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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Questions from a newbie!

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dondidio
30 Mar 2018
02:18:59pm
I've been buying stamp lots at estate sales for 15+ years now but never took the time to research the many varieties in the boxes. For years I sold them at a flea market to two collectors. Not knowing the values I just relied on their honesty to pay whatever they wanted. Once I sold a box to "Jim" for $20. He called me the next day to say he apologized for making such a terrible mistake. He found an 1862 Revenue stamp between the pages of a booklet with a Scotts value over $2000! He said catalog prices are typically half the true worth and wanted to pay me $1000 for the stamp. I would not take his money of course but did appreciate his integrity.
Sadly "Jim" and the other collector passed away within a month of each other a short time ago.
So..it's time I learned something about all these stamps I've accumulated and continue to buy on the blind. With that, I have a few questions:
1) I am partial to the early stamps of the 19th century but see the vast majority are of little value per eBay. Is that because collectors are too wary of eBay sellers to spend more than $1 for a stamp? FYI-I sell vintage watches on ebay but it took a long time before buyers understood that I actually knew something about them and would pay a fair price!
2)The nomenclature in any collectors circles always have a slippery slope. Where is the best place to learn the accepted terms of in philately?
3)Is there any way to get old stamps unstuck from each other? And how much does it devalue those stamps"
4)My personal preference is in revenue and document stamps that I will keep but what about all the others, like the foreign stamps?? What country's stamps should I pay attention to for values only>
5) Last ?! I have offered some larger lots of stamps on ebay but got the same question over and over: Will you ship them for free? My answer is No! And why would someone that collects Stamps not want to support the USPS?? No need to answer that one! It's just a question that has baffled me for years. "Free Shipping" is ingrained in today's culture, I only wish that buyers of anything online understand that there is no such thing as "free" shipping!

Thanks you!
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michael78651
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30 Mar 2018
04:25:27pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

I'll give a brief answer to your questions:

1) Most stamps are worth very little, because they were printed in the millions. "Old" stamps does not mean that they are valuable. Governments do not print stamps to make stamp collectors rich.

2) Read the various articles on Stamporama to give you a better idea of the hobby. Also check out the American Philatelic Society:

https://stamps.org/A-Hobby-for-Everyone

3) Most older stamps can be separated by soaking them in water.

4) If you are concerned about "value", then you are not collecting. Collect what you want, but stay away from damaged stamps. The introductions to the stamp catalogs discuss most of what is needed to learn. See if your local library has a stamp catalogs that you can borrow or read in the reference section.

5) People are people.

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
30 Mar 2018
04:26:22pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

1.) It is supply and demand. Just because something is old does not mean that it is valuable. If a 1875 stamp had a print run of 3 billion then it is not going to be worth much. Some stamp, for example US #1 or the Penny Black, had very large print runs. But their value today remains pretty high because the demand for these two stamps is also high.

2.) Stamp Smarter has an Illustrated Glossary here http://stampsmarter.com/Learning/GlossaryHome.html

3.) Some times you can ‘un-stick’ mint stamps by putting them in the freezer. But frankly once mint stamps become stuck the gum is, at best, considered ‘disturbed’. In worse case, you may simply have to soak them in water and remove the gum. Trying to pry them apart typical ends up damaging the stamps.

4.) My only opinion on this is to collect what appeals to you.

5.) eBay shipping can be problematic, especially overseas. eBay’s Term and Conditions are configure to support large, commodity products; not collectibles. The collectibles listings are riding on the eBay shirt tails of the commodity products. eBay shipping policies make shipping/tracking stamps just about unfeasible unless they are in larger lots. Additionally, the eBay vender rating system also is an factor in shipping attitudes. Many people feel the best way to do an eBay listing is to build the shipping cost into your listing price and then offer free shipping. If you do this, then no one can whine about shipping cost and ding you on the feedback/rating.

Don

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Bobstamp
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30 Mar 2018
06:27:07pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

Welcome, Dondidio. I'll respond to some of your questions:

Quote:

"1) I am partial to the early stamps of the 19th century but see the vast majority are of little value per eBay. Is that because collectors are too wary of eBay sellers to spend more than $1 for a stamp?"



The majority of all stamps are of little commercial value. Even stamps that have "moderate" value are usually deeply discounted from their catalogue prices, for several reasons:

Most stamps are less than perfect specimens. Their centring is less than perfect, their perforations may be short or missing, their colour may be dull, they may have thins, and cancellations may obliterate important parts of their design. The very few stamps of any given issue that are "perfect" may well command premium prices above catalogue value. Another reason for low selling prices is that the philatelic market for ordinary stamps is very soft now, mainly because few younger people now collect stamps. It's important to remember that stamps are a terrible investment, as people who collect modern stamps "for a rainy day" inevitably find out. At the same time, depending on the collector, particular stamps may be have high intrinsic value. The following Hungarian stamp, in my collection, had a Scott catalogue value in 2013 of US $0.50. It is the only postally used copy I have ever seen:

Image Not Found

The cancellation is less than attractive, the stamp is slightly scuffed, and perforations are missing or severely blunted. As I recall, I paid about $5 for it, and would have paid $10 or even $20 for it. Is it worth that much? Perhaps not to you, but it is to me. To paraphrase that old saw about beauty, the value of a stamp is in the eye of the beholder.

