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General Philatelic/Gen. Discussion : Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

 

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ikeyPikey
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20 Jan 2019
04:27:11pm
Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Read about them here.

So, using Mr Rinker's signposts to count from 0 to 10, how would you score philately?

0 = we suffer none of these signs

10 = we suffer all of these signs

Here's a short-hand list of the ten signs that you can cut'n'paste into your own reply:

average age over 60

few (not just fewer) collectors

clubs disappear

few (not just fewer) dealers

low sell-thru rate on eBay

decline in the high-end prices

more lotting & less individual sales

no new reference books & no new price guides

trade periodicals do not cover the category

category is now grouped with other categories

My score? I give us a 2: one point for average age over 60, and one shared sum-of-the-fractions point for increased lotting (there were always collections & accumulations for sale, but there seem to be more, now) and softening prices at the higher end (depending on how broadly you define the higher end).

average age over 60 ... guilty

few (not just fewer) collectors ... yes, but easier than ever for them to be active

clubs disappear ... memberships declining, but economics changing, too

few (not just fewer) dealers ... transition from brick'n'mortar to internet

low sell-thru rate on eBay ... too hard to measure in The Fog of eCommerce

decline in the high-end prices ... don't follow the market closely enough to say

more lotting & less individual sales ... seems like more collections & accumulations are on the market, but they are now easier than ever to quickly re-sell, so what are we seeing?

no new reference books & no new price guides ... transition from books to internet

trade periodicals do not cover the category ... we always had our own press

category is now grouped with other categories ... we always had our own category, and our subcategories seem stable

Seems to me that, by Mr Rinker's scoring, we're alive'n'well:

"... Collectors failed to recognize this phenomenon in the past because the categories disappeared gradually. The process took centuries, driven by a growing lack of merchandise in the secondary marketplace and changing collecting tastes ..."



Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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musicman
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APS #213005

20 Jan 2019
04:50:12pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Ikey-Pikey-Mikey,


Although I have minor differences of opinion in a few categories,

overall I think your final assumption is correct -

we are alive and well!

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TribalErnie

20 Jan 2019
05:37:19pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

This is an interesting discussion of the current stamp market from Forbes magazine. Buy US Revenues! Wow

www.forbes.com/sites/richardlehmann/2018/03/05/survey-of-stamp-values-trends/amp/




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philb
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20 Jan 2019
08:21:51pm

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re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Good essay Ikey, i am 60+20 i guess stamps will be my pleasure as long as i live, the APS is bailing water like crazy..but good lord..look at the ages of the new members..some are older than i am.

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musicman
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APS #213005

20 Jan 2019
09:07:31pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Ernie,


The link isn't working for me.....

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sheepshanks
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20 Jan 2019
09:12:53pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

musicman, try this one.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardlehmann/2018/03/05/survey-of-stamp-values-trends/amp/

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musicman
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APS #213005

20 Jan 2019
09:15:30pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

That worked - thanks, Vic.

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vinman
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20 Jan 2019
10:10:38pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

ikeyPikey,
Interesting article. It was written in 2010, a little out of date but can still be applied to general collecting and collectibles.

I agree with the 2 points you gave stamp collecting. Can we subtract points because our periodicals are focused on the hobby. We have a large assortment to choose from. There are also many specialty groups of collectors and their own newsletters.
I think we can subtract more points for the amount of new reference books and price lists although online publishing is here now, not as much in 2010. The American Philatelic library literature review has lists and reviews of new literature. I believe Philately has the largest amount of reference material available, The APS has over three miles of filled shelving of reference material.
Stamp collecting has changed and think we are in a good place.

Vince

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Al
Collector, Moderator

21 Jan 2019
06:40:30am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Stamps with aspects like postal history have attributes not found in collections of artifacts like coins.

I realize many miss stamp clubs but people usually meet just once a month. You can meet every minute online and be exposed to a broader range of knowledgeable people. Now, we know some will never venture online but some know everything. Big Grin


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ikeyPikey
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21 Jan 2019
12:04:38pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

.
Mr Rinker did a nice job of trying to think things through, systematically.

