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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Auction Disc. : The backs of stamps

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ScanStamps
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20 Oct 2011
11:25:58am
How important is it to you to have a scan of the back of a stamp, as well as the front, when considering whether to bid/buy something online?

I realize that perhaps this is more important for mint (especially hinged-- HOW hinged is something?) than used, although I find it hard to tell what I am looking at, sometimes.

I am usually not concerned when it comes to inexpensive stamps, although I do appreciate (and use when I list) a quick statement in the description like "clean back" or "pencila numbers on back."

For me, it's typically a value thing-- if I'm looking to lay out $20 or more of my hard-earned dollars on a single stamp (and I can't see it in person), I'd like to have a scan of the back of the stamp, as well.

I'd be curious to hear what other SOR members use as a metric as to whether or not to bid-- here, on eBay, or wherever.

Cheers,
Peter
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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
20 Oct 2011
11:57:11am
re: The backs of stamps

couldn't care less, unless there's significant damage that ought to be identified. In general, because I'm a used stamp collector (when I'm not a cover collector), i'm unconcerned with the back.

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Bobstamp
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20 Oct 2011
04:07:21pm
re: The backs of stamps

In general, I agree with David -- the backs of stamps are far less important than the fronts. However, in the absence of a hi-res image of the back of a stamp the description should at least note any damage. In an ideal world, large, detailed, sharp scans of both front and backs of stamps and covers would help me make a decision to buy.

Bob


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joshtanski
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20 Oct 2011
06:57:34pm
re: The backs of stamps

I don't really need to see a scan of the back, especially for inexpensive stamps. I do feel that pencil marks on modern era stamps are a defect that should be noted, as I do not want. Especially when people write catalog values on the backs that wind up being years out of date and pointless anyway. Plus, pencil marks are not erasable, they are permanent.

Covers with postal markings on the back should definitely have both sides scanned.

Josh

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CapeStampMan
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Mike
20 Oct 2011
07:39:51pm
re: The backs of stamps

Please let me include my two cents worth here.

Anyone that lists and sells items on any website, knows how much time is involved with scanning just one side of a subject, much less both sides. I think somewhere along the line there should be a point at which a second scan might be necessary, but certainly not on items that are going to sell for a couple of bucks, or less. I'm sure that I am not the only one to think that a sellers time is also worth a certain denomination of recompense. Most sellers on SOR offer a money back guarantee for any stamps that don't meet a buyers approval, and yes I can hear it now, as to what a PITA it is to send something back to the seller. Let's get real here for just a minute. How much trouble is it to put that undesirable stamp back into the glassine and/or 102 card it was sent to you in and then put it in another envelope and ship it back, to get a refund on your bid, because you are not happy with what you received, no matter what the reason. On top of which I personally always add the postage fees to the refund amount. Not trying to speak for everyone, but I have been known to tell the buyer to keep the unwanted stamp and have issued a credit or payment for the full value of the stamp, but that has a lot to do with the value of the stamp to start with, of course.

May I also suggest to anyone that thinks it is a simple process to list an item on SOR, or any auction site, (but SOR is one of the easiest,) to please list just one item and see just how much time is involved in the entire process, from finding a stamp that you think might actually sell, to cataloging the stamp and then through the final process of sending the stamp off after the auction has ended. I think some will be in for big surprise and a very good enlightenment. It basically boils down to the old adage of "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" or the other one I like, "Don't complain about the farmer with your mouth full".

OK, I have done my venting for tonight so will close with "SOR is still the best site on the Internet, bar none". Thanks for allowing me to present my side of the conversation.

Mike

and NO, PITA does not stand for People Ingesting Tasty Animals.

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Patches
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Liz
20 Oct 2011
08:02:08pm
re: The backs of stamps

Mike - I'm in full agreement with you and am going to vent my feelings on this subject.

My suggestion to those who think that a scan of the back of a single stamp or multiple stamps is necessary, than you could contact the seller and ask for one. I can see front and back scanning for covers, but not for single common stamps.

