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My "Stampy" Diary

I’ve been keeping a diary of my ‘stamping’ this week in the hope that you might find it interesting!

As a collector I was only interested in the stamps of Great Britain so I understand that if you collect just one or two areas the stamps that crossed my desk this week may not interest you. However, if like myself, you may also be a little nosey you might enjoy an insight into my working week…

Monday: I spend too long searching for an article which I’d torn out of a magazine some months ago on the subject of the Anglo-American Postal Treaty. I have an 1856 cover on my desk which was sent from Wales to Maine, USA and I want to make sure I describe the markings on the cover correctly. It’s worth around £50 but you know how it goes when you saved something which might prove useful and then can’t find it when the need arises? I’m searching desks and pulling the library apart and in the end a simple description has taken me over an hour to complete, but I found the article and I’m happy.

I have a bundle of Leeward Island stamps which I enjoy describing. There is one item in particular which I’m impressed with. It’s a 1931 ½d green stamp which I’ve seen a hundred times before but this is a strip of four with an unmistakable ‘coil join’ between the two middle stamps, a coil join is created when strips of stamps were connected to create much longer strips for use in stamp vending machines. It turns out that this stamp was only issued in coil strips, the information is in a handy note in the SG catalogue which I’ve not previously noticed but I guess finding a coil join is one of the few ways you can actually show it. The rest of the day disappears in administration but I did get to look at some stamps!

Tuesday: Our Christmas lunch and sale close date. I manage to complete a couple of complicated valuations and send emails to the owners. One was a box with ‘junior’ albums, nothing but inexpensive stamps however one page included a number of the Chinese ‘Large Dragon’ classics so the owner (who’d been given the ‘brush-off’ by a couple of dealers) is delighted. Back from lunch feeling drowsy thanks to chocolate fudge cake overload but manage to answer a few last- minute questions about lots in our sale and then I describe and estimate some 19th Century USA stamps. I like American stamps but pricing can be tricky as there is an emphasis on centering which is more acute than on most other countries.

Wednesday: A big collection of Tasmania beckons! The Aussie states can be a complex area but this collection was formed by an expert who appears to have identified the stamps correctly. It’s nicely displayed in a luxurious padded album, the pages linen- hinged. I’m keen to offer it by stamp- issue as I’m sure collectors would appreciate the work the original philatelist undertook back in the 1930’s. There is a flurry of emails which require my attention and a client has called in to see us and I don’t finish the descriptions.

Thursday: I finish the Tasmania lots with a selection of Postal Fiscal stamps bearing the Duck-billed Platypus, I particularly like a piece bearing 4 examples tied by postal cancellations. The collection also included a number of stamps with the “wedge” flaw, an unsightly gash in the printing plate which leaves a large unprinted wedge- shaped area extending into the young Queens neck, it’s funny what us collectors enjoy, isn’t it? A discussion breaks out in the stamp room over a new discovery we’ve made, it’s a Jamaican stamp from 1919 which has a reversed “C” in the otherwise normal watermark. We obtained a certificate for it and it’s a significant find as we believe that the “C” was incorrectly replaced when the original fell out (indeed, the stamp is known with the “C” missing) but this is the only known example and the owner believes it is the rarest Jamaican stamp, it certainly is but it’s uniqueness makes our job in accurately valuing it difficult. It’s actually the only known example of this strange watermark error on any stamp, from any country despite the fact that this watermarked paper was used throughout the British Empire.

Friday: I’ve been out at a valuation most of the day. I was made very welcome (including tea and biscuits) as I sat in a ‘Stamp Den’ and valued a world collection in 70 albums and numerous boxes. It’s a difficult thing for non-collectors to sell a stamp collection. Catalogue values can raise expectations and imagination can do the rest. Perhaps the most difficult aspect is simply not knowing if you are dealing with the right person and it can cause loved ones a great deal of stress at just the wrong time. My advice is to leave instructions as to whom should be approached together with your best guess as to what you probably paid for all your stamps, the price you paid is as good a guide as anything and will help those left behind to frame the value sensibly. An album of duplicated Great Britain Victorian average condition used stamps might catalogue £50,000 in Stanley Gibbons but have cost you less than £5000 so it’s not helpful to your loved ones to simply leave behind a catalogue value without any other information! I arrived back at the office with a car full of stamps this afternoon, so ‘all in all’ a good end to the week!


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