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Posted Feb 20, 17 12:37 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)

No Country for Eloi

This past Dec. 16th, KL posted: "It's been a good year in philately. I'm ready for the next one."

So what the heck has happened in the past two months that's resulted in all this skittishness on the part of some boarders? I would attribute this to recent political events, which have precipitated unusually (unpresidented?) deep feelings of uncertainty about the future.

As we've seen so many times before, such conditions lend themselves to collecting, especially buying things that are tactile, relatively compact, are perceived to have a salvage value that might even increase, and enhance whatever one already owns.

Pursuant to Stephen T's posting about last week's Spring Stampex in London: Based on the current climate of uncertainty, no one would have been surprised if this exhibition turned out to be a complete bust. In fact, it may have been the best-attended Stampex in years, despite the strong possibility that the number of overseas attendees may have been lower than usual.

There were at least 12 decent worldwide cover stocks present with prices all over the place as usual, but one can always say No. Approximately 11 auction companies were set up, at least 4 of which had some or all of the lots on view for impending sales. It is noteworthy that no auctions took place during or immediately after the show. In other words, there was no direct conflict between the bourse and auctions, a nice change from a few recent US shows I've attended where the bourse complement was so weak that the 'official' show auction completely dominated the weekend.

Spring Stampex included at least 3 supply dealers and 8 post offices, not to mention the obligatory proliferation of British stamps of all periods. There literally was something for collectors of all budgets and levels of advancement. One could attend the show, secure in the knowledge that there would be something to buy.

Throughout the 33 years I've been going to Stampex, trade buyers have always been the key to the show's success. This has little or no relation to what most collectors think of as 'wholesale' but rather sales of single items for which one may or may not have a sale lined up. Stampex remains an efficient opportunity to access many active inventories. But since this means looking at a very large amount of material within an extremely short time, it means lots of quick decisions, often resulting in mistakes.

A most refreshing change from some of the recent US shows I've attended. Stampex was most definitely not a place for Eloi. It's hard to be confused when one has no awareness, and a genuine Eloi wouldn't have been able to find the Gents at Stampex. And how appropriate that this takes place in London, where inventor George Wells lived for so many millenia, albeit with some large gaps in between.

The activity at Stampex on this occasion could not be more at odds with all this negativity we've been hearing lately on this board. Time will tell, but it's possible that those who choose to be cautious right now may be missing out on some wonderful buying opportunities, which they'll soon regret.

By the way, as a longtime member of ASDA (but a former one since 2009), yesterday's reference to the Morlocks might hurt my little feelings, but since I'm a stamp & cover dealer, maybe I'm not supposed to have any feelings. Fortunately, I remain a longtime member of the British-based PTS (Philatelic Traders Society) of which I'm the 10th longest operating active member based in the US. I hope that gives me special dispensation to occasionally emerge from my underground kitchen.

Posted Feb 20, 17 11:57 by Nick Kirke (nick kirke)

Our Hobby

Russ, it's still a hobby and a bit of fun for virtually all of us. The hard fact is that there are far fewer of us today contributing to the pot. It's not a class or a money thing. You are not surrounded by the maurauding money men, just people who want to keep the hobby going, often selflessly, just like yourself.

Posted Feb 20, 17 10:14 by Russ Ryle (hoosierboy)

re: planning the future of our hobby

Morning Scott and all,

Scott, I did not single handily create the economic conditions challenging the future existence of shows and dealers. Thanks for the credit but I must realistically decline the honor.

Seriously, I am a member of what I think is a growing population of active participants in our hobby today. Somehow we find a way to enjoy postal history within our personal physical and financial limits. Somehow we mostly get along with each other even when very very few of us share an interest in the same material for the same reason.

Best wishes to you and other dealers for future success as you bring your economic business model back in line with today's and future reality.

Best regards,

Russ Ryle

PS: my grand parents traded farm products for staple groceries back in the depression and both they and the grocer survived, prospered, and remained friends. Looking forward to remaining your friend, too.