We sellers put a stamp face up on a stock sheet, scan it, save it to our computers, post the auction listing, upload the scan to the listing and then are expected to turn that stamp over and repeat the whole process and turn it over again face side up so we can see what we have listed for a stamp that might sell for 5c to $1?

I can see the necessity of doing this if the stamp were a high valued item or classic item, but for common stamps, which are mostly what is being offered on the Stamporama auction. Scanning the front and back of stamps that are listed on Stamporama won't happen with my listings.

I'm like Mike where I offer a full refund for any item I sell (or trade) that is not satisfactory to the receiver of the stamp(s). I may ask for the item to be returned, but in most cases, if it is a damaged stamp I would say 'throw it in the garbage'. The only time I would not issue a full refund (including postage) would be if a purchaser ignored my warnings not to soak a particular stamp if it was left on paper and damaged it in the process. I have even refunded $'s for an item that a purchaser receives and then realizes that they didn't need it after all. In those cases I would ask that the item be sent back to me.

I think most sellers (if not all) on Stamporama bend over backwards to make our members happy and spend much more time trying to help and service our members than of any other website I am aware of.

Liz



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rgnpcs
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20 Oct 2011
08:38:27pm
re: The backs of stamps

Last year I sold at an online auction, many rare Chinese stamps In some cases the back of the stamp had partial gum, a tiny crease, a very heavy hinge mark, or a short perf. The crease, and short perf could best be seen from the back of the stamp, so I scanned both sides of the stamp. The only time it is necessary to scan the back, is if there is something wrong with the stamp, otherwise it is a waste of time.
Richaard

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Bobstamp
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20 Oct 2011
10:38:19pm
re: The backs of stamps

I certainly cannot disagree with the assertion that it would be a pain to scan the backs of inexpensive stamps. And Liz is right — we have a great group of dealers who do indeed "bend over backwards" to cater to us auction buyers.

And there is this: professional dealers have told me they don't take stamps of minimal catalogue value into account when they evaluate collections. Obviously, the only reason to be concerned about the backs of inexpensive stamps is personal preference. I like knowing that stamps in my collection are sound from front to back, side to side, and top to bottom. If I keep a stamp with obvious defects, it has to have other, positive attributes which separate it from the crowd.

Bob


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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
21 Oct 2011
09:06:37am
re: The backs of stamps

one of the things that's become clear here is that many buyers would like to see the complete thing, be it cover or stamp, while many sellers would prefer not to put in the additional time and effort to do precisely this. Many make choices on their listings to include images when they think it appropriate or otherwise enhances the viewers' understanding and/or their chances to sell. I think that most of us sellers, myself included, are more than willing to answer questions and/or to provide images to interested parties AND most of us buyers, myself included, are willing to ask these very questions or request more visuals when we are considering a purchase.

I've yet to hear of a seller in SOR who didn't back her or his sales with full satisfaction guanrantees. Some go well beyond what's required.

I'm glad the question was asked; it has given us an opportunity to look at a two-sided question with answers from multiple perspectives.

David

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Bobstamp
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21 Oct 2011
05:13:59pm
re: The backs of stamps

I would like to add, in support of Mike's comments, that selling stamps is a labour of love. That is especially true if you opt to sell stamps of minimum catalogue value: the labour involved in selling such stamps provides an income that is probably measured in pennies per hour.

I once dreamed a dream that I could quit my day job and become a stamp dealer. I started to make the dream come true by selling approvals in my spare time, not that I had much spare time as a teacher! I enjoyed it for several months, and actually made quite a bit of money through sales of high-catalogue stamps, but the hourly wage for myself and my unpaid assistant (my wife!) would not have fed us even one meal a day. Complaints by customers ("If I had $10, I wouldn't spend it on a stamp!) and the failure of customers to return or pay for approvals soon put a dent in my enthusiasm.

