Displaying items by tag: Stamp Collection

Admit it. You’re secretly intrigued by the idea of collecting stamps, aren’t you? It’s at least crossed your mind. Otherwise you wouldn’t have just clicked that headline.

It’s OK, relax, I won’t tell anyone. But I can see that something’s holding you back. Maybe it’s our image problem. Maybe you have questions and you don’t know who to ask. Maybe you just haven’t got around to it.

It’s definitely our image problem.

Well, you need to know that stamp collecting (also known as philately) is currently enjoying a boom among returning collectors and newbies. Even – wait for it – young people. So if you need a nudge, now is a great time to jump in. I’m here to reassure you that there are things they didn’t tell you about stamp collecting.

Who are ‘they’? ‘They’ are the people who gave you the impression that you can’t, or wouldn’t want to, be a stamp collector. ‘They’ are the people responsible for the image that just popped into your head when I said ‘stamp collector’.

To help you out, here are the answers to some questions that I’ve either actually been asked, or that I imagine you asking your screen right now.

Can I collect stamps? Am I allowed?
Yes. You don’t need anyone’s permission, and you don’t need to apply for membership. Philately involves people of every culture, religion, age, gender, sexuality and walk of life. It might look daunting from the outside, but we’ll be here to help.

Don’t I have to be rich?
No. The rich guys make headlines, but you can enjoy yourself without spending much money at all.

But I’ll be a nerd!
It’s true that philately calls for some use of the grey matter. But does that make you a nerd? You might have an appreciation for graphic design, a talent for craftwork, or an interest in historical artifacts. You might have a canny eye for a bargain, or maybe you’re a bounty hunter who enjoys the satisfaction of drawing up a hit-list and ticking it off. Tennis champions, chart-topping pop stars: you’d be surprised who we count as one of us. At this time in history, idiots are running the show and expertise is derided. If you have a brain, the most revolutionary thing you can do is use it.

But do I have to go to nerd meetings?
Not necessarily. You can choose to keep totally to yourself. But you have the option to enjoy the hobby in the company of local collectors (some of whom, I’ll admit, may be nerds), or get involved with the burgeoning online philatelic community. In other words, jump on Twitter and Instagram with the other cool kids!

Aren’t stamp collectors all old men?
I’m guilty of making jokes along these very lines, because what we call ‘traditional philately’ tends to skew old and male. But there have always been female collectors among us, and these days, younger people are being drawn to the hobby, especially in its online form. Dealers are reporting that many of those newer, younger collectors are female. We’re not as Old Man as we used to be. (And for the record, the vast majority of the old men are really quite nice.)

Are there rules?
Rule number 1: learn to store your collection correctly so that it does not get damaged.
Rule number 2: there are no further rules.

So do you try to collect every stamp in the world?
Not at all! It wouldn’t be possible. You decide the scope of your collection. Collect whatever you want. You can collect by country, era, topic, shape, color, or have no parameters at all and just choose stamps that you like. You can even forget the stamps and get into postcards, envelopes, historical letters… sorry, you’re still nervous. I got a bit excited there.

I’m not really into all those old queens and presidents.
That’s fine. Stamps have long depicted sport, art, animals, flowers, trains, planes, celebrities and political propaganda. These days you can find rock legends, fashion designers, comics, street art, and movie posters. Find your thing and go nuts.

Should I soak stamps off the mail when they arrive?
You can, but how often do you get letters these days? You’ll need other sources. And before you start soaking, be aware that a growing trend in the hobby is to keep stamps on their envelopes. (We call them covers.) Anyway, modern adhesives can make soaking almost impossible. But don’t let me stop you. Like I said: no further rules.

What are these other sources?
Stamp dealers, online auction sites, friends, workplaces, local stamp shows or stamp clubs (once COVID-19 has passed, of course). Real-world auctions when you’re ready to level up.

What stamps should I buy as an investment?
Ha! If it was that easy, we’d all be rich. Philately has trends; the flavor of the month today might be in the bargain bin tomorrow. Treat with extreme suspicion anyone selling you stamps as a guaranteed investment – especially when you’re new to the game.

