Friday, December 28, 2007

Not in my Album - Tete Beche 4

This is the last of the uncommon Tete Beche stamps issued. This is the Freedom from Hunger Tete Beche sheet issued in 1963 (Scott 237). This stamp was used in the twelfth booklet Israel produced, and is much rarer than the previous issue (the zodiac Tete Beche stamps, which I skipped over so far). I don't know why this one is so much harder to find then the zodiac sheets, or even why the vertical gutter pairs are harder to find then the horizontal Tete Beche pairs. There are 4 of each on the sheet, so you would think that they would all be worth about the same, but for some reason the vertical pairs go for much more than the horizontal ones.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

3 additional tab sheets

This first one is different from all the rest, in that it does not have a serial number. instead, the wide white band at the top and the imperf partial stamps are all that tell us it is a tab sheet. I have not seen the other 2 stamps of this issue in tab sheets, although I have seen what appear to be cut down sheets of the regular issue (with perforated partial stamps at the top) offered on E-bay. Since anyone can take a paper cutter to a regular sheet to create those, I question their authenticity. Even if they were authentic, I would question there collectibility, since it would be impossible to tell if they were legit or were created form the full sheets by the seller. Unlike the first issue, the serial number at the top of this perforated tab sheet is fully intact and visible.
Here is the last of the tab sheets that I know of. This one has the imperf top row and complete serial number.

Tab sheets

I guess the Israel postal service recognized in 1957 that collectors were only interested in tab stamps. As a result, I guess, they printed some sheets that had only the tab stamps. I know of 5 such sheets printed, all in 1957. The one here on the left has the top row of partial stamps imperforate, while the one on the right has the top row perforated. You can tell they are not just cut down regular issue sheets by the serial number. On the perforated sheet, only the bottom portion of the serial number is visible on the center stamp, while the imperf sheet has the whole number clearly visible. I guess there must have been collector backlash or something, since these sheets were only done 9at least as far as I know) for 3 issues of 1957.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not in my Album - Tete beche 3

The third coin issue was also printed in Tete beche form, this time for use in booklet #8. however, only the 5, 10, and 30 pruta stamps were included in the booklet. Why were the other 3 stamps issued in Tete Beche format? Was there another booklet planned, but never issued?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

When I look for Israel stamps, the first place I look is always E-bay, but today I decided to check out They have a drawing for an inverted Jenny stamp, which is an incentive to register for the site. I did a search for Israel stamps however, and I was pretty disappointed with what I found. While there are over 3800 lots listed, the majority are common stamps listed individually for sale. While useful for a beginning collector, these common stamps are of no interest to me. Sadly lacking from the listings were back of the book issues and covers. There were a handful of common first day covers, and I think a total of 4 errors listed. None of which were of any interest to me. There was not one lot that I considered bidding on. While E-bay has only about a third the lots listed for Israel (about 1100), there are many more interesting lots (I am currently watching 30-40).

Not in my album - Tete Beche 2

The third Tete-Beche issue was in 1950, with the UPU issue. This issue was used for booklet #7. This issue was just a single sheet with the two stamps in Tete-Beche format.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Not in my album - Tete Beche

Some of the first back of the book type items I started collecting were the tete-beche stamps. These are from sheets intended to be used to make booklets. Normally, a sheet of tete-beche stamps is broken up into panes for the booklets, but some of the sheets were sold to the public. This is example is from the second coins issue (1949). Booklets 4-6 were made using these stamps (booklets 1-3 were from the Doar Ivri stamps).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Follow up from 12/12

Last week, I was amazed to find a set of ATM stamps on FDC on E-bay for the start price of $65,000. Unsurprisingly, there was not a single bid on the lot. Again, what was the seller thinking? Was it just to get people talking about the lot?

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?

New Massad labels

Last week (12/12) there was a new Massad printing for the 21st Philately day. What is interesting about this issue is that it appears that 2 different sheets were issued. They are both tete-beche sheets of 10. The difference is one sheet has only the 1.55 value, while the other has 10 different values. I don't believe either sheet is available through the philatelic services standing order service. I have seen both sheets available on E-bay in both Mint and FDC, at close to face value.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I was looking at new lots posted on E-bay, and was shocked by what some people think stamps are worth. For example, take a look at this lot. I assume an early usage of a new stamp deserves a premium over a typical FDC, perhaps even 3-5x the valuation. But, in this case, the seller is asking for about a 1000x premium. What is the point? Israel stamps over $1000 rarely sell on E-bay, and a stamp over $65,000 seems to have no shot. I will track it to see if it sells, but I doubt it will. The seller paid $4.80 to list the item for sale. Is he throwing his money away? The same seller has listed some miscut ATM stamps for $7000. Again, I believe these have no chance of selling. I would just like to know what he is thinking by listing his items at prices that have no chance of being met. Is it just advertising?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Private booklets

Recently, I have seen a lot of so called Private Booklets for sale both on E-bay and advertised in Linn's. To call these booklets is a stretch in my mind. It appears that some enterprising dealer has gone and printed up some covers on card stock, then they take stamps and attach them in (usually, by the selvage). Most issues are offered in several formats (plate block, tab block, tab strip). All are stamped on the back with a number in order to make them more limited. And then, they are sold at a huge markup (sometimes, upwards of $20 a booklet). What makes these of philatelic interest? The Israel Post never sold the stamps in this format. In reality, if you buy these, you are paying for the cover, which you can just as easily print yourself. I say avoid this gimmick and save your money for better items.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Conventional auctions

Recently, I won 1 lot in the Romano auction and 1 lot in the Unistamps auction. These auctions were both in October, and yesterday I received the lot from Romano. The one from Unistamps has yet to show up, and they haven't responded to my last 3 e-mails. I paid for the lots via credit card the day the invoices were sent out, which was within a few days of the auction close. Not only are the conventional auction houses slower than e-bay, they charge a huge amount of fees on top of a winning bid.
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

Seen this before?

I saw this item on E-bay a few months ago, and the price was right, so it became a part of my collection. Actually, I pretty much got this for free, since the auction included a set of the overprinted souvenir sheets, which I later sold. I may even have made a small profit on the deal. Anyway, this is I believe a proof of the overprint used at the show for the souvenir sheets. I don't know much else about it. I don't recall seeing this listed anywhere. Anyone have an idea of how many exist? Since it was printed privately, it could be 1 or it could be thousands as far as I can tell.