take £30 off the value of a box of stamps!

When we look at defining "what is a stamp", then its always good to check out dictionary definitions, or even professional bodies definitions, rather than make our own. (However, if its just for our own collection, no problem).

I take a stamp to be something that was "officially created, and intended to be an official postage stamp, plus other items that were re-purposed to be stamps in other situations". (Over complicators will now quote "some obscure issue" to seek to undermine such simplicity - like I care!!).

Thus the physical attributes of it do not define it, but the intent on creation and usage (Hence perfs, size, glue etc irrelevant - a stamp can be "no more than an impression on a regular piece of paper").

Cinderellas are anything that looks like stamp'ish, but is not a stamp.
- Postal seals, airmail stickers, express labels, wallpaper stamps, licence stamps, scout stamps, etc.

I do realise than a lot of people use their "Cinderella category" in their classification system as others might use a NOTA, and that's all good and fine, until you step into the outside world where "generally accepted identifications and classes" would apply. Matchbox labels are Ephemera, Phillumeny or NOTA, but nowhere in my classification would I put them under Stamp Cinderella items.

You can deduce that Definitions are more likely to external influence (in my world) than Classifications.

The same can be argued for the proposed class of "Mini Posters" - Matchbox labels are not posters, they are branding advertisements. It wasn't created to be a poster, so later classification to that class "would not be what people were expecting, (or more importantly "be searching by").

(There is a kind of irony that "any postage stamp could be cut down to make a model railway poster on a hoarding", but still doesn't make them mini posters). "Purpose on creation" is always an important factor in classification.

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by RogerE »

Thanks for your thoughts ViccyVFU. :D

Your comment about "it is well known" reminded me that an academic
I knew used to remark "it is well known to those who know it well"...

Your NOTA = None of The Above is a natural category, sometimes called
the Too Hard Basket. I like your acronym.

I apologise to viewers for the wonky formatting of my first post in this thread.
I thought I had formatted it nicely when I previewed it (multiple times as I was
composing it), but it definitely looks much more ragged than I intended.
I posted it before going to bed, and only saw the ragged formatting next
morning, long after closure of the "one hour window of safety" for editing a post.

I intended to call this thread Defining and Classifying in General, but its title has
somehow also become a bit wonky. It is not really meant to be just about cinderella
philately (even though it was a cinderella-related question that motivated it). It's
actually meant to be about Defining and Classifying in General, especially as those
activities relate to philately.

Is there any way the title of the thread could be tweaked to the intended title, or at least
to a more inclusive title, such as "Defining and Classifying in Philately"? Even if no changes
can be wrought, these remarks might help to clarify the intended scope and purpose of
this thread. /RogerE :D

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Re: Defining and Classifying Stamp Collectables in General

Post by ViccyVFU »

("None Of The Above" is the political party that Marty Brewster forms in the film "Brewsters Millions", but it has a kind of resonance whenever I have to classify things).

The "Too Hard Basket" is a natural subset of NOTA, but I would say that many people (perhaps too many) try to slip almost everything in there "once they know its available".

NOTA is akin to the Sheriffs periodic "Toxic waste" box, where its not that the stuff is "too hard to categorise", it can just be wholly uneconomic to be dithering over cents on "bits and bobs" that need to be processed.

You need to move it out fast, or face being over-run by stuff that still retains some real value, but is not core to your processes (a.k.a. Business).

How would you categorise this? ...
Image

Image
Initially, you might lump it in NOTA, but then, on discovering the value of it, need to move it out to another category ...

Its described as a stamp, but not a postage stamp (or even a Cinderella as its not designed to be used).

I would call it Ephemera - Printed - Engraved - Trial / Showpiece

(.... but whatever you called it, or wherever placed it in your collection ... it really wouldn't matter at all... until someone has "to get it back into the market" on your behalf).

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by RogerE »

A revisit of this Defining and Classifying Cinderellas thread,
after some months:

Recently there have been some nice Nick Bantock items posted
by Ubobo.R.O. at
https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=82193&start=2350

These include a lovely cover [Sun Dec 22, 2019 01:03:21 am],
and an elegant postcard and Sicmon Islands minisheet nearby
[Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:53:30 am]. I am particularly taken by
the serene, sophisticated, graceful portrait on the postcard...

