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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Need tips for selling a few stamps

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bhannam
11 Feb 2017
03:26:10pm
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I'm a newbie, I'm not 100% confident in my stamp identifying and grading skills. To compensate for my lack of experience, I'm trying to post really clear images of the stamps I'd like to sell. To avoid any misrepresentation on my part I have a few logistical questions for the group.

1. When I'm scanning my stamps should I color correct or sharpen my images so that details are more clear? The image on the top is a basically unedited scan of the stamp. The image on the bottom has been sharpened and color corrected and looks closer to how the stamp actually looks in real life.

Q: Is color correction a non-issue or is there a preferred option?

2. Should I try and grade the stamps or state what grade I believe the stamp is? For example, I'd give the stamp above a grade of Fair with some hinge remnants on the back of the stamp.

Q: Should I not offer this information if I'm not 100% sure or don't say anything about it?

I feel confident I can avoid payment scams, so I'm most interested in hearing ideas about how to put together a solid ad. Thank you in advance for your time and I appreciate your advice.
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bhannam
11 Feb 2017
03:32:49pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I should probably add that I believe this stamp is a Scott 134.

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HungaryForStamps
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11 Feb 2017
04:07:47pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Just my opinion, but I have no problem with correcting a scanned image if it provides a better representation of the actual stamp. But you will for sure find that some people would be wary of image corrections for obvious reasons.

I prefer a seller provide good front and back scans and identify any faults in writing that might not be obvious from the scan (e.g., the corner crease on yours) and avoid providing subjective judgements such as grades or "fair" vs "VF" etc. Identifying condition using standard terminology is okay (i.e., hinged, never hinged, original gum, regummed etc.).

Why do you think that stamp is 134. Have you checked paper type and looked for secret mark? 134 would be hard paper, no secret mark.

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keesindy
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11 Feb 2017
04:44:45pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I agree that color correction is OK if your scanner isn't producing images that match the actual stamps. However, keep in mind that your computer monitor needs to be calibrated for this to matter. In other words, your scanner may be doing an excellent job of recreating the colors in the stamps, but your monitor may not be doing such a good job. Plus, you'll never know which potential buyers have reasonably well calibrated monitors. The bottom line is that it's always good to upload images that accurately reflect the stamps' colors if you can, but it can be a challenge. Digital Graphic designers have often been referred to as "moles" because they work in the dark. Daylight and other sources of light affect how colors are perceived on your stamps themselves and on the monitor. There are many variables you can't control and others that would take more time to manage than they're worth, given the value of most stamps being sold.

Regarding sharpening, scanning will usually reduce the sharpness of the stamp a small amount. This varies depending on the quality of the scanner and its software. Recovering that lost sharpness isn't a bad thing. However, this is tricky and its easy to oversharpen and make the stamps look worse. Be very careful if you use any sharpening. Use it sparingly. Plus, it is always preferable to do any sharpening after scanning. If you try to do sharpening during the scanning process and it's unsatisfactory, you'll have to scan again and that's time consuming. Here again, not all monitors are created equal and your images on a potential buyer's monitor may look different than they do on yours.

There are always trade offs, but your images look good to me even though I haven't calibrated my monitor in a few months and I'm sitting in a very bright sunny room. Thinking

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AntoniusRa
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11 Feb 2017
05:10:57pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

If you are not sure you can identify a stamp correctly, you should wait until the time when you can. Selling stamps is not really for beginners as there are to many variables that someone with little knowledge will be aware of.

I never adjust for color and consider it deceitful.
Your stamp is V/VF as it has very nice margins but not quite VF. Your grading of fair is way of the mark.
I would soak the stamp as the back is quite funky. After you have soaked the stamp and it has dried, hold it up to the light to check for thins or other faults.
I am doubtful that your stamp is actually a #134 as it appears to have the secret mark which was not used on the 1870 issue. The paper should be hard which is much stiffer than paper used in later issues.
Volumes have been written on these issues and they require much study for one to be competent in identifying them correctly.

