Monday, December 7, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
However, the rest of the proceeds will probably be needed for the next set of special items that the Israel post is putting out now. There is a fifth printing of "The Israeli" booklet (not including the inverted die cut variety and the missing Arabic variety). There is also a special generic sheet being issued for Hanukkah, and a set of Christmas ATM stamps (not sure how many machine numbers they will have this year, but past years have had 3 different numbers).
Here we are at the end of 2009, and there has not been a new Bale Israel catalog released since 2006. They used to be released every other year, so does this mean that they will no longer be releasing them at all? Or, did they just decide to change it to every 4 years (maybe longer)? Anyway, I am not finding that it affects me at all, since I am able to find out what is being released through other means. I used to rely on the catalog to tell me about new postal stationary, booklets, etc. I even decided to not wait on the editors of the catalog to assign numbers to the new issues. They were doing a rather poor job of it anyway (the last postal stationary item listed in Bale 2004 was issued in 1998, before the new publishers took over). Rather than wait any longer for them to assign numbers, I did it myself. One day I will publish my own listings....
Saturday, November 21, 2009
- A designer autographed presentation folder for the 1978 Wild Flowers stamp. Somehow, I ended up with 2.
- A page of the first revenue stamps. This includes some of the higher values from the set. This came as part of a collection I bought a few years ago, and I already had these in my collection.
- A page of the second revenue stamps. This came as part of the same collection. Again, most of the higher values are included.
- A nearly complete Israel Mint singles collection. This includes everything from 1948 until 1978, except for a few issues in the seventies. All the key values are there, including 7-9, 16, J1-5, C16, 241a. These are mounted on White Ace pages. I only spot checked the collection, but it appears to be MNH. Unfortunately, #9 has some damage on the back, but the others look fine.
- 8 pages of Palestine (British Mandate) stamps. I am not sure where these came from, but I was holding on to them in the hopes that I would one day have time to go through and identify the various varieties. They are all different shades, perfs, papers, and cancels for the various pictorial issues. I finally admitted to myself that I don't want to get that into the Palestine stamps. I figure someone out there might want to.
- The last item has nothing to do with Israel. These are 200+ US stamp announcement sheets. I have no idea if these have a different name, but they appear to be publicity sheets printed by the USPO to publicise the stamps that were coming out. They contain a bunch of information about the stamp, and say POST ON BULLETIN BOARD. I have ones covering the late 60's and the early 70's. These include all kinds of subjects for stamps, as well as postal stationary.
Hopefully, there is something for everyone there. Good luck.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
One possible explanation is that the seller made an obvious mistake in the listing that caused it to miss my normal search. My normal search is to got o stamps.ebay.com and look for all stamps with Israel in the title. That brings up about 2000 listings, 100-200 new ones a day. This item was not present in that search. In an attempt to cram as much info into the title as possible, the seller removed the space between Israel and 2006 in the title. E-bay's search engine fails to recognize Israel2006 as matching the string Israel. I am not sure why, but I am glad I did some deeper searches to find this item.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Recently, I decided to look at the these plate blocks in more detail. I started tracking all the listings of these on E-bay (and even checked Delcampe and Stamp Wants). There are 85 plate blocks that came up in my search. 6 of these had significant errors (4 were double perf, 2 were imperf). If I exclude these, the start price of the listing was on average 60% of the Bale 2004 catalog value. However, only 7 of these blocks sold. 3 of the lots that sold were from the batch of 4 with double perfs. The other 4 sold for only 37% of catalog on average. This doesn't even tell the whole story, since of the 4 that sold, 2 sold for less than 20% of catalog value, and 2 sold for just over 50% of catalog value.
It is also interesting that only 18 of the 85 lots were listed in the traditional auction format, while the rest are listed in the store format with buy it now prices. The 2 plate blocks that sold for under 20% of catalog value were both listed in the traditional auction format. That isn't to say there aren't bargains available in the store format. There is a 50 mill plate block, group 141, listed at $19 buy it now. The catalog value of this block is $160. It has been listed since June at this price, and there have been no takers, even at 12% of catalog value. There are 3 other plate blocks listed at less than 25% of catalog value, so this is not an isolated case.
