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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fewer Stamps on the Market?

This past weekend marked Thanksgiving, in the USA.

As a result, I had a little spare time on my hands, which I used to peruse some of my favorite stamp selling venues around the www.

It seems to me that there's less "worthwhile" material for sale, these days. Initially, I thought more people might be selling stamps because the economy is less than brilliant, and selling stamps would be a way to make more money. However, it actually seems there are fewer stamps listed on eBay and in other places, and the items I found were not very good quality, either.

I noticed that several online auction sites have fewer stamp listings than they did at this time, last year.

A fellow collector pointed out to me that perhaps people are LESS likely to let go of their "good stuff" to pay for groceries, when things are economically difficult. Rare stamps have previously been seen as a "safe haven" during uncertain economic times. That said, I was under the (mistaken?) impression that people mostly "invested" in stamps during times of high inflation.

I think it may also be true that more of the "good" material is being consigned to traditional "brick and mortar" professional auctioneers, than to "self sale" locations. Recent sales at Thomas Høiland in Denmark and Postiljonen and Philea in Sweden had some very high quality items on offer, and prices have been quite good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The strangeness of "Condition"

"Sound stamp?" That's a matter of opinion...
This morning, I have been spending some time on the Internet, looking at stamps for sale in the APS "Stampstore" online.

I find people's interpretation of a stamp's condition rather astonishing, sometimes.

How can a stamp be "fault free," when the scan clearly shows a corner is missing?

How can an 1872 stamp from Sweden have a "natural straight edge," when it is a global fact that all Swedish stamps issues prior to 1920 were perforated on all four sides-- without fail?

This confuses me, a bit. It also offends me a little, because there seems to be a hidden implication that I am "too ignorant to know any different."

Maybe what also bothers me about it is that it seems like a "hit and hope" approach-- sellers do not necessarily lie about something, but "describe" it, and then hope that the next sucker won't notice that something is wrong. I grant you, not everyone can be an expert on the stamps of every country... but if I were to offer material for sale from a country I am not all that familiar with, you can be sure I'm going to spend so time getting to know that country's stamps in the catalogue, before I put anything up for sale. And if I'm a buyer, I'm going to educate myself about what I am buying, as well.

The other thing that makes me scratch my head is sellers who think someone is going to pay 75% of catalogue value for a stamp that's little more than a space filler. What? WHAT?

I'm really not curmudgeonly, by nature!