Check Your Albums

Linn’s is reporting this week that a collector in Sweden bought a cheap world wide collection at an auction and there was a rare syllabic character (plate number) on a 6 sen 1875 Cherry Blossom issue-rare to the tune of being worth perhaps $200,000 on a stamp that is otherwise only a few dollars. This is an extreme example of diligence and luck but there are many varieties and errors that do turn up from time to time misidentified in general collections and which can mean big finds for the average knowledgeable philatelist.

 Here are a few hints on what you need to know to increase your chance of philatelic “finds”: Know the various types of the one cent and ten cent 1851-57 US. There are six main types of the one cent and four main types of the ten cent. The stamps all look very similar but can vary in price from $5-$30,000. I once found a rare 10c type mint in a cheap European made US collection that was worth $30,000 but I once missed a rare 1c type which someone later found in one of our lots that was also worth $30,000. Know the grills and on what stamps the better ones are known and always be on the look out for the rare Z grill.

 On Large Queen Canadian stamps check the paper of the one cent. If it is laid paper you have a rarity. On George VI British Commonwealth watch the perf types. Many better stamps have Scott “a” numbers and are overlooked. GB stamps of the Nineteenth Century are often used abroad and can be told by the cancellation numbers. If the cancel number starts with a letter it was probably used in a foreign post office. The Scott specialized world wide catalog lists most of these. Scott doesn’t list similar cancels on France but if you have numeral cancels in the 5000’s you should check them. Actually, there are few earlier stamps on which significant varieties don’t exist. What would be fun to do is get an inexpensive worldwide collection from an auction (say, an Apfelbaum Auction) and get the American Philatelic Research library to send you a batch of foreign specialized catalogs and go through the lot and see how real specialists collect the stamps of each country. Even lifelong philatelists continue to be amazed at how vast this hobby is.

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