Finds from the Box of Stamps (one)

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Having received a box of stamps from a friend, I have decided to write a little bit about what I find in the box.  This idea is similar to the fantastic YouTube channel Exploring Stamps–if you have never seen it, you should definitely check it out–but won’t be as extensive or nearly as well researched.

I haven’t gone through the box, really.  I have taken a cursory glance and pulled out a couple of interesting things that I want to share with you.

The first is the 1972-73 Harris Catalog.  I love looking through catalogs of models, toys, book clubs and pretty much anything else.  Coming across this catalogue was quite awesome.  The black and white pages are filled with fantastic adds for collections by country at what seem like fantastic prices now.  The book also has individual stamps and small sets as well.

I especially appreciate how inexpensive the accessories (binders, magnifiers, stock books, and tweezers.  In retrospect, these cheap prices probably weren’t cheap back then, but considering how much things cost today, they are totally interesting.

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The second item is a lovely credit voucher for a Canadian stamp company that lasted until 2017–at least the last of its stock was auctioned off then.   From all accounts, at one time, this was a company that mailed out tonnes of stamps every day and employed more than 100 people.  Amazing!

The box has many more stories to tell.

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A Shoebox Full of Stamps

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When one of my friends heard about my “new” hobby of stamp collecting, he related that his mother used to collect stamps but that she sold her collection before they moved. He also related that she had given his son a few of the stamps she didn’t sell.  We talked about it briefly and then moved on to other topics.  This was probably almost a year ago and I didn’t think of it much.  This move happened long before I took up stamp collecting.

Well, on Thursday, while I was out with my two best friends, sitting on the patio of a run down, but cool for it’s anti hipster vibe, that same friend said,  “I have a gift for you.”

It wasn’t my birthday, and I don’t recall doing anything that warranted a gift of any kind. However, it would be rude to say no to a gift.  He handed me a shoe box and told me to open it.

From the photo above, you can see that what he gave me was a shoebox full of stamps. We went over the story of his mother and her collection and his son’s reaction to the gift.  It turns out that he wasn’t interested and they languished away somewhere.  In a recent purge, they were rediscovered.  His son still had no interest, so he allowed them to be given to me.

I was flabbergasted–and I do not use that term lightly. My friend said that these were ones that she didn’t sell and I shouldn’t expect to come across anything of great value.  I was just so glad to be thought of.  I am also attracted to the mystery of it.  Even if there is nothing of “value” in monetary terms, I am sure I will find some stamps that I think are interesting.  That is really what I really value.  It might even open up new areas of collecting for me.

I haven’t looked through the box at all. I got home late that night and went to bed.  The next night, I was exhausted from the night before and went to bed and slept way too long.  I am battling a cold and I am trying to recover.

I am really looking forward to looking through the box. Based on the volume, I am sure it will take me most of the autumn and winter to get through it.

Has this ever happened to you?

Auction Woes

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With only one day to go until it ended, I succumbed to the temptation of another stamp auction.  This one had lots of early Canadian stamps that would go so well in my collection, and help me fill up all those empty pages at the beginning of the book.

It sounded great. However these was some reluctance on my part.  The shipping cost was rather high.  It was about seven US dollars, plus 50 cents for the next stamp, and 50 cents for every subsequent stamp.  I know most of these people send it with postage they got at a reduced price, so I thought this was a bit out of line.

The temptation proved to be too great and I plunged in on the night before it ended. I reasoned that I had better win a bunch of stamps to make it worth the shipping costs.  So I dropped a bunch of bid on the stamps I thought I could afford.  I also put down some higher maximum bids to discourage poachers.

This morning, just after I got to work, my phone dinged that I had been outbid on one of the items. This continued throughout the day.  By the time I got back home, my bidding had been whittled down to three items.  It was then I felt a bit of a conundrum. The three stamps didn’t even amount to 50 cents.  However, I would have to pay 8 dollars in shipping.  I either had to up my bids on some of the items, or just accept it.

Well, before long, I was outbid on the remaining three items and I was free of this auction. I wanted the stamps, but I wasn’t able to get them.  I have to say I was relieved.

My First Auction

assorted colored vietnam postage stamps

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It wasn’t my first….exactly.  I bought some stamps from eBay that were being auctioned.  I was the only bidder and won the lot (all the Italian stamps published in 1970) for the minimum bid.  So why make a  fuss over this one?  This was the first one where I had active competition.

So, I have bought a few stamps on HipStamp.  I have enjoyed the experience–except waiting for my stamps to appear.  I have bought a number of stamps for my 1970 collection, and despite it being in US dollars, have felt okay about the money I have spent.