I have nothing but admiration for Stamporama's dealers, who do indeed treat their buyers well. Thanks to them, I often have great stamps arriving in my mailbox on a regular basis.

Bob


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ScanStamps
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22 Oct 2011
12:19:02am
re: The backs of stamps

As a periodic seller of stamps it gives me a much greater appreciation for what I can "reasonably expect" of other sellers when I am adding objects to my own collections. It's fair to expect a clear scan of the front of a stamp... and the point I always like to make is that it takes no more time and effort to create a large clear scan (no less than 350 pixels on its longest side) than it does to create a small fuzzy one.

I'm grateful that I don't have to make a living from selling stamps... all I am trying to do is help fund the growth of my collections by selling unwanted material from large lots and collections I buy. My wife likes that my stamp collecting is "self liquidating." On a "net" basis, I probably make about 30 cents an hour.

I am a relative newcomer to StampoRama, but am impressed with the quality of listings I've seen in the auction here... this week I am trying my hand at selling here for the first time, and just try to follow my own rule of thumb to "present things as I'd wish to find them, when I'm the buyer."

Ceers,
Peter

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musicman
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22 Oct 2011
09:37:43am
re: The backs of stamps

Okay - gonna chime in here;

In response to Peter's original question of the importance of a scan of the reverse of a stamp;

MY opinion is - if the back has no flaws-NO FLAWS-then no scan is necessary. If ANY flaws are present, then a scan of the back IS necessary, along with a description of that flaw, mainly for me to determine if the item is worthy of my bid.

Of course, "...worthy of my bid..." only means IN MY OWN INDIVIDUAL OPINION and in no way means to imply to the owner of said item what their auction lot is or is not worth.

That being clarified, it comes down to a matter what each individual seller and buyer are comfortable with. I personally have purchased from many of the sellers here and continue to do so on a regular basis. Most do not scan the backs of their stamp lots; some do. For myself, its a matter of trust. I trust the sellers I buy from on a regular basis, therefore I don't need them to scan the backs for me. I have come to trust their descriptions until proven otherwise...and I've not been proven otherwise yet.

But on the flip-side of this, if you are relatively new to selling here, you might lose potential bidders if you do not show a reverse scan. Is that acceptable? Only YOU the seller can decide that.

To answer your question though, Peter - scan the back only if there is a flaw that is ONLY visible by a reverse scan; no flaw - skip it. But - DO describe the flaw in detail with the reverse scan. THAT'S what I would prefer, if it were up to just Lil ol' me....

....just me 4 cents (inflation).....




Randy

P.S.
...a little late, but "Welcome to the club, Peter!"

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Bobstamp
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22 Oct 2011
01:21:57pm
re: The backs of stamps

Peter said, "...it takes no more time and effort to create a large clear scan (no less than 350 pixels on its longest side) than it does to create a small fuzzy one."

True enough, but I don't think scanning time is the issue. I don't think that anyone believes that tiny, perhaps fuzzy images of stamps are good sales vehicles. The issue is that the sellers who post those nearly worthless images just don't understand how to create larger images.

In my experience, scanning seems to be a combination of science, math, art, and luck. It took me ages and many, many hours before I could create clear, large images. Web sites about scanning were of little help; I never did find one which featured my software and my scanner and my operating system -- terminology and commands always differed from my set-up. In the end, by trial and many, many errors, I learned how to get clear, large images. Most of the time. I have a new, expensive scanner designed for negatives and slides as well as "ordinary" scanning, and it (or rather its software) often throws a curveball at me.

It seems virtually impossible to tutor someone at a distance about scanning. Scanning issues have been a Stamporama topic ever since it became possible to post images. Roy Lingen (former webmaster) and I used to try to offer advice on this topic, but even Roy, who is a whiz at most things computer, eventually gave up. I'm not sure that either of us ever managed to get someone over the finish line when it came to creating useful images.

