Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Badly Needed Catching Up

I can't believe I haven't posted anything to this blog in almost nine months! I would have to admit, however, that it's been an EVENTFUL nine months, both personally and for my stamp collection.

My wife and I are both in our sixties. We became temporary guardians of a 2-year-old a year ago March - eighteen months ago. In July, we became Timmy's PERMANENT guardians. That's kept us on our toes, and has shoved a lot of other things into the background. Now that we're Timmy's permanent guardians, life is actually easier for us. We no longer have to worry whether our actions will be acceptable to Timmy's natural parent. He's in Head Start Preschool four days a week, from 8 until 12 each day. That has freed up a lot of time for me to do other things than take care of him.

Timmy's not the only reason I haven't been taking care of this site. I had a local friend and trading partner who moved away this summer, and I spent some time getting what I could from him before he left. I'm permanently disabled due to degenerative disk disease, osteoarthritis, and neurological damage. That has been more noticeable and more persistent this past year, and I haven't been able to adjust to it yet.

Another reason I haven't been working on this as often is that it's been a TREMENDOUSLY busy year for me stamp-wise. I've gotten several dozen pounds of stamps over the last nine months, and I've only sorted out and done something with less than a third of it. My collection has grown tremendously, and I'm way behind in updating my inventory program. I've also added thousands of stamps to my trade stock. I've tried to keep my want/offer lists up to date at home, even though I can no longer update them on the Web.

Several of my recent purchases have had some very strange side effects. I recently purchased three boxes online from Jeff Goulette, a local dealer and personal friend. Those boxes were probably all created from a single source, and contained several hundred copies of the 1-anna brown Queen Victoria stamp from the 1865-67 issue, perf 14, watermarked elephant's head, overprinted "Service". As I was going through these, I noticed that there were some very distinctive postmarks. There are three that I found in several dozen different varieties each. Two are circles enclosing a diamond formed of horizontal and vertical bars, with either large numbers or small numbers in a central square. The other sigificant postmark is an octagon formed of four or five lines, with a central number. These are probably post office identifiers, but I have no idea how to look up and see which numbers are associated with which post office. I'm going to create a collection of all the different examples I have, and offer the rest for trade.

The other group I found consisted of about 400 Australia and Australian states with the perforated initials "O S", indicating "Official Service". There aren't all that many different varieties, but there are examples from New South Wales (these contain the perforated initials "NSW" as well as the "OS"), Victoria, Western Australia, and Ausralia itself, as well as perforated "SA" for official stamps of South Australia. I haven't found any of the "T" perfins from Tasmania, but I haven't finished sorting down the stamps yet. One of the items that's very difficult to identify are the Victoria green half-pence issues. The OS perfin covers 90% of the stamp. I have about 15 copies, but there's only one stamp where I can actually determine the watermark.

A personal bleg (web post begging): I have about 200,000 stamps I need to sort down and catalogue, the result of purchasing more than 25 one-pound or two-pound boxes from Jeff Goulette (a one-pound box contains about 6000 stamps off paper, a two-pound box contains about twice that), plus numerous other purchases. My supply of P-102 cards (the little white, yellow, green, or blue vinyl pocket cards some dealers use to display their stamps) is no longer available. I'll offer three cents in trade against any stamp I offer for trade for each one of these anyone can send me. I do need them to be functional (I.E., the vinyl pocket is still attached), but I can still use them if they've been written upon. I can also use the slightly bigger P-104 cards, but not any others. I use P-104 cards for Mexican stamps. I recently purchased a 1-inch box from Jeff that was ONLY Mexico off paper. I've only been able to sort down about a third of it for lack of the means to organize them.

I'm going to try to go back to posting on this site at least twice a month, but don't be surprised if I don't make it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

An Annual Accounting

It's that time of year again - time to assess what I've done during the last year on my stamp collection, and what I plan to do for this year.

This past year has been unusual in many ways. I expanded my collection in virtually every category, my ability to purchase material has been greatly expanded, I've had more money to spend on my collection, and I've expanded my trading contacts. The effect on my collection has been equally fortuitious. Major changes in our home, however, have limited the amount of time I can spend on my collection.

I divide the world into 746 different stamp-issuing "countries". This also includes some issues many collectors would include within a parent country. If the numbering starts over with "1", or there's a major name-change, I may include it as a separate country. Former states that unite into one country (Germany, Canada, South Africa, Italy, etc.) are counted as individual countries, but I also begin a separate entry for foreign post offices, separate postal systems, some local issues, and many other types of choices.

I've added stamps to about 650 of those 746 entries over the last year. Many of the additions were of a single stamp, while a few have seen increases in the 100-300 range. My total increase for the year is currently unknown, and I may never be able to adequately account for every new addition. My best estimate, however, is that I've added about 12,000 stamps to my collection in the last 12 months.

Many of the additions I've made to my collection have been in response to last year's collection plan, while a few have been spur of the moment purchases or just very fortunate inclusions in purchases I made for other reasons. Here are last year's items from my collection plan, with what I've actually accomplished:

  • I want to reach the point where I can answer a trade letter in a week, instead of taking a month.

  • Didn't happen, and probably won't this year. Between my pain problems and our becoming foster-parents of a 2-year-old, the time it takes me to answer has actually gone UP, not down. I'm still working on it, but I don't expect great results.

  • I want to be able to sort down my purchases and get everything catalogued before I get inundated with the next group.

  • I've managed with most of my purchases, but some of them were so large, and so complex - or just too much at once - for me to do it with everything. There was one period last year when I won at least 15 1-pound packages of stamps off paper within a five-day period. I'm still trying to get THAT group taken care of.

  • I want to get back to work on my country-by-country inventory of my collection, having taken most of the year to re-create and rebuild what I had but lost.

  • I've added about 35 additional countries over the last year, which is about a third of what I'd hoped I'd accomplish. Again, outside events interfered and made reaching this goal all but unobtainable.

  • I want to be able to add at least 9000 stamps to my collection this year, with at least 2500 of those being through collector-to-collector trades.

  • This is one objective I reached and exceeded. I traded about 3000 stamps last year with eleven trading partners, and added a total of at least 12,000 stamps to my collection.

  • I want to add to my collection of British "Omnibus" stamps, especially the high values of the Silver Wedding issue, and the UPU 75th Anniversary issue. I want to build a single want list for the Omnibus stamps through Queen Elizabeth's 1953 corronation issue.

  • This is another objective that I've had some success with, but where I didn't accomplish everything that I'd hoped to. I added much more to my collection than I had expected in the way of stamps, including at least five of the Silver Wedding high values, about a third of the UPU 75th anniversary issues, many of the Freedom from Hunger, Red Cross, ITU, ICY, Churchill, World Cup Soccer, WHO Hq, and UNESCO issues, more than half of the Princess Margaret royal wedding issues, and about half of the Prince Charles/Lady Diana royal wedding issues. I've gotten an Excel spreadsheet created that allows me to track what I have up through the Charles/Diana wedding issue, but I haven't yet created a special want list for these issues. I now know I have all the 1937 George VI coronation issue and the 1947 Peace issue complete, and that I need two stamps to have the QEII Coronation complete. I've added about 35 stamps from the George V Silver Jubilee issue, almost doubling what I had in that area.

  • I want to add to my collection of Portuguese "Vasco da Gama" common-design issues, and the "Pombal" issues. I want to add more of the high values from the 1938 common design issue.

  • I have made some improvements in this area, but not as much as I'd hoped. I've begun a spreadsheet for Portuguese common design stamps similar to the one I've done for British stamps, but I haven't gotten it to a point where it's useful yet. I have added several stamps to each of the more important common design issues for Portuguese colonies, including the Vasco da Gama series, the Pombal issues, the Portuguese History series (CD34-39), the Holy Year type, Sao Paulo, Sports, and Navy Club issues. I still have less than half the available material, and very few complete sets among the larger ones.

  • I want to find and add the last three "Victory" airmail common design type issues from the French Community, finish up the "Marianne" issue, and begin working on the various "Exposition" issues from 1931 through 1939.

  • This goal has been rather hit or miss. I don't have a spreadsheet yet that will tell me how much of each Common Design group I have or need, so I can't be certain exactly which of them I still don't have. I have added stamps from the "Colonial Exposition", "Colonial Arts Exposition", Calille, New York World's Fair (1939), "Colonial Education Fund" Vichy Issue, and two or three of the "Defense of the Empire" series, but no complete sets. I increased the number of Marianne (CD90), Eboue (CD91), and Victory (CD92) stamps my collection, but I still have a few holes in each. I added TWO of the French UPU issue (CD99), and NONE of the "Chad to Rhine" (CD93-98) issues.

  • I want to add as many of the US stamps valued at $10 or less each that I'm currently missing that were issued between 1891 and 1991 (there aren't that many).

  • Actually, I've done pretty well in this area - not as well as I'd hoped, but pretty well. Most of the stamps I still need are the hard-to-identify phosphor tagged examples beginning in 1960 or so, the non-tagged bureau precancel issues of some later definitive issues, and stamps cataloguing $50 or more. I managed to add more than half the Washington/Franklin issues I was missing, including some very expensive stamps. I also added some early issues (26a, 113, 187, and a few more), the last Parcel Post issue I needed, and some early postage dues and officials.

  • I want to get at least all the stamps I currently own sorted down, catalogued, mounted, prepared for trade, or otherwise disposed of.

  • Didn't happen, and I've added more - LOTS more. I have the feeling this may be an impossible task for me.

  • I want to get all my inventory information and comments transferred from my 2003 Scott catalogues to my new 2006 catalogues.