It occurs to me that his Ten Tests might be better applied to what we consider specialties within philately.

FDCs have suffered precipitous declines in price - and the deeply commercial Serial Marketing types have left the building, as the kids say nowadays - but there is the AFDCS (still kicking), its journal (fun read), plenty of dealers (at least one at even the smallest shows, several at each of the larger shows), and a healthy transition to a new model (limited edition handcrafted / handpainted cachets).

US Plate Blocks ... hmm. One still sees ads from dealers offering plate blocks. I do not remember if there were ever plate block specialty societies or journals. The PSA stamps & rouletting are forcing the plate block collectors to merge with the mint sheet collectors, whether either group likes it or not.

US Pony Express covers were a Big Deal when I came into the hobby.

Q/ Can you name any philatelic specialties that meet Mr Rinker's ten tests?

Between the internet facilitating the sort of contacts that small specialty societies once offered, and the grotesque idea that we might have collectively exhausted certain topics (do we really need another learned article about Farley's Follies?), I think that much of the attrition is mostly transition, but that's me.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey (who was tempted to suggest Canal Zone as a dying specialty just to see if smauggie was following this thread) It Wasn't Me

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pigdoc

21 Jan 2019
01:18:21pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

A couple of random comments:

angora, I was thinking recently about how 'coin history' suffers from a lack of dimension. Dimension being given by context. I mean, other than the dates/locations of issue, what other context exists with coins? I'm sure I'm missing something. Now, postal history, on the other hand, enjoys an immense range of context, because it is so dimensional. And, the context is recorded on the covers themselves, unlike coins, where any context would be dependent upon documented provenance. Say, "this piece-of-eight was recovered from this wreck in the Caribbean". It's not hard at all to find covers that can satisfy a half-dozen or more dimensions, some of which I have posted on this Discussion.

ikey, your choice to exemplify Pony Express covers gets me thinking. For the most part, these covers are truly rare. They're like collector cars or airplanes - only so many left, many of those enshrined, and all knowns are completely documented. Always a chance at a 'car-in-a-barn' or undiscovered cover out there, but as time passes, those chances have decayed significantly. They're still a "Big Deal", but except among the one-percenters, not widely traded. I am gathering, from the complete lack of response on this Discussion to my postings on "Stagecoach Mail" or early Western (US) postal history, that the community of collectors for this postal history topical area is pretty small. That kind of surprises me, given the massive romanticism inherent in this collecting area.
So, yeah, that collecting area kind of feels 'dead'. That notwithstanding, I have learned a lot about the Meussdorffers and their hat-making enterprise through collecting and researching Wells-Fargo covers. It's a neat example of the emergence of prosperity as a by-product of geocultural expansion. One can learn a lot about the history of Commerce through postal history study. But, I digress...

-Paul

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Benque

21 Jan 2019
06:30:11pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Numismatics? Philately? I like em both, but focus mainly on stamps. The focus I give to coins is generally for the ones made of precious metals.
But to to be fair, commemorative coins, like commemorative stamps provide a wealth of historic information for anyone who chooses to delve into it. Collecting commemorative coins in practically any country will keep collectors busy and historically informed for their entire lives, should they so desire.

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BermudaSailor
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22 Jan 2019
03:03:20pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Even though this article is nine years old, I have not seen it until today. Thanks for sharing.

My question is how is it that the author has determined these ten parameters, and by what authority / basis of knowledge does he or she get to be arbiter of what is endangered or not endangered? Reading between the lines, one could easily infer that within 30 years or so the general public will have moved on from collecting to something entirely different.

I, for one, don't think that is so. People seem to have a genetic predisposition to collecting stuff. I assume that there will won't be a sea change in our genetic makeup in the next 100 years, so collecting will go on, and on.

Of course, I assume you posted this because you were looking at some correlation between the article's premises and stamp collecting. If we accept the fact that the author speaks with some authority (which as I said is debatable) then Signposts 1 (perhaps), and 3 are the only two that apply.

