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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : On catalog and cash values of stamps

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Logistical1
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29 Sep 2011
05:59:03pm
While looking at a high end online stamp auction I got to wondering about the value of a stamp. I was looking at a Scott Q12 in my Scott 2011 Pocket Stamp Catalog. The price listed is $325 for a unused stamp. The auction opening bid on the stamp they describe as VF, a jumbo and PSE certified is $850.00.

How is the average value determined by Scott? I can't imagine a stamp being a jumbo and PSE certified would more then double the catalog price.

There were other examples, for instance a stamp listed at $4.75 in Scott was listed at $100.00 opening bid. Why would someone PSE certify a $4.75 stamp?

These auction sites seem insane in their valuation of am I missing something?


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Bobstamp
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29 Sep 2011
06:11:17pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Could you please provide a link for us?

Bob

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Logistical1
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29 Sep 2011
11:13:22pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

http://www.regencystamps.com/catalog.aspx?utm_source=azliveupdate&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=092911

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dani20
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29 Sep 2011
11:19:59pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Dear Logistical1,
You appear to be trying to use reason to understand the logic behind certain price listing. That is the error!

The operating principle by the seller is to get as much as the market will bear. If the seller is not really aware of the market value, his listing reflect that in his prices.Consider that those listings are basically to give the more knowledgeable buyer a chuckle. Eventually the market place will straighten the chap out, but just enjoy the outrageousness.

Good for you for raising the question, and keeping a sharp eye out for this type of gouging. Kudo's to Bob as well who correctly seeks to validate and verify information before commenting-I'm not scholar enough to be as patient and just take your observations at face value and jump right in.

Dan C.

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rgnpcs
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30 Sep 2011
12:18:56am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

I will put in my 2 cents worth here.
Since I have been dealing in stamps since 1946, and postcards since 1969, I do think that I have some knowledge on this topic. As Dan stated, the seller is trying to get as much as he can for his stamps, but at the same time, he has to be fair, and in the "ballpark" to be able to sell it. I, myself, have always followed the Scott catalog, and before Scott changed there listing policy several years ago to what they figured was a selling price, one would usually sell at 50 to 75% or more off Scott. Many of the large dealers were selling at full Scott or more, and still do so today. One thing that many collectors do not take into their mind, is that a dealer has a certain amount of overhead to cover, especially those who have stores, or offices, and employees and that is a big nut to cover. I usually sell at 40% off Scott. Selling a stamp is not just taking it out of a book, and placing it in an envelope, and mailing it; there is hard work attached to filling want lists, making up price lists, etc, and of course there is the cost of advertising too. From time to time I get emails or letters saying that the can buy the stamp cheaper. No doubt they can, and they are probably buying from another collector who has no overhead, and does not figure the time involved. Let us look at the actual selling of a stamp. First you get the order and you have to check it against your stock, then you pick out what you have, list it, place it in an envelope or stock card, make up an invoice, pack and ship. If stamps are to be insured, you have to fill out the insurance forms, and mail it from the post office. All this takes time. I do it because I am crazy, but want to sell off as much as I can before I see St. Peter. Frankly, I would much rather fill a postcard order, as I do not have to list each item by number, as there is no postcard catalog that lists every card, so all I have to do is list so many at #1.00, or $2.00, etc. Cards are also easier to handle, and are sold by topic. I think that you all get the idea. Time is the most important ingredient here.
This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to sell your collection to a dealer, as they do not want to bother with the cheap stamps, they only want the better material, and frankly I cannot blame them.
I can only work on one order at a time, and if it is a big one, my other customers have to wait their time. I will be glad to field any questions that you may have.
By the way, if stamps have to be picked out of an album, then in many cases they have to be watermarked, and perfed, more time! If you think that you want to become a full time dealer, think about it again.
Richaard


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Bobstamp
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30 Sep 2011
01:41:37am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Thanks for posting the link, Logistical1.

I took a look at the U.S. Q12. In my opinion, it's a F-VF centred stamp, and the margins are larger than on any of the stamps in my used set of Q1-Q12. If my stamps are typical, then it would be unusual to have "boardwalk" margins, and that would boost the value quite a bit, I would imagine.

My limited experience in the rarified air of expensive stamps is that catalogue value means little. Look what happens in our Stamporama auction: two people start bidding on an ordinary stamp that they both want, and the winning bid can be a lot more than catalogue value, and they winner will be pleased. Collectors with deeper pockets operate the same way in bidding on expensive stamps. It's been said before, so I'll say it again: Beauty (i.e. value) is in the eye of the buyer. At least I think someone said that!

Another truth of collecting today is that wealthy buyers, and there seem to be more and more of them, pay little to no attention to actual market value. If they want a stamp, they buy it. I understand that Chinese collectors these days are pushing the envelope on classic stamps simply because they can.

