Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Real or not?

I picked this set of 7-9 up a few years ago as part of a large collection. I have always assumed they are forgeries, but recently I found an article in an old IP journal that shows similar stamps and calls them proofs. Is there any way to tell, short of sending them out for expertising? Before I do that, I would like to be confident that they are real. Any advice?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Special Cancels

I have been trying to catch up on special cancels recently. There are 4 different types of cancels listed in the catalogs I have, First day cancels, special cancels, slogan cancels, and post office openings. I use the Natchtigal catalog put out by the postal authority. There are 4 editions of the catalog, with the last one having come out in 1998. This presents a problem, since in the past decade, there have been more cancels used. Fortunately, the IPF recently added a cancels catalog to their web page, but unfortunately it does not use the same numbering system. Not only that, I have recently found several cancels that are not listed in the catalog. This makes it hard to collect, since I don't know what I am missing. Checking a list of covers against ones I have is a lot tougher then checking against a list of what I am missing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Show Cards

From WIPA 81 through Pacific 97, the Israel Postal Authority sold show cards at the shows they attended. I am not sure why they stopped after Pacific 97, but as far as I can tell, they did. These are available both Mint and FDC. I have seen a variety of frankings on the FDC ones, as well as different color ink used to cancel the stamps (Red, Purple, Green, and Black at least). I have also seen ones that have been canceled without having any stamps added to them. Sometimes, there are cancels on the back for each day of the show as well. The only catalog that I have seen list these is the Carmel catalog. The catalog shows these at a rather high price relative to what the real world price is, you can generally move the decimal point one place to the left to get a more realistic price ($5-$10 each is about right).

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

Postage Dues on cover

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

Not in my album 6

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.


Booklets are an interesting area to collect. There are only about 40 different ones issued. Even if you include all the minor varieties (different ads on the back, plate errors such as the "IsraeI" variety, etc) that only brings the total up to about 55. It works out to less then one a year. The majority of the booklets are also inexpensive, with the exceptions being the first 6. The first 6 (plus there varieties) range from around $60 to over $600. All the ones after that are in the $5 to $20 range.
It is also possible to find some minor differences in the booklets that make hunting through a box of stamps more fun. For example, this months of the year self adhesive stamp booklet was originally issued in 2002, but was reprinted in 2003. Since booklets are not listed in the Scott catalog, most dealers don't realize the second printing occurred. By looking at the date on the back of the booklet (the one on the left is from 2002), you can perhaps find one that is missing from your collection.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Most valuable?

Which stamp set is the most valuable from Israel? Most people will tell you it is 7-9 with tabs. The set is the high values of the Doar Ivri issue, and were issued in very limited quantities, and tabs were new to the hobby, and not generally considered part of the stamp. The set I show here are part of my collection, but I do not believe they are genuine. They are just space fillers until I can afford a genuine set. While expensive, they are not that difficult to find, and most dealers of Israel stamps are willing and able to sell you a set whenever you are ready to buy one. The set that I believe is the most valuable was issued just a few months later. It is the first festivals issue, Scott numbers 10-14. The tab set is readily available, and is rather affordable. However, the set with vertical gutters between the stamps (shown on right) is much harder to find, and usually goes for 2-3x the price of the tab set. Even rarer, is the set of vertical gutters with tabs. I have only a used copy of the low value on cover (shown on left above). This set is much harder to find, and while both issues catalog for about the same (approximately $6500), I believe if you were to try and purchase both, you would end up paying more for the 10-14 vertical gutters with tabs. The perception that 7-9 are the most valuable set has more to do with demand, then reality. Most collectors of Israel stamps feel they need 7-9 to complete their collections, whereas 10-14 with vertical gutters are not. Most likely, this is due to the fact that 10-14 vertical gutters are another issue that is not in standard albums.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mint Cachet's?

I have a few items like this in my collection. This is a mint example of the official FD Cachet envelope for the Weizmann issue (Scott #70-1). I also have the version with the stamps and FD cancels, but those are fairly common. I rarely see the blank cacheted envelopes come up for sale. I am also unsure how rare they really are. I don't see them offered as part of the new issue service either. Are these valuable? Probably not, but they are interesting. I will keep looking to see if I can find out more about these.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not so limited editions

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


I have spent the last few days going through the revenue stamps I have and adding them to my inventory. Previously, I had only had the Bale listed revenues in my tracking database, and thus the other revenues (listed in Wallerstein catalog from 1987) were in a kind of holding pattern, where I had them sitting in a box with no idea of what I had or what was missing. Turns out, I had the majority of the Accounting tax issues with black tracking numbers (AJ1-25, as listed in Wallerstein). Out of the 25 basic items listed, I had 18. A quick look through E-bay auctions didn't turn up any, but then I did a search through the E-bay stores, and I found 2 that I was missing. One of the 2 was only available as part of a lot of 20 revenues, but the price was right ($5.99) so I took a chance that I could sell the ones I don't need to recoup my investment in these. The other one was available individually, and cost $4.99. So, down to 5 more to go (AJ1-3, 7, and 25 in case anyone has any available).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another update

Well, the auction of the Negev Camel FDC with short tab closed this weekend. It attracted only a single bid, and went for the start price of $250. I am not sure if E-bay is an accurate representation of the value of Israel stamps however. I know when I look on E-bay, I am looking to find a bargain, not necessarily to pay a market value for an item. Although, since E-bay is a place where the market sets the price, does that mean that what an item closes at is its market value?

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.