Posted Feb 19, 17 23:23 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Changing tastes

Bernard B - my mid-century Finn Juhl rosewood office furniture has at least appreciated in value after I paid $10000 for the desk and wall unit including shipping for the latter from Denmark.


Posted Feb 19, 17 22:50 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Consequences of a Land without dealers

After reading Scott Trepel's response to Russ Ryle, it reminded me of what Herman Herst, Jr. wrote in his book "Nassau Street". Here are some excerpts from that book on pages 70-71, on the importance of dealers. It is just as true now as when it was written in 1960.

All I know from my experience serving on the PIPEX planning committee is that dealers are essential; they support our shows and the hobby in general.


Posted Feb 19, 17 14:24 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Changing tastes

In line with John B's comment, a local antique dealer tells me that fine china (i.e. mid century and earlier -- Limoges kind of porcelain) gathers no interest, and older -- say early 20th century --heavy furniture has gone from pricey to negligible -- it is bought by Latinos to send back to the Caribbean. 

Posted Feb 19, 17 13:52 by Paul Dessau (

odd cancels

Thanks for the info William T. Crowe (wtcrowe) :)

Posted Feb 19, 17 13:32 by Scott Trepel (strepel)

Philately in the Land of the Eloi

Philately in the land of the Eloi, where a bounty of stamps is just plucked off trees and bushes. No cost. No competition. No covetous behavior.

And there is no need for economic gain. Collectors just give each other stamps. A land without dealers, except the Morlocks (former ASDA members), who live underground and emerge to take philatelists to eat them.

I imagine myself rescuing Weena's Mint Never-Hinged body from the lake.

A wonderful utopian future for philately.

Seriously, Russ R., do you go to your local grocer and ask him to give you food for no economic gain? Do you trade homespun clothing for a tank of gas?

Posted Feb 19, 17 11:51 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

One and a half oceans?

This cover went from Army Post Office 7 San Francisco, located at Leyte, Philippines, to Santiago, Chile. The civilian air mail rate would have been 90¢ per half ounce (50¢ Philippines to the United States plus 40¢ US to Chile). As in my previous example, the rate from an overseas APO to a foreign destination required only postage equal to the rate from the US.

Added: This cover has 17 January Santiago arrival backstamps. That strikes me as amazingly fast transport.

WW2 covers from APOs to civilian addresses in foreign countries are uncommon. These that required two trans-oceanic/intercontinental flights are truly scarce.


Posted Feb 19, 17 11:30 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Philamercury Messaging System

Sorry for the problems. Seems that a site reboot yesterday evening, after an outage, opened the chutes for the dammed-up emails from the last week or more.

Posted Feb 19, 17 11:06 by Roger Heath (decoppet)

Positive Folks

Russ you write - "I get the feeling us positive folks participate in this hobby for the fun of it not economic gain or ego satisfaction."

I participate because I enjoy the collecting and learning what has value not recognized by others. The items I buy are low value, but I know they are worth more than I pay, so if I buy a postcard for $4 on Delcampe or eBay and know it has a value of $60 in a specialty society auction, I've made money. I also get enjoyment out of looking at everything else I see along the way.

Stamp collecting and postal history is about investing money and making smart purchases that should hold their value.

One doesn't buy "real" art just to support the artist. One buys first because they like the work, and secondly they hope it has a resale value. Print stores at tourist destinations sell very little that has resale value, but big city art dealers have art that is an investment when chosen wisely. Knowledge makes for better purchases, same as in philately. I am an enthusiastic collector, at the same time, I hope I've made wise choices that will allow me to recover much of the money I've spent enjoying this "hobby".

If I thought it was just money spent for entertainment value I'd go back to sailboat racing where the rewards are only knowing where you stand in a fleet of other racers, and occasionally being given a metal cup, or plate. Other than that it's money going into that 'hole into the water' that is never recoverable.