One of the benefits of looking at plate blocks is that they each have serial numbers that make identifying them easy. This allows me to get a more complete look at what is going on with the price of an individual item. For example, one seller listed the 15 mil plate block from group 94 with serial number 1030 3 separate times before it sold (to me). The first time, it was listed in his store at $27 (54% of the $50 catalog value). It went unsold until 10/20/09, when the listing ended. The seller than listed it in a 7 day traditional auction with a start price of $12 (24% of catalog value). Again, it went unsold. It was then listed in another 7 day traditional auction with a start price of $9 (18%). I was the only bidder. I could have taken a chance that it would have been re-listed lower, but I decided to buy it.
There is also a significant benefit to shopping around. There are 10 copies of the 50 mill plate block in group 141 currently for sale. They range in price from $19 to $130 (12% - 81%). Some of the blocks in the middle are listed as LH, while both the high and low priced ones are listed as MNH.
I also see one seller listing the same plate block on E-bay and Stamp Wants. The prices on each site are very different. The 20 mill group 123 plate block is listed on stampwants for $1300 (with the make offer option enabled), and the same plate block is on E-bay for $1400 (again, with the make offer option enabled). The same seller has a 50 mill group 139 plate block for sale on E-bay for $399, while on Stamp Wants, the exact same block (identical serial number) is listed at $500. The same seller also has an imperf plate block of the 5 mill for sale on both sites. It is listed at $900 on Stamp Wants, and a staggering $1200 on E-bay. It definitely would pay to shop around if you are in the market for these high end plate blocks!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Some are very good deals, but I need to wait until my budget will allow me to buy them. Some I am watching just to see if the seller can get that much for an item (Bulletins for $15 each? I hope he gets it, I would be willing to sell 100's at 15 cents a piece if I could get it!).
In order to avoid cluttering up my watch list, I actually bid on a few lots right as I saw them, rather than wait until the last minute like I usually do. One reason I did this, is that if the item goes above the minimum bid, I probably wouldn't bid on it. So, rather than let someone else make the decision for me, I just made the bid and now if someone wants it, they will have to decide if it is worth more than the minimum. I will see how well this strategy works.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Shouldn't the rarer items go for a higher percentage of list price then the more common items? My best guess is that there just aren't that many buyers for this type of material now, and dealers are just trying to clear their inventory before the catalog makers catch up with the new reality of the market. Will this ever happen?
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
So, what do I find at bargain prices? Here is an example of what I found now (none of these items are being sold by me, nor do I have any financial interest in driving up the prices for them). Obviously, I am not going to list items that I am considering bidding on, since I don't want to create competition for items I want to buy.
The first item is the Ardon Windows imperf sheet. Here it is at a start price of $9.99. My 2004 Bale catalog lists it at $50.
Not good enough? How about the Postal Museum sheet? The same seller has both the perforated and imperforated versions for sale at the buy it now price of $20. He also has best offer enabled, which means you can probably get it for $15. Bale has the imperf one at $50, and the perforated one at $4.
Ok, what about older stamps? How about C1-6 tabs with a start price of $0.99? or the UPU set, currently selling for $5.50? Can't beat those deals.
Ok, so there are 4 different deals that I found in 5 minutes of looking. The deals are out there. If you can't find them on your own, consider being my first customer for my stamp finding service.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The first, and largest, was single used stamps that are basically a dime a dozen (and you would be lucky to get that much for them!) Is anyone really looking to buy used definitive stamps at 2-3 cents each? The shipping costs make this a no win situation, even if there were a lot of people who collect this way.
The second category are mint stamps and FDC's listed at full retail price. This was also a fairly large chunk of the listings. I guess when there is no cost to list the items, there is no reason to start the item low and let the market determine the price. Maybe I am spoiled by the prices I can buy items for on E-bay, but I guess this makes more sense for sellers. I just can't see paying 10-15 Euros (almost all the lots were priced in Euros) for an item that catalogs for $15-$20. Once I factored in shipping, I would be paying more than full catalog price. If this was a super fine example of a rare stamp, maybe. But, for an IRC? Yes, it would have removed an item from my want list, but I just can't justify spending that much on it.