Investing in stamps assumes that when you come to sell, there will be buyers prepared to pay more than what you did. Scarce material that’s in excellent condition – ie the stuff that’s already expensive – generally holds its value. Buying direct from the post office is a great way to collect material in perfect condition, but recent history suggests you probably won’t get all your money back. You can try to identify underappreciated material and grab it while it’s cheap, hoping the market catches up to you. Or jump in on a developing country, because demand tends to increase as middle class income improves. But whatever your approach: cool your jets. You wouldn’t make any other investment without taking time to do some research. Investing in stamps is no different.

Oh, and here’s a rule of thumb: when you spot something on Ebay described as “RARE!!!!”, I guarantee you it’s not.

I have an old stamp collection. Am I rich?
Funny you should ask, I wrote a whole piece about it! Short answer: probably not, but it’s a great way to start collecting. Welcome aboard.

You are a very convincing blogger and I’m in! Where do I begin?
Aw shucks, thanks. In practical terms: buy a stamp album and a big bunch of random world stamps (a search for ‘kiloware’ might help), and start sorting them any way you like. This might help you figure out the direction in which you’d like to head.

In educational terms: I won’t do Google’s work for you, but there are lots of sites out there designed as introductions to stamp collecting, including those from the American Philatelic Society, Australia Post, and UK stamp catalogue publisher Stanley Gibbons. Browse through stamp chat boards like Reddit’s Philately page, Stamp Community, Stampboards or any number of Facebook groups. If you want to get involved, take the time to check each site’s rules for members. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also, use basic chatboard etiquette and search the site first to check whether your question hasn’t already been asked and answered. Plenty of newcomers will have been in the same boat before you.

To explore more of the world of stamp collecting, there’s a great YouTube channel called Exploring Stamps that might whet your appetite – the regular seasons generally explore a particular issue from around the world, and the Philately 101 playlist offers collecting tips.

Also: READ! Click through this blog, and those I’ve listed for further reading. (They’ll appear on the right or on the bottom, depending on your platform.) And poke through through social media sites like Twitter and Instagram and search for hashtags like #philately and #snailmailrevolution. Mmm, pretty pictures.

Welcome aboard! Now go and tell your hot babe that it’s over. You’re just not going to have the time anymore.

Source: punkphilatelist.com

Published in News
Monday, 27 January 2020 06:54

Selling an Inherited Stamp Collection

If you inherited a stamp collection, it can be an intimidating task to sell it. If you are not a serious collector yourself, you will be unfamiliar with this specialized world. You will have to make choices on how you go about getting it appraised and then selling it.

Know Your Collector

Don't believe the collection is valuable just because of the quantity and age of the stamps. Don't expect much in terms of value unless the collection was formed by a serious collector (let's say for the sake of argument that a serious collector is one who spent $50 to $100 per month over many years) rather than a casual collector who might buy current issues at the post office and go to a couple of stamp shows a year.

The condition, as well as types of stamps in the collection, will have a great impact on the value. Many old collections are made up largely of stamp packet material. Such stamp packets often contained stamps that were reprints of original stamps issued by their governments. These have little value.

Appraising the Stamp Collection

Your local library may have stamp catalogs that would apply to your collection; you may think of going the do-it-yourself route by identifying the stamps and selling on one of the online auction sites like eBay. But if you have a number of older classic stamps, be prepared to expend time and effort. While modern stamps are fairly straightforward, earlier classics have many varieties that take a practiced eye and a level of philatelic knowledge that your catalog may not give you.

Regarding the stamp catalog, don't be fooled by that extremely flexible thing known as catalog value: it has nothing to do with what you will receive when you go to sell a collection to a dealer. The real problem with most collections is the condition. You may have a stamp or two with a high catalog value—say $1,000. If that stamp has serious flaws, the value plummets. If it is actually damaged—a tear, mildew stain, missing perf tooth, etc. the stamp approaches the point of worthlessness. There will be a market for the stamp—but only as a space filler, that is a valuable stamp that a collector will buy at a fraction of the value of that stamp in good condition, to put into his album until a better example comes along.