Posted Feb 19, 17 10:59 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Two oceans for the price of one

An unusual Prexie-Transport era WW2 cover:

Army Post Office 246 San Francisco was located at Guam. A civilian air mail letter from Guam to the United Kingdom would have required 70¢ per half ounce postage, calculated as 40¢ from Guam to the United States plus 30¢ from the United States to Great Britain. (The Guam-US air mail rate dropped to 35¢ per half ounce on June 5.)

However, foreign postage from an overseas army address was calculated as though the originating post office was physically located at the postal concentration center in the United States. Thus 30¢ was the correct bargain rate for this letter.


Posted Feb 19, 17 10:45 by Russ Ryle (hoosierboy)

re: planning the future of our hobby

Morning Steve and all,

Yep, let's discuss how us half full cup folks can work towards a positive future for our hobby. I get the feeling us positive folks participate in this hobby for the fun of it not economic gain or ego satisfaction.

We are just the current stewards of our philatelic treasures enjoying their presence in our lives. How best can we grow others to take on this roll in the future?

Best regards, Russ Ryle

PS: just received a PM inquiry Tuesday Feb. 14 from Gary Loew.

Posted Feb 19, 17 10:12 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)

Message mystery

Mike E.

I'm glad it was not just me; I thought I may have been banned for squaring up to the Grand Panjandrum..

John W.

Posted Feb 19, 17 8:48 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

National shows


Bourses, where you stand, are the easy part. Even easier when there are few or no competitive exhibits. The difficulty is with the World Series of Philately.

Posted Feb 19, 17 8:15 by Mike Ellingson (mikeellingson)

message mystery

I too, last night, rec'd a Philamercury message dated 1/27.  Guess they took the slow boat...

Posted Feb 19, 17 7:30 by Stephen T. Taylor (UK) (stevetayloruk)

National shows US vs Europe


Just back from my most successful Spring London Stampex since my first one in 2007 (and equal to my Fall Stampexes of 2003 & 2004) and this with a fall in value of the Pound vs Dollar of 1/3 during the past decade. Stampex had over 100 dealers & auction houses from the UK, USA, Europe & Australia and a very large (and busy) Royal Mail retail area. As far as I could tell, there was no vacant space for additional dealers. Had several new customers from the UK & Europe (recently retired, returning to the hobby of their youth and willing to spend money). In my opinion, major shows in Europe are still well-attended and successful for dealers as there are about ten per year between UK & Germany, the two largest philatelic markets over here.

Stateside, I continue to focus on what I believe to be the best US cover & postal history shows: APS Summer & APS Winter, Garfield Perry, Westpex, Napex, Chicagopex and more recently the “reborn” Sescal (thanks to Fred Gregory). I’d like to have a booth at Sarasota but am still on the waitlist, alongwith several other dealers. My personal preference would be less major shows, spread evenly throughout the year, in different, but fixed, major metropolitan parts of the country with joint coordination/organization by the APS, ASDA and leading specialist societies. Call me a glass-half-full instead of a glass-half-empty guy if necessary, but I don’t see all the doom & gloom that’s been mentioned. Maybe it’s different for USA stamps or for non-USA material, but count me as at least one of the satisfied full-time show dealers. Steve

Posted Feb 19, 17 3:21 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)

message mystery

I just received a batch of messages forwarded from Philamercury dating from 26 January to 2 February 2017? All arrived within a few seconds of each other and had not been lurking in my server spam box since I check that every day.

Anyone else had problems?

John W.

It's the all-pervading luminiferous aether. (That's a direct quote from a British Admiralty publication from 1918)

Posted Feb 18, 17 18:24 by George Tyson (gtyson)

Just a few brief thoughts on some recent Board topics.