2)
Quote:

"The nomenclature in any collectors' circles always have a slippery slope. Where is the best place to learn the accepted terms of in philately?"



Hundreds of philatelic glossaries are available on-line. My advice: read everything you can find about collecting in general and about specific stamps that interest you, and use those glossaries. The growth of your philatelic vocabulary will be directly reflect the amount of effort you put into your philatelic education.

Quote:

"3) Is there any way to get old stamps unstuck from each other? And how much does it devalue those stamp?"



Not without damage, especially if they are well and truly stuck. It's a fool's errand to try to unstick common stamps, unless you're willing to mount stamps without gum (described as "NG") in your collections, or if you can use the gumless stamps as postage. Even valuable stamps without gum are worth a great deal less than catalogue value; common NG stamps have virtually no value as collectables.

A very few early classic stamps are in danger of being damaged if their gum cracks, so it's best to soak the gum off those stamps. Be aware that a very few stamps printed with aniline "fugitive" dyes cannot be soaked, unless you want a piece of paper that looks like a stamp that's missing its ink, which is what it will be. Catalogues tell you which stamps are printed with fugitive ink.

Bob










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AntoniusRa
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The truth is within and only you can reveal it
30 Mar 2018
06:57:19pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

Selling stamps requires a high degree of knowledge to do it correctly. You happening to find "Jim" and the other guy was like finding the Golden Goose. Stamps do not normally sell for 50% of catalog. Most sellers will count themselves lucky to get 30% of catalog for most stamps and 15% at auction. Just going to estate sales and buying stamps blindly,
one could not expect to turn a profit.

2. You should have asked that question a long time before you ever purchase your first stamp. Best place to start is by buying a U.S. Scott Specialized Catalog, or a set of Scott world wide if you are going to go that route. Catalogs that are a couple years old
will work fine and are much cheaper. Amazon is the best place I have found to buy these,
usually at 15-$20. Read the front of any of these volumes to educate yourself on philately.

3. On valuable stamps the gum is worth more than the stamp itself. If you cannot separate them by the freezer method (which does not work that often) then you will have to soak them in water and that will remove the gum making them worth from 90%-20% less depending on the country.

4. China has been the hottest area for the last 30 years

5. What do you think free shipping means? Of course there is no such thing but it means that you pay shipping and the USPS gets their cut.


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dondidio
30 Mar 2018
07:23:51pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

Thanks for all the responses! I certainly understand that age has little to do with value in all collecting markets. Buying stamps at estate sales started with my love of historical documents, letters, etc. Often the auctioneer doesn't take the time to sort it all out so a bunch of stamps will be mixed in a box of soldiers letters or Civil War era deeds & documents. Other stamps I bought at sales were just too cheap to pass up especially when there's $10 worth of unused current stamps and the winning bid is $1! Like anything else, it's all about condition, condition, condition and that, I'm guessing, is what I really need to study up on. Thanks again to all!

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dani20
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31 Mar 2018
10:05:27am
re: Questions from a newbie!

Dear Dondidio,
When you wrote "Like anything else, it's all about condition, condition, condition and that, I'm guessing, is what I really need to study up on." I wondered if you got the full meaning of the good advice freely offered by the stamppals who responded. Permit me to restate their advice as I understand them to be sharing.

When Michael says"If you are concerned about "value", then you are not collecting." he is alerting you your missing the true value of a hobby-it can be a lifetime pursuit, and an heirloom to pass on to your heirs, although the actual $ value may be minimal. To you after your working days are done in the many years after that you can find a treasure trove of interest to follow, and a path your grandchildren and great grandchildren can follow to get to know their grandpa/greatgrandpa and a bit of his curiosity and where it led him.

On the $ issue, when Don says"It is supply and demand. Just because something is old does not mean that it is valuable." he is also highlighting the false notions of collecting for $ alone.

Bob's comment "The following Hungarian stamp, in my collection, had a Scott catalogue value in 2013 of US $0.50. It is the only postally used copy I have ever seen:" gets to the hobby itself and the collecting joy that one can have.

AntoniusRa's comments are directly addressing the $ issue as you had asked, but now allow me to ask you- are you actually asking the right question? What is the price one can place on a message to an heir, on a glimpse of an ancestor, of a pursuit of a passion?

Welcome my friend to a hobby worthy of respect, and a lifetime of challenges within that hobby.

Best,
Dan C.





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musicman
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APS #213005
01 Apr 2018
11:30:04am
re: Questions from a newbie!

Welcome to the hobby of Kings and paupers alike!


Happy

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grorod
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01 Apr 2018
03:55:36pm
re: Questions from a newbie!

If you check out this site on-line it could help you.
Stampworld.com
It's a great site as they show the picture of each stamp. They list by country and year of issue. just click on catalogue
The values are shown mint unused and used in Euros
Good luck, and welcome to Stamporama

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
02 Apr 2018
08:15:43am
re: Questions from a newbie!

Don,

I was thinking that you might want to concentrate on #4: revenues and documentary stamps. If that's your passion, nurse it. you can continue to throw the other stuff into large lots that fund #4.

Later, if something else catches your eye, expand.

For the moment, you've already accomplished what many of us strive lifetimes to do: find a speciality area we can concentrate on and leave the rest for others

David

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