Evidently cinderella stamps in the fantasy class are not everyone's
cup of tea. Poor waffle [Sun Dec 22, 2019 13:15:13 pm] is quite
discombobulated by them...

On the other hand, Terry Pratchett, Lewis Carol and others have
been suitably commemorated, along with Nick Bantock, in the
realm of fantasy cinderellas, to the delight of many of us...

/RogerE :D

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by RogerE »

Let's now consider classification terminology generally in the philatelic mainstream,
rather than particularly in the cinderella/back-of-the-book territory.

Yeldarbtrebor has added a post [Thu Mar 26, 2020 00:41:13 am] re Machins.
I asked him:
What is the current count on the number of "species"
that fit your collecting goal for this "genus"?
His reply lists as examples of Machin "variations":
GB pre-decimal and decimal (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)
Postal service large stamps
multivalue coil strips
Anniversary stamps
Underprints
Isle of Man

I am endeavouring to collect a mint example of each issue
by value, colour, security changes and printer. So far this
has led to a collection of about 600 machins - barely scratching
the surface!
https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10277&p=6383731#p6383731

I should clarify my (idiosyncratic) terminology. I think each "face different"
Machin is a "species", and I over-simplistically thought of the whole range
of Machin stamps as a "genus". Now I think each of the "12 different variations"
Yeldarbtrebor refers to really corresponds to a genus, and all of them together
correspond to a "family".

For example, Great Britain SG 1026 is a Machin species (the 1977 £1 tall Machin,
bright yellow-green and blackish olive).

Image

It belongs to the genus Postal service large Machins, which in turn belong to
the Machin family. If I have one in my collection, it is an individual or example
or instance of the species SG 1026.

I suggest that the Linnean taxonomic classification of life on Earth provides a helpful
analogy for thinking about stamp collecting in particular, and for informal use of terms
such as species, genus and family when talking about a stamp collection.

Here is a helpful pictorial description of the classification hierarchy:

Image

This diagram comes from
https://www.tes.com/lessons/RRuKOv1ifZNT1g/the-biological-classification-system

Part of my motivation for "testing" this terminology is that our usual philatelic
terminology is a bit lacking. We speak of a "stamp" in at least two senses: we can
mean a single piece of paper, or else a single design, representative of (typically)
several million pieces of paper. When we wish to be more specific, we speak of
"a copy of a stamp". Here "stamp" is being used in the second sense, and "copy"
means a single one of those millions of pieces of paper with the same design.

Biologists speak of individuals of a species, particularly when they are alive, or
specimens of a species, typically when they are dead and placed in a collection.
If the term "specimen" had not already acquired a special meaning in philately,
it would work very well to refer to a single example of a "stamp". As matters stand,
"copy" serves the purpose, even though it really is not literally accurate terminology.

/RogerE :D

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by Panterra »

RogerE wrote:Let's now consider classification terminology generally in the philatelic mainstream,
. . .
Part of my motivation for "testing" this terminology is that our usual philatelic
terminology is a bit lacking. We speak of a "stamp" in at least two senses: we can
mean a single piece of paper, or else a single design, representative of (typically)
several million pieces of paper. When we wish to be more specific, we speak of
"a copy of a stamp". Here "stamp" is being used in the second sense, and "copy"
means a single one of those millions of pieces of paper with the same design.

Biologists speak of individuals of a species, particularly when they are alive, or
specimens of a species, typically when they are dead and placed in a collection.
If the term "specimen" had not already acquired a special meaning in philately,
it would work very well to refer to a single example of a "stamp". As matters stand,
"copy" serves the purpose, even though it really is not literally accurate terminology.

/RogerE :D
Yes, the jargon is a tricky issue indeed! We certainly can't use "specimen" the way botanists do.
Image
Montserrat 1988 Easter set with specimen overprints
and showing some nice bird
specimens.
And even the word "stamp", as a noun (used for the paper objects we all enjoy) is tricky, as it can also be used as a verb meaning to cancel the aforementioned noun!

"My stamp got stamped by the postie." :P
Image
A New Zealand cal stamp, definitely stamped.

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by RobRoyH »

I am going to listen eagerly to your thoughts but I rather doubt, just off the cuff, that a linnaean classification system could work that well.


Here is my objection basically. K-P-C-O-F-G-S is strictly hierarchical. In NO case can a mammalian cat be simultaneously a member of the reptilian class.


