Monthly Archives: July 2018

  1. Quality

    Image result for pse gradeOver the course of the history of our hobby, collector attitudes towards quality have changed significantly. In the early days of our hobby little attention was paid to even the most rudimentary principles of quality. Any stamp, no matter how damaged, was collectible and we see early collections that have items in them that are little more than just pieces of stamps. Collectors today usually collect with a consistency of quality. If a collector is a VF collector most of his stamps are of this high grade. But old time collections often have VF stamps next to very defective items. As the Twentieth Century evolved, collectors became more and more quality conscious to where, by 1970, many collectors were purchasing only the be

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  2. Stamp Differences

    Stamp differences, the characteristics that determine which stamp is which, can be quantified into two types-the visually apparent and the equipment driven. Image result for philatelic watermarkVisually apparent differences-design difference, shades, perfs (or imperf) appeal to nearly all collectors whereas equipment driven differences such as watermarks and fluorescent varieties appeal to more limited numbers. US collectors are quite spoiled in this regard. US stamps were only watermarked for thirty years (out of  165 years of US stamps) and there are only two watermark types to recognize. But areas where watermark varieties are significant ha

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  3. Are Forgeries Still a Problem?

    Almost from the very day that Philately began as a serious hobby, stamp collectors were plagued by forgeries. Forgeries exist in two types; those made for philatelic consumption and those produced to defraud the postal service of revenue (called postal forgeries). These postal forgeries are in nearly all cases not only very rare but highly collectible and desired as examples of postal history. But philatelic forgeries are rarely scarce, and seldom desired by stamp collectors. But they do turn up unwanted in many stamp albums and though detailed counterfeit detection is work for experts, there are many things even a casual stamp collector can know that can help spot a forgery or at least arouse suspicion.
    Most philatelic forgeries were n
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  4. Cancellations

    Image result for Rowland hillOne of the earliest objections to Rowland Hill's idea for a gummed label that indicated prepayment of postage was the fear that such a label could be soaked off and reused. A postage stamp is one of the simplest examples of a bearer certificate-anyone who possesses it can use it to mail a letter and the fear of reuse was very real. Postage of a British penny in 1840, when wages of a pound a week would support a family of four with ease, was the equivalent of perhaps $5 today so such fear had a real basis in fact. The first stamps were cancelled with Maltese cross cancellations which provided a sometimes disfiguring obliteration and the town from which the letter was

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  5. Spikes in Stamp Popularity

    Image result for stamp collectingPhilately has been a pretty consistent hobby in terms of popularity since its earliest days. Stamp collecting is not for everyone. It appeals most to intelligent, reflective people and goes well with a splash of introversion. Philately began as a diversionary hobby, more of a game to see how many different stamps you could obtain, though by the 1880's stamp collecting had developed into the hobby that we have today, complete with catalogs and societies and literature. Slow and steady grow
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  6. Collecting Used High Value Columbians

    Image result for Columbian ExpositionThe story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue is well known. World's Fairs, which was what the Columbian Exposition was, were a big thing until the advent of television and theme parks (in fact the last great US World Fair, the 1964 World's fair in New York, had the first version of the "It's a Small World" ride that was incorporated into Disney world). World's fairs were a chance to see the latest innovations, and companies and nations vied with presentations to awe and impress. In 1893 the United States Post Office wanted to do just that, and as part of their exhibit they issued a new set of stamps commemorating Columbus' discovery of the new world. I

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  7. Free Postage and Handling

    Image result for just shipping and handlingOne of the great profit centers for mail order companies has always been their postage and handling charges. The idea is a good one for the business involved but not so great for the customer. Why mail order companies should be able to get away with charging for postage and handling is kind of odd. Traditional retailers don't have stocking fees or store rent and clerk fees. It always has felt like a business's attempt to pass on their cost of doing business to their customers.

    Apfelbaum has completely done away with postage and handling fees, (we are the first auctioneer to do this). Buy a lot from us, any lot from an individual stamp to a massive multi-carton lot, and it will be delivered free to your door anywhere in the continental United States. The evolutio
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  8. His and Hers

    Image result for stamp collectorMost stamp collectors are married men. In fact, if you had to pick the person who was at the exact center of the philatelic demographic in this country you would have a married man in his sixties with grown children. He would be more or less happily married. He and his wife share nearly everything together. They have children, and if they are lucky, grandchildren who they enjoy together. And they share and enjoy together friends, movies, even books. But the one thing our demographically perfect collector and his wife do not enjoy together is his stamps. Very few couples contain two stamp collectors. And when they do they always collect different areas, never together.
    Collecting is at its heart a so
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  9. Philatelic Literature

    Image result for libraryPeople began writing about stamps almost as soon as they began collecting them. The first stamp magazines, really little more than dealer price lists with articles, were issued before 1840 and by the 1890s the London Philatelist, the precursor journal of the Royal Society of London, was actively publishing monthly scholarly philatelic articles. By 1900, there had been hundreds of books published, though throughout the long tradition of philatelic publishing it has been periodicals,far more than books, that have had the most activity.
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