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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : New to the hobby questions

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Pockets
15 Sep 2017
02:08:48pm
I have what I hope are reasonable questions so with no offense intended here goes:
1 I inherited a collection of US stamps and would like to know of there is any way to get a reasonable sense of the value of any given stamp. I understand the acronyms but not the difference among for example MNH, MLH, and MH. How or why does hinging change the value of a stamp and what is the difference between hinged and lightly hinged?

2. Having done a bit of research I realize there are hundreds of sellers, auction sites and the like dealing with stamps but no place that seems to give a reasonable valuation to a given stamp. How accurate are catalogs like Mystic's or Kenmore's? How can I tell if the asking price is a great deal because the seller is an idiot or if I am buying a bill of goods. I don't mind spending money but I hate getting ripped off and I figure that goes for you guys too. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

3 Am I correct in assuming that MINT means nearly perfect? That used means cancelled and is there any variation to used, ie., heavily, lightly cancelled?

4. Is there a catalog of plate blocks? If so where can one obtain a copy, hopefully online as a download. Same for Scott numbers.

5. Last one today. I tried to upload a photo of a stamp but got the error message file was too large. Any one know how to make it smaller?

Hope I have not been too big a pain and look forward to any and all suggestions, answers and advice. Thanks again, Pockets








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DouglasGPerry
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APS Member #196859
15 Sep 2017
02:28:11pm
re: New to the hobby questions

I'll respond to #5. Stamporama has an image size limit of 350KB. The image to be uploaded can be reduced in size through many image processing apps, but there is an online site that works like a charm: Free Image Optimizer.
--Doug

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michael78651
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15 Sep 2017
02:40:54pm
re: New to the hobby questions

In addition to the file size for an image, make sure that the image dimensions are no larger than 1400 by 1230 bytes.

The American Philatelic Society web site has an entire section dedicated to beginners. You do not have to be a member of the organization to access the information.

Here is the link:

https://stamps.org/Starting-a-Collection

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
15 Sep 2017
03:08:05pm
re: New to the hobby questions

Hey Pockets,

looks like we're going in revers order, so I'll take #4

yes, there is a catalogue of plate blocks: Durland. I don't know the most recent edition, but I believe it's pretty recent.

One could also use Scott, which lists the catalogue value of all US plate blocks. Both use the Scott numbering system. Durland gives a little more information, but is limited to PBs.

I will say that PBs are falling in price, or so it seems to me. More and more I'm seeing them being offered at face or less.

on #3, MINT means the GUM is pristine, just like the PO issued it. I presumes no hinge or damage, although many people add H or LH for clarification

Collectors tend to prefer either light cancels or face free cancels, although others prefer socked on the nose (SON) with complete date and location present. A heavy obliterating cancel reduces the value of stamp.


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angore
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Collector, Moderator
15 Sep 2017
04:53:03pm
re: New to the hobby questions

I will offer some opinions on some:

1. For the majority of stamps after 1950, there is no significant retail value especially if sold as a lot. You may not get face value for them. But, here are many exceptions The standard for US is the Scott Catalogue you can buy often for the values they list and expect much lower if selling.

2. Mystic is very high priced and they sell stamps unlike Scott. A modern stamp at Mystic sells for 4x face which is quite high. Scott lists as 2x face. You can buy at Scott without any issues and often much less.

3. A true Mint stamps means as issued by post office -- not cancelled, rear gum intact if it includes a gum, and no faults (missing perfs/corners, creases, etc). IF you ever see Mint LH then the seller is using a different definition.

4. For plate blocks that have a premium, you need Durland but again just consider it is relative to other blocks since as mentioned plate blocks are in the decline

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AntoniusRa
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15 Sep 2017
09:35:09pm
re: New to the hobby questions

The best way of getting an idea of the value of the collection you inherited is to scan the first few pages and then upload them for us to see.
I am assuming that you are asking about plate blocks because the collection has many of them. As has been said none after the 1930's is worth much. The exception would be stamps with high face values particularly $5 stamps, the older the better of course. Spending your money on a Durland catalog would likely be a waste of money costing probably more than the blocks are worth. The main way of disposing of plate block unless they are pre 1930 is to combine 25-50 or so in one lot and selling them on Ebay usually with a starting bid of zero.

Buying stamps at retail from the many stamp companies is a good way of ripping yourself off.

Ebay is as good a place as any to start buying. Your first task should be that of learning all you can about stamps and deciding what you want to collect and in what format you want to display them in. Another big decision is what year you want to stop at. For world collecting there are a few popular end dates, 1940, 1950, your birthday. 1940 is great because you only need one catalog however you miss the important WWII issues which 1950 would include. Your birth year would leave you only collecting stamps that are older than you.
You should first buy a Scott catalog as this is the bible for collectors in the U.S. A full set of world wide catalogs will cost many hundreds of dollars but you can also buy used ones of five years or so for $10-15 a piece. My favorite Scott world wide catalog is the Scott world Classic specialized catalog. It handles WW stamps from 1840-1940 which is regarded as the classic era of collecting. It is hardbound in color and is around $135.00 new, I buy a new one every 3-4 years to keep up on pricing. If you only plan on collecting U.S. then the best catalog is the Scott U.S. Specialized. After you get a catalog then read the front of the book and then read it again. This will give you most of the basic information you will need to continue.