Bob

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
30 Sep 2011
08:18:52am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Was this the stamp in question?

Image Not Found

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Bobstamp
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30 Sep 2011
10:34:21am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Yes, that's it, Tim. It's certainly an attractive stamp. As I said, I have nothing in my set that approaches it in terms of its wide margins and centering. I can easily imagine a collector with more money than I have bidding a great deal on it.

Bob

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Logistical1
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30 Sep 2011
04:20:51pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Thank you, all the posts were insightful and helpful. Like everyone else I try to get the best example of a stamp if it is affordable.

I understand and appreciate the work involved for a stamp dealer. However, even if this auction house has a high overhead I am sure they did not purchase the stamps anywhere close to market value. To boot they are charging a 12% buyers fee on top of the winning bid. What this auction site is telling me is the dealer/action company has little faith in the market. They rather wait for the premium buyer with more money then brains. Reasonably priced stamps create volume and less work in the long run.

Take a look at some of the items that didn't auction they have offered to sell and notice their prices decrease significantly. Some nice looking stamps too none of which are PSE certified. Same amount of work to process these orders as an auction order and at a lower price.

Personally I collect for enjoyment not as an investment.

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ScanStamps
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04 Oct 2011
01:17:58pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Coming to this a little "after the fact" here, but wanted to add some thoughts about quality and selling things, not just stamps.

One of the things I learned from my late father-- who did collect stamps, but was mainly a collector of fine antiques and paintings-- is that "top quality is always in demand." And he taught me to always buy the BEST I could afford... showing me many examples from the art world of how it was always (economically) wiser to buy ONE amazing and outstanding item than TEN mediocre ones, if the money (in total) were the same.

His point was that "average" quality things-- be they a work of art, or a stamp-- will pretty much always be available. Also, an average quality item will NEVER become "superb." A superb quality item is not only rare to begin with, but if something "happens" to it, it can only become "average." In stamp lingo, let's call that someone puts a fingerprint on the pristine NH gum, or a tiny tear in a margin through careless handling with tweezers. Thereby making making the category called superb "one item scarcer."

There will always be people with money who collect "only the best." When dealing with classic stamps (let's call those 100+ years old) the ONLY thing that can happen is that the supply will dwindle... it will NEVER increase. And said people "with money" are willing to invest heavily in having a small share of that dwindling supply.

We could argue whether or not that "makes sense," but we could also argue whether or not it "makes sense" that people are willing to pay ANYthing for little old pieces of paper other people once upon a time actually SPIT on, right?

I suppose the bottom line is that collecting (of ANYthing) is emotionally driven, not logically/reason driven. Fortunately, there's room for everyone's approach, from the stickler for perfection, to the collector who builds theirs solely from "penny approvals."

~Peter

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Rhinelander
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Support the Hobby -- Join the American Philatelic Society
05 Oct 2011
01:33:50am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Great post, Peter. I like your perspective and could not agree more.

Arno

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
05 Oct 2011
12:03:04pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