  • I've gotten about a third of this done, and I'm still working on it. Right now, I'm being forced to use both sets of catalogues to really know what's going on with my collection. I hope to finish the transfer in the coming year.

  • I want to write at least twice a month on my stamp blog.

  • That hasn't happened, either, but I'm getting better - I hope!

This year, I'm going to be a bit more practical with my plans in some ways, but just as radical in others. Here are my goals for the coming year:

  • Continue to work on last year's goals that are still applicable, or should be repeated. Add between 10,000 and 15,000 stamps to my collection. I want at least 3000 of those stamps to be from stamp trades with other collectors. I also want at least 200 of those stamps to be from areas of special interest, such as the British, Portuguese, and French Common Design issues. I'll concentrate on several groups where I'm almost complete. These include the QEII Coronation, the Princess Margaret Wedding issue, the West Indies University issue, the West Indies Federation issue, and the 1966 Royal Visit issue for the British; the Marianne and Victory issue for the French; and the Pombal, Medical Congress, Sao Paulo, Airline Anniversary, Admiral Coutinho, Olympic Games (1972) and Lisbon-Rio de Janeiro Flight issue for the Portuguese. I'll also be concentrating on completing as many of the definitive issues from Western Europe and their major colonies as I can. Continue working on controlling the disaster area that's my office.

  • Fill in some of the major holes I have in the collections of countries where I've lived: US, Panama, Canal Zone, Vietnam, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

  • Continue working on completing my collections of Canada, Ryukyu Islands, Switzerland and Denmark.

  • Continue to build my collections of the 70+ countries on my "special list".

  • Continue to improve my trading operations, both in defining what I have or need and in responding to trade requests.

  • Work harder on recycling material I get that I don't need either for my collection or for trade.

  • Try harder to work on my blog at least a couple of times a month.

This should keep me busy for the rest of the year!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is eBay destroying local dealers?

I know of at least five local dealers - one in Colorado Springs, two in Denver, on in Albuquerque,NM, and one in Omaha, Nebraska, that no longer operate a storefront. All have switched to pure eBay operations, and most now work from home. While that's great for eBay, and obviously works for these dealers, is it making it harder for collectors?

Stamp collecting isn't just buying, selling, and trading stamps. Collectors require albums, mounts, catalogues, and the tools of the trade - stamp tongs, magnifying glasses, perforation detectors, UV lamps, watermark detection kits, stock pages, stock books, and dozens of other types of parapenalia. These were the stock in trade of the average dealer. Where is there a reasonable source of those items available today?

Some eBay dealers sell supplies from time to time. It's get 'em when they're available, or do without. If there's a local dealer that still supplies these items for retail sale, there are a lot of local customers that are looking for you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas!

To all who read my simple words, I wish a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

For Dealers, Credibility is Everything

I've recently bought a half-dozen lots that obviously came from a dealer other than the one I purchased them from. Some of these lots were obviously retired stock, but much of the rest was of recent vintage. Most of the lots also had something else in common - they contained quite a number of mis-identified stamps.

Some stamps are hard to identify, for a number of different reasons. Some watermarks look similar. Many early British stamps are hard to identify because they look so much alike. Several others can only be positively identified by carefully checking perforations. Some overprints change the country of origin, yet the overprints themselves appear similar in many, and are difficult to judge. Some of what I found were these types of errors, which can usually be forgiven. Blatant mis-identification is a bit harder.

I learned the hard way how repeated mis-identfying stamps can harm a dealer's reputation, and his business. I was a dealer for five or six years before I gave it up for health reasons. Before I quit, I made many errors. I have a chronic pain problem, and the more I hurt the more mistakes I made. My business deteriorated because of those mistakes. I had something to fall back on, but many dealers don't. They go bankrupt, and their stock gets sold off to pay outstanding debts. Conversely, dealers who are very conscientious, and "get it right" most of the time usually find their customers will be more forgiving of an occasional error.

The same situation applies to trading, too. If you're a stamp collector, and you trade with other collectors, you expect to get what you asked for in a trade. So does your trading partner. The more accurate you are, the better your standing with other traders. One thing that can save you in a trading environment that is harder in a business environment is the willingness to correct any errors.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to get totally snowed under

Jeff Goulette, of, has had some tremendous lots for sale during the past four months, and I've done more than my share to get what I could. I've bought at least 70 lots from him in the last three months, most of them 1" or 2" boxes of stamps, some on paper and others off paper. I've also bought many of his lots on stock pages - anywhere from three to twelve 8.5"x11" manila stock pages crammed with anything from worldwide stamps to specific countries. I haven't been able to get all of those stamps sorted or mounted, and they've built up on me. Right now, I have about a quarter-million stamps on my desk that need to be sorted down. Sorting down 250,000 stamps - a conservative estimate - is not an easy job. Nor can I just dump them in boxes and re-sell them - there are too many of them I need.

A one-inch box contains about 6000 stamps off paper, and about 2500 on paper. A two-inch box holds about twice as many, unless they're like two lots I bought this summer, on "dealers' squares". Each of the two-inch boxes I bought had about 8,000 stamps in them. Each stamp is hinged to a paper square about 1.5 inches square. Since many of the stamps in these boxes catalogued over $1 each, and some of them catalogued as much as $75 each, it's worth it dealing with all those paper squares. Many of Jeff's stock-card lots had as many as 500 to 700 stamps per stock page (REALLY stuffed), while others had as few as 100.

I've started sorting all of these stamps down onto some of those manila stock cards I've gotten from Jeff, or that I had on hand. Sorting stamps down by country makes it easier to catalogue and price what you have on hand, but it's time-consuming. Some of the material I've bought were in glassines, which are easier to sort down, even when they're five or six different sizes. Alphabetizing the glassines takes a little time, but not as much as pawing through 600-700 of them to find a particular country. Two of the lots I purchased during the summer were in P-102 cards - those little white cards that have a clear pocket on the front. I sort down most of the stamps I have for trade into P-102 cards, so having those not only makes it easier to sort down, but also easier to store any duplicates. Believe me, I have LOTS of duplicates! In fact, I have more duplicates than I have the ability to store them, which is my next big problem from buying too much all at once. How am I going to store all these stamps I now have for trade?

I'm working on it. P-102 cards cost about $38/1000, but if you write on them in pencil, and have access to some of the nifty white plastic erasers, can be easily reused. I'd rather spend the money on stamps, but I have to do something to store all the stamps I have. I did buy a box of dealer stock pages that fit into those nifty three-ring binders, and a smaller lot of the smaller six-hole stock pages, so I can use those to take some of the material. I actually store Belgium, US Possessions, Monaco, Indonesia, Czechoslovakia, and Thailand in those types of pages, so that will help considerably. My consolidation of material by country is freeing up a number of manila stock pages, which I can use to store some more material. I have about 20 countries I keep on those kinds of pages. I need some blank ones to redo Romania and to finish off Russia, two countries where I keep my duplicates on those kinds of stock pages. Some of the stamps on P-102 cards I bought are duplicates, and once I get them all sorted down and taken care of, I'll have some cards free for other material. Some of the material I have already exist in my duplicates files, and adding more won't be a problem. It's just the new material, stuff I didn't have as duplicates before, that will be a problem. Unfortunately, there are probably 10,000 stamps that fit that category. I'm going to have to improvise, and that's going to take considerably more time and effort.

Getting snowed under is both good and bad - good because you add a LOT of new material to your collection, but bad in that it takes a huge amount of effort to dig your way out. Maybe I'll be able to see daylight by Christmas - IF I don't buy too much more in the meantime!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dealers, dealer loyalty, and collecting the world

I've been collecting stamps for more than 50 years now, and I've purchased stamps from a hoard of different dealers. Most were in the United States, but a few were also overseas, when I was stationed in various countries around the world. There's one thing I've learned from all this - different dealers have different suppliers, and end up with different material for sale.

Most of the dealers I've done business with have been great. A few have been mediocre, and I've had trouble with a few, mostly caused more by circumstances than business practices. I try to be loyal to dealers that give me good service. That's why I do about 85% of my business with - that and I know Jeff and Christine personally, find them very likable, and enjoy their company.

Still, Jeff and Christine don't have everything, and they don't offer stamps in a way that lets me fill specific holes. I've found a small number of other dealers that offer that kind of service, and purchase specific materials from them.

Collecting the world is not easy - there are something like 800 different "countries" and "colonies" that have issued area-specific postage stamps. I don't have any idea how many different stamps have been issued (although I'm working on that), but the number has to be somewhere in excess of 500,000 - a HALF A MILLION. That includes some varieties, of course, such as color variables, printing differences, tete-beche pairs, inverted overprints, single stamps from sheets and booklets, and much, much more. The "real" number of stamps issued by a country is always greater than the numbers listed in the average Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, or any other catalogue.

I try to buy stamps that will increase the representative material in my collection. My collection has right now between 125,000 and 175,000 different stamps, including all those varieties listed above. That includes many, if not most, of the more common stamps one sees in packets, boxes, and bulk lots. Some dealers offer lots large enough to satisfy my general needs, while others offer materials that satisfy specific needs to fill a set, add a certain stamp, or generally improve upon my collection.

My collection is growing - sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, and frequently in ways that are totally unexpected. I've found about a dozen other collectors that are of like mind, and we exchange stamps between us - mostly on a value-for-value basis. This, too, is helping my collection to grow, and is most appreciated. All in all, my collection is doing the three things I want it to do:

- Keep me happy, busy and active, and helps me forget about the pain caused by physical problems that plague me.

- Keep me connected to the world at large, and people in it.

