Monthly Archives: August 2014
- Posted August 29, 2014Read more »Many collectors believe full time stamp dealers have the best of all worlds. They work and earn their living while being involved with stamps, their greatest love. While the truth is often a little different, as business people, stamp dealers have business concerns as well as philatelic enjoyment. But we in the trade are quite fortunate to be be able to thoroughly enjoy the product that we sell.Collectors, too, can be stamp sellers. They do not have to open a shop. They do not have to take a table at a Bourse, or make up counter books, or any of the aspects of stamp dealing that they may not want to do. Indeed, not entailing expense is one of the leading advantages that collectors have going for them; when they enter part time stamp dealing they work in their stamp den, and their stamp work is their hobby, the profits from their sale helping to finance their
- Posted August 27, 2014Read more »Wesley Mann was the President of H E Harris in the late 1970's and early 1980's. His background was in finance and he was made the head of what was then the world's largest stamp company because of his successful corporate career at General Mills, the cereal conglomerate. General Mills had just bought Harris and put in one of their own managers to try to continue Harris's success and maximize it's profits. Wes Mann was a very smart, kind and honorable man. But he was not a stamp man and he was given orders from General Mills that reflected a profound misunderstanding of both the stamp business and the reasons that H E Harris had been such a successful and profitable company. What had made Harris so successful (and so desirable) to General Mills was Harris's fantastic operating profit margins.
If memory serves me correctly
- Posted August 25, 2014Read more »
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- Posted August 25, 2014Read more »The first postage stamps were issued without a pre-ordered method of separation. In 1840, it was revolutionary enough for the stamp itself to be issued. Rowland Hill hardly thought it necessary to provide Great Britain's postal users with a means of separating their stamps apart, or, in the case of large mail users where speed was essential, razors were used so that entire rows, several sheets deep, could be separated at once. Such separating methods were crude, and resulted in many stamps being damaged. The situation caused complaints in 1840, and it has been a bane of collectors even today.In 1847, Henry Archer, an Englishman and a contemporary of Hill's, proposed that a separating machine of his own design be used to place tiny holes between the stamps so that separation became a simple matter of tearing and not the laborious process of cutting apart stamps.
- Posted August 22, 2014Read more »Almost from the very day that Philately began as a serious hobby, stamp collectors were plagued by forgeries. Forgeries exist in two types; those made for philatelic consumption and those produced to defraud the postal service of revenue (called postal forgeries). These postal forgeries are in nearly all cases not only very rare but highly collectible and desired as examples of postal history. But philatelic forgeries are rarely scarce, and seldom desired by stamp collectors. But they do turn up unwanted in many stamp albums and though detailed counterfeit detection is work for experts, there are many things even a casual stamp collector can know that can help spot a forgery or at least arouse suspicion.Most philatelic forgeries were not produced to defraud collectors. A century ago, stamp collecting was not the detailed discipline that it is today. Catalogs
- Posted August 20, 2014Read more »Historians mark two types of dates in history. There are dates like 1066, the Norman Conquest of Britain, which are known at the time to the players involved to be significant dates in which vast changes have occurred. And there are dates such as 1054, which marks the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern church of Constantinople. The two churches had been feuding for years and 1054 marked a dividing point that is largely a historian's construct. As the schism was a process, the date for it could have been fixed either a century or two before or after. Had any real attempts at reconciliation occurred, 1054 would be meaningless to us now. We have such different types of dates in philately. 1840 is our Genesis, for really there is no philately without stamps and 1840 marks the date of the first postal issue.
- Posted August 18, 2014Read more »
- Posted August 15, 2014Read more »It is almost ancient history now, but the issuance of the 1989 Scott catalog almost caused the demise of stamp collecting. New editors of Scott felt that the traditional discount structure of our hobby needed to be changed, though this system had served the hobby well for decades. Then as now stamps sold at discounts from Scott value. High quality stamps from popular countries would sell at high percentages but off quality stamps, collections and unpopular material then (as now) would sell at substantial discounts. The Scott editors felt that the Scott catalog should be a true retail catalog and they slashed the catalog values between the 1988 and 1989 Scott, sometimes as much as 75%. Everyone except the editors of Scott had been comfortable with the previous pricing structure and knew how to buy and sell stamps based on the way the catalog had been for over a hundred years.
- Posted August 13, 2014Read more »Who doesn't know what a Hula Hoop is? Who, of a certain age, never played with a slinky? When the Baby Boomers were kids nearly everyone collected stamps. In my neighborhood there were two different kid organized stamp clubs, created and administered by ten year olds. We were very adult in our social organization skills, spending enormous amounts of time on such matters as by-laws and rules and schedules and very little time trading and discussing stamps. Weeks were spent on discussions of whether we would admit girls to our august proceedings and the dispute would have continued to this day if it wasn't pointed out to us that there were no girls who wanted to join.Philately was pervasive among children of the baby boom era. Today when I meet a contemporary and tell them what I do for a living I often hear about their childhood
- Posted August 11, 2014Read more »For many years there was no relationship between the price of stamps and the price of gold. The value of gold, in currency terms, was fixed by national governments whereas the price of stamps was left to rise and fall with the market. Gold was decoupled from currency in 1971. The next ten years saw a rapid rise in the price of gold due to inflation and pent up demand because of price controls and limited availability of gold. Because stamps also rose rapidly in price during this decade, many philatelists assumed that their stamp holdings had similar inflationary hedge qualities to gold.The forces driving stamp prices are not the same as those that influence gold. Stamps are not an inflation hedge. They never were. The reasons that stamps went up in tandem with gold in the 1970s had nothing to do with inflation, though that decade saw great inflation. Stamps
- Posted August 08, 2014Read more »Before 1867 Canada consisted of autonomous provinces, some of which issued their own postage stamps. Stamps were issued for the Dominion of Canada which comprised mostly of the central part of the country; separate provinces on the coast issued their own stamps. The Atlantic provinces are called the "Maritime Provinces" by collectors and consist of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. The West Coast province issued stamps that are listed in the Scott catalog under the heading British Columbia and Vancouver Island.The provinces of Canada have always been some of my favorite
- Posted August 06, 2014Read more »Go to Ebay and run through fifty or so better US commemoratives that are offered for sale from the 1893-1930 period. This was the era in which the United States produced our stamps through a printing process known as flat press printing. In flat press printing most of these issues were printed in large sheets of 200 stamps which were later perforated and cut into sheets of fifty for shipment to Post Offices for sale. The details for each issue varies slightly, but for the US Columbian Exposition issue there were no perforations along the outer edges of the sheet of two hundred. This left each pane of 50 (that is a quarter sheet of the 200 pane that had been printed
- Posted August 04, 2014Read more »A popular specialty of fifty years ago is well worth considering. It is collecting the early stamps of Great Britain by check letter. The Nineteenth Century stamps of Great Britain were mostly printed in sheets of 240. This was done because most of the stamps printed were one penny stamps which, in the pre-decimal period of English money, meant that 240 pence equaled a pound. Postal clerks found their daily accounting of stamp sales and money taken much easier when sheets of stamps readily broke into pound divisible units.Stamps were issued in these large sheets and each stamp
- Posted August 01, 2014Read more »The United States has only one International Stamp Show every ten years, held under the auspices of the FIP (Federation International de Filatelie) the international exhibiting group that authorizes stamps shows around the world. It will be in New York in June of 2016, and if it even approaches the level of the previous five American International shows that I've been to you should mark it on your calendar and make plans to spend at least a few days there.There will be thousands of