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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

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Soundcrest
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20 Dec 2014
05:52:01am

Auctions - Approvals
I have been looking through the new books this morning to see if putting catalog numbers in for each stamp increases sales or not. From what I can tell it does not seem to matter. Sales seem to happen no matter what - or so it appears. If a stamp is being sold for less than 25 cents is it worth spending the time putting catalog numbers into the description. What is the overall opinion on this?
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Webpaper
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20 Dec 2014
08:36:40am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I thought it did but now I am not so sure. I do think it is important to have the stamps in order by either issue date or catalog number where practical.

The problem comes on issues where there are many different watermark and perforation varieties and I guess I would make the determination on whether or not they are properly identified at the time you are putting them up into the books as well as how comfortable you are in the identification process itself.

Nightmares of stacks of stamps from Argentina, Mexico and Hungary come to mind for example. Where I have previously spent the time to identify by perf and watermark I will certainly identify them on the pages, but starting with a pile of raw material I am not so certain that it is worthwhile. I am not sure how many people care and I am not sure that I want to spend the time required to differentiate just which of the 6 or so Scott numbers the stamp might be, particularly if they are all at minimum value.

If you do identify stamps you must be very careful when identifying more costly varieties. Perforation differences can mean the difference between a 20 cent stamp and one cataloging twenty or thirty dollars. Check and double check - it will minimize, but not entirely eliminate, mistakes. If you think that you have a scarce color variety, particularly if the stamp is used, do so only if you have a copy of the less costly color on hand, or seek assistance from a dealer at a show - most will be happy to give you their opinion if they are familiar with that country. I came across a glassine with a couple of hundred Heligoland stamps once and a kindly dealer separated them into originals and reprints. It only took him a couple of minutes.

That's my two cents. I am certain that others who have been here longer than I have may have differing views and I am as anxious as you are to hear them.

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Soundcrest
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20 Dec 2014
08:55:12am

Auctions - Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Thanks for your input Carol. Actually if it is an expensive stamp it will not make its way into an approval booklet, but rather go up on auction on other sites. I don't have enough stamps to merit a book in most cases, and to build dozens of books at the same time while breaking down collections is not something I intend to do unless Bidstart totally breaks down and I no longer list with them (though I would still list on other sites) I agree 100% with Latin America. I rarely include them even in my packet sales via Linns because its too much work. Same with Australian States. I have a pile of them, and when I started checking what looked like the easy ones I found that they were only Stanley Gibbons listed as the perfs were all different than what Scott lists. They will remain on album pages forever. At this point I think I have found a niche with seals and cinderellas. Along with foreign revenues I should be able to make up books for quite a while - and I have no intention of looking up Forbin numbers (though I may make an exception for Yvert listed Latin America)

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
20 Dec 2014
09:14:00am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I agree with Carol. If the stamps are in order by date of issue, the catalog numbers really aren't necessary. For example, last night I went through Carol's excellent Austria Back of Book approvals and they were a snap to buy from as they were in order, not in a totally disorganized mishmash. I just grab my album and turn the pages to see what I have. This also allows me to see if I can find a copy with a better cancel or better centering something impossible to do with wantlists. Besides - I don't keep many wantlists - looking from the catalog, to the album, to the computer back and forth really stirs up my Meniere's.

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Larryd
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20 Dec 2014
12:28:47pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I'd have to say I'm at the other extreme! I make my purchases almost exclusively from want lists (Scott #'s). Consequently, if the catalog number is not included I tend to skip over those offerings. To each his own!
LarryD

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philatelia
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20 Dec 2014
12:36:58pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

There is no "right" way - you're right - to each his own! Whatever floats your boat or turns your crank LOL!!!


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Philatarium
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20 Dec 2014
01:07:38pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I also don't think it would ever be worth the time to look something up in Forbin's, although perhaps it is still the reference for certain countries. I know I use a specialized reference for Japan (Shimomura), and I think this is true for most other countries, especially when a specialized catalog for the home country also lists revenues. Otherwise, my take is that Barefoot is now often the go-to reference.

I know I do occasionally see listings from auction houses that reference Forbin, so perhaps I am way offbase in my assessment.

But, bottom line, I do agree with you that it's not worth the trouble to track down those numbers.


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Soundcrest
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06 Feb 2015
09:02:01am

Auctions - Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I'll gamble with a book without the catalog number. I've been checking and an lot of books have no catalog numbers and the stamps are selling. I'll stick to commemorative issues or at least not the older material that could have perf and watermark varieties. If it doesn't pan out, I'll go back to putting catalog numbers. Of course not checking and grabbing out of packets could result in someone getting a great bargain!