- Build a collection that either some member of my family will take over and enjoy, or serve as an inheritance that they will profit from.

Stamp collecting is still the "King of Hobbies, and the Hobby of Kings". Its rewards are many, and its opportunities are endless. It's also a challenge, requiring one to think long-term. Some people make it more enjoyable, including dealers, other collectors, and a few good friends.

Some favorites

I've always wanted to use this blog to point people to dealers and others I've found to be above the average. I do most of my buying from Jeff and Christine Goulette, owners of They do 99.5% of their business through eBay. Look for them - they have great material for the worldwide collector, and many lots that would appeal to specialists.

I've also found a few other people on eBay that are better than average, for what they offer, for their service, and for their courtesy. Most of the following dealers don't have a huge following, and have material that can be purchased at truly astounding prices - although maybe not after this. Here they are. You'll have to do an eBay search for their dealer-names to locate them.


I found these dealers looking for stamps from the Ryukyu Islands, Vietnam, and Canada. I've since bought other items from them as well. They're great people, and I enjoy doing business with them. Drop by and say hello to them.


A Blast from the Past

I bought a box from Jeff Goulette last week that contained about two
pounds of worldwide, on "dealers' squares" - pieces of paper about 2"
square, with a single stamp mounted on it. Apparently these dealers
squares were the product of a company called "Globus Stamp Co.",
located on the famous Nassau Street in New York City. The only
information I can get from Google is that Globus was apparently in
business from 1928 through the late 1950's. Certainly only a few
items I have on these pages were from later than that. There's a
company in Iowa that uses the name Globus Stamp Company, but I don't
think it's the original one.

UPDATE: It apparently IS the original one, but possibly with a new owner/manager. I've seen several additional lots on Jeff's eBay listings that included the Iowa address.

I bought the box for the Portuguese Colonies that were in it, and I'm
not disappointed. There are several other countries that are well-
represented, mostly from Latin America (primarily Argentina, the
Dominican Republic, and Ecuador). There is quite a bit of
duplication, but that doesn't bother me. There's more than enough in
the box to make my purchase worthwhile to me, just for what I'll add
to my collection. Some of the material is pretty unusual.

There are thirteen ancient glassines (falling apart) each containing
five different mint stamps from Eastern Rumelia, plus at least two
dozen more stamps on single dealer squares. The five different stamps
are Scott # 12, 15, 16, 17, and 18. They are all mint, and catalogue
$.60, $.30, $.20, $.30, and $.60 ($2.00) respectively in the 2006
Scott Catalog. The original packets are priced from $.23 to $.26,
showing a "price rise" of a total of three cents over the period from
which I have packets. Nr. 18, valued $.60 in today's catalogues, is
indicated of being valued at ten cents on most of the dealer squares,
but a couple show a rise to 12 1/2c. Nr. 12, also cataloguing $.60
today, was offered at 2 1/2c.

This lot has been a fascinating look into what stamps were sold for
50, 60, or 70 years ago. Some stamps priced at 25c are today worth
$10 to $15. Others, priced at $1 (Afghanistan 332), sells for about
the same today. Some stamps that you rarely see today, and certainly
not in approval packets, apparently were quite common back then.

You also have to wonder where these stamps have been over the past 50
or 60 years, and what other troves are out there waiting to be
discovered. The box I purchased has stamps worth about $3000 total
catalogue value.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No, I didn't die...

I know it's been nine months since my last post. Things have just been far too hectic for me to get this account straightened out with Blogger. It's done now, and I hope to post more often in the future. However, since my wife and I have become "foster grandparents" to a two-year-old, with full physical custody, that may not be as often as some people might wish.

Top of the list for this post is the creation of a Yahoo Group for worldwide collectors, called World Chasers. This is a restricted group, which means that each person must be accepted. To gain access to the group, please email me (the group moderator) with enough information that I can either approve or disapprove membership. The description of the group is:

A place for collectors of multiple countries to get together, pass information, arrange trades, and talk about collecting stamps from a large portion of the world. Members must collect at least 40 different countries to qualify.

This is a closed group. One must request membership, which will be approved on a case-by-case basis. A few dealers MAY be allowed to join, based upon how much they contribute to the overall group's mission. Using this group only to attempt to sell stamps will be frowned upon.

I haven't been able to update my Citystar account since late January, which means that everything online is extremely out of date. In fact, I make changes to my want/have lists, inventories, and other files on almost a daily basis.

I've been trying to build a spreadsheet listing the Common Design types, so I could concentrate in getting those particular stamps. I'm about 60% complete with the British Commonwealth, which means I still have a long way to go. There seem to be quite a few more of those issues than I first thought. Some of them intrigue me more than others. One group that I've found extremely difficult to get are the French Common Design CD99, the 1949 issue commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the UPU. I frequently see the British UPU issues, but very seldom the French issues.

One thing I'd like to do with this blog is to plug some of the better online dealers, and highlight what they offer. One of the major stumbling blocks to collecting today is the demise of the stamp storefront. Fewer and fewer dealers are maintaining a physical presence. Part of the reason is increased costs, but the main reason is that online sales through a virtual storefront or through one of the auction groups such as eBay reach more customers and make more money, with far lower expenses, than a storefront. That's going to make it difficult for young people just entering the hobby, and will also put more emphasis on stamp shows. Buying at stamp shows or ordering online may be the only way for many collectors to get new material, buy albums, and maintain collecting supplies.

A great dealer that ONLY sells postage stamps via eBay is Jeff Goulette, at I buy most of my stamps through Jeff. One major reason is that I don't have to pay postage, which can save a person quite a bit of money, especially on bulk items!

I'd like to hear about other online sources used by other collectors. Please email me at with your recommendations.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Still not up to par, but improving.

I appologized in July for not posting more, then went almost six months without another word. It's been that kind of year. I'm hoping this one will be different, but I make no promises.

It IS the first of a new year, and time to look both back at the past year, and ahead at the new one. Overall, it's been a good year, both personally and for my stamp collection. Personally,

  • my youngest daughter got married the 3rd of July, and she and her husband moved into a house just a few blocks from here in September.

  • I've found a pain medication combination that HELPS, even though I still have problems.

  • Lots of little things have gone better, and I don't find as many day-to-day frustrations to annoy me any more.

My stamp collection has seen major changes!

  • I've added about 14,000 stamps to my personal collection in the last year. At least 2200 of those came through stamp trades.
  • I've added at least three new trading partners, and had an old trading partner return.
  • I've bought at least 30 pounds of stamps, and have about a third of that sorted down, mounted, and catalogued.
  • I've added over 4400 stamps to my offer lists online, and about 30 new countries. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to immediately update my pages any longer. I hope to change this soon.
  • I've made arrangements to sell more of my excess material, making more money available to me for stamp purchases.

It's time for a year-end review of my collecting goals, and how well (or poorly) I achieved them. It's also time to look ahead, to plan for the coming year. There's quite a bit on my mind about stamps.

I probably broke all sorts of personal records for me. I'm not entirely sure, because I lost many of my early records in a computer melt-down in August. I had the information backed up to floppy disk, but my new computer doesn't have a floppy drive. My new son-in-law copied them to CD, but for some reason I can't read them.

I know I added about 14,000 stamps to my collection. The exact number is somewhere between 13,896 and 14,110. The low number doesn't include stamps I added to replace defective copies, the high number does. About a fourth of those stamps were from 2005 purchases. The number of new stamps is more than double the 6000 I'd hoped for.

I had more money to spend, and spent more money, on stamps this year than any year since I started collecting stamps (September, 1956, at the ripe old age of 10). About 2/3 of all the money I spent on stamps was spent at either Shayne Clinard's Web-Collector eBay auctions, or at Jeff & Christine's Dootzes eBay auctions. Much of the rest was spent either at local dealers or through Beverly Fox'sWeeda Stamps, Ltd.. I bought everything from single stamps to large accumulations, and bought something from just about everywhere. I specifically added stamps to many German States, an area where my collection was previously quite weak.

Trading was a robust way to add stamps to my collection in 2006. I traded for about 2200 different stamps from roughly 170 countries, with ten trading partners in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. The value of these trades was in the range of $3500. Three of the traders I've dealt with were new for 2006.

I've downloaded and printed out stamp album pages from William E. Steiner's Stamp Albums Web for a number of countries this past year. I've still had to make about 200 pages for things I wanted to display in my collection that aren't included in Bill's pages - some covers, some non-government souvenir sheets, and so forth.

Even better than the number of stamps I've added is my ability to add quite a number of the stamps I'd specifically targeted. I added stamps from most of the British "Omnibus" series, from the George V Silver Jubilee through the marriage of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones. I've added almost a hundred "Europa" issues, and Common-design type issues from Portugal and former Portuguese colonies, and France and the "French Community".

Altogether, 2006 was a banner year for my stamp collecting pleasure.