If you do not have a Scott catalog then you should get one and before you do anything read the introduction.

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TribalErnie
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11 Feb 2017
05:54:30pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Mitch said :

"if you are not sure you can identify a stamp correctly, you should wait until the time when you can. Selling stamps is not really for beginners as there are to many variables that someone with little knowledge will be aware of."


I respectfully disagree with this statement. While it is most certainly best to know as much as possible about any stamps you're buying and/or selling, it's not essential to know the specific catalogue number when buying or selling a stamp. As long as the seller doesn't purposefully misrepresent a stamp there's no harm in saying "I'm not sure of the exact catalog number". It happens all the time. Jumping in and "learning by doing" will prove to be a most competent teacher.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod, Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Hi Tech Consultant
11 Feb 2017
07:18:16pm

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re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I would also add that this is a Club! So if a stamp is misidentified, it is not a capital offense. The buyer should return it and get his money back.
I am all for encouraging beginners as well as advance collectors in their collecting passions. Learning is a gradual process, and here all should be encouraged to participate. Mistakes will be pointed out, or ask for an opinion if unsure. The expertise of the Club members spans an incredible range of knowledge.
rrr...

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cathotel
12 Feb 2017
01:22:46am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Regarding the question of whether the scanned stamp is #134 I would add that this issue should show a grill, which is not apparent to me on the scans.

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51Studebaker
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12 Feb 2017
05:43:41am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I agree with Cat, it is not a #134. The cancel makes it hard to see the secret mark area, higher resolution image may help. Here are a few links that will help you identify the stamp correctly.

http://www.stampsmarter.com/1847usa/1870identifier.html

http://www.stampsmarter.com/1847usa/1870/BankNote01c.html

http://www.stampsmarter.com/Learning/ID_1870_1890LargeBankNoteIssues.html

I also agree with those who say that images should not be manipulated. Trying to make an image look better on your computer/video chip set/monitor/operating system/driver does not mean that it will also look good on the millions of other unique configurations that everyone will have. So why bother? If your scan does not look close to the stamp in your hand without additional processing than something else is wrong. (i.e. calibrate your scanner/display configurations).

If you do manipulate the images, than it is best to say so in the ad.

Scan stamps as straight as possible and avoid using any post-scan 'rotate' functions.

Scan with the scanner lid closed (the scanner and scanner software expects the lid to be closed). Allowing ambient light in during scanning will alter the scanned image.
Don



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bhannam
12 Feb 2017
08:31:40am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I appreciate it immensely!

I looked the stamp up in The Micarelli Identification Guide to US Stamps because it goes into a bit more detail than the Scott catalog. I saw no evidence of the secret mark when I looked at the stamp under 300x magnification and I saw that it didn't have a grill on the back.

Having read your comments, I believe this stamp is Scott 145 now and realize I made an error with regards to the absence of a grill.

As an aside: I have a difficult time determining postal paper type and stamp color. Any resources/tips you could share would be helpful.

In the "for what it's worth" category. I purchased nine of these stamps (similar to the photo attached) on eBay for $1.50 because they were listed as A44. I felt like it would be advantageous for me to keep some of my favorites and sell some of the others (note the lack of an interesting cancel on the image) in order to look for the next addition to my collection. So my question isn't rooted in a making money as much as growing my collection slowly over time.

Thanks so much for your time and adviceā€”I really appreciate it!

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Noernberg
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12 Feb 2017
09:27:11am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Paper type is frequently difficult, but at least you can tell the difference between the soft porous paper and the harder paper with both visual observation and a "flick test". Since you have access to magnification, you can look at the backside of the stamp and see a pattern of "pores" on the backside, and when holding the stamp in tongs and lightly bending it it will roll with your light finger touch like a wet noodle (no real resistance). The harder paper won't have the "porous" looking backside, and will put up more resistance when flexing, and will make a crisp little noise when lightly flicking next to your ear. It helps to have several of each type for comparison.