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ikeyPikey
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22 Jan 2019
04:18:57pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"... by what authority / basis of knowledge does he or she get to be arbiter of what is endangered or not endangered ..."



The plain language of the text is that Mr Rinker is suggesting a set of guidelines that each of us can use to arrive at our own conclusion.

"Reading between the lines, one could easily infer that within 30 years or so the general public will have moved on from collecting to something entirely different."



That's a lot of reading between the lines; I read no such thing.

"I, for one, don't think that is so. People seem to have a genetic predisposition to collecting stuff. I assume that there will won't be a sea change in our genetic makeup in the next 100 years, so collecting will go on, and on."



The essay is clearly about collecting categories ... and not the disposition, cultural or genetic, to collecting per se.

"Of course, I assume you posted this because you were looking at some correlation between the article's premises and stamp collecting."



No need to assume; I wrote: "So, using Mr Rinker's signposts to count from 0 to 10, how would you score philately?"

The article's premise is that people familiar with a collecting category can assess whether/not that category is endangered.

"If we accept the fact that the author speaks with some authority (which as I said is debatable)"



Actually, you said no such thing.

But you can prepare for such a debate by reading his original essay, by visiting his website (the link is in the original essay), by searching for more information about him at that site (and others), etc.

Okay, let me make that easy for you: http://www.harryrinker.com/harry.html

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50 - Easy browsing 500 categories

23 Jan 2019
09:53:26am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"Q/ Can you name any philatelic specialties that meet Mr Rinker's ten tests?"



Yes:

1) collecting "2x4's" -- the 2 inch x 4 inch clipped corners of covers to show the stamp and (usually slogan) cancel. Collections of thousands of these now get thrown into larger auction lots in order to "make them go away".

2) the trade in "packets" of "x number of all different stamps" that were sold everywhere, including department stores and how most of us started when we were kids. This market was fueled by packet makers who actively traded in "bundleware" (bundles of 100 stamps all the same). They would accumulate bundles and when they had enough different would make 100 packets from them. There was active competition for the bundles of stamps that were just slightly better than "minimum value" to allow them to swell the size of their packets. There were actually "buy lists" available from major dealers, priced per 100! Now they are being given away.

3) modern mint commemoratives (modern = post-1950 for many countries, post-1930 for USA) from any western country. A few sell, but no dealer would buy any to "fill up a stockbook" like we used to have to do to keep 10 copies in the stockbook. If they are still valid for postage there may be a well developed postage market, but any knowledgeable collector who wants to fill a space for completeness knows it will be found in a "discounted from face value" box. If the country's stamps are no longer valid for postage (all the Euro countries' stamps denominated in their previous currencies), the stamps are basically worthless and sell only in collections of some level of completeness at a nominal price that represents the value of convenience for the buyer who wants them. I buy and sell a LOT of Canadian postage (and some USA) and have recently stopped buying values under 10c at any price. They are no longer worth the labor involved.

4) Mint United Nations stamps. Hot in the 1970s-80s, now you can't move standard mint collections/accumulations at 10% of face value. The public no longer has access to the UN postal system, so these fall into the classification of "no longer valid for postage" (at least for the public). There is still demand for unusual or specialist material from the die-hard UN collectors, but anybody still collecting has all the "plain Jane" material they want (Rinker's 100% collector fulfillment - read the original article).

I can probably think of a few more, but that's all the time I have this morning.

Roy
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pigdoc

23 Jan 2019
11:16:11am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

I'm bored (and still furloughed) this morning, so I'll throw in some more comments.

I really appreciate and identify with your comments, roy.

It seems that the 'collecting urge' has been, and still is, broadly exploited by those seeking to earn a buck from it. There is, literally, no end to the offerings, some quite ludicrous for their creativity. Hardly a day passes when we are not all assaulted by some appeal. In any Smithsonian magazine, there are dozens of ads for such things. I have to admit, that the artistry in some of the US Mint's coins catches my eye, but $20/oz for silver just doesn't seem like a good investment.