Bring your collection to a local dealer before sending it off to an auction house. If you don't have a clue what the collection is worth, save your time, money, and aggravation by having him professionally appraise it. He may tell you then and there that there is no sense in sending the collection to an auction house as its contents don't merit it. If he does a full examination of the collection as opposed to a quick once-over expect to pay a small fee.

Of course, don’t neglect to consult any stamp collecting friends you may have. Many collectors are happy to pore over a collection. Just be sure that the friend is knowledgeable enough to know what he is looking at and not miss something of real value. And just as you’ll pay a dealer to appraise your stamp collection, you can reward your friend with a few stamps from your collection.

Selling a Collection at Auction

Be very careful about the auction house you are placing your collection with. Many serious collectors leave a note with their collections about what auction house they recommend their relatives place the stamps with. Don't go directly to that auction house when the time comes. In the recent past, there have been three major philatelic auction houses that have suffered a scandal or actually went out of business due to illegal practices. Make sure you check. In most cases, a simple Google search will give you the information you need, or at least a starting point from which you can do a follow-up to assure the auctioneer is clean and legit.

Don't forget about the fees when you go to sell your inherited collection at auction. Generally, you’ll pay the auction house 10 to 15 percent of the hammer price of your collection. A bargain, really, when you consider the work that has gone into working up your collection for auction. Of course, they also get a fee from the buyer, so with a valuable collection, the house does come out of the deal well.​

Source: thesprucecrafts.com

Published in News
Thursday, 26 December 2019 05:13

Best Ways to Store a Stamp Collection

Stamps are one of the most fragile collectibles. The value of the same stamp can be $100 or $10 depending on its condition, which can vary based on tears, creases, thins, or intact gum. How you store your collection can make all the difference.

There are many ways to store a stamp collection and, unfortunately, most are expensive. There are many fine albums available, but many collectors do not put their stamps in them. The expense of a quality album and the mounts one needs to display mint stamps in the album can take a big chunk out of your budget. The plastic mounts alone often cost more than the stamp's worth.

Most collectors do not necessarily buy stamps to display them in an album. But some may want to access them for their viewing enjoyment while being confident that the stamps are well stored. Many stamp collectors have experienced that heartsick moment when they open a mint sheet file or "safeguarded" album to only find that dampness or insects have wrecked a portion of their collection.

To protect your collection and go the do-it-yourself route, take advantage of alternate methods of storage and preservation.

Basic Stamp Storage Supplies

A manila-paged stock book or pages is the minimum for storage. But beware: The pockets are thicker than a stock book with plastic pockets and can easily bend your stamp slightly and leave a mark, particularly on the gum. Save your manila for used stamps.

Individual pages that can be put in a plain binder with plastic pockets have the advantage of lacking the separation that the back of mounts feature which, while offering ease of entry and exit for your stamp, can also leave a horizontal line across the back of your stamp. Although not as great a concern for self-stick stamps, earlier gummed stamps can lose a significant part of their value from that simple gum disturbance.

You can find more expensive plastic pocket stock books that look nice on a shelf, although most of these types of books are about 20 pages. You likely have to buy multiple books and it can be cost-prohibitive. If you do decide to get this type of book, go with the white page version, not black. With the white pages, you will be able to see any creeping climate damage, mold, or foxing (reddish-brown staining) immediately. The black pages hide the problem, meanwhile, your collection loses value.

If you take great pride in the presentation of your stamp collection and enjoy showing it off, the fancier albums are the way to go. For a smaller collection, you can get a few binders and pages for a few hundred dollars if hinges are included on the pages. But for those who collect stamps from multiple countries, the outlay for a lot of albums can be significant.

