Friday, August 29, 2008

You can't be serious!

Ok, so I stole a John McEnroe line, I figure it was appropriate given it is US Open time. Anyway, I was looking at e-bay this morning, when I came across this lot. No, why someone would actually list a common, used Israel stamp (Scott #82) for 99 cents is beyond me. Calling it rare and unique go a bit beyond exaggeration however. What really gets me is that someone actually bid on the stamp! I wish I knew who, I would offer them a bag full of them. These are the type of stamps that you see in those old packets of 100 stamps for $1, and even then it is overpriced. Maybe used stamps are hot all of a sudden, but I can't think of a reason why.

Monday, August 25, 2008

SIP Website Suggestions

In a comment on my last post, Mike Bass asks for suggestions that would make the SIP website better. OK, here you go:
  1. Add an online catalog - The IPF site in Israel has an online listing of stamps and cancels, why can't the SIP website have one? Having items like the different dated definitive plateblocks would help, as would listing items other than stamps, such as revenues, postal stationary, and machine vended postage (Frama, Klussendorf, Amiel, Massad, etc).
  2. Add a place for members to swap items - I have a ton of duplicates that I would love to swap with other collectors. They are not really worth posting on E-bay (special cancels, plateblocks, etc), but would be great trading material if there were anyplace to trade it.
  3. How about press releases from Israel Post? After I had bought the items I needed from a dealer from the Jerusalem 08 show, I got a letter from the philatelic service offering me many of the items at face value. Had I known in advance about this, I could have saved some money.
  4. Even better, have the SIP sell some of the unique items from the shows through the website.
  5. How about a list of dealers of Israel material with links to there web pages?
  6. A list of what books are available from the SIP library. Even better, a way to request a book from the library online. I have only tried to borrow a book from the library once, and was unsuccessful in doing so. Apparently the book I requested was listed in the inventory published in the SIP newsletter (I have only seen the list published once, can't remember when) but was not able to be located.
  7. How about some articles? There really is no content on the current site. Instead of just having a list of slide presentations available, how about posting them as PDF's?
  8. Virtual meetings? How about having regular virtual meetings? It can be done via NetMeeting, live chat, some kind of conference call, etc.
  9. A place for members to post a want list.

Anyway, there are some quick suggestions. The most important thing to do is to get content on the site that drives people to visit it on a regular basis. The trade and discussion forums are pretty useless on there, since no one is visiting the site to leave messages. Until today, it had been a few months since I visited the site, and that was only to pull up the e-mail address of some of the officers. On the other hand, I visit the virtual stamp club every few days, just to read up and see what is going on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stampshow 2008

