Monthly Archives: April 2014

  1. Cut Squares and Entires

    Cut Squares and Entires

    Postal stationary has always languished in popularity. In the earliest years
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  2. Classic Austria

    Classic Austria

    There is no country that is collected in a more specialized way than are the stamps of Austria. Most specialists of other countries seek cancels and covers and blocks and all kinds of specialty items. But Austrian specialists go far further. Austrian specialty catalogs list paper varieties along with varieties listed by thickness as measured by a micrometer. Machine made and hand made paper types of the first issues are listed (the only country that I know of that does this) as are various ribbing and laid papers. Throughout, the philately of Austria is a obsessive-compulsives dream.

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  3. The Stamps of China

    The Stamps of China

    The stamps of China need no promotion. Over the last twenty years the increases in prices and popularity has been astounding. Prices have risen geometrically and the number of China collectors both here and around the world has grown dramatically as well. I recently worked on a wonderful China consignment and it rekindled my interest. China is not just a philatelic area with lots of high priced stamps because there are so many new Chinese collectors. It is a fascinating and complex philatelic area that offers all the best that philately has to offer.
    For collectors who like to keep things simple there are the stamps of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's
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  4. Stamp Perforations

    Stamp Perforations

    Stamp collecting has always been an International hobby, and there is no better example of this than the issue of measuring perforations. Europeans and Americans differ on how they take temperature (Celsius versus Fahrenheit) and distance (miles versus kilometers). But collectors all around the world use the same types of perforation gauges and count perfs the same way. When we call something perf 12 all collectors mean 12 perforation holes per two centimeters. This early agreement on perfs came without any effort. The French and the Belgians were the world's philatelic leaders in the mid-Nineteenth Century. They produced the first albums and catalogs, and so it was to them that later catalog makers from other countries turned when it came time to list differing perforation varieties. For the most part, the early Scott catalog copied the differing national sections of the foreign catalogs, using a pirated version of Yvert for France and Michel
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  5. Plan to Visit New York International 2016

    Plan to Visit New York International 2016

    Stamp Exhibitions began in the United States in 1888 when a small exhibit of stamps was included in the Boston meeting of the American Philatelic Association. Before that, stamp meetings were largely trading events with no formal displays. In 1889, J Walter Scott (of the catalog fame) organized the first major stamp exhibition at the Eden Museum in New York. By the early part of the twentieth century, stamp exhibitions were common in every American city and most of us grew up on the model of our stamp activities being centered on going several times each year to a large stamp exhibition with a large dealers bourse attached. The financial model was that the fees from the dealers tables would underwrite the cost of the stamp displays. It was at exhibitions that most of us cut our philatelic teeth, seeing great stamps and collections and acquiring stamps for our collection.
    Great philatelic exhibitions will be around for a while.
     The United States hosts

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  6. A Set Worth Buying

    A Set Worth Buying

    The Althing is the parliament of Iceland and is considered to be the oldest Parliament in the world (though whether this is "continuous" or not is subject to some dispute). But the Icelanders are rightfully proud of their Parliament's longevity and have publicized it on two 1930 sets which commemorated the one thousandth anniversary of the Althings founding in 930. These sets have always been popular not only among Iceland philatelists and Scandinavian collectors but among all stamp collectors who like well designed and printed stamps and who like good value for their money. Iceland has always been one of those countries that has enjoyed great philatelic popularity despite
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  7. A Wonderful Expert for your Foreign Stamps

    A Wonderful Expert for your Foreign Stamps

    For many years we have been searching for a world wide expert who can expertize the entire non US world. For the US area there is the Philatelic Foundation but they really don't do much with Foreign stamps. We wanted an expert who expertized a large number of countries and areas, who didn't indelibly mark the stamps whether they were genuine or not (which eliminated the German Bundesprufers who handstamp everything), who had a fast turn around time and, most of all, was accurate with clear lucid certificates that are sometimes as nice as the stamps themselves. The expert's name is Sergio Sismondo. and his address is 10035 Carousel Dr, Syracuse, New York 13290, telephone 315-422-2331. And his wife Liane is one of the nicest and professional people in the stamp business to deal with. And did I mention that their certificate costs are usually much cheaper than their competitors. Take a look at their website

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  8. Subsidies for the Postal Service

    Subsidies for the Postal Service

      A question that Americans are going to have to answer in the next few years is whether we want to keep our post offices open and have them continue their daily trips serving us all with mail. We have reluctantly made this decision with Amtrak. Rail travel is not a money maker but we have decided that the benefits of allowing people to go from city to city and not use their cars is a good that accrues to society that we are all willing to pay for. This is what a government does-collect revenue from us all in a way that the majority deems fair and parcels it out in ways that society deems fair. Social Security and Medicare are programs similar to Amtrak and mail delivery (with the added benefit of having a larger constituency).
    Several European countries, such as Holland, have made their decision and have largely privatized mail delivery. But Holland is an overwhelming urban country where private delivery companies

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  9. Remembering Encyclopedias

    Remembering Encyclopedias

    If there is ever a date that goes into history books to mark the demise of printed books in the battle with electronic information on the Internet, it may well be March 14, 2012-the day that The Encyclopedia Britannica announced that it was ceasing publication of its 20 volume annual edition. For nearly 300 years this encyclopedia has been the first read for many people who begin to research a subject. The encyclopedia was put to rest by the Internet and Wikipedia, which has incorporated most of the eleventh edition (first published 1911)  in its entries. Stamp collectors have always found Britannica useful and I keep an old hundred year old set above my desk from the days when I used it for quick reference for towns, geography and autographs. Britannica held an exalted position among philatelists in years gone by.

     My grandfather, Earl Apfelbaum, was in a philatelic Britannica readers group. This group was made of people who claimed

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  10. Prices Don't Always Go Up

    Prices Don't Always Go Up

     The value of most United States stamps have been falling over the last twenty years. And the CPI has been rising. Critics have claimed that the CPI overemphasizes increases in food, fuel and housing (until the last few years at least). We have not understood that price increases have been commodity driven and that many existing goods and non commodity goods have remained stable in price or even declined, just as stamps have. I refer of course to the economic metric known as the Lawn Blower Index ( the "LBI"), a personal index of prices and inflation which I compiled yesterday. Specifically, it was time to blow some leaves and clean out my garage yesterday and my gas powered leaf blower was broken. About twenty years ago I bought this low end gas blower for $149. Home Depot had one yesterday at $99 and it is about ten times easier to use, lighter and which blows more leaves per gallon.


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  11. Why Isn't Postal Stationery More Popular

    Why Isn't Postal Stationery More Popular

    Postal stationary has always languished in popularity. In the
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  12. Why Some Philatelic Areas Stay Unpopular

    Why Some Philatelic Areas Stay Unpopular

    A remarkable aspect of philately is that unpopularity breeds further unpopularity. It is truly unusual to see a good collection of nearly any South and Central American country. Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Cuba are exceptions, but for the other twenty or so countries that make up the rest of the southern Americas, collections that are even 75% complete for major Scott numbers are quite rare. The reason is financial but not in the way you might think. Take Ecuador, for instance. It is a country that is just below average in per capita income but with a large middle and upper middle class and several large cities (philatelic popularity is related to rates of urbanization). There are few real rarities by price among its stamps, and its issuing policy is conservative and appropriate. It should have a decent number of domestic collectors as well as an active expatriate collecting community, and yet I can't remember the last time I've
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