" ... A superb quality item is not only rare to begin with, but if something "happens" to it, it can only become "average." In stamp lingo, let's call that someone puts a fingerprint on the pristine NH gum, or a tiny tear in a margin through careless handling with tweezers. ..."
Peter's comment reminded me of this story which I posted a year or so ago in, or on, the Machin Forum about how a "Superb" example can lose a part of its pedigree through a lack of knowledge.
One of the better known and most prolific philatelic authors in the US was Herman Hearst. He was a dealer and had contacts on both sides of the pond with an office at 116 Nassau Street, in lower Manhattan, The Stamp Building, as it was known before moving to Shrub Oak, a suburb of New York City.
In the late 1940s, my father occasionally took me with him on a Saturday morning's journey across the East River to that area where there were dozens and dozens of independent stamp dealers, many in that one building on several floors in often small cubby-hole offices selling their stamps.
At the time I was probably too young to have a detailed memory of exactly what stamp transactions he had but we went from one dealer to another and I do recall cash changing hands and stamps being bought and sold.
In that environment Herman Hurst had his office and spun his yarns of the interesting and curious career he had chosen.
His book titles, "Nassau Street" and "Stories to Collect Stamps By." are an interesting read as he recounts the way the stamp business operated during the depression and in the years immediately after WW II in an interesting first person style.
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One story he wrote of was about a collector who bought a significant number of reasonably rare US and foreign stamps from him over a period of many years. This was what we should consider to have been a very discerning collector, who insisted on excellent quality and who had the money to pay the premium for that quality. Some dealers might call him fussy to a fault. But as long as he was willing to pay the cost of that fussiness Herst catered to him and his collecting interests. He also insisted on pristine mint original undisturbed gum for just about all his stamp purchases.
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A good stamp dealer often gets the chance to sell wonderfully fine stamps to a collector and then when the inevitable occurs, may also get the chance to handle the estate and resell these same stamps a second time. Hearst had the kind of clientele and reputation that afforded him that opportunity several times during his long philatelic career and notably got that chance with the stamps of this particular, particular collector when he was contacted by the executor of the estate. Knowing the condition of the stamps that his customer had demanded at the time of purchase and had willingly paid for, Hearst was happy to offer to take over selling the albums, bulging with high quality stamps, for the heirs. I can imagine the pleasent anticipation that he must have had as he travelled out to the deceased collector's home on Long Island's North Shore. He describes being welcomed by the widow and shown to the stamp room where he felt he could make short work of an evaluation and probably get the commission to resell the gems in an upcoming auction.
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The stamps were all mounted neatly in several albums and the likely value and return on the collector's life long passion predictably rewarding. The interesting thing was that, upon examining the stamps and the album pages, Hurst realised that everyone of these "Mint, unhinged, pristine gum treasures" had been carefully hinged and he discovered a note carefully penciled at the bottom of each page in the collector's fine hand that advised the viewer that "All stamps unhinged until being hinged."
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This collector had carefully mounted the mint OG stamps that he had paid so much extra for into his albums with what I suppose were equally high quality hinges. He must have been told somewhere that the only way to collect postage stamps was to acquire them in their original condition, but never bothered to take the next step in the advice; "Keep them that way."
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And that is the kind of story Hearst wrote of in his books. I assume that it was a truthful account and not some "Traveller's Tale" spun to fill the pages of his book or entertain some friends gathered around a warm fire one evening.
I hope I did justice to it as, I am relying on memory somewhat.

Charlie Jensen
Lecanto, Florida

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ScanStamps
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12 Oct 2011
11:16:32am
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Good story, Charlie... really enjoyed that! And (sadly) very true, too... in life, money does not buy someone out of ways of ignorance.

Cheers,
Peter

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
16 Nov 2011
05:33:10pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

Another of Herman Hurst's stories that illustrats how demand sets the value involved a moderately rare silver coin, the key item in a set or twelve or fifteen, hundred year old coins. It seems that a savy collector/dealer came upon this set in virtually pristine condition while on a trip to Central Europe. If I remember correctly it was a group of the large silver dollar sized coins, probably Maria Theresa Thalers from the 1700s.
The set was being offered by a respectable dealer in Prague or Vienna at a reasonable price, just slightly more than the usual going price.
The key figure in the narrative examined the coins and recalled that prior to setting sail for Europe he had attended an auction in New York and watched as two rather wealthy well known Numismatists battled over that one single key coin, bidding and counter bidding until the hammer finally fell at a price far in excess of its usual market value, in fact actually two or three times the usual selling price of the whole set such as he was being offerred.
He did a quick calculation thinking that if he bought the set, even at this small premium, something he would not, as a stamp dealer, have usually been interested in and on his return to New York sold the single key item to the collector who had lost the bidding war that evening at a respectable price he could then hold onto the remaining coins in the set at effectively no real cost for the day when he could sell them piecemeal.
Apparently it didn;'t take much time or soul searching and the set was purchased and packed away for his return trip across the ocean.
When that occurred he took the key coin that the two bidders had fought over and went to the losing bidder's house assuming that since he had been willing to pay a huge premium a few months before for an example that likely filled a final space in his collection, he would accept this example at a decent asking price which would equal the dealer's expenditure in Europe.
At the door the butler informed him that Mr Whateverhisnamewas had passed away and was obviously no longer buying coins.
Still thinking that there was a chance to make his investment work out at least even he quickly made his way to the first coin collector's business where he thought that while he had paid a great premium at the auction for this item he might be willing to buy the second example for at least enough to offset the investment the dealer had made.
"I'm sorry" he was told, "I already have one of those coins in my collection."
The moral of the story has to do with the complex interplay of supply and demand and if the demand dries up what may have seeed worth while to someone at one point may not have that value any longer.

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Bobstamp
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16 Nov 2011
05:58:29pm
re: On catalog and cash values of stamps

A few years ago, in a second-hand shop, I found a copy of Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale. It was a first edition, in superb condition, priced at $3.00. I bought it, searched on ABE.com for a dealer who sold Atwood's novels, and contacted him. He bought the book from me for $65.

A few months later, at the same second-hand shop, I found a nearly identical copy of the same novel. I bought it and offered it to the same ABE.com bookseller. He declined, saying he had a copy in stock. I still have that book! Well, I did make $59 less postage!

Bob

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