Bob




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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..
26 Oct 2011
01:12:19pm
re: The backs of stamps

" .... I once dreamed a dream that I could quit my day job and become a stamp dealer..... "
I suspect that all of us entertained that idea at some point in our philatelic life. A dream that is often disabused quite quickly by the reality of the business.
I know that for years I bought collections in the hope that, after removing the stamps I wanted, the rest would become the core of my soon to be needed stamp inventory. By the time I was ready to get involved I had learned that it was not as easy as some might imagine. For one thing, I noticed that many of the 'already in business' dealers at shows, as well as some who actually had shops, seemed to be always on the verge of closing down. Plus, there were quite a few that did close down as they simply could not make a real living, paying a mortgage, feeding and caring for a family and living comfortably on the income they generated selling stamps. Then it also had become apparent that selling stamps, either as an approval dealer, a shop owner or even just a weekend seller who rents a table at various shows was a very time intensive occupation.
So I shelved that idea as simply unworkable a long time ago.
I don't even like to sell stamps that I have in duplicate. I prefer to dream up new special collections so that I can comb through what I have piled up in shoeboxes, file drawers, semi stripped albums and stock books and just enjoy the stamps. Plus that often gives me some additional absolutely necessary stamp that I have to search for to complete or at least extend some personally interesting topic.

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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..
26 Oct 2011
02:10:20pm
re: The backs of stamps

Randy makes an interesting observation; " ... Of course, '...worthy of my bid...' only means MY OWN INDIVIDUAL OPINION and in no way means to imply to the owner of said item what their auction lot is or is not worth. ..."

Consider a beautiful used stamp that you simpy must have, that will fill in the last open space on a page or series of pages. You have been searching for this particular stamp in great condition for many moons and here one is being offered on your favorite auction site.

Let's say that the appropriate catalog lists it at about $40.00 so you enter a bid at about 10% more. Just before the auction closes you discover some cretin has outbid you so you bump your bid up to $51.00. But the slackjaw is lurking around with nothing better to do with his time all evening and he raises his bid becoming, for the moment, the likely winner. So, noting that the bidding ends at 3AM you set your alarm clock to 2:40 and after it destroys a wonderfully lurid technicolor dream you get up and pour a cup of reheated dinner coffee as you prepare to teach this fool who is the MAN !

With the computer's sweep second hand on display in one corner of your screen and the bid page in the center, you prepare to offer $73.87 and sit there figuring just when it will be the last possible second to press "Approve" in the best sniping tradition.
The second hand arrives, you press the computer generated button, the last few seconds elapse and you win the lot at $71.50. The creep had the nerve to enter a bid almost twice what the stamp usually sells for, but you showed him, or her, in todays equal opportunity environment.

The next day after paying for your well deserved treasure you see what you had not seen for years, a second example of that virtually identical stamp. So identical that you suspect it was once a part of a used pair, or even a carefully cancelled block that was broken apart for individual sale. This lot open at $25.00 and there seems to be only that same other bidder.

Now you have to make a decision. Are you going to let this annonymous dipstick who will never deserve this excellent stamp get the beauty for 30% less than its catalog listing ? Or worse yet, about one third what you just paid ?

If the first stamp was worth $71.50 (plus shipping from Outer Thumbelina, of course) to you a day or so ago, is this gem not worth the same thing ? If this sneaky competitive midnight bidder was willing to pay $70.50 for the first stamp, should you just move on and give him the satisfaction of paying half what you paid ? If you bump the second stamp up to near what you know he was willing to pay for the former lot, is there a chance that he will have come to his senses and not be still willing to pay twice the stamp's listed value ?

What is the chance that you will wind up with a second example that you no longer need and for which there is no open space to hang it on its hinge (Dennison's, of course), one that you might wind up paying more than it is worth to you ?

And of course, Does you wife have access to your auction account ?