I happened to be on the East Coast this past week to attend a cousins wedding and visit with my parents. Since a lot of relatives would be coming to NY for the wedding, my sister also held the naming ceremony for her second daughter on Saturday (the wedding was on Sunday). I did a bit of searching on the web to see if there were any stamp shows in NY that my dad (also a stamp collector, though of US and UN stamps) and I could attend. Not a single one. Since the baby naming was in Connecticut, I searched there as well. Bingo! Not only was there a stamp show in Hartford (a 45 minute drive from the Temple where my niece was being named, but it was the largest show in the US this year, the APS Stampshow.
So, after attending the baby naming, my dad and I packed my daughters in a car with my grandparents, my mom, and my wife, and saw them on there way back to Long Island via the Bridgeport Ferry, we headed out to the show. We got there around 1pm on Saturday. This gave us about 3 hours to look around before we had to make our way home. After signing in, I went and visited at Garel’s booth for a few minutes. I have been buying stamps from George ever since I started collecting, over 20 years ago. Since I get my new issues from George, I saved myself some postage and picked up my next shipment in person.
My next stop was at Coverman’s booth. Since he has boxes of covers separated by country, I figured I could pick up a few interesting ones to add to my collection. What a disappointment. He had a box of Israel covers alright, and I did indeed find a few that I needed. However, when I was informed of the price (the covers are not marked, you had them to the dealer, and he gives you a total), I was shocked. He wanted $10 for a 1952 cover with a common stamp and a slogan cancel! He said someone had recently shown him the same cover in a catalog for $40. I told him it was worth $1 to me, and that was probably high. As far as I know, the last catalog to price Israel slogan cancels was the 1969 Mosden catalog, and none of the covers was listed for that much. He stood firm on his price, and I simply returned it to the box and left. I assume it will still be in the box the next time I see him at a show (in 4-5 years!) Too bad I didn’t bring my box of duplicate covers from the same time frame, I would have gladly offered them to him for $2 a piece, and been ecstatic to get that! In fact, if I could sell my duplicates at 2 for $1, I would take it in a heartbeat. Some people just have inflated opinions as to what their stock is worth. You see it all the time on E-bay, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see it in person at a show.
Of course, the opposite is also true. I did stop at several of the dealers who stock the world by Scott number, and made some incredible finds. I picked up an Egypt NC26 (Palestine overprint airmail stamp) for $2. I am not sure what the value of this stamp is, but I needed it, and $2 is cheaper than I could get it on E-bay (assuming I could ever find it there) once I factor in the shipping. Another dealer had an Egypt N117, another stamp missing from my collection, and at 20 cents, I couldn’t go wrong. Then came the steal of the show. A dealer had a bunch of Jordan N18-22 sets, at $4 each. Now, I have this set already, but one of the dealers sets caught my eye. One of the stamps had the overprint misspelled “PLAESTINE”. This is a known variety of the stamp, and I think there was 1 per sheet. I have bid on these on E-bay, but have always been outbid. The last one I can remember went for around $100, so when I saw it in a set listed at $4, I grabbed it. Well, I must have missed some sign at the table or something, because while $4 was the catalog value of the set, the dealer only charged me $2! If I hadn’t needed the stamp, I might have been tempted to tell the dealer about his mistake, I have done it before when I saw varieties missed by dealers, but since I needed the stamp, this thought didn’t cross my mind at all. There was one more bargain I found at yet another dealers table. Again, it was the same Jordan N18-22 set. Only this time, it was 3 of the stamps with inverted overprints. And this time, the dealer had identified the variety. Still, he was only asking $30, and I thought it was reasonable, so I added it to my purchases.
I only made one other purchase, and this was of a cover. It was at the DragonCards booth (run by Lloyd De Vries, who is also the founder of the virtual stamp club that I visit daily (and comment on infrequently). I had stopped at his booth to talk to him about the site, and introduced myself. He does his own cachets, mostly for US stamps, but when I mentioned that I collect Israel stamps, he was able to point me to one he did for a pediatric medicine stamp. It was an interesting cover, and at $3.50, I added it to my collection.
I did stop at a few other booths, including House of Zion (Ed Rosen) just to say hello. I also stopped at Henry Gitner’s booth, and he actually had a bunch of Israel material, but he was too busy buying stamps from some dealers who stopped at the table to spend any time going through his stock with me. He had 4-5 customers sitting at his booth waiting to be handed material to look through, but he was more interested in purchasing some stamps from another dealer to help anyone. I don’t understand this lack of customer service, but I know it cost him any chance of doing business with several of us. I waited a few minutes, and actually spent some time chatting to the customer next to me, who collects Israel Revenue stamps (his name escapes me now, but I have his card in my luggage). Hopefully, I will be able to do some trading of duplicates with this collector in the future.
In total, I spent about $40, and came away with a few new stamps for my collection. While none of them were Israeli stamps, I think it was worth the trip. I just wish I would have been able to fill in more items from my want list, but there is always the fact that the 2012 Stampshow will be in Sacramento (~20 minutes from my house) so I will have another shot in 4 years!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Link to my E-bay items

I got a request to post a link to my items on E-bay. Here it is. Hopefully, this means the items are of interest to people, and will eventually sell.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Some updates

I spent some time catching up on my stamps this weekend. Not only did I manage to get all my 2008 stamps scanned and inventoried. Unfortunately, I found that I had acquired a few duplicates. Even worse, the duplicates are of the more expensive issues. So, I listed these on E-bay. Hopefully, I will be able to at least break even on these.

I also had time to go through more plateblocks. I spent the most time on the seven species issue. There are 42 dated plateblocks listed for this issue in BALE. The Wallach catalog does not contain much info on this issue, only listing the first date of the 1.40 value. I found that I had multiple varieties of each date, usually one with a corner cross-hatch mark, and one without. For the higher value items, I found some with wide spacing on the margin, and some with narrow. I have a fairly complete set of duplicates, including at least one example of each of the 42 dates, and I have listed this on E-bay as well.