This link takes you to the paper type discussion, part of the same website Don pointed out above:

http://www.stampsmarter.com/Learning/Manuf_BankNotePaperTypes.html

Doug

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51Studebaker
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12 Feb 2017
09:34:29am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

More info on US paper types...

http://www.stampsmarter.com/Learning/Manuf_BankNotePaperTypes.html


http://www.stampsmarter.com/learning/Manuf_PaperUsedForUSStamps.html


Colors...
Colors are ephemeral and one of the most difficult subjects to discuss and understand. First, everyone sees colors differently. Women generally detect colors better than men. And then you have ambient lighting conditions which can drastically change how we see colors. Are you viewing the stamp in natural sunlight? office lighting? etc.

And of course colors change over time, the metals in the printing inks can tarnish, outgas, and have other chemical changes over time.

And then when we add in additional technology 'layers', it really becomes more dicey. First, how was the image generated (scanner or camera)? Was the image passed through ANY kind of software processing including but not limited to 'enhancement, saving in a compressed format like jpg, etc.)? And then of course the same image can look 100 different ways on 100 different monitors and computer systems.

Now consider that there exists NO stamp industry standards for color naming or nomenclature. What one catalog publisher calls 'red' might be called 'scarlet' by another.

The only way to become proficient in stamp colors is by experience and after viewing and/or assembling a decent number of color reference stamps.

There is some limited value in scanning a number of stamp together, at same time and in same image. This allows others to see a relative comparison but still as many drawbacks.
Don

Edit; They are indeed design type A44. And in looking at your original images there appears to be a secret mark, but the cancel and low resolution image makes it hard to see. Can you scan and post a close up of the area?

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bhannam
12 Feb 2017
10:12:02am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Attached is a closeup of the stamp.

Image Not Found

By the way, thank you for the stamp smarter links. I just signed up!

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51Studebaker
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12 Feb 2017
10:22:48am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Thanks for the close up. Hmmm, still hard to see with that cancel right over the top. I trust your eyes and a lupe, if you cannot see one with stamp in hand then that is what you should go with.
Don

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bhannam
12 Feb 2017
10:50:29am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

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In my best "Scotty" from Star Trek voice. "I'm giving all she's got captain!"

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51Studebaker
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12 Feb 2017
11:15:14am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Good job! Yes, it has the secret mark.
Don
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Its a Scott #156 or #182; catalog value same for both. The #156 is softer paper and the #182 is hard paper.

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rrraphy
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12 Feb 2017
12:06:39pm

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re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Great job Don. I was myself quite puzzled.
rrr...

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Sarge
12 Feb 2017
03:10:35pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Impressive work gentlemen. I've been watching this thread from its birth so to speak and its made me check my own collection. Moreover go back and re-read my own references and I wasn't at all surprised to see that I made some identification mistakes years ago. There is a good lesson we can all take from this thread. Slow down and be more methodical about identification and re-read your references again thats why you have them.


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HungaryForStamps
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12 Feb 2017
04:17:08pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

As for scanning, photos, image processing etc., every option is image manipulation, from the initial scan or photo to the final result. An initial image, corrected to more accurately reflect the actual in person appearance of the stamp is less deceitful than an initially inaccurate scan. I wouldn't use the term deceitful, but it was mentioned above in the context of image adjustment. Let's say, more accurate instead of less deceitful.

And I am not talking about image manipulation for the purpose of deceit, which obviously is not the subject of the thread.

So, should you post an inaccurate photo or image when you have the potential to show one that is more accurate? As a buyer I would always want the latter. Of course, what is accurate is subjective, since we all perceive things differently and devices or methods may differ. but you can calibrate in multiple ways and double check your results using multiple devices and enlisting other humans and proceed until your process is perfected.

If the purchased stamp does not match reality, the buyer always has recourse to return the item, or should ensure he has, and the seller will learn to be better at it. I see no problem with this scenario.

