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Monday, November 05, 2007

Stamps For Sale!

Because I have philatelic material for sale in so many different locations, and the material often changes, I have decided the easiest way to keep announcements all in one place is to simply have this post always sitting at the top of the blog.

Here, then, is a listing (with brief description) of the places I have stamps for sale (titles are links to the sites):

Delcampe Stamp Auctions:

Currently 200+ lots stamps from Sweden, almost all used, with better and some of the "tricky" mid-priced items. All are identified by the Swedish Facit stamp catalogue. Please note that the bidding here is in EURO.

StampWants Auctions:

Currently about 250 lots mid- and lower priced Swedish stamps, from classic to the 1960's, some mint, but mostly used. All listed by the Swedish Facit catalog as well as Scott, with varieties, town cancels, and more.

eStampAuctions UK:

About 120 lots older Denmark, mostly mid-priced material. Please note that the bidding here is in UK pound Sterling, and that stamps are listed by the Danish AFA stamp catalogue. However, the descriptions are clear enough that you can easily "convert" to your own catalog of choice.

In general, there are some good values to be had, with many stamps offered for as little as 20% of catalogue value.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fine and Rare, Number 1

The "Fine and Rare" section of this blog is a space in which I will periodically show off some of the "gems" from my personal collections. Not necessarily "valuable," but certainly unusual.

Denmark 1873: 4 skilling red Official, perf 14 x 13 1/2. Flawless condition and XF centering, with fresh bright color. Centrally postmarked with light numeral cancel "238" (Thorshavn, Faroe Islands).

Found this stamp in an APS Circuit sales book, some years ago. It turned out to be a "double bargain."

For starters, it was just a beautiful stamp with great eye appeal. But I noticed that it was actually the scarcer 4 skilling official, misidentified as the much more common 8 øre value, issued in 1875. These early Officials are not so easy to find, in perfect condition, so I was happy... and the nice centrally placed numeral cancel was just a bonus.

A little further research revealed that the numeral cancel "238" was assigned to the post office at Thorshavn in the Faroe Islands. This is actually one of the rarest of the numeral cancels used in Denmark, and to have it on a stamp in perfect condition only adds to the value. So this "common" stamp-- at first glance-- actually became one of my "gems."

The 1995 AFA Specialkatalog has a section listing Faroese cancels on Danish stamps, and it values the "238" numeral cancel on a single stamp at 4500,- Danish kroner-- the equivalent of about US$870.00.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stamp Collecting Basics: The joys of Kiloware

Although I suppose I have risen to the rank of "advanced" collector over the years, I still enjoy getting back to basics, and back to the way I started stamp collecting.

For some "serious" stamp collectors, this is a bit like having "a dirty little secret:"

I really enjoy messing around with kiloware.

Back in my "poor days," it was one of the few ways I could afford to buy a LOT of stamps, without breaking the bank.

I started buying kiloware already when I was about 15, using my money earned from mowing lawns and shoveling snow out of people's driveways in winter. Back then (1975), we were still living in Denmark, and I would take the bus into Copenhagen and visit several dealers who carried a good stock of "unsorted stamps on paper."

A couple of "Machins" from my old kiloware purchases
It was one one of these journeys I discovered "Blue Peter bags." These were ten pound burlap bags from the UK, filled with all manners of "treasures," imported by this Danish dealer for his retail shop. Evidently they were collected for the Blue Peter charity appeal in England, by people who knew nothing of stamp collecting, and then were sealed into 10lb sacks, completely unsorted, and then marketed to stamp collectors around the world.

Now, you might think that a 15-year old boy never would have the patience and perseverance to sort, soak and process 10lbs of stamps on paper... but between ages 15 and about 24, I actually bought and completely processed four 10lb bags of "Blue Peter mix." Much to my mother's frustration (and amusement, at first), there would be towels with stamps drying covering almost every flat surface in my room. And yes, there were many many duplicates, but he untold thousands of "Wildings" and "Machins" in those mixtures went on to form the basis of a couple of my specialized (non-Scandinavian!) collections.

A GB stamp of the "Wilding" design
Part of the charm of the Blue Peter bags was that you could find virtually anything in them. One bag had-- literally-- over a thousand Queen Victoria era stamps, still on the corners of ancient envelopes. I can only imagine that someone found a box of great-grandma's old letters in the attic, cut all the stamps off, and submitted them to the charity appeal. Retrospectively, I can understand how the contents of the letters would hold far more "value" to a non-stamp collector, than the stamps outside the envelopes.

In my third bag, I found a sound-- and quite presentable, with three margins-- Great Britain "Two Pence blue" (no. 2), which has a catalogue value of at least £675.00, in the most recent Stanley Gibbons catalogue. Even at the time I found it, its catalogue value was more than twice the price I'd paid for the entire bag of stamps!

Of course, I bought many other kinds of kiloware, over the years. I used to buy "post office sealed" one-kilo boxes from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. These were boxes of high value stamps on parcel cards, and I really enjoyed these because they differed from "ordinary" kiloware in that most of the stamps were not of the contemporary "letter rate" of the time, but "odd" and "high values" that rarely were used on regular envelopes. Many of these stamps went on become the foundation of my town cancel collections.

