Waiting for My Stamps

Kuwait 513-514 MNH (1970)

In the past month, I have pulled the trigger on a couple of stamp purchases. One was from a prominent stamp site and the other was from a bulletin board site. In both cases, I am still waiting for my stamps. I don’t write this to complain. I am confident in both sellers and know that they have done their part. It’s just that the mail is so slow right now.

Thanks to a layoff, I have lots of time to contemplate my stamp collection, but very little money to do anything about it. With so much uncertainty, it is nice to have my collection, but also a little frustrating.

Of these purchases, one was meant to fill up spaces in my Canadian album. I am doing a good job of collecting the affordable stamps from Canada, and will probably be left with the ones I might not be able to afford soon. In reality, that will mean either getting lower quality stamps, or a slow pace of filling the album. Neither is terrible and only time will tell what I choose.

The other purchase focuses on completing my 1970 collection. I still have a long way to go, but I am truly enjoying this project. 1970 is a great year for stamps. I completed the countries of Finland and Australia. I also added stamps from Iraq and Kuwait among others. Actually, I ordered them. They still haven’t arrived, but there is always today…..

Christmas Philately…..sort of

Christmas only brought one new philatelic item. A few books were on my list, as were subscriptions to magazines I shouldn’t collect. What did appear for this boy who was somewhere between naughty and nice was a new magnifying glass. Growing up a magnifying glass was mostly used to burn holes in wood and paper, so having one for my stamps seems novel.

I also took the time to assemble a shelf in my spare room. I will devote several shelves to my stamps, as well as my study of Japanese, and a few travel souvenirs. It isn’t organized yet, but hopefully by tomorrow or the next day. Having seen some fantastic stamp rooms, I am envious.

I haven’t made many stamp purchases as Christmas and purchasing my cycling trainer took precedence. I am also hoping that the new year will once again provide us with stamp shows and other opportunities to enjoy the hobby.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Also, Happy New Year and hoping it is better in all respects.

What philatelic items did you receive or purchase for yourself?

A Book I Have Started Reading

This is not a book review. For it to be a book review, I would have finished the entire book. I haven’t done that yet. I will do that, I just haven’t done that yet. Instead, this is a book introduction.

Anyone who has read some of the previous posts knows that the writing of Lawrence Block got me into stamp collecting. He made it sound interesting again. He wasn’t wrong. I am enjoying the hobby and enjoying that it comes and goes in spurts. I am interested in it for months and then there are months that my attention is diverted elsewhere. You can probably already tell that by the frequency in which I write these posts.

I discovered quite by accident that Mr. Block wrote a column for Linn’s Stamp News for some three years. I had heard of the magazine in his books about Keller the stamp collecting assassin, but never actually read one of them. I checked into a subscription, but never got beyond that. I discovered this book while coasting around Amazon. I search Amazon and YouTube in much the same way. I find lots of cool stuff, but I never know how I got there. That’s why my wish list and my watch later areas are full of stuff.

I’ve read about a quarter of the book and I am enjoying it much like I enjoyed the Keller books. Mr. Block has a straightforward style that is compelling. He gives it to the reader straight. How else could he explain that by the time this book was published that he had given up stamp collecting and sold his collection.

There appear to be a lot of great books about stamps out there, On my other blog I wrote about the One Cent Magenta. That was a more traditional review. I probably should link some of my posts about stamps and philately that are on my other blog. I will link that post and the adventurous amongst you can type in stamps in the search bar. You will find something.

The book contains the 33 columns he wrote and some excerpts from adventures of the aforementioned Keller–probably his stamp collecting and not his killing. They cover a range of topics and are more personal than historical, perhaps more autobiographical or anecdotal. Being a fan of his other writing makes this even more accessible.

I am enjoying this book and plan to read others in the new year.

Do you have any recommendations of some great books about stamps, stamp collecting/philately?

They Cancelled the Show

stamps iranOf course with the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, they  had to cancel the stamp and coin show.  It just that twice a year I look forward to going.  The atmosphere is great and I usually make some good progress on my 1970’s project.  I also get tempted by lots of other shiny things that are not at all connected to my project and cause me to spend money that I shouldn’t–but that probably happens to all of us.

Instead, I am spending lots of time online looking at stamps to buy and wondering if the shipping cost is making it too expensive?  Then I try to group a bunch of stuff together…and then I end up spending too much money, or abandoning the idea till another day.

I am keeping busy today by updating my stamp have and don’t have list for the 1970’s project.  I would have done it just before the show…but there was no show.  I wish there were a program that could make a better checklist for me. Maybe if I forked out the money for EZstamp.  If that price wasn’t in US dollars I probably would have done in months ago.

Happy collecting everyone.  I am sure more people are finding time to devote to their stamps now that we are locked inside.  I know I am.

Most Recent Purchase:  about twenty stamps from Iran for the 1970’s project.  They might take a while to arrive, but I’ve got patience.

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

assorted colored vietnam postage stamps

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

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

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

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

stamp collection

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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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