Monthly Archives: June 2018

  1. German States

    Image result for PrussiaAmong the most interesting stamps that exist in our hobby are the stamps of the German States. What we call Germany today is a very recent political invention. The area of Germany was never part of the Roman Empire, and so the various Germanic tribes that occupied and conquered that area were never unified. As the Middle Ages progressed the area was unified under Charlemagne and then under the political hodge-podge that was the Holy Roman Empire. But by the early Nineteenth Century the political climate of Germany was very diffuse with many principalities calming jurisdiction over the area.

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  2. Difficulty of Collecting US Banknotes

    Image result for american banknote companyForeign collectors believe that collecting United States stamps is the most difficult of all national collecting specialties. The reason is that we make too many major catalog numbers of stamps on which the differences are very hard to distinguish. It starts with the one cent 1851's of which there are seven major catalog numbers of a single design and color, but it really reaches its apotheosis with the Bank Note Issue beginning in 1870 (These issues are called the Bank Note issues because the the US Post Office changed its printing contract to award it to a printing company that also printed currency).
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  3. The Future of Central European Philately

    Image result for switzerlandThe engine of philatelic popularity and growth over the 170 or so years that philately has been a hobby has traditionally been the stamps of Central Europe-Germany and its numerous component areas, Switzerland, Austria and to a lesser extent Liechtenstein. In 1930 there were probably as many serious German collectors as there were in the rest of the world combined. The numbers are dwindling as young German Swiss and Austrian children are being drawn to their computer games and away from hobbies in general. This means there will be a vast and growing overhang of Central European stamps on the market in the coming years, and it is hard to see where there will be enough collectors to soak up the supply.
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  4. World War II

    Image result for shermanThe three great scourges of humanity have historically been war, famine, and pestilence. Modern technology though seems to have solved the problems of the devastation of two of these. In the last two centuries over 100 million people have died in famines. But fertilization, irrigation and genetic engineering have today made famine more of a byproduct of war than a primary killer. And infectious  disease, after killing hundreds of millions throughout history, has largely been defeated. But war still kills millions each decade, and in the nuclear age we are always just a few poor Pre
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  5. Moldavia

    Before 1859 Romania didn't exist in its current form and one of its component nations, Moldavia, was one of the first issuers of stamps. The famous Moldavia Bulls have been a favorite of philatelists since the beginning of our hobby. They combine the three characteristics that collectors most esteem-they were issued for purely postal purposes with no advance warning to collectors and no hoarding. They are primitive in design and execution. And they are, and always have been, rare. A short look at these three philatelic characteristics of popularity will help explain how our hobby developed and cast light on many aspects of philately that are still with us today.
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  6. How to Sell Your Stamps

    There are three things that every collector should do to maximize the return that they receive for their stamps when they go to sell, and I will address them in ascending order of importance. First, it is very important to have some figures on your stamp collection. Do you have records of how much you spent? If so, add them up. If not, make a fair estimate based on the amount you felt like you spent per year over the years, making allowance for the years that your collecting was dormant. Most collectors won't get back the full amount that they spent, but at least this will give you some basis to judge how much your collection is worth. If you can catalog the collection by a recent year of the Scott catalog, it is a good idea to do so. Collections generally sell at low percentages of Scott value but they do sell at percentages, and this is a way to evaluate the offers that you receive. Fur
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  7. Greece

    Image result for hermes mythologyThe degree of difficulty of a philatelic specialty is determined by three components. First is the intrinsic scarcity of the material, second the cost involved, and third the number of specialized striations into which the field has been separated. Scarcity and cost are related. Scarcity is an intrinsic value related to the amount of material that is available to collectors. It is derived from the numbers that were printed and more importantly the numbers that were saved and have been passed down to stamp collectors. Cost relates to how that intrinsic scarcity interacts with demand. Honduras has many very rare stamps that sell for only a few dollars. Great Britain have many relatively common stamps (such as

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  8. Graded United States Stamps

    Image result for brilliant uncirculatedCoin collecting has been dominated over the last fifty years by third party grading issues to the point where few serious numismatists buy non-graded coins. Eager grading services have tried to push into philately hoping to enlarge their fee base. So far it hasn't worked. Some collectors have become enamored of graded stamps but most think that it is inconvenient and costly. There are several reasons why third party grading is popular for coins and why it has largely failed in philately, despite two separate, (one in the late 70's and the other a few years ago) highly promoted, and well funded grading service attempts
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  9. Expanding Your Horizons

    Image result for Old libraryBook readers sort into two main groups: the first looks at each volume as a challenge to be surmounted. Starting on page one, this group reads page by page until they are done, stopping for other activities but only reading one book at a time. Other readers are more casual about reading, often reading many books simultaneously, alternating between fiction and non fiction as the mood hits and as time allows.

    Stamps collectors too fall into these broad categories. Many are one one country or one specialty collectors and they spend significant time and money creating fine collections of their area. The rewards for this kind of collec

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  10. France Airmails

    Image result for french aeroplane mailAerophilately has been a popular philatelic specialty for nearly a hundred years now. No country has as many interesting Airmails as does France, and indeed the Airmails of France cover many of the more esoteric aspects of our hobby. The first two Airmails are overprints and show that aspect of stamp issuance; an earlier issue receives an additional print that changes its purpose and often the postage that it was originally sold for. The second issue of the Airmails of France are the famed Ile de France Airmails. These Airmails are provisionals issued for just one flight and not available through the general philatelic agency. Like many of the rarest early w

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  11. Printer's Waste

    Philately has many collectibles. Stamps are obvious; covers are stamps on envelopes and are derivative from the stamps themselves. And Proofs and Essays are precursors, coming before (and sometimes instead of) the stamps that they are associated with. As all of these types of philatelic material are related to the official issuance and use of stamps, they have always been esteemed by collectors. But what about Printer's Waste?
     
    Image result for printers waste philatelyPrinter’s Waste is a fairly amorpho
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  12. A Stamp Dealer's Day

    Image result for lots of stampsToday was a more or less typical day. I had nine smaller collections to work on. These were stamp groups that had been sent to our office by collectors and which we had purchased. The first was a mixed quality United States group sent by a life long collector who was pruning some of the poorer quality stamps that he had bought when he was a younger collector to create funds to upgrade the quality of his stamps. The next group I worked on was some better US that the owner was selling to get some money for a vacation that he and his wife wanted to take. The third was a small group of French stampless covers that the owner didn't know where he had gotten, but they probabl

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