The third category is interesting items from sellers who I can't do business with. Admittedly, this is a very small category, but there were a few covers that I was interested in, but the seller would not accept any method of payment I could send. Most of my purchases from E-bay have been done by PayPal, and a few by check. However, there were sellers on delcampe that would only accept a bank transfer, or in Euros (send cash?). If the items were priced better, i may have invested some time in finding a way to make the transaction work, but they were priced right at the limit of what I was willing to pay, and it just wasn't worth it to put in the extra effort.
The fourth category was also the smallest. Items priced well that I needed. There was a single plate block that I placed a bid of $0.40 on. I wish I had found more from the same seller that I needed to amortize the shipping costs across, but I didn't. It is not even a rare plate block, just one that I am missing. Maybe it is even priced at full catalog price, but it was cheap enough that I felt I could bid. I won't be too disappointed if I am outbid, but I would like to win. And the seller even accepts PayPal.
So, out of 35,000+ listings, I found 1 to bid on. Not a good return on the hours of time I spent looking at the site, and not nearly as well as I do on E-bay on a daily basis (I usually find 1-2 items for every 100 that I at least watch).
Monday, August 24, 2009
I had someone at my work help translate the sticker book that was given away at the post office. There is a letter in there basically encouraging kids to go back to simpler times, before video games, and before the Internet, and start collecting again. Not just collect stamps, but collecting in general.
There are 100 spots in the sticker book for the numbered stickers on the post office sheets. There are also additional blank spots for people to put pictures of their friends, their classmates, and their family.
I now have in my collection 18 different post office sheets. 6 of these are with the hugs and kisses stamp, 8 are with the Blue and White stamp, 3 are with the With Love stamp, and 1 is with the Mazel Tov stamp. Based on the philatelic service versions, I know I am missing 4 of the stamps (Thank You, Good Luck, and the 2 different Flower stamps). Based on this data, I am unable to determine how many different sheets of each exist (or if they were issued in even numbers of combinations). I am hoping that some of my contacts in Israel can provide that kind of information. From examining the 18 different sheets I have, I can tell you that the sticker combinations are not unique. Some stickers are on multiple sheets. For example, sticker #56 is on both a Blue and White sheet and a With Love sheet. I also do not have any sheets that exactly correspond to the sticker combination seen on the Philatelic Service version of the stamps, but I can't rule that out either.
Basically, I am still in need of more data. If anyone out there has more of these sheets to sell or trade, please let me know. Thanks.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I did receive one other item from Israel last week. It is a book that was given away at the post office to hold the stickers from the special self adhesive sheets. It has 100 spots for the stickers. I need to bring it to one of my friends that speaks Hebrew so they can translate it for me, but at least it is a step to solving the mystery. I will post more details next week when I have more news.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Speaking of high prices, for some reason I am on the Apfelbaum auction mailing list. every few weeks they send out a link to there latest auction. I always look to see what they have in Israel. Usually, it is 1-2 lots. Recently, the same lot has been re-appearing in every auction. It is a basic tab collection up from 1949-1970, missing most of the high value tabs (25, 28-30, C1-6, etc). They have an estimate of $400-$500 on the lot. However, the minimum bid is $750. How in the world do they expect people to bid twice their estimate as a start bid? No wonder it never sells. Not that I would buy the lot, I just find it fascinating that people keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. A lot of what I do at work is looking at failures, and figuring out what we need to do next time to avoid the same problems. I guess not everyone does this on a regular basis.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My plate block collection was started by buying a few collections. Unfortunately, these collections ended around 1996. Starting in 2007, I subscribed to Israel post to get the new issue plate blocks directly. So, I have a roughly 10 year gap in my collection. Unlike the earlier Israel stamps, the ones I need are still valid for postage, and are therefore rather expensive, even at just face value. Last week, I saw a lot on E-bay offering 124 plate blocks from this missing decade in my collection with a total face value of NIS1658 (roughly $425). The starting bid was $299 (roughly 70% of face). I was the only bidder. It looks like I saved 30% (plus shipping costs) by not getting these direct from the postal service. A good deal for me, but a bad sign on the future value of my collection of these, I think.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