Which leads me to my main point. Someone once said something like, if you get sentimentally attached to your investments, you're sunk. It is difficult, and heart-wrenching, to be forced to look at our collections that way, but we can't take them with us, much as we would like to! For the last 20 years or so, I have been looking at my collections with jaundiced eye, and trying to be absolutely truthful about the potential for their worth to grow, or even be maintained over time. I look at those 10 binders I have of mint US issues from the 1970s through the 2000s, and shake my head at my own stupid obsessiveness in accumulating them. If I had spent all that money on truly investment-grade material, I would be MUCH happier (and richer) today.

The key is to be able to critically evaluate potential collectibles for their future worth. Use the Rule of 72s. Pick a number for the annual rate of inflation. 3%? 4%? Now, divide that number into 72. The result is how many years it takes for an investment to double in absolute value. If it doesn't double in 24 years (72/3), then it hasn't even kept pace with inflation, and your net return is less than 0.

Granted, stamp valuations are notoriously volatile and diverse, depending on the marketplace. But, I think if you look at the range of philatelic material to collect, very, VERY little of it will yield a positive net return over time. That's OK, as long as you (and your heirs) are prepared to absorb the losses.

To close, back to my first comment, the marketplace is chock FULL of collections of stuff that sells for a tiny fraction of its original purchase price. You find it at any flea market. Seeing it makes me pity the people who originally purchased it, at full value.

-Paul

PS, it's also fun, and informative to look at current offerings using the Rule of 72s. We just bought a 40-year old house for $317K. Even if I take a conservative view that inflation in the real estate market was only about 2% over the last 40 years, The Rule of 72s has me ask myself, "Would you have bought this property for $150K in 1978?" HELL, yes!



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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50 - Easy browsing 500 categories

23 Jan 2019
11:29:35am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"VERY little of it will yield a positive net return over time. That's OK, as long as you (and your heirs) are prepared to absorb the losses."



Agreed. This is something that I tell heirs almost every week. Some people paid $100 per round (+ equipment) to play golf, some people paid $5 per game to roll a bowling ball down an alley, with no return at all. The money was paid for the enjoyment of DOING the hobby.

Frequently, the heirs don't see where the "fun" was, because they only thought of stamp collecting as asset accumulation. It is worthwhile for collectors to communicate to their family and heirs the hours of enjoyment they get from "playing" with their stamps and the value of that activity to their life.

Roy
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Al
Collector, Moderator

23 Jan 2019
12:17:39pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

I have a collection of modern US issues and do not regret the purchase as I had no other motives such as financial gain.

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ikeyPikey
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23 Jan 2019
11:03:45pm
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

".. We just bought a 40-year old house for $317K. Even if I take a conservative view that inflation in the real estate market was only about 2% over the last 40 years, The Rule of 72s has me ask myself, "Would you have bought this property for $150K in 1978?" HELL, yes! ..."



You lost me. Money compounding at 5% doubles every 14 years, and 5% was easy to come by for most of the last 40 years. So:

U$D 150k in 1978

U$D 300k in 1992

U$D 600k in 2006

U$D 1,000,000 today

Yes, you would have needed to live somewhere (else), and there are all sorts of secondary effects, but if a house purchased for U$D 150k in 1978 had only doubled in the last 40 years - when many other residential real estate properties increased by factors of 5x-10x, I'd have to wonder where you found that house.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50 - Easy browsing 500 categories

24 Jan 2019
10:24:35am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"1) collecting "2x4's" -- the 2 inch x 4 inch clipped corners of covers to show the stamp and (usually slogan) cancel. Collections of thousands of these now get thrown into larger auction lots in order to "make them go away"."



Further to my earlier post, here are a couple of lots from this morning's Sparks Auctions sale:

Image Not Found

Image Not Found

Roy
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sheepshanks
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24 Jan 2019
11:42:41am
re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Cheap way to buy albums. Should they not be called cut rectangles, they sure are not square.
The description of the first lot says 100 pages then says 23 pages, no wonder buyers get confused.