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HungaryForStamps
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12 Feb 2017
04:25:14pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

The practical reason to avoid image correction and to ensure you original image is accurate is to save your valuable, expensive time. If you plan to sell any significant number of stamps, and still have time to collect, perhaps your image acquisition process should be as quick as possible. So investing in something that gives you accurate original images might be important.

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TuskenRaider
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12 Feb 2017
04:34:35pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Hi Everyone;

@ bhannam;

Most bad scans in the auctions on here suffer from several problems. One is trying to use a cell
phone as a camera. Cell phone cameras are great for catching college kids doing stupid things
on Spring break. They are very poor at producing sharp images of close-up situations. Always use
a scanner, and as someone pointed out with the lid down and preferably with a black background.

Most images on here that are not useful for buyers to view are 1) too dark, 2) too blurry,
3) too small, and 4) all of the above.

@ keesindy;

Quote:

"keesindy said;
There are always trade offs, but your images look good to me even though I haven't calibrated
my monitor in a few months and I'm sitting in a very bright sunny room."



Viewing minute details in brightly lit rooms is bad for your eyesight. Any competent optometrist
would tell you to view computer screen in a average to dimly lit room, and also to avoid reflections
on the screen from light fixtures. Lighting should be indirect and not show up on your screen.
Any situation which requires your eyes to work harder than is necessary (squint or strain)
causes long-term damage.

I wish I had taken better care of my own eyesight over the years.

Just being helpful....
TuskenRaider
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51Studebaker
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12 Feb 2017
04:36:15pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Hungry
Understood. But what are you adjusting to when you apply the various 'more accurate' filters?

Imagine if you had a whole bank of various computers and displays; every one would look different. Which one would you adjust to? Adjusting to what looks good on your setup might make it look less like the stamp in hand on another system.

It would seem to me the best baseline is a image that is not adjusted at all. And if there are adjustments made, then these ought to be declared in the ad/listing.

The number of manipulated images on eBay is just scary. Horrid over saturations and other Photochopped images abound including perfs being painted in and creases being smoothed/blurred out. Some are just cluelessness, others are plain fraud.

So while I trust you because I know you and your listings, we should recognize that these forums posts are read by many others. So I generally caution folks about manipulating images.
Don

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HungaryForStamps
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13 Feb 2017
02:03:49pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I made it clear I am not talking about image adjustments for the sake of deception. No point in discussing that issue and the fraud on Ebay as its out of our control and will happen no matter what we say. Reading this thread is not going to create more devious fraudsters.

I also made it clear I am talking about adjustments that provide a more accurate representation of the actual in-person view of the stamp, not ones that are worse.
How one achieves a better representation, I don't know. But providing a more accurate image cannot in any way be worse that providing a less accurate image. And frankly, the original scan is a manipulation in itself.

As for "various computers and displays" you can examine the image on multiple devices and determine if there are huge differences. I have at least 10 different devices with different types of displays at home and I have never seen any huge difference in one versus the other, when it comes to viewing stamp images. If you checked your image on a few trusted and different devices and they were about the same and still more accurate than the original, you could rest assured they will come across pretty much the same elsewhere.

Besides if anyone is doing this, they are going to develop a process that has been tested and calibrated as I said, using multiple devices and even a couple trusty additional humans before going live with it. Once the process is down and tested, you could just let it rip.

Now, I believe all that useless activity can be replaced by a simpler more efficient process, perhaps just making sure you have an adequate scanner, use high resolution for scans and show back and front of the stamp. Because, really, the big problems I have seen in images is either using a photo, and worse with poor lighting, or not have enough resolution.

In fact, looking at the difference between the OP's two stamps, if the second image is indeed more like the appearance of the stamp in person, I would go with that image. But I'm not sure its worth the effort.

Sure you could disclose your process for obtaining the images, but I don't think its necessary. For example, you could say "I scanned the image and then made some adjustments until the image looked more like the stamp as it appears in person."