On the other hand, the self adhesive stamps I have been selling on E-bay have done quite well. I have sold all 10 lots I listed, and most have had a lot of bids. Average sale price has been over $6.75, with the highest price being $10. None have sold for the minimum.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The next item I found out about was an even bigger surprise. The generic stamps that Israel has been issuing for the past few years have been the traditional lick and stick variety. Now, for some contest run in Israel starting in February, they are selling the same stamp in a self adhesive variety. There are 8 stamps, each with 5 different personalized stamps (I think it is 5, I might be wrong though). They come on a sheet with 1 stamp, 1 personalized label, and 3 stickers. The sheets are sold in a foil wrapped envelope, so when you buy them you don't know what stamp/label combo you are getting. Apparently, the first 10 people to collect a complete set win a PSP. At this point, there is no way to buy a set of these anywhere, and I have not seen any offered for sale (on E-bay or elsewhere) in the US. The only way I found out about it was talking to Zohar here in Israel. I went to the post office in jerusalem myself, and bought the few they had for available there. I only managed to get 4 of the 8 stamps, and no more than 2 different labels for each stamp. I did get a few duplicates, and I will probably be listing them on E-bay when I get home. This might turn out to be one of the rarest new issues from Israel in a long time, and one of the hardest sets to put together. Or, the postal service might decide to offer complete sets to collectors once the contest is over, and it will merely be an interesting variety. Only time will tell, I guess.
There is a second variety of the same stamps that were made available on June first of this year. It has the same self adhesive stamps, but just with the generic smiling face label attached. It is 1 stamp and 1 label per sheet. The sheets are the same format as the ones above, but the text on the sheet itself is completely different, since it is not part of the contest. I did get a set of 8 of these, but they didn't seem to be available at the post office (at least, the one I went to). I haven't seen these offered from the philatelic service yet. I will have to call them and see.
When I get back home, I will scan and post the items so everyone can see what I am talking about.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
However, I was no where close to winning any of the 3 booklets. B2B had a minimum bid of $400, with an estimated value of $1000. The 2004 Bale catalog lists it at $850. It closed at $1900. When you add in the buyers premium, the winner will have paid nearly 2.5 times the catalog value. B3A had a start price of $600, with an estimated value of $1350 and a 2004 Bale catalog value of $1200. It closed at$1650. I checked the other booklets offered, and the majority of the early booklets went for more than the estimates.
So, it looks like the early booklets are hot right now, and their value should be on the rise. Most of the better booklets rarely come up on E-bay, so it is tough to compare. None of the early booklets have sold on E-bay in the past 2 weeks, and only 4 are currently offered for sale (B1, B3B, B5C, and B6). My earlier data from 2007 E-bay tracking shows several sales of the early booklets, most at about half of catalog value. Of course, I wasn't looking at traditional auction realizations then to know if this is normal, or an upward spike.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
The second frustrating thing is that I have been getting outbid on nearly every lot I bid on these past few weeks. There was a set of third coins tete-beche sheets up for sale (each sheet listed separately). While I already have almost 2 full sets, a few of the sheets had differences in the margin perforations (one or 2 edges imperf) then the ones I already own. Since I started collecting plate blocks with margin varieties, I thought I could pick up some of the ones I was missing in these auctions, without having to buy a complete set to just get one new variety. However, I think someone was after a complete set, because I was outbid at the last second on every single one I bid on, despite not bidding myself until ~10 seconds were left in the auction.
I am still watching ~15 items, but most of those are just plate blocks that I am interested in, but not willing to pay the buy it now price. These are all store inventory items, and they have been on my watch list for a few months now. I figure eventually the seller will drop his prices. We shall see.
