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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

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PhilatelyForFun
22 Jun 2019
12:06:46pm
In the last week of gathering information and researching, I see that a few dealers offer a service where they send you stamps and you have a few weeks to decide what you'd like to keep. I think it's called an approval service?

Is this a good service for a new collector to take advantage of? What are the pros and cons?

I am a new collector. Please keep the language simple. I'm still learning all of the vocabulary. =)

Please and thank you.

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SForgCa
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22 Jun 2019
01:27:13pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

Perhaps not the best choice for a new collector (if this is the case)
Once you decide what area(s) you want to collect it might make some sense.
The key is knowing what you want and how you want it.
The dealer also has to get to know you, what you expect and if you are serious - its a 2 way street

The approval/auction service here might be a better source.

When I started collecting I decided on 4 or 5 countries of interest and had a stamp company send me monthly past & new releases. However given what and how much comes out these days, I would not consider it. I ended the deal around 1985-90.

An auction network might also be a source to bid on a reasonable starter collection to get you going - patience is a key.
Also try out a nearby stamp club.


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PhilatelyForFun
22 Jun 2019
02:16:34pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

I appreciate your thoughts and guidance. My husband probably appreciates it more. I will hold off for a while until I narrow down exactly what I want to collect. I've simply narrowed it down to the US so far.

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snowy12
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22 Jun 2019
06:01:23pm

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re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

Hi
And welcome,I would try and join a local stamp club,you nomally find members who are willing to give advice.
Brian

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Harvey
22 Jun 2019
07:27:30pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

When I started collecting in the early 1970's my wife and I decided which countries we wanted to collect and then went to an approval service right away. We ran into an honest dealer and the person I deal with now is his son. The approval service worked out very well. He sent extensive selections with a good variety of mostly cheap stuff so we put some meat on our collections. Now he sends a couple more expensive items so he evolved as our collection did. If you go to an approval service make sure he/she knows your areas of interest and your price range. The service should evolve with your collection!

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youpiao
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05 Jul 2019
05:33:49pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

I loved approvals when I was starting out. I didn't know what countries I wanted to concentrate on, and, being pre-internet, there was no convenient way to browse worldwide stamps. Sure you could browse the stock of a local dealer, but even then I was limiting myself to countries I was already familiar with.

It wasn't until I started getting worldwide approvals that my eyes were opened to the rest of the world. It was through approvals that I first heard of this place called St Pierre and Miquelon. I loved the images depicted on them, and SP&M remains a favorite of mine today. In one order I received some beautiful stamps from a country called Belize. I thought, what's Belize? Oh, until recently called British Honduras.

I would suggest, if you really don't know yet where you'd like to focus your collecting efforts, go the approvals route. Tell the dealer You are new and would like a good variety of countries, especially smaller, less well-known or widely collected countries. Every shipment you get will be a surprise mystery packet, from which you will derive great pleasure in discovering what exactly appeals to you.

The only real drawback with approvals is that you will invariably pay a higher price than you will from an online dealer. That's because the approvals dealer is paying postage, usually at a 2 or 3 ounce rate, and usually both ways. And if a customer buys a very low dollar amount or returns the entire order, he has taken a loss on that order. Also, he has to have higher prices because of his losses incurred from customers who neither pay for the stamps nor return them.

Good luck in your collecting.

Ted


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Harvey
05 Jul 2019
06:29:37pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

I started getting approvals at the stage of the hobby where I had a bit of an idea which countries I was interested in. I always specified the country; I guess I was afraid of what I would get if I left it to the dealer. It's possible an unscrupulous dealer would send you selections he had trouble moving just to be rid of them. Maybe I was too suspicious but everything worked out. When I wanted a bit of a change I would ask for other countries and add them to my growing world collection. That's how I got great selections from areas like India, New Zealand and some of the African countries that have beautiful stamps - check out Nyassa and Mozambique Company! If I were starting again I think I would do it the same way - I have 4 countries I particularly collect ( Canada, US, Russia and Poland ) and a World collection I love to look at. One more comment - the person I decided on in 1972 is the father of the dealer I use now. Find someone you trust and if it doesn't feel right try someone else. I prefer a person who says that you can keep the whole book if you buy more than a certain amount. And also pace yourself, it's very easy to get carried away - maybe once a month would be good. The person I use now meets with me every two weeks and works from my want list.