Iceland post office kiloware from parcel clippings
When I had a little more money, I went on to buy more expensive and "exotic" mixtures. One of my earliest "big investments" was in a box of post office sealed mixture from Iceland (pictured at left). It was (to my way of thinking, at the time), horrendously expensive... but well worth it, as most of the stamps in the box had catalogue values between $2.00 and $10.00 each, and offered me excellent trading material for years.

Sadly, with the advent of email, and ever-greater standardization of the global mail handling process, kiloware has become more and more difficult to find. Especially if you want-- as I do-- authentic postally used stamps. People just don't use stamps, as much as they used to.

My roots as a "mixture sorter" continue to be reflected in the way I collect stamps, to this day. I may be a "serious" collector, but I have never been someone who goes out and buys "just those exact three stamps" to fit particular spots in an album. Sure, there are exceptions-- occasionally I'll spring for a single stamp, of particular appeal. On the whole, though, I have always preferred to "take my chances" on finding them-- or not-- in a "messy accumulation" bought at a stamp show, or in an auction.

The bottom line is that I get just as much enjoyment from the "treasure hunt" aspects of stamp collecting, as I do from "having a collection."

Thankfully, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to collect stamps!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Posts with Pictures

I have been trying to decide whether there should always be photographs in blog posts.

Denmark AFA 379, issued in 1959
My leanings are towards "yes," because I keep thinking of that old saying "A picture is worth 1000 words." My dilemma comes in figuring out what kind of illustration to associate with a post that essentially isn't "pictorial" in nature... like an auction update, or a review of a web site that doesn't really have pictures. Should I use an "irrelevant" picture, just so I am using a picture "for art's sake," or just leave the post as text only?

My experience with the web-- in contexts other than stamp collecting-- is that people enjoy the photos, no matter what. So here's a picture of a fairly random stamp, to go with my fairly random musings!

This is the 1959 Red Cross charity stamp from Denmark-- the higher value of the two stamp set. I always liked this stamp when I was a little kid. At the time this was issued, it was a relative rarity for Danish stamps to be printed in more than one color, and I thought the red crosses surrounding the blue globe looked "cool." Of course, it was a difficult stamp to get a hold of, as the rate it was designed for was for overseas mail, AND it was a charity stamp which few people used, in the first place. And, I also liked it because the design reminded me a bit of the planet Saturn....

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Postmarks: Göteborg, Sweden

One of my stamp collections-- probably my favorite of all-- is my collection of town cancels on classic Sweden. I chose to start this collection after buying a large batch of early Swedish duplicates from a dealer in Copenhagen-- and I noticed how "clean and neat" many of the cancels were... and how they were of a size that fit well on the stamps issued at the time. So I decided to save them.

I have been working on this particular collection for almost 25 years, and it helped develop my interest in "socked-on-the-nose" cancels of all countries.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to create periodic posts featuring a stamp with a great postmark, alonf with a little information about that place. Not sure how many of these I'll feel like doing, but here's a start.

12 öre Ringtyp, perf 14, with GÖTEBORG cancel
Göteborg, Sweden

Here is a nice copy of Facit no. 21, 12 öre ringtyp perf 14, issued in 1872, with a nice cancel of "GÖTEBORG 24.10.1876."

For collectors of Swedish town cancels, this is by no means scarce, but this is a nice strike of the early "large diameter" postmark, on a well-centered stamp. This was actually one of the stamps in that first lot that got me interested in collecting Swedish cancels, which is why I chose to include it here.

Because Göteborg is a large city, many different cancelling devices have been used, and it can be a challenge for the cancel collector to assemble a complete set of all the possible "Göteborg" cancels.

What is this stamp worth? The stamp itself has a catalogue value of 10:- Swedish kr. A clear readable cancel from this time period carries a premium of another 10:- Swedish kr. Given the condition of the stamp and the quality of the cancel, a stamp like this would probably sell for about 50-60:- Swedish kr. (about US$7.75-9.25) at auction; somewhat more from a dealer.

About the city: Göteborg-- known in English as "Gothenburg"-- is Sweden's second largest city, with a population of a little over half a million people, although almost a million live in the greater metropolitan area. Located on the west coast of Sweden, facing Denmark, it was one of the first places in Sweden I became aware of, as a child growing up in Denmark.

View of the city of Göteborg
Founded in 1621, Göteborg is also Scandinavia's largest and busiest seaport. Geographically, the city is strategically placed almost at the midpoint of the three Scandinavian capitals, Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. The city's early history was heavily influenced by Dutch traders (and invaders), who designed much of the early city. In fact, the Dutch influence was so strong that-- for a while-- Dutch was seriously under consideration for the official language of the city.

The city is located at the mouth of the Göta River, where it empties into the Kattegat Sea, at one end of the North Sea. Because it is in a location that is natural for having a port, it is likely that there have some kind of settlements here, long before Göteborg officially became a town.

Today, Göteborg is a cultural center in western Sweden, with many things to offer visitors, from museums to festivals to excellent restaurants. It is also home to Liseberg, Scandinavia's largest amusement park, as well as the most visited tourist destination in Sweden. Apart from its busy port, the city is served by two commercial airports and a major railway line.