On another note, looks like I will be going to Jerusalem for work in the middle of June. It doesn't look like I will have any free days in my schedule, but I hope to still meet some of the stamp dealers and collectors over there that I have been corresponding with for the past few years.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The part of the meeting I did catch was all about the new SIP website. The new website looks nice. It is nice that you can now buy any of the publications online, and even pay your dues via PayPal. Hopefully, the discussion and trade forums take off. Like I mentioned at the meeting, if no one is updating the site regularly, there is no reason for people to come back to it on a regular basis. If the discussions start going, I am sure people will visit the site daily. Otherwise, it will be just when people hit upon it with a search engine, or when someone is looking for something they know is on the site. I did notice one post on the trade forum, and already sent a mail to the poster. Hopefully, I will be able to trade for some plate blocks I need.
I did walk around the bourse for a while. There were really only 2 dealers with any decent amount of Israel material. Ed Rosen from House of Zion was there, and I spent an hour or so talking with him. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find anything I needed at his table, but I did learn about some interesting postal history items. There was also a person who sat down next to me at one point talking about his postage due exhibit. I was able to help him out a bit by e-mailing him the postal bulletins for the second postage due issue. I have copies in Hebrew and English in my collection, but, unfortunately no duplicates. Hopefully, the scans will work for him in the near term. As an additional bonus, even though I didn't find anything to buy at his table, Ed did buy a bunch of my duplicates. I took half in credit, and half as a check. He tells me his next auction will have a bunch of items I need, and I will be able to bid for a bunch of items that are normally out of my price range. Looking forward to that.
The other dealer with some Israel stock was Michael Jaffe. Unfortunately, I think it was the same material I saw last year at his booth. He had a handful of revenues that I needed, but they were a bit pricey, so I passed. The other dealers at the show had hardly any Israel.
Last year, I won the door prize at the show, a $100 gift certificate that was mailed to me after the show, good for purchases at this years show. Luckily, my dad collects US, and he had sent me a want list before the show. I was able to find a postal stationary dealer who had most of the postcard first day issues he was missing. I used the majority of the gift certificate on that. I also found 2 sheets he was looking for at the USPS booth, even though they are no longer on sale at the SFS.
A few negative things about the show. There is a $5 charge for admission, which is unusual for stamp shows. Most other shows are free admission. Not only that, but there was a $5 charge for parking, and it seemed like I had to park a mile away from the door to the hotel. I heard one collector who came to the show found out that he would have to pay admission, and turned right back around and left. Also, the dealers were spread out in 3 different rooms, and some of the rooms were hidden. I wonder if it was cheaper to have a table in one of the lower traffic rooms?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
I haven't seen this particular issue on E-bay at all yet. But, last month, Israel issued a new Massad Tete-Beche sheet of 10. I received this from one of my contacts in Israel.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I just picked up a set of J1-5 Plateblocks of 12 from an auction (Cherrystone). Plateblocks of 6 and 9 are listed in Bale, but not 12. However, a set of singles catalogs for about $85, so 12 sets of singles would have a catalog value of roughly $1000, without any premium for the plateblock. I paid significantly less than that, even when you add the buyers premium and outrageous shipping charge ($18!) in. In fact, I have seen a set of plateblocks of 6 for sale at the local stamp show for a firm price of over $500, which is about double what I paid for my set. I haven't been able to win a set on E-bay, despite trying for the past year or so. I was kind of shocked that I won this set for the minimum bid.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
This weekend was the time. There was finally a show in Sacramento, the Easter Seals benefit show, that was perfect for her. There were 8-10 dealers selling stamps, but the main attraction were the tables and tables of 2 cent stamps laid out throughout the room. These had thousands and thousands of used stamps. There were pint sized containers that you could use to put the stamps in, and she filled one to the brim! She went for flowers, horses, dogs, and birds. Not just one of each, but as many as she could find!