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rjan
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13 Feb 2017
08:15:05pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I would like to add one pet issue to the end of the technical issues of identification- clean up the stamps. Too many large dealers and local sellers do not take the time to remove the excess hinges and paper before scanning and presenting items for sale. I treat in-cleaned items as 'AS IS', subject to discounts that blemishes may arise unless there is a clear returnable policy.

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Sarge
13 Feb 2017
10:47:22pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

I don't how to say this any clearer than Don and Hungary already have. We are in the 21st century now and any image enhancement is primarily used for the buyer to get a clearer picture of what they are going to buy and to protect both parties in the transaction. Especially the buyer since he or she is really buying the item sight unseen i.e.: over the internet. At least that is what its primary use is intended for not deception. As far as the topic of deception I know that there are people out there who prey upon the weak, unsuspecting or more importantly the uneducated.

Wasn't that the reason why he started this thread? He wanted to get educated before he jumped in to the business of selling his stamps to protect himself as a seller and get the most possible out his possible sales. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Furthermore if it wasn't for the use of this technology. The people involved with this thread wouldn't have been able to assist the author of this thread to narrow the identity of his stamp down to two possibilities. I also wonder if he is still following this thread?



Jeremy

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bhannam
13 Feb 2017
11:28:47pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

First let me say that I honestly appreciate everyone's input and that this was a really helpful for me.

1. I have a new resource (www.stampsmarter.com) that I'm enjoying.
2. I learned more about the different types of paper stamps have been printed on.
3. I learned that I need to slow down a bit more when trying to identify stamps.
4. I learned that different collectors have different opinions and preferences when it comes to buying and selling their stamps.

To be clear, I've enjoyed watching this thread morph from a logistical question, to an ethical discussion, and finally into a debate about technology. It can be a little intimidating to ask a question when you aren't quite sure if you will look like a noob, but I'm guessing this is the reason why there is a Newcomer Corner.

Thanks again to everyone who weighed in and offered their perspective.

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Sarge
14 Feb 2017
12:14:56am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Ben, it is great to see that you're still following this thread. While I'm no newbie to the hobby I am to this forum and enjoy it immensely. I lingered for months before I joined. I have since discovered that the people who post on this forum are in fact some of the most knowledgable and friendly people there are. I plan on sticking around for a long time.

Jeremy

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
14 Feb 2017
02:58:04pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Morphing Discussions is Us.

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
Sarge
14 Feb 2017
04:03:29pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Ok which username did you post under so we can all understand because this is the first post to this thread under cdj1122? I certainly didn't mean to.

Jeremy

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
17 Feb 2017
08:07:36am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

" .... I certainly didn't mean to. ...

" I certainly didn't mean to" .... what ?

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
vinman
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17 Feb 2017
09:06:18am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Hi Sarge,
I think Charlie's statement "Morphing Discussions is Us" is a spin on the comic strip Pogo character's saying "We have met the enemy and he is us."
That is what happens here on this site, we start off with a question or statement and eventually we forget what the original statement or question was. I guess it's free flow of the conversation. Sometimes I get confused following some of these threads.Happy

Vince


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Sarge
17 Feb 2017
12:36:04pm
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Hi Charlie I got distracted by my wife and son when I wrote my last post. I guess it it would have been to say I didn't mean to miss understand what you were saying.

Thank you for clearing the air Vince.

Jeremy

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
20 Feb 2017
11:25:29am
re: Need tips for selling a few stamps

Haha !!! Distractions, the bane of continuity.
I do not know how many times, as my wife and I
raised our brood I have been interrupted mid-thought,
and later found a note or a started letter, sometimes
cryptic enough to not be able to recall why I
thought it important enough to commence scribbling
(Pre-PC) or typing in the first place.
Here at my son's we have two five year old boys
and a seven year old (going on twelve and a half)
young lady, who know as much about patience
as they do about linear algebra.
One thing I have learned is to be sure I know
what the question is before I begin some long
technical response.

Vin is correctomundo !

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
        
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