Planning for 2007

This year appears to be starting off as a continuation of last year. I certainly have enough material to sort through - there are at least fifteen pounds of stamps off paper in boxes and containers, plus about thirty country-specific collections in envelopes and folders I still need to go through. I've got about six trade letters I need to answer before the month's over. I've got bids out on about a dozen different lots on eBay and Weeda's bidboard. I do have some specific objectives in mind for this new year:

  • I want to reach the point where I can answer a trade letter in a week, instead of taking a month.
  • I want to be able to sort down my purchases and get everything catalogued before I get inundated with the next group.
  • I want to get back to work on my country-by-country inventory of my collection, having taken most of the year to re-create and rebuild what I had but lost.
  • I want to be able to add at least 9000 stamps to my collection this year, with at least 2500 of those being through collector-to-collector trades.
  • I want to add to my collection of British "Omnibus" stamps, especially the high values of the Silver Wedding issue, and the UPU 75th Anniversary issue. I want to build a single want list for the Omnibus stamps through Queen Elizabeth's 1953 corronation issue.
  • I want to add to my collection of Portuguese "Vasco da Gama" common-design issues, and the "Pombal" issues. I want to add more of the high values from the 1938 common design issue.
  • I want to find and add the last three "Victory" airmail common design type issues from the French Community, finish up the "Marianne" issue, and begin working on the various "Exposition" issues from 1931 through 1939.
  • I want to add as many of the US stamps valued at $10 or less each that I'm currently missing that were issued between 1891 and 1991 (there aren't that many).
  • I want to get at least all the stamps I currently own sorted down, catalogued, mounted, prepared for trade, or otherwise disposed of.
  • I want to get all my inventory information and comments transferred from my 2003 Scott catalogues to my new 2006 catalogues.
  • I want to write at least twice a month on my stamp blog.

I think that's enough to keep me pretty busy through the coming year!

I have one major problem that will also carry over from last year - getting sufficient supplies to sort down everything I have. I have the majority of my trade stock in P-102 or P-104 cards. The rest are in the 6x9 pocketed dealer stock pages, in stock books, or in binders filled with 8.5x11 manila stock pages. I'm trying to find a local supplier of P-102 cards (new or used), the red boxes they fit in, and a lesser supply of P-104 cards. I'm open to suggestions for other sources.

May and June are going to be bad months for my stamp collection this year. I'm helping plan a regional reunion for one of my old military units, the 497th RTG. That's going to take quite a bit of time, especially toward the actual reunion date. It's going to be an interesting year!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Things to keep at the top of my blog

I've got a couple of quick items that should stay at the top of my blog for the next few months, at least, so I'm going to date them sometime late next year.

Employment Offered

My former boss, Shayne Clinard of is looking for two or three people in the Colorado Springs area to help put together auction lots for his online eBay auctions. The pay is good, the hours are your own, and there's a nice discount on stamps as part of the incentives. Click on this link to send him an email.

While you're at it, check out the lots he has. They change completely every seven days.

My want/offer lists

From now on, I will put a notice on my weblog when I update my want/offer lists, and I'll try to include which countries or major areas I've updated. I've got about 75,000 different stamps for trade. My want/offer master list is here. You can also access it from the sidebar on the left.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It's been a long time since I've posted anything here. Part of the reason is a change to a new computer system, and the attempts to get all my old data transferred over. That's finally done. Secondly, I've been having some really horrible headaches lately, caused by the neck and back problems that have made me unable to work. Those seem to be triggered by many different things, including some crazy weather.

I've got most of the things I wanted to do caught up, and I'll hopefully be back to regular blogging - at least once or twice a month, hopefully more often.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Stamps Blogger

I received an email this week from Suzi, a stamp collector in Pennsylvania who is also a blogger. It's slow, but we're beginning to see more and more stamp collectors online with weblogs. Suzi's site is here. Drop by and say hello to her.

Friday, December 23, 2005

End-of-Year Evaluation

Each year, sometime between Christmas and Valentine's Day, I do a year-end evaluation of how well I've met my collecting goals for the previous year. I'm starting early this year, because this year marks an exceptionally robust one for me and my stamp collection.

I collect the stamps issued by every recognized (and a few unrecognized) stamp-issuing authority in the world through 1990, and about 75 specific authorities up through the present. These 75 authorities represent nations where I've lived or visited, or where there are significant ties from my military experiences, or where I have friends.

Six nations (US, Panama, Canal Zone, Vietnam [S], Germany, and Great Britain) have first priority because I've lived in those countries for at least a year. I collect all of North and South America (except for a few island-states in the Caribbean) without stipulations because I've either visited them, or they were part of my responsibility during my military service. I collect Western Europe for most of the same reason, and the seven former Warsaw Pact nations because keeping track of them was my primary responsibility during more than 70% of my military career. I collect both North and South Vietnam, and to a lesser degree the combined Vietnam after 1975, because I spent a year working the area during the Vietnam War. During that time, I also visited or spent considerable time keeping track of things in Australia, Hong Kong, Okinawa (Ryukyu Is.), Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, People's Republic of China, Japan and S. Korea. I collect Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Senegal, South Africa, Lesotho, Liberia, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iran, and the Falkland Islands for similar reasons. These make up my "second-tier" priorities.

Everything else issued prior to January 1, 1991 is third-tier, but there are also priorities even among these. I'm very interested in completing the British Commonwealth "Omnibus" sets (all through 1990), the "Europa" series, the French "Victory" and "Chad to Rhein" issues, the Portuguese "Vasco da Gama", "Explorers", and "Holy Year" sets, and a few others.

Those were my priorities for last year, and will be my priorities for this year and many more to come. There is one more priority: to add at least 5000 stamps to my collection every year.

This past year saw a number of significant achievements toward satisfying these goals. I've added approximately 11,900 stamps to my collection. I added stamps to five of my six priority nations. The only one I didn't add stamps to was S. Vietnam, but I only need 27 stamps to have the nation complete. I added stamps to approximately 690 stamp-issuing entities, from Aden to Zimbabwe. I added stamps from several British "Omnibus" series, including the Silver Jubilee (KGV), Silver Wedding (KGVI), Peace, UPU 75th Anniversary, Red Cross, Int'l Cooperation Year, ITU, and UNESCO. I now have all but a handful of the French "Victory" issues, and my first issue from the "Chad to Rhein" issue. I've whittled away at my Germany want list by adding several better issues from 1945-55, including semi-postals. I added about 20 Berlin issues to my collection, and reduced the size of that want list to less than 100 stamps.

I"ve been slow on building want/have lists for the many thousands of new duplicates I have, partly because of existing physical problems and partly because of a required server change. I have managed to get most want/offer lists through "F" in the alphabet updated and moved to the new server. I hope to get the rest of them done early next year.

Economically, our family situation took a giant leap forward around the end of July. Since then, I've been able to spend several times what I used to spend (on average). As a result, not only has my collection grown, but so has my stock of duplicate material available for trade. It's grown so large, in fact, that I've run out of storage material. I store my duplicates in P102 cards, manila stock pages, bound stockbooks, and a few on P104 cards and dealer sales sheets. I've got about 58,000 duplicates sorted down in P102 cards, about 4,000 in P104 cards, another 16,000 or so in stockbooks and on manila stock sheets, and about 5000 in 5"x8" dealer sales sheets. I have plenty of the 8.5"x11" manila stock sheets, and a fairly adequate number of dealer sales sheets, but I'm ALWAYS in chronic need of P102 and P104 cards.

P102 and P104 cards are heavy paper cards with a transparent mylar pocket. P102 cards measure approximately 4.25 inches wide by 2.75" high. P104 cards are approximately 5" wide by 3.25" high. I prefer to use the white, or white with a black background (P102B), but I'll also take the green, yellow, or blue cards as well. I'm so desperate for them that I'm willing to trade postage stamps for them at the rate of $0.10 per usable card (mylar intact, not heavily written upon, not stained, etc.). I need about 15,000 of them now, and I have more stamps coming.

My final collecting goal for the year was to exchange at least 2500 stamps with other collectors. I'm not exactly sure how well I've done that this year. Several of my trades are still in process. Several people have received stamps, but haven't been able to acknowledge how many they took, how much they're worth, and what they offer in exchange. One of my trade partners moved during the past year, and his stamp collection hasn't been unpacked yet. My want/offer lists haven't all been upgraded and uploaded to my new ISP address. Even with that, I've done well. Overall, I'd say that I reached between 65% and 85% of my goal this past year.

I set reasonable goals last year, and met or exceeded most of them. I've also added a dealer trade list to my trading page, and built want/offer lists for at least five new nations. I need to get back to working on my stamp inventory, but I do have about 100 countries that have been inventoried, and that are fairly accurate. I've added a huge number of stamps to my collection, and to my trade stock. I've added one new trading partner, and kept up my trading with eleven others. I've also started this stamp-related weblog. It's been a VERY good year!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Overcome by Events

I haven't been posting very regularly, either here or at my other blog, Old Patriot's Pen. There have just been too many things to do, and not enough time available to do them.

I've been buying stamps pretty regularly over the last six months, and now I'm up to my eyeballs in them. I picked up a dozen or so lots just last week, and haven't even begun to get them all cleaned up and cared for. Some of them are single items (Croatia B40, for instance), while others are stock pages, stock cards, album pages, and small accumulations, up to two pound-plus boxes of stamps on paper I have barely looked at. Several lots from this selection and a few previous ones I purchased have forced me to add a "bulk trades" page to my list gateway trading document. These are stamps I have in excess of the 10 of each I keep for trading. Some of these catalogue up to $10 each, but most are in the 20c to $1 range. I may have anywhere from five (the minimum I require to list) to over 200 copies of each stamp. I've only got about 100 stamps listed so far, out of several thousand I need to list.

I also need to get back to working on building my inventory. I use Quattro Pro, a Corel spreadsheet, because that's what I had first, and what I found worked the best for what I was trying to do. I've created listings for about 120 of over 885 separate stamp-issuing entities so far, including several large nations. Each nation takes over two hours to build, and includes everything listed in Scott, Michel, Stanley Gibbons, Minkus, or any other catalog I have. My final product is a complete inventory of what I have, what I don't have, the catalog value of that particular portion of my collection, and what I have for trade. It also takes considerable time to keep updated - something I've been lax in doing.

Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations have also kept me pretty busy. Things will become more peaceful and less hectic after the first of the new year - I hope!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Over-Abundand Blessings!

I've picked up a dozen or so lots from my good friend Shayne Clinard's Web-Collector eBay auctions over the last two weeks. Some of them were great, some were 'adequate'- I got enough stamps out of them I could use to make the purchase price reasonable.

I also like to trade stamps. I try to keep up to ten or twelve copies each of all duplicate stamps I get. I keep them sorted down by using the old material I started with when I tried to make a living as a stamp dealer (and failed...). I've run across an uncomfortable phenomena this past week, one I'm having a hard time dealing with. I not only have gotten enough stamps for my collection and my trade stock, but literally HUNDREDS of extra copies.

One of the things I try to do is to also "recycle" material I buy within the local community. Shayne helps with this by offering an in-store table where we can sell our lots. He takes a 10% transaction fee, which is quite reasonable. However, few people other than me are nutty enough to want, or even accept a hundred or more copies of the same stamp. I've bundled up tens of thousands of stamps on several occasions, and sent them to Beverly Fox at Weeda Stamps, for her online weekly bidboard. The quantity of duplicates I've gotten recently is even too much for that. I've tried to always bundle ten or more collectable copies of each stamp, and offer from 300 to 1000 different in the lot. I try to keep the exact number of each stamp at 50 or below. With what I've gotten in the past two weeks, I have as many as 400 copies of a single stamp - far too many to recycle, either through Weeda or Shayne's shop.

If anyone's looking for a wholesale accumulation of stamps from Australia, Australian Antarctic Territory, and Finland, get in touch with me. I've got at least 50 stamps in the 50-to-400-copy range, and more to sort!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weekly review

Last week, I published that I had updated 122 listings. That wasn't exactly correct. I fould I'd put up two listings that were still in the "working" stage - China (ROC) and St. Lucia. I hope to have both revised and corrected in a couple of weeks.

I've bought something like 85 POUNDS of stamps in the last three years. I've also spent much of that time doing other things than working on my stamp collection. Now I'm trying to play catch-up. I'm working on China this week (part of the review process I should have done BEFORE posting the listing). I hope to do France, and to update all the "F" and "G" countries next week, or the week after.

I'm also finding more and more to be frustrated with re Scott's stamp catalogs. The people that edit and publish these catalogs need to listen to the collecting community and start making long-overdue corrections. I'd also like to find if there's a consensus in the collecting community about the listing of "dated" definitives - something more than just mentioning that they exist. I've found the information in Scott's to be confusing and frequently wrong about several groups of these. If anyone at Scott's or Amos Press reads this, I'd highly recommend setting up one group just to listen to collectors' complaints, recommendations, suggestions, and corrections. It would do wonders to increase the usefulness of your current product.

I haven't had the opportunity to go through all the Nigerian defintives I have from the 1973-80 set in three variations, but I have learned a few things. There's only one set that's watermarked, and the watermark is fairly easy to see against a dark background. The other two sets can best be determined by checking the imprint. The lithographed stamps have a sharp, clear imprint; the photogravure issues have a blotchy and blurred appearance. I've also found that there are quite a number of other color variations than those mentioned by Scott, and in many values where there's no indicator of any color variants. The 50k with black background (#305) really stands out and is easy to recognize when compared to the 50k with dark brown background (#305a, 305b). With the 20k, the fluid in the bottles is purplish in the first issue (#301), either purplish or almost black in the second issue (#301a), and greenish with a pink cast in the third issue (#301b). There are other variants I haven't had time to verify yet among other stamps in the issue.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Want List Updated

I've updated, created, or modified 122 files since my previous update. Some of these are very minor, some are major changes, and others constitute new lists. I'm looking for one or two new trading partners.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

First Day Covers

I recently bought an accumulation from a local dealer that included a number of first-day covers from several nations. I don't collect first-day covers, and have no use for anywhere from five to twelve copies each if I did. I'm offering these in a one-time trade to anyone that wants them, and who will send me an equal value in used stamps I might need in my collection.

There are a total of six different covers: three from the People's Republic of Southern Yemen, two from Nicaragua, and one from Israel (tabbed). Here are scans I made of the stamps:

People's Republic of Southern Yemen
#15-18, 22-24, 25-28, cacheted unaddressed FDC
Nicaragua (Sandanista)
#1120-24, C983-84, complete set of seven on two cacheted unaddressed FDC

Israel #375, unaddressed FDC, tab single.

IF anyone's interested in these six FDCs, please contact me at this email address.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Scratching my head...

I'm going through a modest stash of British Commonwealth stamps at the moment, and it's driving me to drink! The biggest problem is Scott Publishing, and the "Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue". I just cannot reconcile what I have with what's in the catalogue - not just in one or two countries, but in dozens.

There are three problems: stamps that don't match the catalogue description, mostly differing in perforation and/or watermark; stamp varieties that are "mentioned" but not listed in one country, while the same varieties are listed and given separate numbers in others; and treatment of the "dated definitive" issues. One problem may be caused by my use of "dated" catalogues - I'm still using the 2003 issue. I hope to get new ones next year, on my regular 4-year replacement cycle.

One major area where there are major problems between what the catalog lists and what I have is in the stamps of South Africa. Specifically, I have difficulty with the 1998-2000 Flora/fauna issue, and the 2000 fish, flowers, butterflies and birds stamps.

Scott lists three issues of the undenominated 1.10R stamps featuring antelope of the 1998/2000 set: Scott numbers 1032-36, 1036B-F, and 1048-52. The only problem is, I have FIVE sets of the same stamps.

Set #1 (1032-36) is the standard perf 14x14.5 issue, with "South Africa" in dark green, with two-millimeter spacing between "South Africa and "Standard Postage". Set #2 (1036B-F) is the same set with syncopated perforations on two sides, and a straight edge at either top or bottom. Set #3 (not listed) is the same set with NO syncopated perforations, and a straight edge on either the left or right side.

Set #4 (1048-52) is self-adhesive, die cut perforation 13x12.75, with "South Africa in gray-green, and three millimeter separation between "South Africa" and "Standard Postage". Set #5 is the same, self-adhesive die cut perforation 11x11.25.

I have all of sets #1, 4, and 5, one of set #2, and 3 of set #3.

There's a similar problem with the 2000 issue. Scott lists a set of five stamps featuring flowers, #1184-88, perforated 14.5x14.75, featuring Botterblom, Blue Marguerite, Karoo violet, Tree Pelargonium, and Black-eyed Susie. The problem I run across is having TEN stamps, two each of the above designs, but with the country name different on the first and second set of the same design, and with different perforations. In fact, that same arrangement is repeated on six separate sets.

"South Africa" appears on all the stamps in dark violet, in small sans-serif upper and lower case. The top row also have the following African names, in order: Afrika Borwa (Botterblom), Afrika Tshipembe, Suid-Afrika, Afrika Borwa (black-eyed susie), and Ningizimu Afrika. The bottom row have the following African names, in order: Afrika Dzonga, Ningizimu Afrika, Afrika Borwa, Mzintsi Afrika, and Afrika Sewula.

The six sets I have are as follows:

Set #1 is perforated 13.5 on four sides, and denominated R1.30, with the names as I've listed them above.

Set #2 is perforated 13x12.5 on two or three sides, but otherwise identical to set #1 (probably issued in a booklet with panes of 10 stamps, one each of the ten different African names/flower combinations).

Set #3 is perforated 13.5x12.75 on four sides, with "R1.30" replaced by "Standard Postage" in two lines, using very thin sans-serif type.

Set #4 is the same issue, but "Standard Postage" is in thicker, bolder type.

Set #5 is identical to set #3, but perforated 13x12.5 on two or three sides.

Set #6 is identical to set #4, but perforated 13x12.5 on two or three sides.

There is a seventh set using the same five basic designs, but in lareger format, all inscribed "South Africa" in large white letters and denominated R1.40.

If anyone can help me understand how these stamps that I possess can be reconciled with the Scott listings, I'd welcome hearing from you!

Hopefully I'll be able to discuss the other two issues in the opening paragraphs in a following post.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nigerian Nightmare

I'm stuck at home with a badly pinched sciatic nerve, doing the "bedrest and medication" bit, waiting for it to heal itself. That means that, while I'm a bit high on medication, I'll have lots more time to work on my own stamp collection, and to write on this blog.

About a month ago, I acquired a HUGE box of stamps off paper from about 50 countries. There were two or three countries where there were up to 500 copies of some stamps. The largest representation was from Nigeria - at least 50 stamps where I had more than 50 copies each, and two sets that exist in more than one type each. Actully, I'm happy with that - this has helped me immensely, because for the first time since I started collecting stamps, I have enough copies of some issues to distinguish which are which! Still, it's a lot of stamps to sort through.

Some of them are easy. The yellow or white "2d" can easily be distinguished:

I thought I had the 4d stamps pretty well figured out, too, until I got this mix. It's strange how you can imagine you know what the catalogues are talking about, but it doesn't become obvious until you actually see it. Then you think, "Well, Duh!". Here are three of the five 4d stamps:

The top stamp is the original issue, with large "MAURICE FIEVET" on the left side. The perf 12.5 x 12 is exactly the same. The second stamp is the initial issue with the "4d" and "REPUBLIC" in bolder, larger letters. Notice that the "MAURICE FIEVET" is smaller, and has been moved to the right side - the easiest way to distinguish these stamps. The bottom stamp is an unlisted variety of the 1969-72 re-issue with "N.S.P.& M. Co, Ltd." added below the design. In this variety, both the "4" and the "d" are thinner than the regular design.

