Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I am starting to look into the special items that will be offered by the postal service in conjunction with the Jerusalem 2008 stamp show. I thought it would be $200-$300 in special items. Boy, was I wrong. If I want one of everything, it comes to over $1000. I was shocked.

First, there are 4 prestige booklets, with a total retail price of over $75. I am not sure how much markup is included in the retail price over the face value, but it doesn't seem like a lot, since I see 3-4 dealers all advertising approximately the same prices. FDC's of the 4 booklets will cost at least the same as the mint booklets, but could be as much as 2x the price. This isn't the first show with prestige booklets (Israel 98 had one, as did Telabul 2004), but to have twice as many new prestige booklets in this show as in all previous ones seems excessive to me.

Another special item they are only offering at the show is the show book. This book will contain an imperf souvenir sheet. This book will only be available at the show, and the imperf souvenir sheet is available only in the book. I am not sure how much the book will retail for yet, but it will probably be in the $40 range. Of course, a FDC will be prepared by dealers in Israel, and there will be a markup over the mint sheet as well.

The next items are the Massad Tete-Beche sheets. There will be one issued every day of the show (8 total), and each will have different text (opening day, collectors day, etc). The sheets will have a face value of about $15 each, meaning a set of 8 will be $120. Again, FDC's will be available from dealers for a premium over the mint sheets. In addition to the 8 sheets of 10 values each, the opening day of the show will feature a special sheet with 10 stamps with the 1.55 NIS value.

Then, there are the SIMA stamps. 2 different machines will be used (001, and 060). Normal sets are 8 different values. Each set will again be $15 or so. Not only are there FDC's, but there are maximum cards as well. Since this will be the first time the 001 machine is in use since they converted from purple ink to black ink, the 4 most recent SIMA issues will also be available in black print for the first time.

There will also be a new Israel 60th anniversary booklet, a 60th anniversary poster souvenir sheet, and a 60th anniversary definitive. There will also be a Jerusalem of Gold souvenir sheet (the perforated one that will be imperf in the book). This souvenir sheet will have gold leaf and a rather hefty price tag by itself.

Last, there will be 2 new flower sheets that will be able to be printed with custom stamps ("My Stamp"). I believe these will be scratch and sniff stamps as well.

I hope this is all the issues, but I am sure there will be a surprise or two. I am already trying to figure out what I will buy, since 1 of each is clearly out of the question (I would rather buy a set of J1-5 tabs for almost the same price). I will probably use the money I earned selling my duplicates to fund my purchases, which would put me at around $300.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Westpex...waste of time

So, I went to Westpex on Sunday in San Francisco. What a waste of time. Despite having e-mailed all the dealers with what I was looking for, just 1 dealer had Israel material. There was also an SIP meeting there, with a total of 5 attendees, including Ed Rosen who was running the meeting and Ephraim who gave a talk about self taxation in Israel during the 1940's. While the talk was interesting, most of the material discussed was so specialized as to be beyond me. That was a common theme for the day. I walked around the 3 rooms twice. First, I was looking for Israel, Egypt overprinted Palestine or Jordan overprinted Palestine. Most of the dealers had nothing. Two actually had some basic material, but nothing of interest, and 1 dealer had some interesting items. That was the extent of it, for a show with about 50 dealers. There was really only 1 booth doing a lot of business, and that was the A & D booth in the corner. They were the only ones at the show who seemed to carry basic material (for example, any items that sold for under $5) for the world. For the 3 hours I was at the show, this double sized booth was packed, often with 3-4 people waiting in line to take a seat at one of the 15 chairs in front of the booth. None of the other dealers had more than 1 person at the table. I was also the youngest collector in the room, by at least 2 decades. What does this say for the future of stamp shows? Why bother going to a show, paying $5 admission, and seeing less than 10 items of interest when I can log into E-bay at any time and see over 1000? Of those 1000, I typically will watch 20-40 at a time, and it costs me nothing to browse. Of course, you pay for shipping (sometimes it is more for shipping than the stamps!), but the dealers at the show don't carry this material anyway, so that argument goes out the window. I think the show promoters just don't get it. They set up kids areas with stacks of used stamps for a penny a piece, and think that is going to attract kids to the hobby. But, when they want to go from collecting penny stamps to being more serious collectors, they have to abandon the shows. There is no one there providing stamps in the under $5 range, with the one exception noted above. At this point, 90% of the kids will give up and move on to some other hobby. Dealers would rather hit the home run selling a few $500 stamps, then actually have to work at the show selling hundreds of low priced stamps for the same net profit. When I was a kid, 90% of the dealers at the show would have items for the average collector, and I would spend hours going through a box of covers, or through stock books. Now, it is down to 1 dealer a show. Give it 5 years, and the shows will be attended by fewer people than a Marlins-Dodgers game in August, when both are fighting for last place.