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rgnpcs
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26 Oct 2011
09:28:37pm
re: The backs of stamps

I wrote an article in the past here about becoming a stamp dealer, and unless you have another job that is your main source of income, do not think twice about attempting to become a dealer. You will be in the poor house before you know it.
I have been selling stamps since 1946, first as a part time dealer, and since 1969, dealing to my convenience, when I wanted to, but my main source of income came from other means. Sometimes, even doing it when I wanted to, became a chore, and I would back away for several days to rest my mind. When it is no longer fun, just stop.
Richaard

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Stampaholic
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29 Oct 2011
08:13:52pm

Auctions
re: The backs of stamps

I'm getting old and I'm slow. I have to have help by Hunt N. Peck with typing. my photo taker, whatever the H it is) on this computer is about half as fast as my old computer and twice as hard to use.
I can't see as well as I used to and occassionally I might make a mistake; perfs, colors (got 3 color charts, all seem different, Wonder is the worst; scarlet, crimson, and carmine might be the worst to distinguish for me and would love to know exactly what pigeon blood pink looks like),etc. anybody wants a pic of the back of a stamp I will gladly email them a pic. And although I don't say I guarantee all my stamps (I just might add this to my standard posting part), I do. You told me my pics were too small, I tried to make bigger, you told me my res isn't high enough , i tried make it ressier, whatever.
I think I'm doing pretty good now. Would you say I've got my back up? Many of us here are
selling stamps dirt cheap and aren't trying to make money, we're mainly collectors wanting to buy more stamps. The gist of it is I agree with Mike & Liz.

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Bobstamp
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29 Oct 2011
09:06:41pm
re: The backs of stamps

"Ressier" -- great word. Needs to be added to the lexicon!

I expect I'm one of the posters who got your back up, for which I apologize. I was just trying to get dealers to see what it's like at the other end of marketplace. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable collector, and I wanted sellers to know that I'm just not going to bid on a stamp that I can't see well. I just don't see the point of going to the work of offering a stamp that is not going to get many bids because potential buyers can't see it. The seller loses out, and the potential buyers lose out. It's a lose-lose situation.

As I said (and as I've said many times), scanning is not an easy skill to learn. But neither is brain surgery! And I would hope that surgeons and stamp dealers put maximum effort into insuring that the outcome pleases everyone. And I would hope that potential buyers, myself included, aren't too critical of the best friends we have -- Stamporama's auction sellers.

Bob

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rwilliams1946
29 Oct 2011
09:46:15pm
re: The backs of stamps

Bob-

If stamp scanners and brain surgeons received the same compensation your analogy would be more meaningful.

;)

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Stampaholic
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01 Nov 2011
08:14:12am

Auctions
re: The backs of stamps

Bob, apology accepted. I just don't want SOR to turn into ebay, this is a friendly site and I'd like to see it stay that way. also, seems to me, I read in Linn's or APS mag, somewhere that the average age of a stamp collector is 70 years old.(speaking of old, Mike, I just realized what pita is, lol.) but, I digress, my point is a modicum of patience & understanding is requested and desirable. I am reminded of the saying, To err is human, to really screw up requires a computer. BTW, Bob, I am a big fan of Ogden Nash.

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KG5
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26 Nov 2011
05:56:25am
re: The backs of stamps

This one I call the novel. I do not like writing on any stamp except "repair" and a private "reprint". Please forgive the lack of cropping. KG5


Image Not Found



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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
26 Nov 2011
08:12:31am
re: The backs of stamps

Don't get me started about writing on the backs of stamps.....my blood pressure goes right up!

I like that calling it a "novel". I have seen ledger sheets where the collector tracks the value of the stamp from year to year, crossing out the previous year and running down the stamp with the values with each new year.

I have a mechanical drafting eraser. I erase all pencil writing on the backs of stamps. If the writing is in ink, or the pencil marks embossed the paper, the stamp is worthless and goes in the trash, unless it has a catalog value over $1, then I sell it as a filler.

Ok, I better stop now... pressure is rising...

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