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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Great-grandma's stamps

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briarrose
12 Jan 2019
04:19:16pm
So last night we were at my in-laws', and I offhandedly mentioned that I'd started collecting stamps. They proceeded to bring out a little cardboard suitcase full of envelopes, telling me it was my husband's great-grandmother's stamp collection. They were more than happy to give it to me. This great-grandmother was an interesting person, an author from Pasadena who wrote those kind of "power of positive thinking" books, like Norman Vincent Peale. Her books are no longer popular, but she's still well-known enough that a couple of years ago when we were changing to the new month on an art calendar we happened to be using, my husband was surprised to see a quote by her on the page. Anyway, most of the stamps appear to be presidential portraits, as you'd expect, but there are others. The vast majority seem to be U.S. stamps. Some of the envelopes have more stamps inside. I haven't got to look through them yet, but the oldest I noticed was from the '40s, the most recent from '76. I understand she passed away in the '80s.

My questions:
Is it really important that I keep the stamps on the covers? I would prefer not to.
And are there any particular stamps from this time period that I ought to keep an eye out for?

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michael78651
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12 Jan 2019
04:49:04pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Probably most covers do not matter if you cut pout the stamps. However, before you do so, it is always best to look at the covers for the stamps that were used to pay postage, and if any covers show special services like air mail, special delivery, postage due, etc. Those you would want to keep intact. Also, covers with any letters, billings and such addressed to your great grandmother will most likely have added value if she was a well known/famous person. Such covers may have come from other famous/well know people too.

The covers with the presidential stamps on them have collectors who specialize in collecting them.

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dani20
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12 Jan 2019
05:12:03pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Dear Briarrose,
If you think of the stamp collection as a family heirloom, and consider it a starting point for a stamp collection going forward in honor and recognition of a special person then you may be looking at the real value of the inheritance.

Likely there are no rarities to be mined here, but let me address your direct questions.

"Is it really important that I keep the stamps on the covers?"

Covers in general command higher values than stamps off covers.

"are there any particular stamps from this time period that I ought to keep an eye out for?"

Chances are that items of value might be found in the EFO (errors,freaks,oddities) categories.

"I would prefer not to."

Your collection, your call.

Best,
Dan C.

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vinman
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12 Jan 2019
05:27:35pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Great Grandma saved them for a reason. It sounds like Great Grandma was an interesting woman, she probably had some interesting friends. I would check the return address's before I removed the stamps.

Vince

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dani20
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12 Jan 2019
07:18:57pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Dear Briarrose,
Both Michael and Vinman are wisely cluing you into the value of the historical connections-very valuable advice to heed before deciding upon your approach.
Dan C.

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briarrose
12 Jan 2019
07:39:33pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Thanks, everyone. Happy I'll be sure to go through everything and make a careful decision about each item. I'll post here if anything interesting turns up or if I have any more questions.

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ikeyPikey
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13 Jan 2019
07:24:46am
re: Great-grandma's stamps

.
Thought experiment: you've got two piles.

Pile #1 is the covers with their stamps removed ... a partial roadmap of your husband's great=grandmother's life.

Pile #2 is the stamps that came off of those covers.

Q/ Which pile enriches your life?

Like The Dan said: your collection, your call.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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StamperMA
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13 Jan 2019
10:47:23am
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Your husband's great-grandmother kept the letters, your husband's grandmother kept the letters, your husband's mother kept the letters... I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

This is not a potential stamp collection this is a family history cache worth exploring. Maybe now, maybe sometime in the future, maybe by your children some day.


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pigdoc
13 Jan 2019
11:19:26am
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Kind of echoing ikeypikey's sentiments, as soon as you remove a stamp from its cover, virtually all context is irretrievably lost. It's like pulling an artifact out of an architectural dig or picking up a pot sherd and putting in your pocket.

Sometimes the context is trivial, sometimes not. And, making judgements about the relative importance of context is fraught, because what seems important to you will change continually as your own experience develops.

There are experts who can look at an individual item and make informed judgements about whether it has any potential for its value to appreciate, and short of that, the safe move is to just keep it all intact. It doesn't take up much space, it's not heavy, so there's really not much cost to just keeping it all intact.

If it was my collection, one thing that I'd want to preserve is the return addresses, pinned to date. Someday, I (or my descendants) might wonder about my ancestors' acquaintances and contacts...