1. Like many members of the Board, I collect a number of things other than postal history including American antiques and folk art, old books on Celtic folklore, and Civil War soldier's letters. Although I agree that the price of many kinds of collectibles has generally declined (in many cases in conjunction with a decline in the number of active collectors), I don't find that this applies as much to the very upper end of the market. For example, the best covers in the Sharrer sale sold for more than they ever have in the past (at least in a public sale). The fact is, the very upper end of any collectibles market has never been dependent on the activity of a large number of collectors. Unfortunately, this doesn't help most bourse dealers who cater mainly to the "middle market" which is in decline in every area that I collect. 2. I'm sure that there will always be collectors who have the time, money, and inclination to put their stamps and covers into frames and ship them to a show in another city. However, I am not sure that that group of collectors is likely to grow substantially. On the other hand, Richard's "virtual" TPR attracted what I thought was an astonishing number of exhibits of rather impressive interest and quality, including quite a number of people (myself included) who have never exhibited at a show and who perhaps never will. There may be a lesson in that. 3. One lesson might be that someone should consider extending Richard's "virtual" TPR to younger and less sophisticated collectors by giving them a website on which they can exhibit their stamp or cover "albums." The internet is how my son's generation "shares" their interests, whether it is on Facebook, Pinterest or whatever. Relatively few of them go to conventions or shows in order to do that. If such a website already exists, I doubt that many people know about it.

Posted Feb 18, 17 16:33 by Michael Gutman (mikeg94)

Minority opinion

This is not a well thought out idea but suppose we went the other way, instead of large national shows, regional shows that are focussed on collecting areas. The dealers today bring a wide variety of stock hoping to generate enough business to justify the expense of travel, lodging, and of course the cost of their stock...and it is often reflected in their prices.

A previous post suggested that several specialty shows do quite well in collectors and dealer attendance. Let me add one more, the Precancel Stamp Society, it has had annual week long shows for close to 100 years. They are held in a different city every year, east coast, mid-west and west coast so that all collectors get a chance to add to their collections, and of course attract new collectors. It is a sold out show in terms of dealer tables, hotel rooms and solid attendance....and it keeps going like the Energizer Bunny. Dealers love it as do the collectors. Another advantage is smaller venues, lower costs, smaller cities with less expensive hotels.

Years ago I attended a postal history show in NYC that I think only ran for a few years. It was great because the dealers came with just their PH stock and the show was only two days if I remember correctly.

I don't go to national shows because the likelihood of finding items of interest is low and the cost makes it prohibitive.

Just one old collectors opinion.

Posted Feb 18, 17 13:58 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


A cursory Google search of perennial collecting habits suggest a fundamental societal change in the nature of what people want, and how differently they may well be spending in future generations. In addition to the stamp-market doldrums, the antique furniture and china markets are down significantly as the demand continues to drop. Also in lower demand are baseball cards, autographed sports memorabilia, books, old maps, and coins (except for the high end).

As one antique dealer opined, the Greatest Generation were pack rats and hoarders, behaviors which were some degree passed on to the boomers. But for many boomers and the millennials, the tiny house movement is here, McMansions are becoming passe. His takeaway quote: "Your kids don't want your junk."

Posted Feb 18, 17 12:22 by Scott Trepel (strepel)

Exhibit Reform

I am ready and willing to engage in discussions and throw support behind changes...

IF the APS and ASDA are really willing to get serious.

A new regional and divisional award structure, coordinated effort with the trade, and cross-marketing/promotion with other collecting areas should all be part of the plan.

Set up a meeting, and I'll supply the wine.

Posted Feb 18, 17 11:12 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


Take what I wrote as an opening bid. If Rocky Mountain isn't strong enough, possibly Aripex or Texpex is. There need to be enough anchors to serve as regional hubs. Certainly a strong auction is an asset. If Sarasota is still strong that could be a good hub, but the South has not been kind to other WSP venues.

Added: Making these reforms would offer a good opening to pursue the Frajola, Trepel, and other novel exhibiting suggestions. APS could appoint the philatelic equivalent of a base-closing commission to interview all the interested parties and to present a comprehensive plan.

