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...


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