A stamp, however, can begin life as a cinderella, (as in the first postage stamps of Israel or Bangladesh), and then become recognized as a postage stamp.


A kitten is always a mammal just as is an adult cat.


SMOM are accepted as postage between hundreds of nations but rejected as postage stamps based on what? United Nations are postage even though they are issued by a very similar NGO yet are ONLY valid on mail from three buildings in the world.


Many British empire items were simultaneously in use quite legally as a revenue or a postage stamp. If you class ALL Postage stamps as a subclass under Revenue stamps, (as does The Revenue Society), then that might work actually. Proprietary and local revenues that are never valid for postage would just be in a different branch of the tree under revenues.


A stamp from South Kasai is postage OR cinderella based on your politics.


I will not heckle though, and try to keep an open mind.... without letting anything important fall out. :lol:


A VENN diagram makes more sense to me.... no hierarchy and overlaps possible. We shall see what you are thinking.
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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by vicaf60 »

In my eye (though I may be mistaken as I do not generally collect cinderellas), the only reasonable classification is the one based on two W's - Who and Why.

Who - who issued a cinderella?
1. State (subdivided into different authorities and agencies)
2. All sorts of NGOs (including clubs, societies, etc.)
3. Private individuals

Why - what was the purpose of the issue?
1. Taxation
2. Fund raising
3. Advertising
4. For fun
5. To cheat collectors and get their money
etc.

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by norvic »

I have many cinderellas both in my collections and those which have been acquired and which I don't want, and which I shall dispose of.

As far as I can see there are very few questions to be answered (- and you know my antipathy towards bogus labels from bogus 'countries' :lol: ).

1. Am I going to use this in a competitive FIP exhibit?

- if YES, then it has to comply with any rules and guidelines.
-- if it doesn't, then I shouldn't include it.

- if NO then I move on.


2. Am I going to buy and sell "cinderellas" ?

- if YES, then I need to understand and study them, to determine their status.

- if NO, then move on.


3. Am I collecting purely for my own pleasure, to show here (and risk critics pointing out that what I have is not a cinderella but a postage stamp that I haven't identified :lol: )

If the answer to this is YES, then it really doesn't matter what other people think *.

* Any criticism I have posted here in the past is so that innocent readers other than the people who collect these things know something of their status, if I can pass an opinion on it. There are very many newcomers to the hobby, and it is worth informing and educating, and maybe advising. What they decide to do is up to them (see Q3!)

As to philosophy ....

Can I ask another question?

Why do some people spend so much time on the theoretical, eg philosophy of collecting cinderellas, instead of enjoying the actual stamps (of whatever kind) and postal history, and philately in general?

As far as I am concerned - and I accept that others may have other views - the only phil I am concerned with is philately - not philosophy of philately.
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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by RogerE »

Obviously there are more thoughts/comments/suggestions to be
shared on this thread, but here's one very briefly: norvic says
Why do some people spend so much time on the theoretical,
eg philosophy of collecting cinderellas, instead of enjoying the actual
stamps (of whatever kind) and postal history, and philately in general?
Answer: because they also enjoy thinking about the "theoretical" (and see
some value in doing so). It's not a case of "instead of", but of "as well as".

/RogerE :D

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Re: Defining and Classifying stamp Cinderella stamps in gene

Post by norvic »

RogerE wrote:Obviously there are more thoughts/comments/suggestions to be
shared on this thread, but here's one very briefly: norvic says
Why do some people spend so much time on the theoretical,
eg philosophy of collecting cinderellas, instead of enjoying the actual
stamps (of whatever kind) and postal history, and philately in general?
Answer: because they also enjoy thinking about the "theoretical" (and see
some value in doing so). It's not a case of "instead of", but of "as well as".

/RogerE :D
I'm sorry, you misunderstand.

Whilst I can see the aesthetic appeal of pre-printed albums, they have their limitations unless you are collecting modern issues straight from the PO with no variations. I would rather spend the money they cost on more stamps/postal history. [And sometimes the annual supplements cost more than the stamps!)

Similarly I would rather spend time working with stamps than just thinking about them philosophically, although I concede that the two pastimes are not mutually exclusive. I meant 'instead of' as taking time to ponder about life, stamps and everything, that could otherwise be spent actually working with them.

I'll let you get on with your thoughts now, and bow out.
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