Monthly Archives: October 2013

  1. Lucky Lindbergh Collector

    Lucky Lindbergh Collector

    One of the most exciting things in philately is when there is a new discovery of a major variety on a well known and avidly collected stamp. Such a find was reported in the recent edition of Linn's on the ten cent Lindbergh stamp of 1927 (Scott #C10). This stamp sells for about $10 mint and about 20
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  2. The Columbians

    The Columbians

    The Columbian Exposition set of 1893 (Scott #230-245) was the world's first commemorative set, and it has become one of the most popular sets not only in United States philately but in the world. But this was not always so. Stamp collectors tend to be a conservative group (at least in their philatelic tastes), and early reaction to the stamps was harsh. Philatelic writers of the 1890s found the designs fussy and not being used to pictorial issues they questioned the artistic merit of the designs. Up until then, all American stamp designs had pictured dead white men gazing at the collector from a portrait type of background. Scenes of Indians,
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  3. Combining Philately with Other Interests

    Combining Philately with Other Interests

    When one is avid about a field, it is common to set greater and greater challenges. This is the lure of Everest for climbers or of more and more difficult golf courses. I once knew a stamp collector who was also a fierce crossword puzzle enthusiast. He wrote puzzles in which the answers were all palindromes, that is words that are spelled the
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  4. How Many Classics Still Exist

    How Many Classics Still Exist

    The problem of what quantities exist of different classic stamps has been one of the great difficulties of philatelic research. Before the days of the Internet, nearly all classic stamps that were sold were not illustrated; so it was impossible for any census taker to know if he had counted a given specimen before. Counts
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  5. A Stamp Show Every Day

    A Stamp Show Every Day

     Nassau Street 1905

    Nassau Street runs six blocks in lower Manhattan near Wall Street. As a street and as a philatelic institution it is a microcosm of how stamp collecting and dealing has changed. Stamp collecting began to be an extremely popular mainstream hobby beginning about 1900 and stamp dealers opened their doors as stand alone shops and not part of larger hobby retailers. In most cities, retailers congregate near each other as smaller
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  6. The $264,000 Question

    The $264,000 Question

    For years, philatelists have decried the lackluster philatelic marketing that the USPS has given to our hobby. New issues have been well designed and created with an eye for appealing to communities that would put the stamps away and not use them (which is, after all, the Post Office's main goal). And the new issues have certainly been plentiful enough
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  7. Careless Handling

    Careless Handling

    Paper seems very much the same to non-collectors, and certainly, in the modern period, collectors have had to pay very little attention to issues caused by paper. The United States
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  8. Evolution of Color and Shade in Philately

    Evolution of Color and Shade in Philately

    There is surprising uniformity of color on early stamps. The first stamp, the Penny Black, was
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  9. Plating


    One of the most exciting aspects of philately (and one of its most popular until about 1940) is plating. Plating is a subspecialty that is usually only available on classic engraved stamps. When stamps are printed from the engraved (or intaglio) process a single die is created by the master engraver. How that die is handled from there determines whether a stamp can be plated and how rewarding plating that stamp can be as a philatelic specialty. The single die must be made into a plate, usually of from 50 to 150 subjects. To do this, the die must be transferred to the plate. Each different subject on the plate is created separately, with the die being rocked into the sheet. The various rocking back and forth creates very subtle differences in each transfer subject on the full sheet. Often, these difference are so slight as to be indiscernible. But usually they are observable and consistent and can be used to determine from a single stamp where they were placed originally in the

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  10. Classic Mint Sheets

    Classic Mint Sheets

    Until about twenty years ago, mint sheet collecting was scorned. Mint sheets were large and hard to store. They didn't display well, and great care had to be taken to see that they didn't split along the perforations, something that greatly affects the value. The very nature of philately is to collect and mount your stamps in a way that makes for easy viewing so that you can enjoy what you have, when you want. Mint sheet collecting was a more secret pleasure. Most of the better classic mint sheet collections were put away years ago and were seldom looked at. The factors that mitigated against sheet collecting in the past still exist today, but many collectors are beginning to
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  11. Default


    Perhaps the most ridiculous man made disaster of our lifetime is closer and closer to coming about. I have refrained from writing about it as it seemed inconceivable that the United States House of Representatives would actually renege on the debts and legal obligations of the United States. This is the same group who is claiming that the mortgage crisis was caused by the recklessness of borrowers who walked away from their mortgage obligations, but then hypocrisy in politics should never be surprising. A default on United States obligations, which may occur on October 17 2013,  will have profound effects on the stamp market in direct proportion to the effect that it has on the value of the dollar and the effect on the U S Treasury market. If US and Foreign creditors perceive that there may be a problem getting paid, look for them to flee dollars and US denominated debt securities. Interest rates should spike upwards and the value of the dollar will plummet.


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  12. Stamp Collecting Life Cycles

    Stamp Collecting Life Cycles

    We bought the lifetime collection of a Walter Lewis recently. He had never sold a single stamp or album or cover so his collection is perfect for analyzing philatelic life cycles. Lewis began collecting stamps in 1940 at the age of 11. His first album was the Scott International Junior album. The Scott Publishing Company had began publishing the International album for world wide stamps in the 1890's. Until the mid 1930s the album was issued annually in hardbound volumes. Until about 1900, the Scott International had spaces for all world wide postage stamps and Cut Squares (made from postal stationary and postal cards). After 1900 to about 1930, the Scott International tried to have spaces for all world wide stamps. In the 1930's, the Scott International became a loose leaf formatted album which could have yearly supplements added. There were so many world wide postage stamps by 1930 that Scott made no pretense of trying to have spaces for all stamps. A younger collector,

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