Posted Feb 18, 17 10:52 by Matthew Kewriga (mkewriga)

National Shows

I have attended and exhibited at a lot of national shows in recent years. The strongest shows are ones that have a vibrant auction participant and large bourse dealer support. They attract large societies that want to hold annual meetings and these societies help drive exhibits. Without a strong show committee, nothing will sustain.

Rompex does not qualify from what I have heard in recent years. Napex and Chicagopex have lost their auctions but are still in the top tier.

Sescal (LA area) is actually growing into a new convention center venue next year without space and parking limitations. Additional dealers have been added in each recent years with Fred Gregory joining the board. Rumsey's first auction there was a success with the amount of viewing and additional bidding action.

Don't forget Florida, Sarasota has a decent following due to the influx of judges living in the area and dealers like the weather that time of the year. But like some shows, they are limited by the venue size.

There are 8-10 strong shows on the current calendar. These are the ones that consistently get at least one major annual society meeting and strong dealer support. The 2 day WSP shows are two days for a reason...

BTW, The SCC is meeting at Westpex 2017 and I believe we had 88 frames subscribed.

Posted Feb 18, 17 8:34 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Four National Shows (plus)


There's no rule that requires us to wait until the current system collapses before crafting a plan to rescue national stamp exhibitions. The system we have today did not originate in antiquity; it did not descend by natural selection. We don't need to stand by and see which are the fittest to survive in the future.

The World Series of Philately was proposed by Gordon Morison in the 1960s; AAPE launched AmeriStamp Expo in the 1990s, and APS took it over when AAPE could not afford to continue it. If we are approaching a new watershed, now is as good a time as any to assemble a task force for overhaul and reform.

I believe the strongest anchored WSP exhibitions are Westpex, Rocky Mountain, Chicagopex, and Napex. These could become geographic hubs if they would be amenable to expansion and if other nearby host committees would participate, reducing the scale of their own annual shows and bourses. If five are required to make this work, the fifth should probably be Boxborough or New York City.

I believe the two floating WSP exhibitions, National Topical and Americover, are both solvent. However, although their grand award winners appear in the Champion of Champions competition, current standards effectively exclude them from winning. 

If the national championship classes are revamped to include different levels (not by chronological dates, because those have no comparable meaning to topical, thematic, and first-day/earliest-use exhibits) with different rules, then APS StampShow could continue to host the CofC more or less as it currently stands but with fewer competitors, while AmeriStamp Expo, either as a continuing APS exhibition or (my preference) rotating among the remaining four or five anchor exhibitions, could continue to host the single-frame CofC and the "other" level of national multi-frame champion, however defined.

Posted Feb 18, 17 8:29 by paul bourke (paulb3)

Bowling Alone

Back in 2000, a Harvard professor named Robert Putnam published a book called "Bowling Alone" which chronicled the apparent demise of the American spirit of community. The title stemmed from the enormous decline in the number of bowling leagues which for many years brought people together once weekly for a communal night out. Now, most of the leagues seem to be gone.

Along those lines, how many fraternal organisations such as the Masons, Knights of Columbus, Elks, American Legion, VFW, and so forth have fallen off in membership? The answer, I think, is that to a smaller and smaller extent do people need other people to help them fill their time.

Stamp collecting always seemed to me to be a solitary pastime. Later in life did I find clubs, including the Philatelic Group of Boston which was included as members many outstanding collectors who always were willing to help.

These men, while well known, were solitary beings in their own right as they always were willing to show off their stuff and the wisdom that came with it, but nearly none of them ever formally exhibited.

In short, none of what seems to be happening in philately comes as a real surprise to me first, because people's need to join a group seems to have taken a back seat to other pursuits such as binge watching Netflix at any hour of any day, and second, because younger people have found many things to do other than stamp collecting, preferring instead to text (how r u?,) use Facebook as their interface (I have 2,389,664 friends....,) or chase around the countryside looking for Pokey Man (I think I have that right.)