The Challenge of Self-Adhesive Stamps

Current wisdom for self-stick stamps says that to be considered proper mint stamps, they have to be saved on their original backing. This creates problems—and expense—for collectors. The U.S. Postal Service does not sell a single stamp from a self-adhesive sheet. If you are not willing to buy an entire sheet of the stamp you want, you may need to buy the stamps on the secondary market from a stamp dealer. This is usually not a problem if it is only one or two stamps, but for the serious collector of U.S. stamps, the expense can become significant.

In terms of storage, do not use manila stock pages for self-adhesives. With the stamp and the backing paper's combined thickness, the page's pocket edges have the potential to leave a crease on the stamp. Your best bet is to buy plastic mounts and put the stamps in them for display purposes. If not that, then trusty, old glassine envelopes and a sturdy storage box in a dry environment are your best storage solution.

Source: thesprucecrafts.com

Published in News

Stamp collectors have the stuff and the somethings that are similar to securities (issued, as they are by governments) and provide liquidity as they are salable at a moment's notice to a ready and enthusiastic clientele.

But don't forget that the sale of your stamps is dependent upon many things. Condition, rarity, demand (are they scarce enough to be strongly sought after?), as well as other considerations, will all affect your success when you go to sell.

Avoid a Mish-Mosh Stamp Accumulation

One important factor that is often overlooked by the collector is organization. If you've been more a hoarder (perhaps more correctly an accumulator when one speaks of stamps) it might have a real impact on your reselling success. After all, if a buyer can't see your material, on what can he base his offer to you?

Especially when you try to sell to stamp dealers, you must make sure everything is there to be easily seen. If it is otherwise, any premium items hidden in the mix will potentially be missed and uncounted. (This applies to bulk stamps and covers, packed in boxes and bags, what old-time dealers one called mish-mosh. On the other hand, if you are offering stamps in albums I assume you know what's in them, and can point out better items to a dealer, so he offers a better price.)

A Famous Stamp Accumulator

There have been accumulators of note, among them Colonel E.H.R. Green, son of Hetty Green, the so-called Witch of Wall Street. With his remarkable wealth, he is said to have bought the entire stock of stamp stores on the spot. His appearance on Nassau Street in NYC, the center of stamp dealing for many years, would send dealers to their vaults to get out their finest material for Green to consider. Today he is best known as the buyer of the Inverted Jenny sheet, or as most non-collectors know it, the upside-down airplane stamp.

Green's accumulation, when sold at auction, was featured in multiple sessions and realized stunning prices. The material's realizations were somewhat based -- beyond what the philatelic items may have been worth according to the catalog value -- on the fame of the former owner, a true star in the philatelic world at the time.

The Allure of Unorganized Stamps

If you are trying to sell to other collectors sometimes a messy lot of stamps and covers can do quite well. You can find ads in the philatelic press and online for Mystery Lots and Unsearched Collections. Part of the hype is that these are unsearched and that the buyer has an opportunity to find a treasure. Just don't forget the expression "One person's treasure is another's trash" and consider what you're going in for when you purchase a Mystery Lot.

Even if they are over-hyped they are yet another pleasure of the hobby. And yes, sometimes one can find an item that is far from a treasure but can nevertheless be of enough value that it alone can make the experience worthwhile.

Clean Up a Family Stamp Collection

When all is said and done, there are times of financial trouble, such as we are currently going through, when interest in simpler and cheaper pastimes is always welcome. Those who have an untended stamp collection in the family may go to the closet and get it out. They may consider their options -- some may take up the hobby.

But with the price of a movie and its ephemeral entertainment, the relatively inexpensive cost of stamps may start to look like an option for a pleasant diversion. But if no one is interested in taking up the hobby, there should be no compunction in selling and tipping your hat to grandpa -- or whoever it originally belonged to -- in thanks for the windfall.

If it is not in the best state of the organization, you'll be doing yourself a favor by cleaning it up, making sure it has a good appearance, with the stamps well organized properly placed in the album, whether on pre-printed pages or arranged logically by country or topic in a stock book. Doing so will prove to be well worth your time.

Source: thesprucecrafts.com

Published in News