APEX - Expertizing

Stamp Authentication with APEX

Serving the Philatelic Community Since 1903, the American Philatelic Expertizing Service (APEX) offers opinions on the genuineness of philatelic material at moderate cost. APEX utilizes the services of more than 160 specialists and a variety of high-tech equipment to provide guaranteed opinions.

Why Expertize?

  • For a warranty of genuineness and APS guarantee
  • To avoid financial loss and disappointment
  • For ease of future sale
  • To have proper identification of all aspects of the item, including paper, color, watermark, cancel, and gum.
  • To know if a stamp has hidden flaws or has been altered
  • For peace of mind

When to Expertize

If your item fits some of the criteria below, it may be time to expertize!

  • When the item represents a significant investment
  • When an item is purchased online
  • When a catalog includes a warning that counterfeits, forgeries, or reprints are common
  • When the same design type (image) exists on a stamp with a much lower value
  • When the stamp is allegedly an error or other oddity
  • When used copies of the stamp are significantly more valuable than the same stamp in unused condition
  • When a cover is significantly more valuable than the used stamp(s), such as when it includes valuable postal markings, fancy cancellations, usages, and destinations
  • When there is a substantial premium for copies of the stamp that have never been hinged

Submitting an Item

Anyone may submit material to the service, but APS members receive discounted rates (refer to the Expertizing Fee Table below). Submitting items constitutus agreement of the APEX Terms which are printed on each form.

1. Complete an APEX application form for each item to be expertized

Each item must be accompanied by a special APEX Application Form which is available for download as a fillable PDF for a single item.  if have multiple items for expertizing, please email or call to have forms mailed to you (814) 933-3803 ext. 206.


2. Mail completed forms and fees along with the required return envelopes to APEX.

A stamped addressed No. 10 envelope must accompany the item(s) submitted plus one small stamped addressed envelope. The small envelope will be used to acknowledge receipt of the item(s). If you are an APS member you can check confirmation in the MyCerts section of stamps.org rather than sending the small envelope. The No 10 will be used to return the items submitted with the rendered opinion. Insurance against loss in the mails both to and from the owner and the APS will be the responsibility of the owner. Be sure to include enough postage to insure or provide tracking for the envelope.


3. Once submitted - View Item Status

Items then are directed to up to three experts by registered mail before a decision is rendered. Therefore, allow 60-90 days before expecting a certificate. You can view the status of items by logging in at www.stamps.org, click MyAPS, and click the MyCertificates tab.


APEX Guarantee

The APS will compensate the owner of a philatelic item that has been wrongly certified as genuine or misidentified by an APEX certificate. For full details read The APEX Guarantee.

APEX Guarantee Read the APEX Guarantee

If you purchase an item with an APEX certificate describing the item as genuine and it subsequently is proven to be counterfeit, altered or misidentified, APEX will compensate you up to $5,000. The guarantee is valid for five years after the date of the certificate. There are no other guarantees or warranties, express or implied.

The APEX guarantee does not apply to condition, such as thins, creases, gum disturbance, tears or gum loss, since condition can change after the certificate is issued. The guarantee terminates immediately if the item is altered (e.g., cleaned, repaired, reperfed, regummed) after the certificate is issued.

If, during the period of the guarantee, APEX agrees that its original decision is incorrect and that the material is counterfeit, altered or misidentified, APEX will purchase the guaranteed material from the owner. APEX reserves the right to determine the value of the material.

In establishing the value, APEX will consider: 1) the sales price, 2) receipts or other documentation provided by the owner, 3) value placed on the item when submitted for certification, and 4)the judgment of experts in the field. In no case will APEX pay more than $5,000 per certificate or the value of the item, whichever is less.

If APEX does not agree that its original decision is in error, the owner may, as his or her sole remedy refer the matter to a disputes panel, consisting of three APS members: one selected by APEX, one selected by the owner of the material and one selected by the other two. The panel would function under the laws of Pennsylvania and its decision will be binding on both parties.

The APEX guarantee is issued by the American Philatelic Society and not by individual members of the APEX expertizing committee or its staff.



Expertizing Fees

Scott Catalogue Value APS Fee Non-APS Fee
$250 or Less $25 $45
$251 - $500 $30 $50
$501 - $1,199 $35 $55
$1,200 or more 3% of current Scott value regardless of condition 5% of current Scott value regardless of condition
Uncatalogued/Unpriced Items Minimum $35 Minimum $55
Maximum Fee $400 $800

The fees do not include return postage costs, a discretionary expense of the owner.

Refund Policy

No opinions: a refund is provided if an item is returned to the owner without an opinion by the committee, less an $8 administrative fee.

Items where the original fee is above $35 (or $55 for non-APS members): if an item is determined by APEX to be a counterfeit or identified as a less expensive item, the fee is adjusted to a minimum of $35 (or $55 for non-APS members) and a refund for the difference is provided.

APEX Links


Contact APEX

Ken Martin
APEX Director
814-933-3803 ext. 205

Sharon Shawley
APEX Coordinator
814-933-3803 ext. 206


Search Certificate Archives

Search and view the opinions of stamps and covers that the American Philatelic Expertizing Service has examined.

Why   Expertize?

  • To avoid financial loss and disappointment
  • To have a warranty of genuineness
  • To have proper identificaton of paper, color, watermark and grills
  • To know if a stamp is never hinged or has been regummed or had a cancel removed.
  • To know if a stamp has been repaired or has hidden flaws
  • To know if an item has been reperforated or perfs have been trimmed to resemble a coil or imperforate stamp.

It is easier to sell an item that has a certificate attesting to its genuineness.

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