Monthly Archives: October 2010

  1. Stamps for Sale

    I just went to the Ebay site and added up the items for sale in the four main philatelic categories. They were over 1.2 million different offerings. Adding in the smaller categories would give you over 1.5 million. Stamp Wants (another web auction service) has a staggering 3 million philatelic items for sale. When I first started in the stamp business, most collectors complained that stamps were hard to find and they had to search long and hard for sources of supply. Today's collectors might well complain that they are drowning in stamps. But just as too little product makes the hobby unappealing, too much product does as well. It's difficult to find what you need in the clutter of all these offerings and, more importantly, how do you know the quality and integrity of the tens of thousands of dealers who are offering their wares. Further, many collectors lack the knowledge to discern if they are actually getting the quality and items that they think they are buying. Perhaps that's why

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  2. End of Year Sale

    We posted today our annual end of the year sale with over a million dollars of inventory, all at 60% of its original price. Go to our web site and click and you will find value like never before. And Apfelbaum full satisfaction guarentee applies.

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  3. Changes

    Last year Philly Stamp Company moved out of Philly to a new home in suburban New Jersey. We moved out of Philadelphia seven years ago and center city now has only one stamp dealer- Alfred Capelli- whose signage boasts trains and hobbies as well as stamps. In the 1950's Philly had over 20 stamp shops. There was Apfelbaum, and Philly Stamp Company, and Adelphi, and Georges Creed, and Christian Dull, and George Drasin and many more. Certainly there are fewer stamp collectors compared to the size of our population today than there were sixty years ago and so fewer stamp shops are warranted. But even before the Internet age, specialty retailing was increasing relegated to mail order. Rents and salaries grew and to have a high priced store front when only one passerby in a hundred had an interest in your product didn't make sense. The magic shops closed along with the stamp shops in every city. The paradox of course is that today, despite virtually no retail stamp stores, collectors have con

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  4. Mauritius

    "Mauritius" is a play by Theresa Rebeck that played on Broadway in 2007. In the play, a young woman inherits a stamp collection that contains the two Post Office Mauritius stamps which together have a catalog value of nearly $2 million. She appears to have no idea what she has and takes the stamps to a dealer. The balance of the play revolves around the machinations of three dealers and collectors to part her from her stamps for less than they are worth. It is not a very flattering picture of our hobby and is characteristic of how stamp collecting, when it is portrayed at all, is depicted in popular media. The fact is that Mauritius Post Office stamps just don't walk in the door that often. The one time it happened to me was in 1976. We got a call from the US Customs Service office in Philadelphia that they had some stamps and could they bring them down for us to look at. What they had was a page from an exhibit collection under a piece of glass. On the page was the two Mauritius Post

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  5. The Bannister Conundrum

    In 1954 Roger Bannister accomplished a feat that many sports observers had never thought was possible. He ran a mile in under 4 minutes. Within six weeks Bannister's own record was broken. Running faster than a four minute mile became the norm among world class runners though previously the record had held for centuries (the record is now 3:43- though the mile is not run as much in the metric era). Does anyone think that Roger Maris would have broken Babe Ruth's home run record in 1961 if Micky Mantle hadn't been pounding homers right behind him. The point is that in most activities we are stirred on by what others are doing and this defines for us the possible. The philatelic point here is that with the decline of stamp shows and competitive exhibitions and with the decline of stamp clubs where collectors got together to show off their latest acquisitions, collecting has become a very isolated hobby. Many collectors don't even know of the possibilities of advanced philately and there

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  6. Plate Block Collecting

    Plate numbers were put in the margins of United States sheets so that later the printer would know which sheets were printed from which plates so that plate wear and damage could be monitored. Collectors noticed the marginal numbers and began at first collecting single stamps with the selvedge attached as an adjunct to their collection. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began printing US stamps in 1894 (before that our stamps were printed by private printers under contract so when our government took control of its own stamp printing it could be called one of the first examples of insourcing-which will be the new trend down the road after we have outsourced everything). At first with Bureau issues (as these post-1894 stamps are called), collectors tried to obtain them in strips of three with the plate number and inscription attached. Then, beginning about 1920 the fashion changed to collecting the plate numbers in blocks of six. The reason for the change from three to six had mostly

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  7. Credit and the Stamp Business

    Lost in all the discussion about how the recession is affecting philatelic demand is a discussion of the role that bank loans and credit have played in the softness in the philatelic market. The vast majority of philatelic material on the market at any given time is in the hands of stamp dealers. Most dealers maintain stocks of stamps from which they sell. When credit is easily available (and for most smaller stamp dealers credit takes the form of home equity loans and credit cards) these dealers are willing to expand their stocks and resist selling at prices below what they want. When credit is difficult or impossible to obtain dealers reduce their stocks (which places more commercial grade stamps on the market), reduce their prices to prune inventory, and reduce buying new inventory. Thus at the very time that collectors have retrenched because of the recession, dealers are flooding the market with inventory to raise cash. This has been a significant cause of market weakness in the l

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  8. US-Offices in China


    During the nineteenth century, several nations maintained post offices in China. This was was part of a general carving up of Chinese sovereignty which went on throughout the nineteenth century. To facilitate those post offices stamps were issued. Italy issued stamps for use in China in 1917, France beginning in 1901 (and ending in 1945, the latest foreign Chinese Office issue), Great Britain in 1917, Germany in 1898, Japan in 1900, Russia in 1899, and the United States in 1922. For the United Sates these issues were largely symbolic. Our merchants sometimes used our post office in China but the main impetus to issuing stamps and maintaining postal facilities
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  9. One Cent 1851

    The question of which stamps should have major catalog number status and which should be delegated to small "a" and "b"s as varieties occupied a great deal of catalog makers time in the early decades of the last century. The solutions that were adopted were really compromises that reflected the needs of the commercial community. All of the many types of the one cent 1851 were originally listed as one Scott number. Today they are listed as six major numbers (from #5-#9, including #8A), but originally they were all types of #42 (Scott had originally numbered the Postmaster Provisionals with #1 and it wasn't until abut 1940 that the catalog listing was changed to today's format). The types of the one cent 1851 were produced by transfer varieties created during the transfer of the die to the printing plate. Some of the positions are very rare. #5 exists on only one position on one plate of the 1851 printing so it comes out at the rate of about of one stamp for every thousand printed. That'

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  10. St Pierre and Miquelon



    A favorite philatelic country is St Pierre and Miquelon. There is a philatelic tendency for remote areas of great charm to have a collecting importance far in excess of what any local population can create. The Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Pitcairns are examples, as is St P
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