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.