Monthly Archives: January 2016

  1. Farley's Follies


    The issues that motivated and angered philatelists of generations ago don’t resonate much with newer philatelists. Some of the most popular United States stamp issues of the mid twentieth century are the so called Farley issues. Their story was often told and widely known in my youth, but is not much related anymore.


    James Farley was a New York businessman and politician. He was very well connected and served as Franklin

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  2. Herst's Outbursts

    For over twenty years, ending in the late 1960s, Herman Herst Jr. published a monthly house organ of stories, offers, and reminiscences. Pat Herst (so called because he was born on St Patrick’s day) was the preeminent philatelic author of his time. Indeed, he was the only stamp writer to cross over into mainstream book sales. His book Nassau Street, about New York’s fascinating stamp trade in the 1930’s and 1940’s made it to the New York Times best seller list.


    We have recently found a few of Pat’s old Outbursts. We have four available for free to the first four who write that they want one. And we scanned one of the journals it its

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  3. Bad Reputations

    There are collecting areas and stamp issues in philately with bad reputations. These are stamp issues that have had negative stories about their being issued. Such stories have influenced collector demand and made these issues less popular than they would be if these stamps hadn’t had their integrity impugned.  But reputations in philately seldom last longer than a single generation.


    Probably the best example of these “bad rep” issues would be the French Colony general issues that were issued between 1890-1910. As I’ve written before, the period just after

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  4. The Very Low Euro

    Values of currencies, relative to each other, change over time. When the European Union first consolidated their currencies and issued the Euro, they initially pegged it at $1.30 to the Euro. For a year or two in the early 2000s just after the Euro was issued it traded as low as 90¢ as many doubted that it would hold a place in world trade next to the dollar. Soon however it was back to $1.30-1.45 where it traded until a couple of years ago. Then the Euro began to drop against the dollar daily steadily until now where the Euro has consistently traded below $1.10 for some time.


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  5. Max Margolies

    I first met Max Margolies in the mid 1960’s. At the time, I used to help out showing Auction lots at my father’s office on Saturdays. Stamp professionals didn’t specialize to the degree that they do today. There were a few US only dealers or British Commonwealth dealers but the majority of stamp sellers tried to buy and sell the world. There were two reasons for this. First, stamp prices were lower relative to the general economy and so stamp professionals such as Max Margolies needed a larger pool of stamps to buy and sell in order to make a living. And secondly, there were many more Public stamp auctions in 1960 than there are today. Thus dealers and collectors
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  6. William Weiss

    Bill Weiss passed away on November 10, 2015 at the age of 72. For twenty years, he and his lovely wife, Addie, ran a well regarded stamp auction in Allentown, and for the last fifteen years or so Bill ran an expertization service and provided his own certificates. As a dealer, Bill was highly ethical, and the stamps in his auction were carefully described. As an expert, he provided a rapid certification service (usually just a couple of weeks from the time he received the stamp until you got the certificate), and considering that he did all of the work himself, the quality of his certificates was excellent. And the cost was very affordable. In this day where Philatelic Foundation certificates can cost up to $750 or more, affordable certificates are a real

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  7. Apfelbaum Wants To Buy Your Stamps

    If you have any investment in our hobby, you’ve heard of Apfelbaum. We’ve been involved in the buying and selling of stamps day after day, year after year for over 100 years. Founded by our Great Grandfather Maurice Apfelbaum in 1915, Apfebaum has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stamps and covers to collectors and dealers just like you.


    One of the many things we’ve learned from all our experience is that for most collectors, even thinking about selling your stamps (or even downsizing) is fraught with questions and problems. Questions abound, and we have the answers. Questions like—How do I organize my stamps for sale? How do I even know what I have? What are my stamps really worth?—Questions like these

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  8. My Favorite Find

    Most collectors have made a “find” or two—a stamp or cover that they realized the value of before anyone else and are pleased to have it in their collection. Sometimes the “find” is associated with a financial windfall—the variety has great value that you recognized but that the seller did not. And sometimes the value is personal (like the time I found a letter in an envelope in a 25¢ cover box that was written by a great great uncle of mine, who I had never met, to my great grandmother (who died when I was seven) referring to my father. My father had passed away long before I found this letter. In it my great great uncle refers to s

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  9. American Philatelic Society Black Blot

    American Philatelic Society Black Blot


    Very few collectors today remember the APS Black Blot program. Begun in the 1960’s and finally ending in the early 1990’s, the Black Blot was a Seal of Disapproval given to new issues from various countries, which the APS deemed exploitive of collectors. The goal was high-minded, and the criteria for the Black Blot were clear. Issues, that had no postal necessity, had excessive numbers of individual stamps and high values relative to the postal needs of the issuing country, as

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  10. Plate Blocks

    One of the most idiosyncratic aspects of US philately, compared with the collecting that is done in other countries, is the collecting of plate blocks. Many countries have marginal plate numbers in the selvedges of the sheets of their printed stamps. Most United States stamps that were printed before 1894 had plate numbers in the selvedge, put there by the private printing contractor who printed the stamps so that they could keep track of things like plate wear or damage and remake the plates when they were needed. But plate blocks, as American collectors understand the term today, were really a phenomenon that began in the era of the US Bureau of Engraving and

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  11. Stamp Comics

    In the 1950s, comic books were far more than ever more exotic super heroes. Classic novels were published as illustrated comic books, and there were sub-genre of Love Comics and hybrids such as Archie comics (which straddled the “goofy/love” line). There were few areas of interest that the comic book publishers didn’t try market to, stamp collecting included.


    In 1952, Youthful Magazines, an Ohio publisher, began a short-lived series “Stamp Comics.” We’ve reprinted issue #4 which came out in April 1952.

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  12. Stamp Collecting's Three Great Quality Revolutions

    Quality standards in our hobby have remained static for so long that there are few collectors active today who are aware that the standards that seem so normal today have really evolved over the last century of collecting. The earliest collectors had no quality standards to speak of. Any copy of a stamp, no matter how poor, was deemed collectible. Stamps were often peeled off of envelopes, leaving many collections of the period showing examples of stamps that were mere pieces. The earliest collectors didn't use hinges or mounts either. They gummed their stamps directly into their stamp albums making for many damaged stamps when they were removed.


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