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Off Topic/Tournaments Contests & Games : Contests and Identifying Stamps

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
15 Feb 2014
04:27:27am
One thing that I hoped to gain from the various stamp identifying contests that I have run over the years is for people to become better acquainted with their catalogs. There is a wealth of information contained in the catalogs, especially in the introduction and appendices, waiting to be learned if one takes the time to read them. Many questions offered in discussion boards of most philatelic web sites are easily answered in the catalogs.

However, there are those times when nothing seems to work, and a stamp just won't reveal its identity. Of course, there are always plenty of people willing to look at the image posted and help identify the item. We are a community, and we help each other out as we can.

With that said, would any of our top stamp identifiers care to provide any tips of what they do to identify stamps?
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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
15 Feb 2014
04:33:23am
re: Contests and Identifying Stamps

I'll start this out.

For me, experience has been the best teacher. I have been a worldwide collector for over 50 years, and have plenty of stamps to show for it. I have learned to pretty much know where a stamp is from, and about what time period it was issued. It's just a matter of finding it in the catalog. Over the decades, I have studied the various catalogs that I use, which as I stated in the previous post, helps tremendously.

Yes, even for me, I do run across a stamp from an area I haven't spent much time on, and I get stumped. I dig through the catalogs, my albums, identification reference books and if I am still stumped, I do post a request for help too.

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purrfin2
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15 Feb 2014
06:31:35am
re: Contests and Identifying Stamps

I have learned to turn to the internet, too. I check on various sites and also google or turn to Wikipedia for help. After all that, then I ask for additional help by posting the stamp. Oh, and make sure I read all material as that will give more information, not just look for the picture of the stamp.

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stampmanjack
APS Life Member
17 Feb 2014
01:41:54pm
re: Contests and Identifying Stamps

I find that knowing as much as you can about as many languages as you can is an immense help. Uncle Sam sent me to school to learn Korean and while I have forgotten most of it (that was over 50 years ago) I still remember enough to pick out Korean stamps and figure out what they are for. If you speak Korean by extension, you will pick up some Chinese as some of Korean is based on Chinese and if you learn any Chinese characters, you will Segue into Korean and Japanese as all use the same characters. Once you recognize the symbols, you can sort out their stamps at least by country based on a few small character like symbols. For example, a square box with a vertical line through it is generally Chinese and a vertical oblong box with a line across the middle but inside the box (sort of a squared eight) is Japanese and so on.

After I got out of the service, I studied Russian for a year and that helps with all of the countries that use the Cyrillic alphabet. That too was almost 50 years ago so my understanding of it is weak but it is great for ID of countries.

A few years ago, I was teaching at a community college and was entitled to some free credit hours so I took several semesters of Spanish. Once you do that, you can make a stab at most of the romance languages such as French and Italian. I have traded with collectors in Spain and Italy. The collector in Spain wrote his letters in Spanish and I in English with the understanding we both could improve our skills. The collector in Italy wrote in Italian as he did not speak English but with the Spanish background I was able to figure out his letters.

I can no longer correspond or speak any of the languages but they all help with stamp ID. You don't have to study them to have it be useful. There is also a great section in the back of each Scott catalog were they picture a lot of stamps with non english inscriptions and show you how to figure out what country they are from. I have Vol 2 handy and it starts on page 1539.

I am preparing a small talk for our stamp club on how to use parts of the Scott catalogs. The wealth of information in there is largely untapped and we have been doing a series of programs like that on various uses of the catalogs.

Jack

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
17 Feb 2014
01:47:19pm
re: Contests and Identifying Stamps

Jack, maybe you'd like to convert those small talks into articles for here?

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"My book, "The Whitechapel Fog" is available on Kindle!"

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dani20
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17 Feb 2014
04:40:15pm
re: Contests and Identifying Stamps

Jack,
Listen to Michael
Best,
Dan C.

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