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ikeyPikey

20 Jan 2019
04:27:11pm

Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Read about them here.

So, using Mr Rinker's signposts to count from 0 to 10, how would you score philately?

0 = we suffer none of these signs

10 = we suffer all of these signs

Here's a short-hand list of the ten signs that you can cut'n'paste into your own reply:

average age over 60

few (not just fewer) collectors

clubs disappear

few (not just fewer) dealers

low sell-thru rate on eBay

decline in the high-end prices

more lotting & less individual sales

no new reference books & no new price guides

trade periodicals do not cover the category

category is now grouped with other categories

My score? I give us a 2: one point for average age over 60, and one shared sum-of-the-fractions point for increased lotting (there were always collections & accumulations for sale, but there seem to be more, now) and softening prices at the higher end (depending on how broadly you define the higher end).

average age over 60 ... guilty

few (not just fewer) collectors ... yes, but easier than ever for them to be active

clubs disappear ... memberships declining, but economics changing, too

few (not just fewer) dealers ... transition from brick'n'mortar to internet

low sell-thru rate on eBay ... too hard to measure in The Fog of eCommerce

decline in the high-end prices ... don't follow the market closely enough to say

more lotting & less individual sales ... seems like more collections & accumulations are on the market, but they are now easier than ever to quickly re-sell, so what are we seeing?

no new reference books & no new price guides ... transition from books to internet

trade periodicals do not cover the category ... we always had our own press

category is now grouped with other categories ... we always had our own category, and our subcategories seem stable

Seems to me that, by Mr Rinker's scoring, we're alive'n'well:

"... Collectors failed to recognize this phenomenon in the past because the categories disappeared gradually. The process took centuries, driven by a growing lack of merchandise in the secondary marketplace and changing collecting tastes ..."



Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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APS #213005
20 Jan 2019
04:50:12pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Ikey-Pikey-Mikey,


Although I have minor differences of opinion in a few categories,

overall I think your final assumption is correct -

we are alive and well!

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TribalErnie

20 Jan 2019
05:37:19pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

This is an interesting discussion of the current stamp market from Forbes magazine. Buy US Revenues! Wow

www.forbes.com/sites/richardlehmann/2018/03/05/survey-of-stamp-values-trends/amp/




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philb

20 Jan 2019
08:21:51pm

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re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Good essay Ikey, i am 60+20 i guess stamps will be my pleasure as long as i live, the APS is bailing water like crazy..but good lord..look at the ages of the new members..some are older than i am.

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APS #213005
20 Jan 2019
09:07:31pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Ernie,


The link isn't working for me.....

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sheepshanks

20 Jan 2019
09:12:53pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

musicman, try this one.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardlehmann/2018/03/05/survey-of-stamp-values-trends/amp/

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APS #213005
20 Jan 2019
09:15:30pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

That worked - thanks, Vic.

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vinman

20 Jan 2019
10:10:38pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

ikeyPikey,
Interesting article. It was written in 2010, a little out of date but can still be applied to general collecting and collectibles.

I agree with the 2 points you gave stamp collecting. Can we subtract points because our periodicals are focused on the hobby. We have a large assortment to choose from. There are also many specialty groups of collectors and their own newsletters.
I think we can subtract more points for the amount of new reference books and price lists although online publishing is here now, not as much in 2010. The American Philatelic library literature review has lists and reviews of new literature. I believe Philately has the largest amount of reference material available, The APS has over three miles of filled shelving of reference material.
Stamp collecting has changed and think we are in a good place.

Vince

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Al
Collector, Moderator
21 Jan 2019
06:40:30am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Stamps with aspects like postal history have attributes not found in collections of artifacts like coins.

I realize many miss stamp clubs but people usually meet just once a month. You can meet every minute online and be exposed to a broader range of knowledgeable people. Now, we know some will never venture online but some know everything. Big Grin


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ikeyPikey

21 Jan 2019
12:04:38pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

.
Mr Rinker did a nice job of trying to think things through, systematically.