Originally, I had thought we would be there about an hour. We got there just after the show opened at 10, and I thought we would leave around 11:15 or so, get lunch, and go home. Well, that plan wasn't going to work. She spent over 3 hours at the tables, then wanted to grab a quick lunch at the show, and go right back to looking at stamps. We didn't leave until after 2:30, close to 4 and a half hours after we got there. The last time I went to this show alone (probably 10 years ago) it took me about a half hour, since I ignored the 2 cent tables and merely shopped the dealer tables for Israel stamps, finding almost nothing, and I never bothered to go back. Now, however, it looks like we will go back every year.
Not only did Julie find about 600 stamps for her collection, we also shopped at the table of donated supplies. We bought her a bunch of stockbooks and glassines, as well as another cover album. I even managed to pick up a pair of nice sheet albums for a dollar a piece. I think we spent a total of $35, including the $12 we spent on lunch at the show, but it was worth every penny. Julie called it a perfect day, and now we are spending some time together putting the stamps in her stockbooks. If I could only get her to understand that she doesn't need 50 of the same stamp in her album...
Monday, March 30, 2009
- E-Bay insertion fee - the cost to list an item on E-Bay, it is not a fixed cost, but depends on the start price. The lowest cost option is to list an item for $0.99 or less, which costs $0.15.
- E-Bay Final Value Fee - the cut that E-Bay takes of the sale. Again, it is a sliding scale, but for items that sell for less than $25, it is 8.75%
- PayPal Fees - the cost of accepting a payment via PayPal. Of course, E-bay now requires you accept PayPal, and the majority of buyers pay via PayPal, so this fee is incurred the majority of the time. $0.30 + 2.9% (for all sales under $3000).
So, for an item that sells for $0.99, I would need to pay $0.57 in fees. So, unless I paid less than $0.42 for the item, I am better off tossing it in the trash than trying to sell it on E-Bay.
Of course, that doesn't include shipping costs, which include not only postage, but the packaging material and envelope to send the item in. Most of the time, I get my shipping charges figured out correctly, and the buyer actually pays enough to cover the cost of shipping the item to them. However, in a few cases, I have been surprised at the post office when the postage comes out higher than I would expect. Whether this is because of a non-machinable surcharge, or an envelope being too large to qualify as a letter and going out as a parcel instead, I can never quite figure out. Some countries, like the Netherlands, are just insanely expensive to ship to for some reason as well.
Looking at the fees, it is easier to understand why E-Bay shipping fees often seem quite high. Rather than start an item at $3 with a $0.42 shipping cost, I can start it at $0.99 with a $2.50 shipping cost. Both cost the buyer about the same, but I can save $0.20 on insertion fees by starting the item at $0.99 rather than $3. Also, since the E-bay final value fee is on the final sale price, before shipping costs are added in, I can save an additional $0.175 in fees if the item goes for the minimum bid. I know it is not much, but on a percentage basis, it is huge.
I also know that a lot of dealers have discount postage around. If they sell US stamps, they can use the scrap from there US inventory to pay for postage. If you are willing to play some math games, you can also find large amounts of lower value US stamps for sale below face (left over $0.41 or $0.39 stamps, for example).
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Although there were some technical difficulties at the start of the show (the VOIP system at my desk phone evidently doesn't like the radio system), I think it went well. The only thing I wish I had done differently was that I didn't have my 2007 E-bay data open in front of me at the start of the show. I had thought we would be discussing more of the impact on prices, and less on my data analysis of market trends on E-bay. Oh well, live and learn.
Friday, March 20, 2009
So, given all this information, what should I collect. My current plan is to collect all plate blocks that have a visible difference. For example, the four different perforation types, or different colors of plate number, or different printing dated. For the shekel issue only, I am trying to collect each plate and each printing run, but this is only because I have a fairly comprehensive collection already. I will not be going back and trying to collect the various pane and printing runs for other issues. Otherwise, I could go on forever.
One last thing. I said I discovered this resource. The discovery was made on E-bay. I saw a lot for sale of the back issues of the journal. I lost out, as the lot went for more than $75. I then went to the APRL to see if they had a copy that I could borrow, and I sent a request to the SIP librarian at the same time. Both libraries had a copy, and it was cheaper to borrow it from the SIP, so I did that. Had the lot never appeared on E-bay, I would not even know this resource existed.