From my selfish perch, I sort of like the ongoing changes because they mean that I will be able to afford things for my collection that otherwise might have been out of reach. That's not totally outrageous because I think there is a possibility (maybe probability) that in a few years time, cash will give way to "stuff" as a store of value -- but that's grist for another discussion.

I understand the tendency to bemoan the obvious and yearn for the good ol' days, but I think it may be a better practice to at least psychologically let go and try to develop a new model -- which, like it or not, may well be everyone's unique set of rules -- and having done so, press on. Have a wonderful holiday weekend......

Posted Feb 18, 17 6:50 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

End times

Paul D,

The overhead in publishing stamp catalogs — the costs of continually adding new issues and revising values — would not be significantly mitigated by less frequent publication. Already the number of buyers has dropped substantially because few of us need a new catalog every year, but Scott must sell all it can to continue the enterprise.

Posted Feb 17, 17 23:50 by William T. Crowe (wtcrowe)


The front page of today's Boston Globe (2/17) has an article about the difficulty of disposing a library in today's world. It is not about philatelic libraries, but personal libraries in general. I have noticed a substantial drop in interest in better books on E-Bay which goes hand in hand with drops in interest in Linn's and the AP. No solution, just an observation.

Posted Feb 17, 17 23:08 by Steve Walske (steve w)

End Times

There are too many national shows, and they poach from one another. A better scheme would be no more than four national shows, but that will never happen.

Posted Feb 17, 17 23:06 by Steve Walske (steve w)

French Mails

Rich, Under the 1857 Treaty, the France-US mails were rated under a 7.5 grams (about 1/4 ounce) progression. The GB-US mails were rated under an entirely different scheme. I've found the ratings on French mails prior to 1870 to be remarkably consistent and accurate. It got bad in 1870, though.

Posted Feb 17, 17 20:44 by Paul Dessau (

End times

Maybe the Scott, especially the US specialized does not need to be published every single year., at least in hard copy. Ancient coin catalogs are only published every few (or sometimes many) years. That coin hobby does fine nonetheless. There is enough info on auction sites, etc to make up for updates that go into each year's edition. Like other journals, the internet is making up the difference, and can be updated faster.

Posted Feb 17, 17 20:24 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

End times

But NAPEX has now ended its literature competition, so Chicagopex and StampShow are the last ones standing.

Back in the day I used to judge literature at StampShow, at Royal/Royale, at Chicagopex, at Columbus, and at Sescal, as well as at NAPEX. Under Steve Luster NAPEX used to be the WSP gold standard of what was possible.

The last COMPEX I attended before I left Chicago for Mississippi filled three floors of the Palmer House and had 21 or 22 member clubs.

However, I'm not being nostalgic nor hoping for a miracle. I was trying to make a different point about going forward. Auction houses can merge with or buy out weaker competitors, and show committees can innovate to reduce attrition, but the staffs of Linn's and the American Philatelist cannot be further reduced without taking us back to the days when the editorial content of stamp papers were written almost entirely by dealers and volunteers. Parallel but more opaque (to me, at least) is the amount of advertising and sales to libraries necessary to keep the Scott catalog sound. If these go under, or morph into an American equivalent of Stanley Gibbons, a great deal of our stamp hobby culture will die.

Posted Feb 17, 17 19:08 by Richard Drews (bear427)

End times


The drop off has been on the horizon for years. This is the first year that Westpex has had to ask for an APS email to fill frames. We've been playing a long game in the Midwest so the drop off has not been as bad. It takes cooperation and new ventures to build up exhibits and attendance. The new George Brett cup is bringing 150 new frames of exhibits to the Rocky Mountain show, nearly doubling the size of the show. Compex has been slipping, but last year the CCC pitched in with 85 frames of exhibits. This year we have commitments for 141 frames and should hit 150 from CCC members. No single solution will work. We're piecing things together. Rockford has started with a new exhibiting format: only 2, 3 and 4 frame exhibits. It gives chance for newer exhibitors to stretch from 1 frame without butting heads against 8 and 10 frame exhibits. Chicagopex is still selling out every frame and our literature competition is larger than the one at APS stampshow. We could use some more bodies, but we are getting help from the Midwest clubs that we help in turn.