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
05 Jul 2019
07:20:41pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

Quote:

" Also, he has to have higher prices because of his losses incurred from customers who neither pay for the stamps nor return them."



Ted, you nailed that, which is really reason #1 in the approval business. Back in the 1970s through 1990s, I sold stamps through approval. There were some real slick people out there who, if you weren't careful, would lure you to sleep and then steal the stamps from you when you weren't looking. However, when you found a good approvals customer, you cherished that buyer, and did all you could to mail the stamps that they wanted.

I got out of the approvals business when internet sites popped up. The stress was gone. I would say that about 20% of those requesting approvals never returned them, or would hit the dealer with a theft later on, about 40% would buy from a selection or two and then cancel, and 40% would become regular customers.

The strangest thing I ever had with someone requesting approvals was someone who bought from the first few selections I sent him, and then kept the first selection that I sent that was worth more (when you think you have a good customer - this is the most common theft trick). He did not respond to any requests for return/payment. Then, about six months later, I got a check in the mail. It was from that approvals customer. He included a letter of apology for taking my stamps. He said that he had wanted to start selling stamps by approval, so he took my stamps to start. It really wasn't that large a selection that he took. Maybe he did the same to other dealers. He realized how things were from a seller's perspective when he had a few customers who stole his (mine actually) stamps. The check was for the entire amount (he did not apply my discount) that he had taken from me. He then became a big-time buyer from me. I made him pre-pay by having a deposit account with me. That entire incident completely boggled my mind.
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PhilatelyForFun
06 Jul 2019
11:01:40am
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

There are some wonderful things to think about and discuss with my family. Thank you all for taking the time!

I understand the higher pricing, but if I limit myself to the approval service and DO NOT browse online, I think it will still be a savings, haha. Ebay is my husband's arch nemesis.

I learned long ago to pace myself. I'm a collector at my core, so some lessons have already been learned. With that said, my husband and I agreed to spend about $200 on kiloware from Mystic. I agreed not to spend any more money until October. I violated the agreement on two counts (with his approval,) I paid shipping for a free Scott catalog graciously offered by a member here and a jeweler's loupe to learn how to identify my stamps. =)

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Snick1946
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APS Life Member
06 Jul 2019
11:15:26am
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

I don't think there can be one answer to the question. It depends on what you are collecting. I understand the lure of getting a bunch of stamps in the mail to pick from. I think in many cases someone starting out as a general collector would be better off buying collections, lots and accumulations. JMO.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
06 Jul 2019
03:25:37pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

given that you can "see" all that's available here, and on any internet auction site, not sure what the value of a physical approval selection is, to be honest.

I think you have far more control in a place like this; furthermore, you're not paying to look at stamps


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ClayMorgan
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Member APS, ATA, Haiti Philatelic Society, Nashville Philatelic Society
17 Jul 2019
12:50:43pm
re: Approval Service for a Newbie? Yay or nay?

In my youth, I had approvals from HE Harris and Company, and loved it.

However, in later years, I tried a couple of approval services. I found their stamps pretty expensive (but they offered postage both ways, so maybe that accounts). I could deal with the price based on convenience, but in both cases, I very often received the same sets over and over to review, and received items outside my sphere of collecting. Upon cancellation, both dealers continued to send me approvals. I'd return them with a note that I cancelled. Finally after about the third time, I let them know they'd been told three times I cancelled and appreciate the gift they sent. That stopped it.

I did like the APS Circuit Books. However, I never seemed to be able to forward them in the 7 days, so I paid quite a bit in late fees.

However, there are so many sources now, like Stamporama's "approvals" and auctions, where you can see what you are purchasing, and likely will get a better price than traditional approvals.

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