I had never gotten into an auction though.  I am not really up on the prices and I don’t want to blow my budget.  In this case, some Canadian stamps were up that I knew had a heftier price tag, and I want to see how much of that album I can fill up.  These were pre 1935 stamps.  I didn’t have any of these in my album.

So, I took a deep breath and started bidding on four lots.  In some cases, I was beaten automatically by pre-registered bids.  In other cases, I had to wait a day before someone beat my bid.  Like most of us, I worried that someone was just bidding me up to raise the price–but then I thought they might be thinking the same about me.

Another bad thought struck me.  If I won only one of the lots, then I would have to pay shipping which almost equaled what I paid for the stamps.  Then again, I worried that if I became “desperate” to win the lots, I would over spend.  I have to admit, it caused some inner turmoil.

In the end, I waited until the last day and put in my final bid.  If it got beat, then I would just accept it and try again later.  Luckily, I won the four lots I bid on at a price I was quite comfortable with.  I even found a few stamps by the same seller to include in the sale to rationalize the shipping cost.

Will I do it again?  Absolutely.

How to Collect the Collection

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At the last show I attended, people asked me, “What do you collect?” on more than one occasion. When I answered 1970, they all seemed to pause, waiting for me to explain.  After I did, some said “Oh, I see.” A few, thought that it was a good idea.  The muttered ideas like;

 big enough without being too big

some good variety

interesting

not so old as to be very expensive

This makes me ponder a bit. I suppose stamp collecting all the stamps of 1970 will be much like other forms of collecting.  Some stamps will be easy to get and other will pose a bit more of a problem and then there will be those ones that will prove very difficult.

That difficulty will either come because of scarcity or expense. Thanks to the internet, stamp dealers, and stamp shows,  scarcity isn’t such a problem.  I can cast my net far and wide to find the stamps. However, can I pay for them?  French Antarctica seems rather expensive…..

Still, there will be some that will both be expensive and hard to find. North Korea, I suppose will cause a problem.  I wonder.

Stamp collectors far and wide, I have some questions for you.

What stamps from 1970 will be hardest to find, do you think/reckon?

What stamps are you desperately wanting to add to your collection?

Poking Around a Stamp Shop

In the quest to increase my 1970’s stamp collection, I visited a local stamp dealer. Actually, local is just a term I use to denote a stamp dealer I can get to.  The truth is that there are no local stamp dealers.  A big stamp auction house is located in my town, but they do not do any retail operations.  In this case, this one was located in Toronto and was within walking distance of the subway.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in. I figured that the store would be set up somewhat like their booth is at a stamp show.  I have seen their booth, and even talked to them at the show.  The store was a little more chaotic…in a fun way.  Basically, they had a lot of different stuff in all manner of places.  It kind of reminded me of American Pickers.  There was organization, but I would need a guide.

The owners are a husband and wife team, but only the wife was there at that time. She was quite helpful in guiding me around the store, but there were a couple of times when the layout seemed to exasperate her as well.  I had fun poking around, but I am trying to avoid becoming a collector of piles of stuff.  There were lots of commemorative stuff, but nothing jumped out at me.

Sadly, I was really off my game. After not finding what I was looking for, I started looking at some stamps from Laos.  Having not brought my own numbers, I quickly checked the catalogues they had lying around the store.  I researched the numbers, but didn’t compare the catalogue images to the stamps I picked out.  I confused the semi-postal Scott numbers with the regular postal numbers.  Now I have Laos stamps from 1961 instead of 1970.  It just goes to show you that you need to be prepared.

Looking to put a positive spin on things, I must say that the stamps look rather beautiful.

Covers

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In completing the 1970’s stamp project, I know that there are a few ways to tackle the collection aspect of it.

I can go to shows and depending on my preparation, I can score a number of stamps this way.  I can also be blindsided by shiny accessories and completely skew my budget.

I can go to shops and do pretty much the same thing I can do at shows, but with fewer people around.  I don’t know if this will mean better or worse deals, but it wouldn’t be a bad way to spend an afternoon…or a whole day.

I am on the Staporama forum/website.  They have auctions and approvals which sometimes yield some decent bargains (I missed getting the Tokelau stamps I wanted in a recent approval offering–but maybe someday they will appear again.

I can search eBay.  There are lots of people selling complete collections of 1970 stamps that look so inviting.  Other people have broken them down into smaller sets, but with persistence, tenacity, patience, and lots of checking, I can usually slap together the whole year.

The interesting thing about the last two ideas is that the stamps get sent to me in the mail.  This is pretty awesome because some of the dealers send the stamps in nice form and the covers are amazing.  I just wanted to share a few with you.

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