Posted Feb 17, 17 18:55 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

The Post is prospering, probably with on-line ads; the AP isn't, and the message from the Chronicle's ad director suggests that it isn't either.

However, a lot of papers are failing. The question for the philatelic press is how low can it go without sinking, and once sunk, how long can the trade continue?

Posted Feb 17, 17 17:35 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

End Times

Ken - the decline in advertising isn't just in philately.  My Sunday Washington Post is probably 1/3 the size it was twenty years ago. 

Posted Feb 17, 17 15:47 by Nick Kirke (nick kirke)


Rich, Thank you for that.  Wonderful examples! This has been a lesson well learned and as Lawrence Gregg notes, luckily it was for free. Nick

Posted Feb 17, 17 15:32 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

End times?

Advertising revenue is significantly down for both the American Philatelist and the Classics Society Chronicle. The year is young, but Linn's Stamp News has already published two 36-page issues, down from the usual weekly 44. The departure of Regency-Superior will further depress publications' income. 

I wonder how many leading dealers based last year's ad budgets on NY 2016 expectations and now must retrench. Have show committees experienced resistance in recruiting the expected number of dealer participants?

Are there positive developments to counter these trends?

Posted Feb 17, 17 13:55 by Richard Drews (bear427)



The weight difference was not several ounces, just a minor difference of less than 1/4 oz. That was the approximate weight step, 7 1/2 grams. It was often a problem in rating covers under the treaty with France. See the cover at the upper left of the page. The weight was so close that the credit for transport via French packet was changed from 72 to 84 and then back to 72. It is paid by a solo 90 for a 6 times rate. Our treaty with GB was per 1/2 ounce, so on a similar weight cover we would retain 6c out of 30c per 1/2 ounce with France and 5c out of 24c per 1/2 ounce with GB. The rate steps on French mail beyond France were irregular as well. See the Starnes book.



Posted Feb 17, 17 13:33 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)



That is a dealer with scruples... and I think you got a good lesson (for free).

Posted Feb 17, 17 13:30 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)

Civil War prize money

Interestingly... the paymaster's name is John C. Cash.

That is way too cool.

Posted Feb 17, 17 12:41 by Nick Kirke (nick kirke)

Dazzled by the sunlight

Ever been so dazzled by a cover that a blatant fault gets over-looked? Ever tried to justify credibility be referral to an item you already own? Just returned from a lighting visit to Stampex in London.

A careful and systematic trawl yielded just one item of interest. A gorgeous 1867 corner cover to France bearing 90c postage with a NYCFM cancel. Stunning blue ink address. An amazing mixed franking. I already had a cover to this address with an 1861 90c stamp. What a magnificent pair they would make I said to myself. The price seemed almost irrevalent but it was in four figures.

Took it back to the hotel and woke at 5am feeling a bit worried which is not a good sign. Decided I would ask the dealer if it was ok to get the cover certified to ensure the stamps originated. He said no problem. On a whim thought I would show it to Steve Taylor. Steve immediately thought it looked like a 15c stamp was missing and indicated the place where it could have been and explained that the rate mark did not tally with the franking. My hackles rose. Really? I explained I already had such a cover also with a 90c franking.

Rushed back to the hotel to get a scan of my 90c cover. It had a red crayon 72 rate marking ie based on the 15c rate to France split 12/3 which would equate properly to 90c ie 72-18. The cover I was proposing to buy, nay, had bought, carried a red red crayon 84 rate marking. That, on a ratio 12/3 equates to 105c, NOT 90c There was clearly an 15c stamp missing. It must have weighed several ounzes heavier than mine. The dealer accepted the cover back and promised to destroy my check.  Thanks Steve!

