Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Of course, I have found some equally surprising lots that actually sell on E-bay, so maybe it is worth the shot. Like buying a lottery ticket, you don't expect to win, but figure you can't win if you don't play? I have seen some items that I think would never sell at $1 go for the $10 opening bid. I have often sent mail to the winner asking what made the lot worth so much, so far, I have not gotten a reply. Maybe the buyer is embarrassed at having overpaid? Or maybe they don't want to educate others and have increased competition for future lots?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The Romano auction for example, had a commission (15%), credit card fee (4%), bank fee ($5), shipping ($5) and handling ($2). A total of $36 in fees for a $120 item, which is 30%. It took what started out as a good deal and made it a not so good deal. I guess I should have looked into all the fees upfront more, but I think I will need to reconsider bidding in auctions from now on. The fees just make it not a good way to add to my collection.
Contrast this with E-bay, where the only fee I pay on top of a winning bid is shipping. I do take shipping into account when bidding on e-bay, and have not bid on lots that had large shipping charges, or I have looked to buy multiple lots from the same seller to combine shipping and save.
I think conventional auctions have positioned themselves as serving the niche high end of the market for stamps, ceding the mid-range lots to e-bay, and the low end lots to stamp shows or mail order dealers. How long can conventional auctions survive if they are limiting there market so dramatically? How many people are out there willing to spend 30% over there bids to cover fees? Won't the fees have to increase to cover the auctions fixed costs (printing the catalog, advertising, staff, postage fees for mailing the catalogs, etc) as fewer buyers participate? Doesn't seem like a good long term future here.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Just got the latest issue of the SIP journal. When I started my blog, I sent a note to several SIP officers who had their e-mail addresses listed in the journal. Don was kind enough to publish the notice in this months journal. Hopefully, this will stimulate some conversation on this site. So far, I have had a grand total of 3 comments on my blog, 1 of which was spam. I know people are reading this blog (6-10 unique people per day). What I would like to know is if the topics are interesting to people, and if there are any topics that people would like to hear about. Let me know.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Out of the 37 issued, I am missing only 5 Mint ones, and none of the FDC's. I am missing the one shown here ( #3, PhilexFrance 82), as well as #4 (Belgica 82), #20 (Finlandia 88), #23 (World Stamp Expo 89), and #35 (Capex 96). I would like to mark this part of my collection complete, and I have a bunch of duplicates to trade if anyone is interested.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I recently bought the cover shown here on the right. It is a FDC for J6-11. I am not 100% positive it is genuine, but it looks like it to me. Like all of the postage dues from Israel, these were issued with blank tabs. I haven't seen a cover with tabs, but this copy has the selvage with plate numbers attached.
The cover here on the left is J1-5 on cover, about 6 months after they were issued. I actually have 3 different covers with this set, one with an unreadable (to me at least) date, this one from November 1948, and another from December 1949. While I am on the lookout for a May 1948 cover (Bale shows 5/28/48 as the day of issue), I am sure they are still out of my price range. In the meantime, I have a nice cover to fill the spot in my FDC album.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Here is one that I didn't even know about until a few years ago. Luckily, I had the one that catalogs for more in my collection, and was actually missing the cheaper normal stamp issue. The image on the left is Scott number 1233, a souvenir sheet from 1995 commemorating the Volunteers to the British Army in WW2. It is fully perforated vertically. The one on the right is the same stamp, but the perforations stop at the bottom of the stamp, rather than continuing to the bottom of the souvenir sheet. I am not sure how the two were originally sold. Perhaps the partially imperf sheet is just the bottom souvenir sheet from the press sheets. I do know that my standing order came with the partially imperf sheet, not the fully perforated one. However, the FDC I had was for the fully perforated issue. When I went looking for the fully perforated one, I found that none of the dealers at the show had separated them out in there holdings. They were both priced the same. When I alerted them to the difference, they were surprised. I suggest you double check your collection and see if you have both. Again, most albums do not call out the different varieties of this issue.