Apfelbaum’s Corner – Volume 13

Stamp auctions have been developing as a form of stamp merchandising for close to a century.

The catalogs of the first auctions were no more than listings of the stamps to be sold. Condition wasn’t mentioned because it wasn’t of importance. All that the buyer expected was a stamp. Its qualities did not count.

Today, of course, it’s quite different. The best copies bring the highest prices and sometimes a phenomenal example of a stamp sells for a truly amazing price. This is as it should be.

The honest auction describer should, in a detached way, gauge the quality of what he sells and without undue flourish (unless truly deserved) write his description. To do this requires experience and philatelic ability. The indiscriminate use of terms such as “superb,” “unique,” “only has one other known,” or other epithets cheapens such terms unless they may be justly applied to worthy material.

Of course it is not long before buyers become acutely aware of those who over-describe. In the meantime, however, damage is done to buyers who accept the seller’s grading without question.