I collect the world and also have a pretty decent U.S. collection as well. Most of my collection is scanned and on the internet for all to see and reference. You should find that it will be of help to you on deciding what countries you might wish to collect by seeing what is offered. To my knowledge more stamps are shown there than any other site on the internet. As with many collectors, modern stamps are not a high priority to me as after 1970 or so most stamps were printed in high volumes not to be used but to profit from stamp collectors. Most of my end dates vary from 1980 to 2000

You can find the site here: Antonius-Ra.com

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Pockets
16 Sep 2017
09:10:58am
re: New to the hobby questions

Thanks everyone for getting back to me. I understand why you consider this a family. The advice was noted and will be followed. Will try all and take it from there. Again thanks and will continue to ask if I have more.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
16 Sep 2017
02:31:34pm
re: New to the hobby questions

and don't let "value" keep you from enjoying the collection! I started back on my general USA collection about two years ago. I am very happy to be picking up all the 1940s-1980s stamps and plate blocks I wanted as a kid for around face value or below. I'm doing it for the bucket list, building the collection I wanted as a kid, and for my own personal enjoyment. I truly love the stamp designs and look forward to my mail each day to see what purchases will show up!

A good place to find the cheaper 1940s to date stamps is on the Stamporama approvals and auctions right here on this board. It's fun to find the cheap stamps that are the holes in your collection and you make friends.

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cdj1122
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16 Sep 2017
07:52:06pm
re: New to the hobby questions

" .... Buying stamps at retail from the many stamp companies is a good way of ripping yourself off. ...."

I disagree semantically.
Several of the popular retail stamp companies perform a service to the hobby not found elsewhere.
First off, companies like Mystic and Kenmore issue a small magazine style catalog, often free, to collectors that attract newbies, they advertise heavily in the philatelic press and while their listed prices are sometimes even higher that Scott's wild ass dream "values", they make sets of some of the most common issues available to the stamp world. I have no idea how many times I have sorted through dealers stocks only to reach some arbitrary point. ten or fifteen years ago, that the dealers (For good reason) choose to not bother to stock, especially in postally used condition.
Those companies advertise in both the philatelic and non-philatelic press, I assume not for eleemosynary reasons, but to attract new potential collectors, and make a profit, of course. I wonder if Linn's could operate, or the American Philatelist be printed were it not for their advertising revenues. So, I feel the use of the pejorative words "Ripping ....off" is away overboard.
Yes, the experienced collector can work his, or her, way through the millions of listings on E-bay or elsewhere and find, let's say a set of some recently issued Flag definitive at a reasonable low price, but that may take time, knowledge the newbie does not have, and evading the many real ripoff sellers we often expose right here in our SoR discussion pages.
On the other hand, or one of them, I could just send a payment to Mystic or Kenmore with the numbers of these sometimes complex sets and expect to have them arrive in a week or so. If I examine the set and decide I find one or more stamp just not up to what passes for my personal exacting standard, and I send the item back, either company will try to provide a better version, sometimes offering a mint never hinged example, or a credit refund just to keep a customer happy.
try that on Ebay a few times. They also send out approvals to just about anyone and I am sure that there are costs to doing that.
Would I buy all my stamps from them, after almost sixty years of stamping, of course not. But those retail sellers are a valuable asset to the hobby.

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malcolm197
20 Sep 2017
05:58:43am
re: New to the hobby questions

I would say that if you collection is "weak" in a country, date period,or other limiting area of collecting, the most economical way to buy is to purchase an "accumulation" which you could describe as an incomplete "collection".

These can be aquired from e-bay,dealers etc. and are substantially cheaper than buying individual copies. Yes you will receive stamps you already have, and there may even be more than one copy of the same stamp within the accumulation, but even allowing for this the net copy per "new" stamp is usually less.

This method will not work if you have a fairly extensive collection of your chosen subject already. Duplicates can be exchanged via this website or one of the specialist exchange websites available.

A word of friendly warning.Only buy from those who supply a good quality illustration.

I am an all world,postally used only collector and in the past I have bought accumulations in this manner on a regular basis without undue problems ( accepting that a small number of transactions will "go wrong"). As a result I have so many stamps waiting to be gone through that I have not bought anything for about 2 years !!

When you arrive at a point that you only need a small number of stamps to complete a section of your collection you have to accept that you will have to pay a dealer "over the odds". Bear in mind you are not only paying for the stamps you need, but you are subsidising his expenses to stock all the stamps he needs to satisfy all his potential customers, and his time. His prices then do not seem to be so high.

Malcolm

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