Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trend-Tracking Through Supply Sales

Here's a highly-unscientific report on trends in stamp collecting - based only on one small supplier's experience with selling stamp supplies: there may be a great many mint sheet collectors out there and a large number of people saving stamps for their personal satisfaction rather than to complete an album page.

I'm amazed at the volume of mint sheet albums and pages, first-day cover albums and pages, stockbooks and stock sheets we sell. Additionally, traditional albums are not selling nearly as well as binders and blank pages.

It's been my good fortune to meet lots of wonderful people at stamp shows. Many are shyly enthusiastic about the enjoyment they get from their stamp collection, and somewhat embarrassed they are not doing it "right."

To me, the fact they are drawing enjoyment from their hobby means - THEY ARE DOING IT RIGHT!  The hobbyists (as opposed to 'investors') can't lose as long as they store their items safely in a way that gives them pleasure. There's no need for anyone else to understand. Someday, their collection may land in the hands of some of those who don't understand. If a dealer tells them "it's not worth anything," they'd be wrong. Whether there is a market for the tangible result of the hobby pursuit or not doesn't matter. The value was in the doing - any dollar value gained in disposition is merely a rebate.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Philatelic emergencies

This week we have had two philatelic emergencies at the shop. Two different customers were in crises because they were out of stamp hinges and needed more STAT. You might say they were "un-hinged" about it.

This is just a reflection of the passion this hobby inspires and the diverse nature of its pursuit. Hinges are rarely used on "valuable" stamps - clearly there are still many hobbyists who are not creating an investment in anything other than joy!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

And now what...?

After acquiring my first bit of a collection last week, the question arises - what next?  At the same stamp club auction from whence came my cover, I also acquired this 1961 hardbound book by the editors of Gibbons Stamp Monthly originally written in 1933. It has some good advise expressed in a slightly formal tone. "Let your aim be to have a collection which does not allow the beholder to miss its strong points, and yet has the good manners not to shout them blatantly at him." There is advise on mounting, arranging, hinging, storing, labeling (calligraphy how-tos "never allow the pen to run half dry"), etc.

The advice I did not find in the book is how to maintain my enthusiasm beyond the acquisition of this one particular piece.  Perhaps I just don't have the collecting gene - the ability to sustain enthusiasm in a directed fashion over time. ?? Maybe it's time to "back-burner" the process.  What I do know is that the immediate problem is simply proper storage before I determine what's next.  Right now my lovely cover is still in the sleeve in which I purchased it, propped on the piano.  I want to keep it where I see it lest I forget it is a beginning, not an end.

I'm looking forward to purusing the next stamp club auction. Perhaps it will be where I'll find more inspiration.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

First Philatelic Excitement

Last Friday was the meeting of the Webster Groves Stamp Club. I like to attend these meetings with my husband because I like the people there and find the programs interesting. 

However, not really collecting anything myself, the stamp auctions at the beginning of the meeting are a space-filler for me  - or so they were until last Friday.  Wayne said, "I'm going to bid on a lot for you.  Come see Lot #4."  I couldn't believe my eyes!!  The above cover (Lot #4) has deep personal resonance for me.  We just recently moved from Wisconsin to St. Louis (the card is from a company in St. Louis to an address in Milwaukee, Wisc.)  A central story of our move involved bringing our old upright piano (against all logistical sense) with us because it means heart and home to me.  But the first thing that caught my eye was "Kunkel Bros." as my maiden, and now middle, name is "Kunkel."

Acquiring this cover became necessary!! There was no doubt in my mind that whatever the cost, this was my item.  When the auction began, it was no longer a space-filler for me, but something highly and personally interesting.  Others made bids on Lot#4, none of them for the same reasons as I, but Wayne prevailed and I have the beginnings of a collection I am most interested in.

Surprising to me, one thing quickly leads to another.  I noticed the cover has a back stamp with arrival time and date -- it took only 18 hours for this letter to reach the destination post office - unheard of speed in the 21st century, but somehow achievable over 100 years ago. Now I want to find out how -- did the cover travel by train? -- via mail car?  There is philatelic research ahead for me.

 I can also see if there is a family connection.  The Kunkel genealogy has been extensively researched and these brothers arrived in St. Louis about the same time my great-grandmother homesteaded in Nebraska.  

Oh yes, it also has a very nice St. Louis World's Fair cancellation.  Interestingly, the last thing I even noticed was the stamp.  There is one, isn't there?

What will be next?  I really don't know, but I find I'm now interested in getting to stamp club meetings early enough to look over the auction items and see what else may catch my interest. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Begin at the beginning...

Sometimes when we talk about beginnings, we forget that our frame of reference (that which we consider common knowledge) is different than that of others.  This week, I was reminded.

A darling young woman walked into the store on an impulse to "see what goes on here..."

As we visited, she tentatively asked about purchasing stamps.  I went through the routine explanations about being a consignment auction company, and outlining where the nearest post office was. But, it turns out, she wanted more assistance.She wanted to know about stamps - and here was the surprise -- not about collecting them, but using them. She was in town looking for stationery as she embarked on a daring new adventure - communicating with others via handwritten messages with the intent of  having them delivered by United States Postal System. She felt the tying together of stamp images and quality paper with ink applied by hand was attractive - and adventurous. She hadn't a clue how to find different designs of stamps nor which to use.  "If my postage is not correct, will my letter be destroyed?"   

This stylish and intelligent young lady clearly represents a generation removed from what we previously considered common knowledge. Her eyes were alight with the thrill of adventure involved in creating a new way of communicating.  It was wonderful to share basic information she found so exciting and adventurous. 

Her name, by the way, was Amelia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some advice from the UK....


I just found a website which you may already know about. It includes an article on stamp collecting for beginners which you may enjoy - it's focus is acquisition of material...

Honestly, it used to embarass me a great deal to enter a post office with a stamp collector I know (who shall remain nameless) who did just what this author recommends and unabashedly rummaged through the waste bin for interesting items for his collection. But the author is correct in recommending pride (in this instance) be subordinate to pleasure. Feel free to ask for stuff and look for it and accept it and get started!

Monday, December 19, 2011

3-Ring, Peg Post, Springback ????

Today I had to arrange some pages in a 2-post peg-fitting binder. LOVELY binder!! But a bit of a bother to undo the pegs and remove all the pages to replace one bit at the back.

When I talk with collectors, most of them are sure they know what the best binding for an album is...BUT they don't all agree. As a novice, I find the Springback unhandy. It feels like I'm breaking it to get it open, then I have trouble lining up the pages correctly when I reclose it. BUT I can see how it's easier than the peg-post for putting in an odd page out of sequence, or rearranging pages already in.

Ringed binders are the most comfortable for me, but then I have lots of non-philatelic experience with them, so am at ease with the concept. Three-ring binders in general have a problem of eventually losing their grip and page holes eventually require reinforcing. The Stanley Gibbons 22-ring binders are very secure and the stress on each hole is minimized by the prevelance of others. However, I don't have a 22-ring punch to make my own pages :)

Conclusion -- in choosing a binder, it's up to you. There's not a "best" because they're all good for one purpose or another. One word of motherly advice, however. If this is a new hobby, don't choose by what feels comfortable. This may be a long journey and you will become comfortable over time with any of the choices. Choose based on objective parameters, and let comfort follow.

That's my opinion. For me, I don't want to deal with peg-posts for awhile, but if I really don't want to lose my pages, they'd be the best, I think.