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Monday, April 11, 2011

How NOT to Ship Stamps

I usually try to leave my personal gripes at the door, when I sit down to write-- whether it is an article on spirituality, an eBay auction description, or a post on this blog.

Today, however, I am in a rather grumpy mood. Let me explain...

Most of my collections have been built through a slow process of buying large "box lots," sorting my way through them to pick out any individual "gems," or varieties, or other kind of specialist material. When I am done with a box, I "recycle" the remains back to the collector market... usually through eBay or a similar venue.

Many of my box lots and collections come from overseas-- specifically from about 5-6 large sellers in Scandinavia. Not surprising, since my primary philatelic interests are Denmark and Sweden.

I recently won several collections from a sale by a large well-known auctioneer in Scandinavia. Understanding from the description (and photos) that I was buying a lot of stamps on loose stock leaves, I took the time to write to the auction firm to recommend that they "cross-strap" each album/stockbook with heavy rubber bands to put the pages "under pressure" and to prevent the stamps from falling out and getting damaged. Most auctioneers and dealers I do business with ship albums this way. Some even insert the albums into individual padded envelopes, before putting them into the shipping box.

The stamps, as I received them... one of 12 albums
Some three weeks later, my box of new acquisitions arrived! All excited, I opened the box... and found a horrible mess. Not only had the various albums been stacked rather carelessly in the shipping box, a couple had been put in upside-down, and there had been lots of loose space for the albums to rattle around, during trans-Atlantic shipping. And absolutely no sign that the albums had been strapped, to keep them closed.

The result?

100s of loose stamps floating around the box-- many of them damaged by being beaten between heavy albums. It just made me angry, and sand... and begs the question "just HOW hard is it to take just a little care, before shipping a box of valuable stamps across the Atlantic?"

Of course, I find myself with rather a "Catch-22" situation, because complaining would do little good. I have already complained about this issue, once before. But the rest of the "problem" is that this auction house is one of the very best sources for Danish bulk lots in the world... so deciding to no longer do business with them would also mean cutting myself off from one of my best suppliers.

I guess sometimes there's just no winning...