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I have several items that are numbered, supposedly to indicate a limited edition. For example, this artist signed presentation folder of the 1993 Christmas Klussendorf issue. The first image is of one in my collection, and is numbered 14 of 150. Today, when I looked on E-bay, I saw a similar item offered. I took the image from the listing and included it here as well. Notice the similarities? The color difference in the folder itself may be due to differences in scanning, rather than printing, but I can't confirm that. This second folder is numbered 40/45. The numbering is in the opposite order (edition size second), and is on the bottom rather than the top. Also, there is a second vending stamp attached to the folder. Personally, I don't see any difference worth having both in my collection. I also think the numbering is misleading, as it is impossible to know just how limited this limited edition is. How many times did they start a new series by making other minor changes? I think this is a rather blatant attempt on someones part of trying to increase the price by simulating rarity. I often see these offered for up to $50 each. So far, I have been able to pick up quite a few for $5 or so a piece. I think these deserve a slight premium over a normal FDC, but only a on the order of $1 or so. I pay no attention to the supposed number issued, since as you can see it is rather meaningless.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
How much of the market is represented on E-bay? Certainly, there are some dealers that sell both conventionally and on E-bay (Doron Waide, and Marlen Stamps come to mind), but what percentage of buyers look to E-bay vs other avenues (Stamp shows, conventional auctions, stamp stores, approvals, etc). Having been to only a few shows in the last few years, I can say that I am generally among the younger attendees. The majority of stamp collectors I know are a generation or more my senior, and many are not exactly computer literate. Does selling on e-bay severely limit your market? Or, does it expand it?
I did spend 6 months tracking sales on E-bay, and what I found is a bit surprising. Less than 45% of lots managed to get a single bid, and those that did get a bid attracted only a bit over 3 bids each on average. So, with few exceptions, fierce bidding wars were avoided. In an auction based marketplace, this keeps prices down, since the lot sells for only 1 advance over the second highest bid. Also, the very nature of E-bay tends to hold down the number of bids on an item. Rarely do lots attract bids more than a minute before the auction ends. I know that if at all possible, I will wait to the last second before bidding, hoping to keep the price down. This is great for buyers, but not so good for sellers.
My theory is that if I bid at the last second, (a practice known as sniping) I will be able to get the last bid in, and prevent other bidders from rebidding on the item and driving the price up. As discussed in previous entries, this has worked well for me so far. There is another reason to bid late. I know one person who will track items bid on by specific bidders in order to spot lots he may have skipped over. Knowing that another person is interested in a specific lot is a trigger for him to look more closely at a lot, and perhaps bid on it. Bidding late avoids this issue.
When I sell on E-bay, there are 2 ways I handle these tactics. The first way is to set the opening price for the lot at a level you are willing to part with the item for. Listing a $300 dollar item for $1 is not recommended. While you may get $300, you are much more likely to sell the item for less then $100. I was able to buy 3 copies of 237a (Freedom from Hunger Tete-Beche Sheet) for an average of $100 each, and then re-sold them for close to $200 each by just describing them properly, and starting them at a higher start price. Doubling my money in a few weeks. Too bad I can't do that more regularly.
The second way to handle this is to just list the item cheaply (usually starting at $0.99), and just taking what I can get. I use this tactic when I am not sure of the value of an item, and I ma just trying to get rid of it. One example of this was a Pigeon Post cover that I recently sold on E-bay. This was one of the 2100 covers that I bought in a large lot a few weeks ago. I had paid less than ten cents a cover, and wasn't interested in adding this cover to my collection. I ended up getting over $11 for this one cover, so I am well on my way to paying for the whole lot. Of course, the second cover I listed only went for the $0.99 opening bid. While still a profit, after the E-bay and Paypal fees, it was barely worth listing. The hard part is figuring out which covers will garner more than a single bid. I have another four covers from the same lot listed today, hopefully I will do well on these. Time will tell. Check back here next week for my results, or you can always bid on one of the items.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The only airletter sheets that I have been unable to find are AS60 and 61 (according to Bale 98, apparently newer versions of the catalog changed the number system for some reason, not sure why, and I will continue to use the 98 numbering system personally). These sheets are ones that had stamps added to make up the current rate. My Bale 98 catalog shows these at a reasonable price, but in the latest Negev auction, the 2 started at $150. This is way above my price range for these. Shown here is AS59, which is very similar to AS60 and 61, the only difference being additional stamps added for the latter ones. Since AS60 is pictured on the cover of the Negev auction catalog, I was able to see that adding a 15 shekel stamp to AS59 would give me AS60. Since the stamp is available for pennies, what would prevent this from occurring? How can you tell if one had the stamps added at the time of sale, or after? I guess with used versions we could at least tell that the addition of the stamp occurred in the right time frame, but for mint copies, how could we? So, I can't see how the price could be so high. That being said, the one on the cover of the Negev catalog is the only one I have ever seen, so people must not be doing it. Your thoughts?
