Friday, August 28, 2009

I recently have seen some people on the VSC talking about delcampe, an Internet auction site, and decided to take a look. One of the selling points of delcampe is that they don't charge sellers a listing fee, and just by looking at the items for sale on the site I can see this. There were over 35,000 items that came up in my search for Israel stamps. It took a while, but I looked at all of them. This was made easier by the fact that I could see 500 per page, and the site loaded fairly quickly. Also, it didn't take long to look at each item because they were mostly uninteresting. I could break the items into 4 large categories.

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

An update on the special self adhesive sheets

Last week, I mentioned that I would provide an update on the special self adhesive sheets from the post office. So, here goes.

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

Latest purchase

I have been real inactive with my stamps for a few weeks, but just purchased the lot on the left here on E-bay. It is 2 copies of the Shrulik booklet. The one on the top has a cyclometer number next to the printing date, while the one on the bottom is missing the cyclometer number. I remember when these were first discovered, and I was offered a mint tete-beche sheet, a FDC of the sheet, and a booklet all missing the cyclometer number. Each was in the $150 range, and I passed on them all. My 2004 bale catalog lists the mint Tete Beche sheet as IrS.45e, with a $400 value for the mint sheet. The FDC and the booklet don't appear to be listed. I occasionally still see the sheet offered on E-bay, always for upwards of $100. When I saw this lot on E-bay, with an $18 starting price, I figured it was worth a shot. I guess either no one else saw it, or they didn't realize the significance. I was the sole bidder, and picked up the lot for $18. Since both the normal and the error booklet were included, each cost me $9. While I am sure the error is not worth $400, I am pretty sure it is worth more than $9. It looks like there are still bargains to be had on E-bay, you just have to keep looking.

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

All's quiet on the stamp front

I haven't had much to blog about recently. Mostly, because I haven't spent a lot of time on stamps. My buying on e-bay has been limited, mostly due to the fact that I just don't see anything worth bidding on. i did pick up one of the Zodiac and one of the town emblems plate blocks I needed, but other than that, my watch list mostly contains store items that I need but don't quite want to spend the money on. Occasionally, if I find a bargain from one of the sellers I will add an item from their store that I am watching to the purchase in order to save on shipping, but otherwise I just watch the same items go unsold for weeks (or even months). I do see 2 of the early Israel booklets for sale, a B3 for $450 and a B2B for $1000. The B2B looks like it will sell, the other has yet to get a bid. Both are well out of my budget, so I will not be bidding. The market for these early booklets remains strong. Otherwise, I just keep looking to see what interesting items come up next.