I probably have three dozen shoeboxes stuffed full of covers that I have hoarded over the last 20 years or so. These were all either salvaged from my regular mail, or retrieved from wastebaskets. A couple of months ago, I went through some of these boxes, and in each one of them, there were keepsakes that seemed trivial when I collected them. It was a nice journey into the past...

-Paul


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amsd
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13 Jan 2019
11:24:00am

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re: Great-grandma's stamps

tell you what..... if those covers are destined to become paper to be recycled and stamps for your collection AND they're all common and not worth much anyway, how about you send the entire thing to me. I'll pay postage AND I will send you double the number of stamps on those covers to you. I see interesting usages just from your one picture AND if there is a family history here, and one of little interest to you, I'll take it.

Say YES here if interested and I'll PM you.

David

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dani20
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13 Jan 2019
01:50:22pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Dear Briarrose,

Every comment and offer here will go into your final decision about approach, but a further thought crossed my mind I'd like to share with you as well.

"This great-grandmother was an interesting person, an author from Pasadena who wrote those kind of "power of positive thinking" books, like Norman Vincent Peale. Her books are no longer popular, but she's still well-known enough ....."

Might there be some correspondence from her to others that contain wisdom waiting to be shared? Might the original publishers of her books be interested if that might be the case?

Best,
Dan C.

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pigdoc
13 Jan 2019
05:53:16pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Bottom line is the question, "Why do I collect?"
Just realize that the answer to that question will change during your journey.


-Paul

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briarrose
13 Jan 2019
06:48:18pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

You all have given me a lot to think about. Happy Right now I'm just going to go through them and see what's here.

So far, none of the envelopes has had anything in it, except maybe a few more stamps.

The nice thing is, somebody saw fit to put them into bunches with rubber bands, so there won't be an explosion all over the living room. I don't think they are organized any further than that, however.

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Pogopossum
13 Jan 2019
07:11:19pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

I am kind of curious about the briefcase the stamps came in! Any brand name on it? The tartan pattern is interesting. Thinking

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briarrose
13 Jan 2019
08:19:52pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Pogopossum, I can't see a brand name on the outside, but I'll see if one is revealed on the inside as I go through it. I can't find my tartan reference, but I believe it may be Wallace?

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jmh67
14 Jan 2019
06:02:57am
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Just adding my 2 c worth: On the envelopes you will usually find complete postmarks, and there are people interested in those as well. If you can spare the time, you might even consider scanning them and uploading them to an online postmark archive.

Other than that, remember the old saying among philatelists "A stamp whispers, a complete envelope tells a story" ...

-jmh

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smauggie
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14 Jan 2019
10:00:28am
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Just from the picture provided I see a number of fascinating rates which if used contemporaneously would be quite popular with rate collectors. Also keep an eye out for markings placed on the envelope by the post office such as pointing hands, or return to sender or some other message. Depending on the message these can be quite sought after. The fact is that the stamps on the covers are more valuable (philatelically at least) then the stamps off the covers.

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briarrose
14 Jan 2019
12:32:22pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

"Just from the picture provided I see a number of fascinating rates which if used contemporaneously"

I'm still new, could someone please explain this to me? Is the rate the total of stamps used together?

For the envelopes, is condition not an issue? What about stamps with corners peeling up? I'm used to hobbies where nothing can have a mark on it, and certainly not a bend, tear, or crease.

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smauggie
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14 Jan 2019
01:03:43pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

Postal rates are the amount of postage needed for a particular postal service. Almost all letters are sent first class with a single first class rate stamp. For other services, such as registered mail, return receipts, certified mail, overweight mail, etc, different rates were charged at different times.

A cover (another name for a postally used envelope/postcard, etc) sent in 1952 within the US with $1.75 in postage on it, tells me that the cover was sent registered mail with an indemnity (insurance) amount of between $900.01 and $1000. There are people who collect these covers that tell the story of the postal history of the United States.

Condition is important but it is less important when it comes to covers because the person interested in the cover is more interested in the story being told than in the stamps themselves, though of course a cover with faulty stamp on it will fetch a lower price than the same cover with sound stamps on it.

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briarrose
14 Jan 2019
01:38:19pm
re: Great-grandma's stamps

smauggie, very interesting! Thank you. Happy

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