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Stampaholic
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06 Feb 2015
10:21:02am

Auctions - Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Although, I haven't listed anything in approvals for some time, I agree, listing #'s in approvals doesn't seem to matter. As to auctions, though, I always try to list Scott #'s.

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cardstamp
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06 Feb 2015
12:30:45pm

Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

One of the reasons I like the approval books here for lower cost stamps is that I do not have to spend the time looking up and posting the Scott #'s. For anything more than a low cost stamp - I would try to include the #. On other sites having to image single stamps and post with the Scott # takes quite a bit of time - here I can get a page of stamps up in an approval book quickly. I agree on auctions you need to include the #'s.

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Stevo45
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27 Nov 2015
02:47:39am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Hi guys

For approvals, the date of issue and a clear description is a LOT more important than any Cat. number for me.

Any book with only Cat. numbers as a description will guarantee that I give that seller a miss.

I rarely include a Cat. number in my Approval books - They sell quite well.

Cheers

Stevo

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amsd
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27 Nov 2015
11:30:27am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

as we can clearly see, many people have many different approaches to listing and viewing

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
27 Nov 2015
12:58:07pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

As a buyer, when I am looking through approval books, I also pull up my inventory spread sheets. I flip back and forth between the book and the inventory record. For someone with an extensive collection, it is impossible for me to look at just the images. I need to know the catalog numbers as well. Otherwise, it takes me much too long to pull the albums and set things up to refer back and forth that way.

Sometimes I do take a chance. About 80% of the time I am right, but I do get unneeded material the other 20% of the time. That's money I could have spent on stamps that I need. That's why I rely so heavily on my spreadsheets, and an ID from the seller. Now and then I do have to pull an album out to double check to make sure what a seller has identified is in fact the correct catalog number.

I do skip over the many sellers who do not ID their stamps and/or do not identify the condition of a stamp. Stating on the title line of a page that the stamps are used or mint doesn't help. The little images of the stamps doesn't tell me enough. Around 90% of what I buy is mint, never hinged. Therefore I search for MNH. "Mint" doesn't connote to me that a stamp is MNH as many people use "mint" for just about anything. Those who list stamps as NH, but their stamps are actually used are a waste of time for me. Their stamps keep showing up in my searches, messing up my results.

But, to each their own. List and buy as you want. For me, there are plenty of sellers here who list their stamps just the way I like, so having less to buy from is a blessing of sorts. Also my bank account sometimes wonders what I'm doing!

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d1stamper
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27 Nov 2015
01:21:59pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

michael78651

I feel the same way you do. I collect only used stamps. If there is no catalog number, then I just move on without really giving it much thought. If a person is going to sell then they need to put in a little effort to identify the stamp.

Doug

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
27 Nov 2015
01:31:21pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I think Year is equally important (possibly more given our international membership).
I now indicate the year and the range of cat numbers, on a page (not on each stamp individually unless you want to highlight something specific, such as watermark, perforation etc..). Above all, having your book organized in some orderly fashion, close to sequentially, can make a big difference.
For better stamps I try to always add the category number and the reference year.

But price is also an issue, and some buyers favor the lower prices, even if they have to do all the legwork to id the stamps. And it is clear that one can put together a book much more easily if you do no organizational work...so a lower piece price would be anticipated.

So there will be room for all in Approvals, and we have not imposed a rigid standard on book format.
My personal preference when buying, is to have a well organized book, sequentially is always more important than having individual numbers, but if you are going to be all over the map, then some reference year or cat number can help a lot.
A random bunch of stamps thrown on a page...I just ignore!

rrr...

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philb
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27 Nov 2015
07:38:47pm

Auctions
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

On countries that i know like Netherlands and Guatemala its easy enough...but i am working on Sri Lanka and if i am looking to fill a space from the approvals books and there is no year or catalog number i have to work with the approval book,scott catalog and my album..it takes time !

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AntoniusRa
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27 Nov 2015
08:51:33pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

The reason catalogs have a minimum value is for the time it takes the seller to identify the stamp and inventory it. A great many stamps are only worth a penny but the catalog value is 25 cents. If you cannot bother to ID the stamp, I'm not going to bother doing your work for you. There are many places to buy from where the stamps are identified and I can usually go through an entire country with the help of my needlists in a matter of minutes. It's a waste of my time to see if I need a stamp because the seller thinks it is a waste of his/hers to look it up.
Of course I think a lot of people do not really care what they are buying as long as it is cheap and it catches their eye.

