A magnifying glass, or loupe, is one of the most important tools for any stamp collector. It is used to examine a stamp for faults, as well as for the examination of minute printing details, sometimes necessary for correctly attributing a stamp.
Magnification can help a collector, when buying a stamp, in detecting minor faults that are not indicated by the seller. Even a small defect can greatly effect a stamp's desirability, quality, and price.
Many classic postage stamps went through a number of die and plate alterations during their printing history, and as a result, they exist in many sub-varieties. In most instances, only magnification will reveal the characteristics of a particular variety, which can make the difference between a common stamp printing and a rare and expensive one.
are many types and styles, ranging in price from a couple dollars to a
couple hundred dollars. It is up to the tastes and needs of the buyer.
One with 4x to 8x magnification is recommended for most philatelic uses. For fly-specking plate faults or varieties on classical postage stamps, even a 32x magnifier is sometimes required.
The one shown in the picture above is a Bausch & Lomb 5x aspheric pocket type which retails for about $12.
It's a good idea, as well, for people of advancing years whose eyesight isn't as sharp as it used to be to have a couple different styles of magnifiers handy to read the modern stamp catalogs. More frequently that not, catalogs are resorting to using tiny (4 pt. or smaller) fonts in modern catalog descriptions to make the maximum use of the space on the pages. For older people, reading text of this size is nearly impossible. I frequently use a 4" hand-held magnifier for this purpose.
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