Monday, November 5, 2007
The next issue available was of a completely different type. This is the Experimental series of computer vended postage issued in June 1991. This differed from the previous issues in that it is a self stick variety. I have seen the backing paper in different colors (Yellow and White), and printed from different machines. The mint example here was printed on machine 102056, while the used example is from machine 102058. I haven't seen these with cancels on them, since it appears they are used similar to the meter stamps are in the US, where they are applied by the postal clerk to the item to be mailed, and are considered cancelled when they are printed. There is also a variety in how the border is printed, the mint example has a T in the upper left side, while the used one does not. I also have mint examples from machine 102030, but I am not sure what other machines were used.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I also met up with an old friend at the show. I ran into Joe Schwartz who was there to judge the exhibits. He had even read my blog recently. Joe is a long time collector who has provided me with a lot of material over the years, including a lot of the bulletins that helped me complete the set.
Friday, November 2, 2007
I occasionally search e-bay to find used Supersafe albums, and have had some success. Since new albums cost $20 and up, depending where you buy them, used generally offers a significant savings. With my special cancel collection alone spanning a dozen albums, the albums become a significant investment. One reason my post office openings collection is still not dealt with is that at 4000 post offices, it would require 20-30 albums to hold these.
One issue I have resolved is how to leave blank spots in the albums for missing covers. There are times I am missing many covers in a row, and when I used to get one cover in the middle of a run of 20-30 missing ones it was difficult to figure out what slot in the album to put the cover in. It is made more difficult when the sequence of covers contains sub numbers (for example 1021, 1021a, 1021b, 1022). You need to know how many empty slots to leave, which I always seemed to mess up. My solution was to print markers for each slot. I bought a box of Avery business card blanks, then used MS Word to create a mail merge from my database to the business cards. I now have a business card with the number, date, and description for each cover. I put one in each slot and now I am quickly able to put covers in the right slot. Also, as a consequence of this, each cover i have now has an identifier in the same slot with it.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Starting with bulletin #152, the format changed. A single bulletin now was printed in 4 languages, and a colored background was added to the central portion of the bulletin. The bulletin orientation also changed from portrait to landscape. This design was used through bulletin #286. One thing to note, however, is that the numbers are no longer strictly integers, as several a and b suffixes were added over the years.
Bulletin #287 started the use of a new format. The paper was cut approximately in half, and the bulletin was now printed on both sides, with the front having only a picture of the stamps, and the information being printed on the back. This format was discontinued after only a brief usage, with bulletin #308 being the last one printed in this format.
The next format, shown here on the right, is the last one I have seen used. Once again, these were single sided bulletins, with the color now restricted to the title. The stamps and descriptions are printed in a single color, but it is no longer limited to just the black ink used previously. I believe each bulletin was printed in only a single color, since I have yet to see multiple color versions of a single bulletin, but there are ones printed in black, brown, blue, and green. This last format was printed in strips of 3 consecutively numbered bulletins, I have several uncut strips of 3 in my collection. I have shown one below. Of these, I am once again missing a few, #401, 437, 442, and 460. The last bulletin I have is number #498, the 40th anniversary souvenir sheet issued in 1988. If anyone knows of ones issued later, please let me know.
One of the most fun areas to collect has been the stamp bulletins. These came out in several different formats over the years, and they are numbered, so it is relatively easy to tell what is missing.
There are also some varieties of these bulletins. Later issues came with both a blank front, and printed with the agency name, like this example here. I have several different agency names, not just the philatelic services one shown here.
Between the printing of the bulletin and the printing of the stamp, the value changed. Rather than issue a new bulletin with a new number, the same number was re-used. Thus, there are 2 bulletin #375's.