Posted Feb 17, 17 7:26 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Civil War prize money share

here for a United States Marine on the USS Wachusett from capture of the CSS Florida.

Posted Feb 17, 17 3:40 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)

Niger Coast

Waking up to another lovely and rare cover from the Niger Delta. You are rekindling my collecting desires and relieving my jaded senses. Thank you so much.

John W.

Posted Feb 16, 17 16:34 by David Benson (dbenson)


One of my favorite covers is the usage of Niger Coast Protectorate stamps in the Niger Territories.

Finding Niger Territories cancels on Niger Coast stamps is difficult enough but covers are exceptionally rare.

Burutu to Liege, Belgium, NCP 2 1/2d. (5) cancelled Burutu sans serif.

David B.


Posted Feb 16, 17 9:52 by Russ Ryle (hoosierboy)

re: Organization and chaos

Morning all,

There is a generous portion of both when you start looking at a new area of collecting. The first few times you go through a box or binder of covers related to your new topic it is like visiting the Goodwill Store. You find things you never knew you wanted ... :)

Curiosity can be fatal especially to cats but it is the necessary motivation to building a collection. Even if you start out to just purchase and display an example of all of the key items know on a subject you will soon discover other items that expand the narrative you are creating. These additional items become our contribution to the subject for future collectors while we were the stewards of treasures from times past.

Best regards,

Russ Ryle

Posted Feb 15, 17 11:25 by Douglas Chapman (foodrev)

Stamps enclosed in last cover

Here is the nice first set (produced in Australia)


Posted Feb 15, 17 11:24 by Douglas Chapman (foodrev)

Price/Pleasure and perhaps Family

One of the most important covers I own is one sent to me by a friend who was sent to East Timor to help set up that newly birthed country's government: she was helping set up the Judiciary/Court systems. I had asked her to send me stamps of Timor-Leste as they were available.

However I FORGOT to ask her to make sure these new postal folks struck the postmark well and solidly. SO... I have a cover sent May 22 2002 (2 days after the stamps first came on the market) but it cannot be read. Only the machined SIOUX FALLS as a received is visible other than a couple smudged arcs. Her datelined enclosure is all there is. So it's worthless to anyone else, but not to me.

The 1000 or so letters I have posted by my father from Kwaelin China 1942-1944 (he was CBI) to my mother have a little value, censor cuts and all, but again far more valuable to me than any auction price offered.


Posted Feb 14, 17 13:46 by Michael Gutman (mikeg94)

A few comments

I have enjoyed reading the board the last week or so. I have comments about two of the discussions.

Collecting interests change over the years and what was hot years ago may be cold today. Dealers are either unwilling to buy your wonderful collection that is no longer hot or will make an offer that is between very low and insulting. I have such collections and have found by far the best way to sell them is directly to another collector. While the board seems down on ebay I have sold several collection there and am more than happy with the results.

For my Hale book and the Independent Mail book I found a database census invaluable. I used my own collection as well as everything I could find from auction sites and ebay to create the databases. It absolutely provides insights that would otherwise elude you.

Posted Feb 13, 17 23:21 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

Chaos Calmed

Sometimes order or patterns emerge from the chaos. For me, blame MS Excel. The autofill function was what first led me to notice that I had started to obtain transatlantic material that had sailed on the same mail sailings. I started paying more attention to those things and figured I would just see where it went. Just focusing on the 1840-57 period I think I have probably close to 70-75% of all westbound contract mail sailings from the UK to North America and am closing in on 2,000 covers (current record for a single sailing is stuck at 12). Definitely some patterns emerging. Some interesting absences of material too, but that is another discussion. As are some very odd ratings applied to some 1845-6 covers sent to Canada via Boston per the apparently infrequently used 'Open Mail via the United States'. Always more to observe and learn.

Posted Feb 13, 17 23:09 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

speaking of wwii

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