There are also minor color variations between the earlier and later sets, as this side-by-side comparison shows (disregard where the thin mylar covers the stamp image):

Some of the differences are minor, just a slightly different shade of color, just a bit more of one color than before, and so forth. Some of the other changes are a bit more obvious, such as the change to the head of the kingfisher on the second issue, and the smaller spots on the leopard in the 4d issue. The changes are minor, but they're just one more aspect of these stamps that should be considered.

Sometime next week, I'm going to be looking at the 1973-80 "Nigerian Industries" set.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Sometimes, life just overwhelms a body. It happened to me last month, and it's still running at about 300 percent!

My wife's mother died July 26th, in Ruston, Louisiana. We made some hasty plans to attend the funeral. Before we could leave, however, I needed to get a flat fixed (one that I'd been putting off repairing for about three weeks), and change the front disk brakes. That's when things started going downhill. First, the driver-side caliper assembly was so rusted the braking cylinder wouldn't retract. That meant buying a new caliper. It's not wise to have a new caliper on one side and an old one on the other, so I ended up buying two. Then I couldn't get the brake line to seal. Finally, I took it to a mechanic who had the proper tools, and he fixed it in about 20 minutes.

All this delayed us leaving by about three hours. In the meantime, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to go to the funeral, along with my granddaughter. So off we went, five adults and a teenager (me, my wife, my oldest daughter and her daughter, my youngest daughter and her fiance), in our Dodge Caravan.

It's a LONG drive from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Ruston, Louisiana, and any way you go it's flat and uninteresting for most of the trip. We've made it so often we know the route we usually take by heart: down through Trinidad, over Raton Pass, across New Mexico to Clayton, and into Texas to Dumas. From there, it's down to Amarillo (taking the northern bypass - never driving downtown!), across to Wichita Falls, down to Decatur, then across the northern edge of Dallas to I-20 around Tyler. From there it's due east through Shreveport, Louisiana, to Ruston.

I've got a pretty bad case of arthritis, as well as some other problems, and driving straight through wasn't an option. I HAD to have at least seven or eight hours' sleep, just to be able to move the next day. That makes it a two-day trip. Even then, I was exhausted by the time I got to Ruston.

The funeral was nice, as such things go - not overly mauldin, yet not crass, either. My wife's mother had Alzheimer's, and hasn't been "Mom" in a long time. There wasn't as much of the sense of loss one experiences at most funerals as there was the sense of relief, that the pain and frustration she experienced, and that her family felt FOR her, was over. This was also the first time the entire family (with only a very few exceptions) had gathered together in a decade or more. As my wife said, nothing could have been a more fitting tribute to her mom than everybody getting together and enjoying each other's company. That's what Mom had always promoted in her home, where most of us celebrated every Christmas and Thanksgiving we could.

Of course, the evening before the funeral, my car decides it's time it needed a new battery. At least it did it in Ruston, and not on the highway somewhere, like the last time we had car trouble. That's another story, for another time.

The trip back was pretty much like the trip down, only in reverse. Two days down, two days of non-stop rushing in Ruston, then two days on the highway coming back. By the time we got home, I was ready to collapse.

Just before we left to go to Ruston, I found a bunch of material that hadn't sold on Shayne's bidboard. I offered him a price, and he accepted. When I got back, it was time to start sorting it down. There were also chores to do, like mowing the lawn that somehow had grown at least eight inches while we were gone. We also had some financial matters we had to take care of that took a large part of four or five days, not all of them consecutive. Work, too, was waiting. Apparently they hadn't held up on setting aside material for me, and there was a small mountain of material to sort down into lots when I returned.

Today's the first day I haven't felt either rushed off my feet or totally exhausted. Right now, I've got about 50,000 stamps I've sorted down by country crying for my attention. I need to catalog them and mount what I need from them, then get the rest into my duplicate stock. There's plenty! For all of you that didn't bid on these items when Shayne listed them, thank you. I appreciate the used 40pf Berlin first-series Bell (Scott 9N79), the used 8c US Pan-American Exposition (298), the 5c Hawaii #32, and the hundreds of other nice items I've discovered, sorting this material down. I also have about 800 stamps from Columbia, out of which I MIGHT mount five items. There's also a huge quantity of Nigeria to go through, and stamps from about 300 other countries.

I love boxes and bales, bags and mixed lots! I enjoy the thrill of looking for a "find" - a single stamp that makes the entire purchase worthwhile. I also like to fill holes in my collection, whether it's a single stamp from a country where you don't usually find anything, or to find a stamp or two that complete a set for me. Now that I can finally get back to sorting and playing with my stamps, I'm sure I'll feel much better.

Of course, there's the trip next week back down to Louisiana for MY family's annual reunion...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Hard Task of Keeping Things Updated

I'm spending most of this weekend trying to update my want/offer lists on my personal website. I've neglected them since I had to change Internet service providers, and it shows. I added over 200 new items to my "offer" list alone for Norway.

It's hard slogging. Today is one of those days when I woke up tired (sleep apnea is a pain!), and haven't made any improvement as the day progresses. I've managed to update about a dozen pages so far. Some of them take a lot of time, like the Norway. Some of them haven't seen any changes in the seven years I've been maintaining them. That's a sad commentary on the growth of my collection!

One place where I cannot find nice used stamps from is Afars and Issas. They just don't seem to exist! I've managed to find a large number of better Switzerland recently, including the elusive 3c gray definitive from the 1949 set. I've had the Type II for ten years, but just got the 3c last month. There are other countries where it's DIFFICULT to find stamps, but I see them now and then - even stamps from Moheli, Obock, Ste Marie de Madagascar, and scores of other small early French colonies. I've seen exactly one lot in the last five years offering Afars and Issas stamps. That lot had four Afars and Issas stamps among the 120 or so being offered, and that was on Beverly Fox's Weeda Bidboard.

Tomorrow is another day, and I'm sure I'll find more stamps to add to my collection. These days, I'm adding stamps one or two at a time, rather than in huge lots (except for the Sweden, for obvious reasons). That means I have to update more and more pages, and update them more often. Hopefully I'll be able to do that and still keep writing here.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Sweden revisited

We finally got around to boxing up the Sweden on paper at work this week. We made six 2-pound boxes. They should go up on Shayne's eBay listing 0 or one this coming week. We had planned to build 1.5 pound boxes, but we didn't have enough of the right-sized boxes. The two-pound lots will provide anyone who buys them with plenty of variety.

I bought a pound of the mix we were building. I didn't get to keep the last pound I had, and I wanted some of the material to trade. I was also hoping I could find one or two additional stamps to add to my collection. Did I ever! It was almost as if the two lots were from different sources. There were several dozen stamps that weren't in the last box, and several dozen others that were present last time that were missing this time. Add to the possibilities just about any stamp issued between 1965 and 1975. Expect to get several of the pairs listed in Scott's stamp catalogue. The two that seemed to be the most prominent were 1095a and 1107a. There are also complete booklets of 939a in at least two boxes.

I have a Facit Sweden color catalogue from 1993 that's about to fall apart. It still has a world of information that's both interesting and informative. I've learned that in Scandinavia, they collect booklet pairs, and pay a hefty price for them. For instance, Scott #837-41, the Swedish fairy tales booklet, catalogues $1.75 mint, $1.50 used, in my catalogue. The Facit catalogues them for 15Skr mint and 12Skr used. The pairs, however, catalogue 30Skr mint and 35Skr used. Comparably, it appears the Dollar/SKroner exchange rate is $1/Sk8. That would give a value for the pairs of about $3.75 mint, $4.25 used. These boxes have between 15 and 20 of these pairs.

I also discovered quite a number of stamps from several booklets, including 853-57, 861-66, 914-18, 928-32, 936-39, 994-98, 1005-1009, 1031-35, 1087-91, and 1096-1100. Of course, not all the stamps for any booklet were there. Hopefully people who buy these boxes will be willing to trade what I'm missing for what I have extras. I also found several of the single stamps from the Skepptuna Church quilt.

The one thing that's missing in this mix are small stamps. There are hardly ANY of the normal King Gustav VI Adolph or King Carl XVI Gustaf definitive issues. There are a few, but always found in conjunction with commemorative or booklet stamps.

Shayne says he can get more of this mixture, if people really want it. Hopefully he can also get a variety of different periods, and not all the 1965-75 era!

I'll take a few days to go through the Sweden, soak off paper what I need, and then back to the Bulgaria.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Kid in a Candy Store"

How many times have you heard that expression? Not only have I heard (and said) it, but right now, I'm living it. It's not all it's cracked up to be.

I have a pretty good collection of Great Britain, including a nice #1 with four margins and a black Maltese Cross cancel. I created almost 20 lots yesterday for Shayne, just of early Great Britain. It included quite a few early stamps - the kind that included the plate number in the stamp design. Yesterday's lots included quite an assortment of the better plate numbers, as well as the nicest #60 I've ever seen. The thing that makes it hilarious is that most of the stamps I put together for Shayne's email auction were mis-identified by their previous owner, including mint hinged copies of 311 and 312 that were previously identified as 373 and 374. That mis-identification means a difference of over $170 catalog value for those two stamps. The difference was between being watermarked 308 or unwatermarked, and the watermarks were easy to see.

I have the opportunity to buy stamps from Shayne at a discount. The reason I'm working, though, is because we NEED the extra money I'm bringing in. It's not much, but it means the difference between meeting the bills and buying food and gas for the car, and not being able to do those things. Stamps are kind of at the bottom of my priorities right now. Having them around me every day is a temptation, and one I'm not always able to resist.