It occurs to me that his Ten Tests might be better applied to what we consider specialties within philately.

FDCs have suffered precipitous declines in price - and the deeply commercial Serial Marketing types have left the building, as the kids say nowadays - but there is the AFDCS (still kicking), its journal (fun read), plenty of dealers (at least one at even the smallest shows, several at each of the larger shows), and a healthy transition to a new model (limited edition handcrafted / handpainted cachets).

US Plate Blocks ... hmm. One still sees ads from dealers offering plate blocks. I do not remember if there were ever plate block specialty societies or journals. The PSA stamps & rouletting are forcing the plate block collectors to merge with the mint sheet collectors, whether either group likes it or not.

US Pony Express covers were a Big Deal when I came into the hobby.

Q/ Can you name any philatelic specialties that meet Mr Rinker's ten tests?

Between the internet facilitating the sort of contacts that small specialty societies once offered, and the grotesque idea that we might have collectively exhausted certain topics (do we really need another learned article about Farley's Follies?), I think that much of the attrition is mostly transition, but that's me.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey (who was tempted to suggest Canal Zone as a dying specialty just to see if smauggie was following this thread) It Wasn't Me

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pigdoc

21 Jan 2019
01:18:21pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

A couple of random comments:

angora, I was thinking recently about how 'coin history' suffers from a lack of dimension. Dimension being given by context. I mean, other than the dates/locations of issue, what other context exists with coins? I'm sure I'm missing something. Now, postal history, on the other hand, enjoys an immense range of context, because it is so dimensional. And, the context is recorded on the covers themselves, unlike coins, where any context would be dependent upon documented provenance. Say, "this piece-of-eight was recovered from this wreck in the Caribbean". It's not hard at all to find covers that can satisfy a half-dozen or more dimensions, some of which I have posted on this Discussion.

ikey, your choice to exemplify Pony Express covers gets me thinking. For the most part, these covers are truly rare. They're like collector cars or airplanes - only so many left, many of those enshrined, and all knowns are completely documented. Always a chance at a 'car-in-a-barn' or undiscovered cover out there, but as time passes, those chances have decayed significantly. They're still a "Big Deal", but except among the one-percenters, not widely traded. I am gathering, from the complete lack of response on this Discussion to my postings on "Stagecoach Mail" or early Western (US) postal history, that the community of collectors for this postal history topical area is pretty small. That kind of surprises me, given the massive romanticism inherent in this collecting area.
So, yeah, that collecting area kind of feels 'dead'. That notwithstanding, I have learned a lot about the Meussdorffers and their hat-making enterprise through collecting and researching Wells-Fargo covers. It's a neat example of the emergence of prosperity as a by-product of geocultural expansion. One can learn a lot about the history of Commerce through postal history study. But, I digress...

-Paul

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Benque

21 Jan 2019
06:30:11pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Numismatics? Philately? I like em both, but focus mainly on stamps. The focus I give to coins is generally for the ones made of precious metals.
But to to be fair, commemorative coins, like commemorative stamps provide a wealth of historic information for anyone who chooses to delve into it. Collecting commemorative coins in practically any country will keep collectors busy and historically informed for their entire lives, should they so desire.

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BermudaSailor

22 Jan 2019
03:03:20pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Even though this article is nine years old, I have not seen it until today. Thanks for sharing.

My question is how is it that the author has determined these ten parameters, and by what authority / basis of knowledge does he or she get to be arbiter of what is endangered or not endangered? Reading between the lines, one could easily infer that within 30 years or so the general public will have moved on from collecting to something entirely different.

I, for one, don't think that is so. People seem to have a genetic predisposition to collecting stuff. I assume that there will won't be a sea change in our genetic makeup in the next 100 years, so collecting will go on, and on.

Of course, I assume you posted this because you were looking at some correlation between the article's premises and stamp collecting. If we accept the fact that the author speaks with some authority (which as I said is debatable) then Signposts 1 (perhaps), and 3 are the only two that apply.