Friday, April 25, 2008


So, I published a few weeks ago about my new purchase of a UPU tete-beche sheet. Well, I saw a similar sheet on E-bay, and I was happy to find that the lot on E-bay went for considerably higher than I paid through the conventional auction house that I bought mine from, even when the commision charged by the aution firm was included. If I didn't need the item in my collection, I would consider flipping it.

I also listed another 11 lots on E-bay. These are all artist signed folders. I tried listing them with a start price of $4.99 instead of the $0.99 I started the previous lots at. The lots end this weekend, so I will see how I do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Other sites of interest

Recently, Ihave found 2 new stamp sites that are worth checking out. The first is the Virtual Stamp Club. This site seems focused primarily on FDC's, but occasionally, there are some good discussions in the forums. The second site is My Philately. It is relatively new, but there is an Israel forum on there. Unfortunately, it is mostly Stampman and I doing the posting, but hopefully it will pick up.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Looks like a new Israel catalog was recently released. I am seeing these listed on E-bay starting today, at $49.99 plus $7.50 shipping. Has anyone seen this catalog? I am still using the Bale 1998 catalog. I have the newer versions, but ever since Mr. Bale sold the catalog, it has gone downhill. The prices seem to be way out of reason, especially for the back of the book material. Prices of 10% of 2000 Bale catalog are more reasonable. Spending over $50 for a new catalog seems to be a waste, especially since the majority of the information is not very useful. I am interested to know if the catalog has more details on back of the book items. Any information would be appreciated.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Planning a visit to Westpex

I got a post card in the mail last week announcing the Westpex show in SF for the last weekend in April. I already had plans to go to the Bay Area on Saturday of that weekend for a visit to Six Flags for a work party, so it looks like we will make a weekend out of it.
I have been to this show in the past, and it is usually pretty good. However, there is always some dealer whose response to my typical question of "Do you have any Israel?" is "Yes, I have just what you are looking for, but I forgot to bring it." This frustrates me to no end. I understand dealers can't bring there entire stock, but still, there is always an SIP meeting at the Westpex shows, so if you were a dealer, wouldn't you bring your stock that is guaranteed to have a collectors asking for?
Instead of leaving it to chance, I decided to e-mail all the dealers participating in the show. Luckily, the show website has e-mail addresses for 90+% of the dealers, so I just copied and pasted from there. So far, 2 of the e-mail addresses bounced, 2 dealers said they would bring what they had, and about 5 dealers said they don't carry the material I am looking for. I guess in 2 weeks, I will know if it did any good.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Last week, I listed 15 lots on E-bay. Yesterday, they ended. All 15 sold, and I was amazed at how many bids these lots received. I sold the 15 lots for a total of $175 and change. Additionally, I sent second chance offers to four bidders who lost out by 1 bid on items that I had multiple duplicates of. 2 of the 4 second chance offers were accepted, bringing the total for 17 lots up to just over $200. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, last year when I tracked E-bay sales for 6 months, special booklets sold for nearly $16 each on average, and I recieved less than $12 on average. Subtracting out the $62 for the souvenir sheets, the special booklets went for only $10.30. Not bad, and better than I had hoped for. They were all duplicates, and were just taking up space, now I can turn them into items that I can cross off my want list. Hopefully, this weekend, I will list some more items. Showcards, maybe?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Should I feel bad?