On another note, working at a stamp store HAS proven to be educational. I've always been one to do a lot of reading about stamps, so I have a good background. Many times, however, it's difficult to apply what you learn without being able to actually SEE what you're studying. The illustrations in most stamp catalogues and magazines leave something to be desired. I now know what a genuine Buenos Aires #2 looks like - we had one for sale. I know that of all the stamps of Buenos Aires I have, all but two of them are "reprints" - an euphenism for "Official counterfeit" that's widely used in the stamp world. I've also seen some other very unusual items - the "Victoria Land" overprints on New Zealand stamps of 1909-12, some of the higher values from many of Australia's early States, Mexican officials, and literally hundreds of other similar items.

These stamps don't make it into my collection. I may never get them. I do know what they look like now, and will be able to recognize them if I see them again. I also know what the fakes, of whatever type, look like, and can avoid them.

It's not like I NEED to buy some more stamps. I have gracious plenty to do with what I've already acquired over the last 45 years. I'm trying to sort down an accumulation of about four pounds of Bulgaria, off paper, that I've had for several (would you believe, 17) years. Bulgaria was never very high on my priority list, except for the earlier issues, and I haven't ever done much with them. Now I'm trying to play catch-up. It's not easy, but I'll get it done - someday! Bulgaria isn't the only country I have in such quantity. I've sorted down several thousand Hungarian stamps in the last few years, and yet I still have a box with at least six pounds of stamps off paper to go through. As my friend Mike said when he came over to visit from Kansas, "If I ever saw you with a clean desk, I'd put my suit in the cleaners so I'd be ready for the funeral." Hah! Never happen. Old hoarders never die, they just implode.

Today was the end of the month, and the end of the first half of 2005. Tomorrow starts a new month, a new quarter, and a new half-year. I wonder what mischief I'll get into...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Wide-Tongue" Syndrome

I bought a collection last week that had, among other things, a rather complete set of George VI Gold Coast issues. I was severely disappointed when I got it home and found that about a dozen of the stamps were "stuck down". After soaking them off (they were mint copies, and nothing else worked, not even a sweat-box), I found that most of them were also extremely faulty. One came apart in several pieces. I managed to salvage about 3/4 of the collection, but the loss of the high values was extremely disappointing.

There were two culprits at work here. The first was that the stamps were hinged to an old self-stick photo album. I've seen collections like this before, and expected to lose a few stamps in trying to get them loose. I do know a few 'tricks', so the loss was minimal. There was also sufficient duplication for most of the stamps to make the loss of a couple of stamps unimportant. The second problem, however, was much worse - it's what I call "Wide Tongue" Syndrome.

I've learned from sad experience that an over-wet hinge will stick on both sides when put onto a gummed stamp. This includes CTO copies as well as mint, and even a few used copies that retain some of their gum. I've also learned that to properly moisten a hinge, I slide my thumbnail beneath the hinge, lifting it from the stamp. Failing to lift the hinge before moistening it leads to the kind of damage inherent with "wide-tongue" syndrome. Some people lick more than the hinge, especially at the top, and essentially glue the stamp to the album page. It's difficult to remove stamps stuck down in this manner without causing a thin, or without losing at least some of the gum.

I 'lost' four stamps. I managed to remove and mount the 1928 Christiansborg Castle set to the 2-shilling, the complete Silver Jubilee issue, the higher values of the first George VI definitive set, the Silver Wedding anniversary set, and a few others. I lost the 5-shilling Christiansborg stamp (that's the one that came apart), one of the 1937 Coronation issues, one of the UPU lower values, and the mint 10-shilling from the second George VI issue. The latter is the only one there wasn't duplication of.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"Time and Tide..."

There's an old addage that says time and tide wait for no man. I can certainly attest to the fact that time has a habit of getting away from all of us. It's happened to me repeatedly over this past week. One of the many results is that I haven't posted to this site in eight days!

There are extenuating circumstances: Monday and Thursday mornings were tied up with medical appointments and X-rays. Wednesday afternoon was taken up by an appointment with my attorney, and Friday morning was taken up with meeting the Social Security Administrative Law judge. I worked for Shayne on Monday through Thursday, from one to four hours a day in the afternoon. Thursday evening, an old friend of mine dropped in for a short visit on his way back to Kansas from the West Coast. He left Saturday morning, and I worked Saturday afternoon.

The real reason I haven't posted, however, is that I acquired some NEW GOODIES!

Of course, all those other things are true, too. Some of them frustrated me - I wanted to work on my collection, but some things had to be done. I enjoyed the visit of my best friend. I got him started on stamp-collecting in 1974, and we've been trading back and forth ever since. He could have stayed a week and we wouldn't have run out of things to talk about. Heck, we could talk that long about stamps, and not run out of things to say! I NEEDED the x-rays - my doctor thinks I may have suffered a compression fracture of my spine, or a ruptured disk. The Social Security appointment was CRITICAL - and successful! But all those essential tasks were harder to endure because I had not one, but TWO new boxes of stamps to sort through.

I have gone through them, so I know what's inside. I've even worked several small groups of stamps up. What I mean by "working stamps up" is sorting the stamps out individually, mounting and inventorying the stamps I add to my collection, and putting the rest either into my recycle box or into my trade stock. One of the groups I've worked up entirely is Tonga.

It's not often you find a Tonga lot, especially one that contains about a hundred of the die-cut, self-adhesive freeform stamps. There were 138 in this lot, including 101 different. I've discovered through experience that you can't soak off these Tonga stamps - it's better to cut the paper away from around the stamp, and mount it like that. I also added a number of the perforated and imperforate varieties issued between 1938 and 1960 both to my collection and to my trade stock. I found several complete sets, including the 1951 50th Anniversary of British Friendship, the 1961 75th Anniversary of the postal system, and the 1953 pictorial definitives to the 5/- (shilling).

The second photo is Tonga, C7-10, foil stamps in the shape of the island of Tongatapu. I've wondered several times about how difficult it would be to use these stamps, as well as some of the gold foil stamps and the three-dimensional stamps of Bhutan, to name one country that issues them. Hand-cancelling would be essential!

I hope to write soon about the Swiss part of this purchase. It was memorable to me, and to my good friend, Mike!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Full Disclosure

I ran into an old friend of mine that I've exchanged stamps with several times in the local grocery store yesterday. We talked about several things, including trading and this blog. He's not much into the Internet, so I doubt he'll ever appear here. He did ask a couple of questions I feel compelled to answer here.

I talk a lot about two dealers, Shayne Clinard of, and Beverly Fox of Weeda Stamps, Ltd.. Shayne is the dealer I work for, and Beverly is both a personal friend and one place where I dispose of my excess material, as well as buy.

While I work for Shayne, he doesn't have any say on what goes into this blog. Yes, I talk a lot about what's available on his eBay listings, because I put many of them together to go there. He doesn't pay me to advertise here. He doesn't contribute to my payment to maintain my Internet connection, other than to pay me for the work I do. I just think it's interesting to discuss what goes on "behind the door" so to speak at a heavily-web-based stamp company. And yes, I do get a small discount on stamps I buy, solely because I do work for Shayne's company.

Beverly could advertise here if she wished, but so far I don't have a large enough readership to make that worthwhile, or cost-effective. Once I've reached a hundred readers a day (which may take YEARS at the rate we're growing), advertising might be practical. In the meantime, I'll continue to mention her and her weekly bidboard now and then, just because I find them both interesting and informative.

There aren't a lot of readers of this blog right now, and I hope there will be more. I'd appreciate any comments that anyone might have about content, scope, or any other matter that could make this blog more interesting to those who read it. Please don't hesitate to leave a note, or to send me a private email. I'll be glad to answer any questions anyone might have, as well as posting some more images of stamps from time to time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sweden scans

As promised, here are the scanned images of the two pages of Sweden stamps.

As you can see, there were several Danish commemoratives included, along with the two 9d British commemoratives. I don't know how the one US stamp got into the lot...

Today's work probably won't be posted to Shayne's website until next week, but it's something to look forward to. There are about a dozen lots each of Cyprus and Gold Coast, ranging from single stamps to more than a dozen pages of material. I also made several lots of early Luxembourg (#5, #6, #11, and a handful of glassines ranging from#29 to some back of the book material) and Liechtenstein, including a mint hinged lot containing #1-3, complete.

I've been trying to get Shayne interested in creating a blog, but he says he just doesn't have the time. He may be right...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sweden, British Commonwealth, and other goodies.

I finally got all the Sweden arranged on two Hagner sheets - 139 different, plus about a dozen non-Swedish items. It was quite an eye-opener! The stamps cover a wider period than I first thought, but the majority of them are indeed between 1965 and 1970. There are a large number of booklet stamps in pairs - something European collectors prize. There's even a separate valuation for pairs in the Swedish catalog, "FACIT".

Unfortunately, I'm having problems with my ISP. I haven't been able to FTP anything in weeks, which means I can't upload scanned images. I've called twice, and sent an email, but so far I haven't gotten an answer, other than they're "working on it". When I do, I'll post images of the two pages - they're already scanned in.

The biggest problem being a collector working for a stamp dealer is that you want to buy everything yourself. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of money, so the temptation is curbed by reality. Every once in a while, however, you just can't resist - like the Swedish on-paper lot, and the lot I bought today.

The lot I got was 187 different mint never hinged British Commonwealth. The stamps came from 28 mostly smaller colonies - Swaziland, Solomon Islands, Bermuda, St. Vincent, Gambia, etc. The total catalogue value for the lot was $91.60 - about a sixth of the $15 I paid for it. There will be five identical lots posted on eBay in the next few days, plus three other lots with fewer stamps, plus some duplication that are also worth looking at. The Sweden will be boxed up beginning this weekend, and should start appearing on eBay within the next ten days.