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ikeyPikey

22 Jan 2019
04:18:57pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"... by what authority / basis of knowledge does he or she get to be arbiter of what is endangered or not endangered ..."



The plain language of the text is that Mr Rinker is suggesting a set of guidelines that each of us can use to arrive at our own conclusion.

"Reading between the lines, one could easily infer that within 30 years or so the general public will have moved on from collecting to something entirely different."



That's a lot of reading between the lines; I read no such thing.

"I, for one, don't think that is so. People seem to have a genetic predisposition to collecting stuff. I assume that there will won't be a sea change in our genetic makeup in the next 100 years, so collecting will go on, and on."



The essay is clearly about collecting categories ... and not the disposition, cultural or genetic, to collecting per se.

"Of course, I assume you posted this because you were looking at some correlation between the article's premises and stamp collecting."



No need to assume; I wrote: "So, using Mr Rinker's signposts to count from 0 to 10, how would you score philately?"

The article's premise is that people familiar with a collecting category can assess whether/not that category is endangered.

"If we accept the fact that the author speaks with some authority (which as I said is debatable)"



Actually, you said no such thing.

But you can prepare for such a debate by reading his original essay, by visiting his website (the link is in the original essay), by searching for more information about him at that site (and others), etc.

Okay, let me make that easy for you: http://www.harryrinker.com/harry.html

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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23 Jan 2019
09:53:26am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"Q/ Can you name any philatelic specialties that meet Mr Rinker's ten tests?"



Yes:

1) collecting "2x4's" -- the 2 inch x 4 inch clipped corners of covers to show the stamp and (usually slogan) cancel. Collections of thousands of these now get thrown into larger auction lots in order to "make them go away".

2) the trade in "packets" of "x number of all different stamps" that were sold everywhere, including department stores and how most of us started when we were kids. This market was fueled by packet makers who actively traded in "bundleware" (bundles of 100 stamps all the same). They would accumulate bundles and when they had enough different would make 100 packets from them. There was active competition for the bundles of stamps that were just slightly better than "minimum value" to allow them to swell the size of their packets. There were actually "buy lists" available from major dealers, priced per 100! Now they are being given away.

3) modern mint commemoratives (modern = post-1950 for many countries, post-1930 for USA) from any western country. A few sell, but no dealer would buy any to "fill up a stockbook" like we used to have to do to keep 10 copies in the stockbook. If they are still valid for postage there may be a well developed postage market, but any knowledgeable collector who wants to fill a space for completeness knows it will be found in a "discounted from face value" box. If the country's stamps are no longer valid for postage (all the Euro countries' stamps denominated in their previous currencies), the stamps are basically worthless and sell only in collections of some level of completeness at a nominal price that represents the value of convenience for the buyer who wants them. I buy and sell a LOT of Canadian postage (and some USA) and have recently stopped buying values under 10c at any price. They are no longer worth the labor involved.

4) Mint United Nations stamps. Hot in the 1970s-80s, now you can't move standard mint collections/accumulations at 10% of face value. The public no longer has access to the UN postal system, so these fall into the classification of "no longer valid for postage" (at least for the public). There is still demand for unusual or specialist material from the die-hard UN collectors, but anybody still collecting has all the "plain Jane" material they want (Rinker's 100% collector fulfillment - read the original article).

I can probably think of a few more, but that's all the time I have this morning.

Roy
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pigdoc

23 Jan 2019
11:16:11am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

I'm bored (and still furloughed) this morning, so I'll throw in some more comments.

I really appreciate and identify with your comments, roy.

It seems that the 'collecting urge' has been, and still is, broadly exploited by those seeking to earn a buck from it. There is, literally, no end to the offerings, some quite ludicrous for their creativity. Hardly a day passes when we are not all assaulted by some appeal. In any Smithsonian magazine, there are dozens of ads for such things. I have to admit, that the artistry in some of the US Mint's coins catches my eye, but $20/oz for silver just doesn't seem like a good investment.

