Monthly Archives: February 2016

  1. 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

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  2. North Korean Philately

    Though only the leader for a few years Ki Jong Un has continued his nation's slide into abject poverty and oppression. There are few laboratory tests in any environment that so clearly measure the differences in political systems as has North and South Korea. Divided after complete devastation during WW II, the North took a Maoist and Stalinist central planning model and the South - a capitalist American model. The results have been so dramatic that, if this were a medical study, it would have been called off for ethical reasons.


    The South has prospered

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  3. Reproductions in Philately

    Modern philatelists have lumped together the three broad categories of stamp reproductions that collectors of previous generations kept separate. This has been done largely because modern collectors are unfamiliar with the history of philatelic reproductions.  Philatelic reproductions come in three broad types.


    The first major type of philatelic reproductions identified by stamp collectors are postal forgeries. Postal forgeries were usually made at the same time that the genuine stamps were made, not for stamp collectors, but to defraud the issuing country of postal revenue. Such postal forgeries were common on the early issues of such countries as Spain and many of the Italian

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  4. Why United States Plate Blocks and First Day Covers have Lost Popularity

    Most stamp collectors who collected in the 1950s and 1960s maintained a collection of plate blocks and First day Covers along with their regular collection of US mint. There were two reason for this. First, a plate block was only four stamps and the face value of putting away a new plate block was 16c or 20 c, a modest amount. The same could be said for a First day Cover, the stamp was inexpensive and a nice Artcraft cacheted cover to make the First Day could be had for a dime. Both FDCs and plate block collecting were inexpensive adjuncts to collecting US stamps.


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  5. Bruno Goldschlag

    One of the great changes in the stamp world has been the extinction of a species of philatelic professional called the Satchelateer. This type of dealer was common in the early part of the twentieth century and began to decline in numbers around 1980. Satchelateers (word is formed from "satchel" which is a large bag) were an important part of the stamp world for nearly one hundred years. They operated somewhat as wholesalers and somewhat in the way that re-insurers do. Here's what they did—dealer A bought a nice collection of, say, US booklet panes and priced them up and put them in his shop. The Satchelateer visited him on his daily rounds from stamp shop to stamp shop and saw what he had acquired. In the course of the Satchelateer's maraudings, he mentioned the fact that he could get some rarer booklet panes if dealer B needed them for a client. Dealer B called his customer and the Satchelateer

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  6. A Good Investment Bet

    I don't ordinarily write articles about stamp investment basically for two reason. First, I don't think that stamps have been a particularly good investment over the last thirty years. Certainly, the stock, bond, and real estate markets have done better. Also, stamps need to be carefully stored and can lose their value, if not properly cared for, something that never happens with a share or a bond. Stamps also pay no dividends or interest.


    But the second and more significant reason that I rarely tout stamps is because, I don't

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  7. Unchanging Philately

    Very few things in our world are the same as they were 85 years ago. Perhaps that’s one of the appeals of philately-collecting - patterns rarely change and the goals a collector sets out for himself can continue throughout his lifetime. Regularity and fulfilled expectations are human needs, and on this level our hobby is very satisfying.

    I recently came across a 1930 Scott catalog, the catalog my great grandfather used to collect his worldwide stamps. It is remarkable, how little has changed in 85 years. The current Scott catalog would be completely recognizable to my great grandfather, and he could pick it up and use it without missing a beat.  How many other aspects of our life could you say that about.

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  8. Fundamentals of Philately

    Serious collectors have long been told that the great introductory book that they need to read is L N Williams “Fundamentals of Philately”. The book was first serialized in the 1950’s in the American Philatelic Society’s magazine The American Philatelist, and has been reprinted several times, most recently in 2008 as an 825 page tome. Serious philatelists have always paid homage to this book as the fount of collecting wisdom, though I’m not sure how many of them ever read it. The reason, I can now report, after several serious attempts to make it through it again (I thought there was something wrong with me when I hated the experience of reading it forty years ago) is that “Fundamentals of Philately” is

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  9. Stamp Cartoons

    Stamp Cartoons


    For nearly one hundred years, from 1890-1990, philately featured on the regular basis in the daily newspaper “comics” section. This publicity not only helped popularize the hobby, it also showed the popular conception of stamp collectors as avid and a bit nerdy. Below we’ve reprinted several cartoons from this byegone era.



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  10. Oldenburg

    What Can Be Done: The stamps of Oldenburg are some of the most interesting of the German States area. There are a total of 25 issued stamps and Oldenburg presents on its own all of the enjoyments and difficulties of any classic specialty. The stamps are scarce, but not rare, and they are attractive, and not easy to find. The first issues were printed by lithography and there are very credible forgeries so buyers need to exercise caution. Many collectors who have a specialist bent prefer to collect specialties where forgeries present a problem. Literature of Oldenburg forgeries is available and these specialists like developing the skills to determine forgeries. People enter our hobby for different reasons and if careful study under

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  11. Stamp Inverstment Tips: Best Eight Value Stamps

    Stamp Investment Tips: Best Eight Value Stamps


    There are millions of stamps cataloging from 25c to millions of dollars. But of these millions of stamps, what stamps are the best value for the money? I’ve defined “best value for the money” to mean stamps that sell quickest out of dealers stocks, are desired by a broad base of collectors, and for which dealer markups between what they buy the stamp for and sell it for are the lowest. These are the ten stamps that, if anyone wanted to invest a sum of money in philately, are the most liquid and have the best possibility for positive growth in the years ahead. None of them are cheap-cheap stamps that are common and will never be in high demand. But all are tried and true philatelic classics that are

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  12. 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. Secondly, there were many more Public stamp auctions in 1960 than there are today. Thus dealers and collectors could have an opportunity to see and learn a far more comprehensive portion of philately than that which is possible today. “There are half as

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