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sheepshanks
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27 Nov 2015
09:27:56pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Personally, on books that I have put up for approval sales they have generally been in Catalogue order. I only own a Scott Classic era cat. that would apply on a basic level to North American buyers. I have a number of Gibbons catalogues but other than a GB concise they are all 1990's.
To go through and try and identify by # all stamps would be a lot of work for extremely little reward, to offload stamps that I just do not want, for countries I do not collect.
I use my catalogues mainly for a checklist, value does not come into the equation as unless by accident I am unlikely to ever afford pricier items.
This of course means that I have probably sold some stamps for far less than their worth but that is another's good fortune.
When purchasing stamps my brain can usually recollect if I have a particular issue although when it comes to part sets I would confirm by looking at my collection.
But it is horses for courses and whatever fits each of us is fine by me.

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bobstew617
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28 Nov 2015
06:41:16am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Especially since we have a significant amount of members who do not use Scott, as an Auctioneer, I would strongly urge sellers who are OK with selling to our overseas brethren, the year of issue and a brief description in the title.

I know this is MUCH more difficult to do in the Approvals.

Sellers who only put the country and a Scott cat. # risk losing sales IMHO.

BOB

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
28 Nov 2015
09:10:06am
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Quote:

"Sellers who only put the country and a Scott cat. # risk losing sales"



I agree with that. My auction lots include the year of issue in the description.

I haven't had anything offered for sale in quite some time. When I do return with more approval books, I intend to provide the year spread for the stamps. The page description box at the bottom of the screen is a perfect place for that.
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cdj1122
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28 Nov 2015
05:20:48pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

In this subject the adage "To each his own" matters doubly. (doubilly ???)

First off the seller in creating an approval page has to decide which info buyers might consider either important or inconsequential. Then the seller must decide how much time to invest in meeting the assumed need of certain information deemed important and balance that against the potential increased net selling price to be attained.
Since the approvals concept was presented originally as a way to get rid of those books, boxes and glassines stuffed with relatively common material in my opinion any stamp that requires extensive study or examination ought to be placed in the standard auction, not on approval pages.

The second stage is in the hands of the buyer, many of whom choose by the visual image, not by some reference to a catalogs listing which may be wrong often enough to wonder about the seller's notes. After all I've seen auction sellers who list Chinese stamps as Japanese, Luxemburg in with Österreich and other horrors, usually, not always "newbies".
Enough members prefer one of the several detailed European catalogs and not Scott as do a few US and Canadian collectors seeing the Scott catalog number can be meaningless.

To my thinking the Scott numbers on approval pages is a waste of time, only increases the sellers workload and consequently the price he, or she, feels must be placed on otherwise inexpensive stamps.

Now some sellers have decided to include obviously higher value stamps, blocks and souvenir sheets that do rate a higher price and that creates an entirely different situation than the bulk of relatively common material. Although selling prices may be higher, detailed Scott numbers are still virtually meaningless to me.

That is my feeling, others may feel differently, "To each his own."

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cardstamp
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28 Nov 2015
07:57:18pm

Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I have sold close to 25,000 items in approval books here. The majority of the items are 10 or 15 cent stamps and it would not be worth my time to add any additional description information on those stamps. It is a great benefit of not having to add a Scott # on the approval books like I have to do where I sell elsewhere stamp by stamp. I probably do loose people who do not want to look thru the pages although I do try to keep them in a reasonable date range and the stamps are fairly close in order. Sometimes on more expensive items or where the stamp could be one stamp or another depending on perforation or watermark - I will add the scott # for clarification. The way it is for me - as soon as I put up a book up within an hour or two the book is ransacked - so the effort I would of spent on putting in additional information would have been a waste of time. Steve

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Soundcrest
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29 Nov 2015
06:37:37am

Auctions - Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Steve I kind of agree with you. I too have sold a lot of items both from approval books and now weekly auctions. I'm not 100% sure that putting more information for the listing will generate a higher percentage of sales. When you put up a book and 60% sells the first weekend, how much of an improvement would result with more info? I see an awful lot of books from other sellers sell very well with no information at all. If I have to look up a stamp to determine the CV, then I'm going to put a catalog number on the stamp. I may try adding more info to this weeks auctions (assuming I can fit it on the title line with all the other info). I also put Scott value on the title line and maybe that isn't necessary. I still wrestle with how to get people to look at books after a week goes by, but of late, I have been noticing an uptick in sales for books over a couple of weeks old. Greg

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cardstamp
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29 Nov 2015
11:42:14am

Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I have noticed that recently I have been getting some sales on older books even a month or two after they are first put up. I reduce the prices on old books about 4 months after they first go up if there is enough left in them. Sometimes I just take what is left and add additional stamps (duplicates to what was there before) - and put it back up as new and then stamps that were left the first time sell in the new book. It is just alot of extra work to recycle old books. In the past few weeks I am starting to see a slight down turn in my overall sales but maybe the books I have been posting are of less interest. I have tried auctions a few times and had a few stamps sell - if BIDSTART goes away - I will spend more time putting up auctions here. It takes time to get the stamps scanned one by one and put the scott # on, etc - so I only do it when I have the time. I tried to coordinate putting up an approval book for one country and at the same time putting up the slightly more expensive stamps for that same country that do not fit into the approval book - as auctions - but that coordination is time consuming too. Overall I am very pleased here - no complaints ! Steve

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Larryd
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29 Nov 2015
12:56:36pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I would echo Charlie's comment of "to each his own." I have (and will continue) to put Scott catalog numbers on my approvals for two reasons: (1)it is a help to those, like myself, who "shop" from want lists and who use the Scott catalogs; (2) it is a help to me when returning unsold stamps from retired books to my "inventory."
I don't really object to the additional time it takes to add the numbers to my scans. I consider it all part of my hobby...much like printing the Steiner pages for my albums, cutting mounts to size from strips, etc.
I agree with those that indicate "year of issue" is good to include, and I do so when listing an item in the auction, but not in the approvals.
I've not sold anywhere near the number of stamps that cardstamp or soundcrest have achieved, but I'm more than happy with my results. I probably would NOT be happy with my results if "profit" was my motive...I regard the stamporama approval section as a good way to pass along stamps I don't need at "club-friendly" prices and obtain some additional funds for purchasing stamps from other members with the same attitude.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
29 Nov 2015
03:51:35pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

@Larryd:

Quote:

"I've not sold anywhere near the number of stamps that cardstamp or soundcrest have achieved, but I'm more than happy with my results. I probably would NOT be happy with my results if "profit" was my motive...I regard the stamporama approval section as a good way to pass along stamps I don't need at "club-friendly" prices and obtain some additional funds for purchasing stamps from other members with the same attitude."



I second that wholeheartedly. If profit was strictly the motive, I would not be doing that. But sharing the hobby is what it is all about.

I also agree that Auctions is a lot of additional work, so what I have taken to do is add a few pages of higher valued stamps at the end of most of my Approval Books. It usually sells quite well...even when the bulk of the Approval Book material is common stamps of low value.
What does not sell then can go into Auctions after I retire the book, which makes the whole process much more efficient for me.
As a collector, I like looking at low cost and higher valued stuff at the same time, when I work on my collections....so why not include some of it in Approvals.

About sales from older books. I too find that while there are occasionally sales from older books, most buyers prefer to look at books that are not depleted and that offer substantial material to pick from. So most sales occur in the first few days of a new book.
If you re-issue a book with added new material, as well as the leftover from the old one, it seems to be all it takes. The key issue for the seller is how to recycle the material in a new book most efficiently. Each one has his own approach, but I am quite happy with my use of reusable/removable hinges that allow the transfer to a new page most efficiently.
Providing less information on the page also accelerates the process..beacause it does add time to include it, so now I no longer number each individual item on a page, but instead provide year and reference cat numbers per each page!

rrr...

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
29 Nov 2015
09:47:06pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

Quote:

"I probably would NOT be happy with my results if "profit" was my motive"



I could probably make a nice profit if I would stop buying more stamps than I sell! Thinking

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lerivage
03 Dec 2015
06:56:42pm
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I do not use the Scott catalog, actually none, except Yvert & Tellier for Europe. However, I use a LOT internet catalogs that are easy and convenient. In addition I have entered all stamps for the countries I collect in a database I can query. Regarding the years, for the countries I collect, the look, the face value and the aesthetic of the stamp tell me roughly from which period they are. From there the internet catalogs are quite handy. Looking at the pictures in the Approval books is enough for me to see if it is a stamp I already have or not and a quick check in the database confirms or not. In other words I do not need catalog numbers and as pointed by another member value provided by the catalogs are not really realistic.

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cardstamp
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05 Feb 2016
12:18:02pm

Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I did not want to start a new thread - so I just thought I add this here. For the first time I provided the Scott #'s on my latest approval book that I just posted. I plan to do this for the next several books I put up. I am curious to see if it will make a difference or not. I had a few people who occasionally buy from me ask me to include the #'s - so I thought I try it. It does take extra time to do this - so the jury will be out to see how it goes. Anyone have any new insights on whether I am wasting my time doing this or not ? Thanks, Steve

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Soundcrest
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05 Feb 2016
01:02:39pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: To Catalog Or Not To Catalog

I always put the catalog number in the books unless its to much work, as in places that Scott gives you the list with a range, not identifying each stamp. I don't know if it makes a difference in lower priced approvals. Once I tried putting the year in the auction title. Didn't do a thing for sales, so I won't waste time doing that.

Greg

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