Which leads me to my main point. Someone once said something like, if you get sentimentally attached to your investments, you're sunk. It is difficult, and heart-wrenching, to be forced to look at our collections that way, but we can't take them with us, much as we would like to! For the last 20 years or so, I have been looking at my collections with jaundiced eye, and trying to be absolutely truthful about the potential for their worth to grow, or even be maintained over time. I look at those 10 binders I have of mint US issues from the 1970s through the 2000s, and shake my head at my own stupid obsessiveness in accumulating them. If I had spent all that money on truly investment-grade material, I would be MUCH happier (and richer) today.

The key is to be able to critically evaluate potential collectibles for their future worth. Use the Rule of 72s. Pick a number for the annual rate of inflation. 3%? 4%? Now, divide that number into 72. The result is how many years it takes for an investment to double in absolute value. If it doesn't double in 24 years (72/3), then it hasn't even kept pace with inflation, and your net return is less than 0.

Granted, stamp valuations are notoriously volatile and diverse, depending on the marketplace. But, I think if you look at the range of philatelic material to collect, very, VERY little of it will yield a positive net return over time. That's OK, as long as you (and your heirs) are prepared to absorb the losses.

To close, back to my first comment, the marketplace is chock FULL of collections of stuff that sells for a tiny fraction of its original purchase price. You find it at any flea market. Seeing it makes me pity the people who originally purchased it, at full value.

-Paul

PS, it's also fun, and informative to look at current offerings using the Rule of 72s. We just bought a 40-year old house for $317K. Even if I take a conservative view that inflation in the real estate market was only about 2% over the last 40 years, The Rule of 72s has me ask myself, "Would you have bought this property for $150K in 1978?" HELL, yes!



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23 Jan 2019
11:29:35am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"VERY little of it will yield a positive net return over time. That's OK, as long as you (and your heirs) are prepared to absorb the losses."



Agreed. This is something that I tell heirs almost every week. Some people paid $100 per round (+ equipment) to play golf, some people paid $5 per game to roll a bowling ball down an alley, with no return at all. The money was paid for the enjoyment of DOING the hobby.

Frequently, the heirs don't see where the "fun" was, because they only thought of stamp collecting as asset accumulation. It is worthwhile for collectors to communicate to their family and heirs the hours of enjoyment they get from "playing" with their stamps and the value of that activity to their life.

Roy
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angore

Al
Collector, Moderator
23 Jan 2019
12:17:39pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

I have a collection of modern US issues and do not regret the purchase as I had no other motives such as financial gain.

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ikeyPikey

23 Jan 2019
11:03:45pm

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

".. We just bought a 40-year old house for $317K. Even if I take a conservative view that inflation in the real estate market was only about 2% over the last 40 years, The Rule of 72s has me ask myself, "Would you have bought this property for $150K in 1978?" HELL, yes! ..."



You lost me. Money compounding at 5% doubles every 14 years, and 5% was easy to come by for most of the last 40 years. So:

U$D 150k in 1978

U$D 300k in 1992

U$D 600k in 2006

U$D 1,000,000 today

Yes, you would have needed to live somewhere (else), and there are all sorts of secondary effects, but if a house purchased for U$D 150k in 1978 had only doubled in the last 40 years - when many other residential real estate properties increased by factors of 5x-10x, I'd have to wonder where you found that house.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."

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24 Jan 2019
10:24:35am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

"1) collecting "2x4's" -- the 2 inch x 4 inch clipped corners of covers to show the stamp and (usually slogan) cancel. Collections of thousands of these now get thrown into larger auction lots in order to "make them go away"."



Further to my earlier post, here are a couple of lots from this morning's Sparks Auctions sale:

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Roy
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sheepshanks

24 Jan 2019
11:42:41am

re: Ten Signposts to Identify Endangered Collecting Categories

Cheap way to buy albums. Should they not be called cut rectangles, they sure are not square.
The description of the first lot says 100 pages then says 23 pages, no wonder buyers get confused.

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