I saw this lot on E-bay today, and I couldn't resist the $3.84 buy it now price. The item is obviously mis-described as the normal 1340-1 souvenir sheets. Instead, these are the rarer, imperf and numbered issue from the Israel 98 show catalog. These normally go for at least $20. Am I taking advantage of the fact that the seller doesn't know what he has? Or, am I just taking advantage of my knowledge of the stamps to make a shrewd buy? I did consider e-mailing the seller about his mistake, but decided against it. In the past, when I see items at shows that are mislabelled, I have pointed it out to the dealer, and they usually are happy to learn about it. But in that case, I am usually talking to the dealer about other items he has, or I have seen the dealer at the show before. In this case, I don't know the seller at all, and may or may not see items he is selling in the future. What would you have done?

New purchase

I saw this item for sale in a recent auction, and couldn't resist putting in a bid. Despite the fact that I dislike the fees associated with regular auctions, the start price was low enough to make taking a stab at it. Surprisingly, I won. So, here is my latest addition to my Tete-Beche sheet collection. I think I now have every issue in full sheets, except for 10-14. This won't stay my latest addition for long, as while putting away my plate blocks, I noticed that the Zodiac tete-beche sheets come in two different printing dates. Of course, I only had the first printing date for the sheets, but I quick search on E-bay turned up a set of the second printing dates (thanks Sam!) that were listed for buy-it now at a reasonable price, so I purchased them as well.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Last Monday, I listed 28 lots on e-bay, mostly artist signed FDC's and Souvenir Leaves with a few random other lots sprinkled in. Well, they all closed last night, and 26 of 28 lots sold, with the two unsold lots being a sheet of South African stamps and a souvenir leaf. For the 26 lots that did sell, I realized a total of $154.30. Not bad, considering that the majority of these items came as part of large accumulations I bought, and have a cost basis near zero. The reason I say the cost basis is near zero is because of my buying strategy on E-bay. When I bid on a lot, I bid what I am willing to pay for the items that will become part of my collection. If there are additional items in the lot, I value those at zero when deciding on my bid. So, when I sell these back, it is pure profit.

I started all lots at 99 cents, and all but 3 of the lots sold at more than that. The lot that went for the most was a bunch of Egypt stamps overprinted Palestine. There were 47 stamps in the lot, and it went for $39. Artist signed FDC's did very well, with most going for over $5 each. Souvenir leaves were the weakest, with 2 of the six that sold only garnering a single bid for the minimum, and the others not going for much more. The 2 postal stationary items I sold didn't do much either, with neither going for over $3, and the UPU plate blocks only went for $1.04.

I decided to list some more lots yesterday. This time, I listed 15 lots, most of them are special show booklets. I also listed a 1041a souvenir sheet (The imperf version of the Ardon Windows souvenir sheet from 1990) and 907-9a (the FIP overprints on the Israphil 85 souvenir sheets). So far, a little over 12 hours in, 9 of the 15 lots have bids, some have several.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For sale

I noticed that E-bay was having a one cent listing sale yesterday. Since I have stacks of duplicates, I spent an hour listing 28 lots. I listed a bunch of artist signed FDC's, souvenir leaves, and Palestine overprints on Egypt stamps, plus a few other miscellaneous lots. In order to speed it up, I tried to list items that I had scans of already. I still have tons of duplicates, but hopefully at the end of the week, I will have 28 lots less. So far, after about 12 hours, 7 have bids. Hopefully, in the next 4 days, they will all get bids. I would prefer more than 1 bid on each item, but I will be happy to sell all the items for the minimum bid.