I've been trying to follow the lots I've created on eBay, but between normal household chores, working 15 hours a week, working on my own collection, and continuing to work on the two novels I have in progress, there just isn't any time to do more than a cursory check. Some of them are doing quite well, others aren't.

If you collect mint Sweden, there are some real goodies at Web-Collector on eBay. There are about five or six different lots of six to ten sets, plus a host of booklet panes. The average lot catalogues for about $100, and each set of lots is mostly different.

One thing we did recently was to go through three boxes of Switzerland and dump all the stamps (an advanced collector's duplicates, sorted down into #10 window envelopes) into a 30-gallon trash container, and mixed them up well. There were stamps from about 1905 through 1980, including about 60% of the semi-postals for that era. We ended up with about 40,000 stamps. These were divided into five one-pound boxes, about 75% off paper, and they'll be offered beginning some time this week. A pound of stamps off paper is quite a number - somewhere around 3000. There were many $1 or more items.

Right now, I'm working on sorting down almost two pounds of off-paper stamps, plus what I'm managing to soak off paper. I've got about a half-pound of Ireland I'm working on, soaking about 30 stamps a day. I don't have room to dry more than that and still keep them safe from the kittens who have taken over my office. Expect quite a number of my want/have pages to show major changes in the next few weeks, as I get this material catalogued and mounted in my collection!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dispose of Duplicates by Trading

I'm taking a day off from work because my back hurts worse than usual today. I'm spending the day working (s.l.o.w.l.y) on my personal collection. There's lots to do. I still have about 80,000 stamps off paper to go through. Most of them are duplicates of what I already have, but there are probably 5-6000 that will end up in my collection eventually. The rest will end up in my trade stock. I trade between 2000 and 4000 stamps a year, with about 15 people.

Is trading a good way to increase the size of a collection? That depends on what you collect. It also requires a lot of work. Building a trading relationship is almost as hard as building a partnership in a business. The first thing any trade relationship needs is a mutual interest. It doesn't do any good to try to establish a trade relationship with a Brazilian collector when all you collect is US first-day covers, and all he collects is Brazil, mint never hinged. Finding the right collecting partner isn't easy, and takes quite a bit of work. Like any relationship, you have to work at it for it to succeed. It's worth it in the long run, though. I've been trading with one collector since 1974. We've probably traded 10,000 stamps between us, to our mutual benefit.

The next most important thing with finding a trading partner is to find someone who not only collects much the same thing you do, but also someone who will accept - and even help make - the rules the two of you will use in your exchange program. Here are generic rules I've found work exceptionally well:

  • Establish a common reference point for the exchange. The most practical reference point is value for value, but that may not be practical if you're dealing with someone whose currency is other than US dollars, or easily convertable. Concurrent with that is an agreement on what catalogue you will use to describe what you have. That helps simplify your valuation problem. Again, most overseas collectors don't use the US Scott Catalogue, and not every American has European or Asian catalogues to refer to.

    One way to bypass the catalogue problem is to exchange stamp for stamp. That works as long as both partners exchange stamps of approximately equal value. It doesn't work if one partner always sends better value stamps, and the other partner sends common, cheap varieties.

  • Establish what constitutes a reasonable exchange. Sending four cheap stamps to someone hardly justifies the expense of the stamp and envelope. Sending high cash value also can become a problem, as the exchange balance may tip heavily against one of you, and cause problems balancing out the exchange. An exchange of between $20 and $50 in value, or 50 or more stamps, is reasonable and can be profitable for both of you.

    Many collectors exchange packets of stamps, with the recipients taking what they want and returning the rest. This works when there are enough holes in both collections to make such an exchange practical and worthwhile. Many collectors, however, reach a point where "100 for 100" or even "500 for 500" don't provide sufficient additions to their collection to justify the expense of the mailing. Again, it's what works for the particular exchange partnership.

  • Work out how you're going to handle damaged or marginal stamps before you start trading! Different collectors have different requirements for what is added to their collection. Some will accept anything, some will only accept the very best quality. Save yourself some grief by working out the question before you start trading.

  • Be scrupulously honest. If your trading partner sends you a stamp that he believes is number 734, and you determine it's really 587, which is worth three times as much, let your partner know, and be willing to send it back to him. Such integrity will pay dividends throughout your trading partnership. Follow the "golden rule": treat your trading partner the same way you would wish to be treated. It goes a long way toward enhancing a trading relationship.

  • Be timely. Don't make your trading partner wait months for word from you. If you can't get to his lot quickly, let him know, and tell him why. Many partners will be willing to wait if they understand why the exchange is taking longer than usual. Many others expect better, more timely service, and failing to provide it will ruin the relationship.

The Phil Guptil/Hans Mortensen Stamp Trader List is a great place to get started. The list contains the names of over 1000 people who actively search for trading partners. Read the entries carefully, pick four or five that look interesting, and email them. Some collectors on the list are overwhelmed with current trading partners, and may not wish to add another. Some will fail to answer, for a host of different reasons. You should be able to find at least one or two good collector links to people who meet your trade requirements. Once you've completed a couple of exchanges, you'll be hooked!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Something to look forward to.

I talked the stamp dealer I work parttime for to let me bring home a pound of Sweden he has in his store. Actually, he has about 40 pounds, all on paper, and most of it exactly alike. I told him that if I could take it home, I'd look at it, discover how many stamps there were in a pound, how many different, and so forth. He agreed. I have until Friday to give him the word, but most of the work has been done.

This material apparently came from the return mail of a stamp dealer in England. There are between 1800 and 2000 stamps per pound, usually with two to five stamps per piece of paper on about three-quarters of it. I found exactly seven stamps from nations other than Sweden in the pound I picked from the middle of the box - three from Denmark, three from England, and one from the United States.

I haven't finished soaking them off paper yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what's there. The earliest stamp I know for sure is in the mix in quantity is Scott #701, from 1966. The last issued stamp I found in quantity (more than three copies) was #857, from 1970. If we take Scott at its word, there should have been 157 stamps inclusively between the two numbers. There are roughly 120 different in the lot I'm currently soaking off paper. About 20 of those are definitive stamps, the rest are all either booklet stamps or large commemoratives.

The stamps from the Wasa booklet are there in quantity, including the large 55o blue stamps depicting the the ship and the Swedish coat of arms. The three stamps from the "highways" booklet are there, but in lesser quantity (at least in this group). I found four different stamps from the 1969 "Paintings" souvenir sheet, and plenty of copies of the stamps of the "Swedish Art Forgings" booklet.

Most of the commemoratives were present both with the coil variety and the booklet variety. There were at least a dozen copies each of the Swedish Fairy Tales booklet stamps, and I found four of the five Wildlife set from 1968.

Once everything's soaked off, I'll put one of each on a Hagner page, scan it in and post it. I hope to be able to have a price and shipping terms by next Monday for anyone wishing to relieve Shayne of some of this material.

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's hard!

I always thought working for a stamp dealer would be a lot of fun. I was right, but it does have its drawbacks. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see a dozen items I need for my collection. Sometimes it's difficult not to drool worse than Pavlov's dogs!

Last week it was French Colonies. This week it's early Australian Kangaroos. What will it be next week? There's no telling. At least with my working, I'm earning enough money to actually buy stamps again. I went nine months without buying anything, and felt utterly deprived.

Today I picked up a bag of Ireland on paper. About three-fourths of it are parts of the "Bird" issue of definitives from 1997, and the re-issues in Euro denominations. There are actually several issues of this group: the standard Irish coinage issue, the mixed coinage (Irish pounds/Euros), and the Euro issue. There are also several varieties of die cut self-adhesives in all three sets, plus several "N" - nondenominated - issues, both perforated and die cut self-adhesive. There's also a perforation variety: either perf 15x14, or perf 14 (primarily used for booklets). The die-cut self adhesive stamps also seem to have been issued in two or three different varieties. Altogether there are at least 75 different, and probably more.

In the article before this one, I wrote that I was "getting out the soaking tray". I had sorted down about a third of a two-pound mix I'd bought to be soaked off paper. There was considerable Channel Islands in the mix, as well as a good assortment of stamps from all over. I put the last group out to dry earlier this evening, before I sat down to write this entry. I've been very pleased with what I've found so far, including two strips of five each of Tunisian commemoratives, the first-ever copies of the Italian "Castles" coil stamps, some Japanese coils, a few Thailand, some high-denomination Indonesian commemoratives, some Malta, South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, and Luxembourg, and just a lot of miscellaneous stamps I now need to sort down and catalogue.

One interesting find was that several of the Channel Islands issues that were issued as die-cut self-adhesive sets were re-issued. The Guernsey "Flowers" were re-issued in booklets with the date "1997", and a straight edge on one side. The Jersey "Days gone By" issue, Scott #854-57, was issued dated 1998, 1999, 2000,and 2001. I recently discovered it's been re-issued dated 2003. The Jersey "Birds" set is dated, and so is the "products of Jersey" set. There are a half-dozen stamps from other countries I'm checking out to see if they have more than one date of issue.

I'll probably start soaking the Ireland tomorrow. I'll have enough soaked off in a week or so to provide a brief report on all the varieties I've found. I did the same thing with a couple of sets of South Africa, and came up with more than 20 varieties Scott hadn't listed in my (admittedly antiquated, for stamp cagalogues) 2003 set.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy for me, but I'll try to write more often than once every ten days! It would help if some people would leave comments...