Want list item of the day

Rather than discuss items already in my collection, I decided today to talk about an item I am looking for to add to my collection. The item shown here to the left is a first day cover with Bale 98 CVP8 on it. This is a computer vended stamp issued for Hebrew Stamp Week in 1993. I have never been able to find a copy of this stamp in mint condition. Anyone have a spare? This is the one CVP stamp I do not have Mint, and I would like to be complete on these. Any value will do...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not in my album 5

This stamp is actually in my album, but the stamp was actually issued in two different formats. There is a sheet of 6, and a sheet of 12. My album only has room for a pair. The sheet of 12 was issued first, in 2003. The smaller sheet was issued in 2004. How can you tell which sheet a pair came from? Personally, I have both complete sheets added to my album.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Not in my album 4

When the Israeli post office privatized and became Israel Post, new issue subscribers were once again given a special gift. This souvenir sheet differs from the regular issue only slightly. There is an embossed running stag in the upper left of the souvenir sheet. It is also overprinted with a serial number in the lower right. Since the regular issue souvenir sheet was already imperf, there was no change in that respect. The souvenir sheet was sent in a protective sleeve explaining the reason for the gift. Once again, there was no notice given about this special issue, and there was no opportunity to buy these from the philatelic service.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Postal Stationary

Postal Stationary is a fun area to collect. The majority of the items are inexpensive, and seem to be readily available. One exception to this is the PC3 FDC. This one took me a long time to track down. I have seen it for sale in several auctions, but the start price was always more than I wanted to pay. I saw this one included in a postal stationary collection offered on E-bay. There was no mention of PC3 in the description, but looking at the photos in the lot, I was pretty sure that I saw a PC3 FDC in the pictures. I ended up buying the whole collection for about $20, which is well under what this single piece catalogs for. I still have the rest of the collection, I will probably put it back on E-bay one of these days, and hopefully get my $20 back.

Some of the harder items to find are the airletter sheets that were issued without value. There were 3 or 4 of these issued over the years, and finding them in either Mint or FDC is not easy, but they are still relatively inexpensive.

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

Vending stamps part 1

Starting in 1988, Israel offered stamps printed on demand from vending machines. Shown here are three examples printed on a "Frama" machine. I am not sure how long these were available, but it was not a very long time. The majority of the examples I have seen have been these 3 values, but I believe others exist.
In 1990, a new version appeared, the Klussendorf machine. This machine used a colorful stamp like label, instead of the plain version used in the Frama stamps. There exist a number of paper and printing varieties of this issue. The Klussendorf report by Tari Chelouche is a great repository of information about these issues. One of the more interesting things about these issues is that the machine number that the stamp was printed from is shown on the face of the stamp. These examples are missing the machine number, indicating they came from the philatelic service machine.

Collecting these stamps offers many choices to the collector. How should these be collected? Personally, I try and get 1 stamp from each design from each machine that it was printed from. For this first definitive issue, there were 7 printings and 45 machines. Not all printings were available from all machines, but even collecting 1 stamp from each machine is a challenge. Collecting multiple values from each machine to me is a bit of overkill, and I would prefer to focus on getting one example of each. The lower value printed on the stamp, the better for me, since it means the item is more affordable.

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

Not in my album 3

Time to talk about another issue that is not included in my album. Once again, the Philatelic Service issued an imperf version of the standard souvenir sheets. These were also overprinted with a serial number. This time, the only way to get the souvenir sheets was at the Israel 98 show. They were included in the official show catalog as an insert. I have one catalog complete with the insert, as well as this one shown at the left that is just the insert without the rest of the catalog. I have also seen several catalogs without the insert. I am not sure if the insert was removed, or if there were catalogs sold without the inserts. The one time I saw several catalogs in the same place, the owner was not aware of the presence of the inserted souvenir sheets, and only 1 of his 5 catalogs contained one. Any one at the show that can help shed some light on this?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Visit to a stamp show

Today, for the first time in close to 2 years, I made it to a stamp show. The show was Sacapex, in Sacramento, California. There were about 20 dealers there, and I stopped at all of them. Surprisingly, I walked out of the show with several items to add to my collection. I was able to find a set of Egypt overprinted Palestine stamps that I have been looking for, N1-19. Unfortunately, they were LH stamps, but the price was right and I wanted to be able to add the scans to my database. At another table, I found a set of the Jordan overprinted Palestine UPU issue (N19-22), and these were MNH. Another dealer had a copy of N4, again LH, but at a quarter it will make a fine space filler. I also found 2 covers, 1 a FDC of some Egypt overprinted Palestine and 1 a valid usage of Jordan overprinted Palestine with one of the NRA (revenue) stamps on it.
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


The Negev Camel FDC I posted a few days ago is apparently frequently counterfeited. There was a write up about it in the SIP journal I received this week. Luckily, Sid Morginstin took a closer look at the scan I posted (I actually sent him a higher resolution image to look at as well), and he says it appears genuine as far as he can tell. Of course, he didn't see the actual cover, just the scan, so it is a best effort estimate, not an expertization, but it is reassuring regardless. I saw this same cover up on eBay today, with a start price of $250 and a buy it now price of $400. I am watching the auction to see what ends up happening. The cover on e-bay does have a cert with it, so it is worth a bit more than mine, but it will give me an idea of what it is worth.

Managing my collection part2

Storing covers has been a problem for me. I used to use Showguard cover albums, but I have found that the separators tend to tear, and there is no easy way to add pages in the middle. A few years ago, I found the Supersafe cover albums, which are much nicer in my mind. The albums are a bit pricey, but you can add a bunch of pages to the stock album without overfilling it. The albums come with 25 pages, and each page fits 4 covers. They make pages without a horizontal divider on the page that fit 2 covers (1 on each side) per page. Really large covers go in in plastic sleeves in a binder.

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.