When EBaymania hit the collecting world some ten years ago it seemed the prevailing model of philatelic selling was going to be auctions forevermore. Serious philatelists were used to auctions. J Walter Scott began running them in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. But until EBay, the way most collectors bought their stamps was direct sale, either at stamp shows or through price lists. But many people have tired of auctions. They don't like being sniped or not knowing whether they are going to get that desired item for their collection. EBay's fastest growing segment is "buy it now" and EBay stores where stamps have net prices. Apfelbaum has long had an online net price catalog and we have our biggest one ever going up online on Monday. It will have nearly 4000 lots or units representing millions of dollars sales value of stamps. Our format is what we call a "progressive discount sale". Over a period of several
Fifty years ago, the stamp business shut down for the summer. There were several reasons for this. First, the entire country took more vacations than than we do now and so there was usually fewer people at home collecting stamps. Americans have progressively worked more and more hours each year for the last fifty. Part of this is the need for more income, but also two wage earner families make it harder for the family to coordinate their vacations so, often, time earned is simply not taken. Life seems to have less of a seasonal quality now, from cantaloupe in January to shortened vacation schedules. But most important has been the advent of air conditioning. It's ubiquitous today and has transformed our hobby into a year round occupation. Thus we have stamp auctions in July as good as any in January. Witness our sale this weekhttp://www.stampauctionnetwork.com/ba/1072.cfm.
The results of the Spink Shreve sale of Inverted Stamps of the World are in and they were spectacular http://www.stampauctionnetwork.com/f/f114.cfm. Most stamps sold at record prices and many items sold at multiples of catalog. But while high prices are always better news for professional philatelists than low prices, we should temper our enthusiasm for a few reasons. First, just as everyone got excited about the Reagan tax cuts and the proposed Obama tax increases, they really only affect the very wealthy-a small number of people. Stamps that sell above $10,000 each represent only a minuscule proportion of average stamp sales. Currently there are 215,000 items listed to sell within the next ten days on EBay. I did a sort by price and none are currently listed with either a reserve or high bid of even over $1000 let alone $10,000. So, while there are probably hundreds of sales each year of items over
Each month I do an informal survey of our ten largest dealer buyers. These are people who buy larger lots and break them down for further resale. Nearly all of the ten are internet sellers. They tell me that business has picked up and been quite good on Ebay and other internet selling venues for at least the last few months. "February and March were awful" one told me "but the last seven weeks have been great". Perhaps stamps are a leading economic indicator. Our business began falling off in July 2008, several months before the great stock selloff of October and November. It's been getting better over the last few months as collectors have more confidence and dealers are needing to restock. If you are a stamp dealer email me at email@example.com and let me know if this comports with your experience.
The American Philatelic Society holds its annual convention in Pittsburgh August 6-9 http://www.stamps.org/Stampshow/index.htm. As a lifelong stamper, this will be my 40th convention that I will attend. I've been to the annual convention as a collector, as a dealer with a booth, as a dealer without a booth, as a director of the society, as Vice President and as APS Treasurer. Its always fun, but the most fun is to go as a collector (which is how I am going this year). There are over 100 dealer booths where you can peruse material from some of the world's best stocks of esoteric philately. The exhibition is the Champion of Champions where this year's best fifteen collections compete for an annual award. And there are workshops and meetings galore where I go to see old friends and meet new ones. Regency Superior has a massive auction they are holding at the show. So if you've never been to an APS convention and this is
For many years we have been encouraging stamp dealers to try our auctions as a source of successful stamp dealing. Smart dealers know that they need a constant source of new material for sales and we believe our auctions provide such a source. We are so confident that nearly every collection and stock lot that we sell can be profitably broken down and resold that we offer the following guarantee. Buy any Apfelbaum collection or stock lot, break it into at least ten EBay lots and if you haven't received a total EBay selling price of at least 100% of your net Apfelbaum lot cost, (hammer price plus commission excluding shipping) we will refund the difference between what you paid and what you got. This offer does not include EBay commissions. Limit is one lot. This is a proposal to help new dealers feel comfortable breaking down Apfelbaum lots for resale and is not a usual offer. We reserve the right to terminate the offer