Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Half way there

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to fill my Scott Volume 1 to the 50% point this year or 17,500 stamps. I knew that setting such a goal was going to take me out on a limb as I was about 2000 stamps short, but an unexpected album purchase yielded an even more unexpected 1889 stamps for my collection; that put me just over the half way point when added to some smaller purchases. I intend to blog later about the purchase that made this possible because I think it has some implications for other collectors, but for the moment, I thought I would make a few observations about what a half completed Blue Volume One album "feels" like.

When I started my collection was under 10,000 stamps. In the first 200 pages there were 35 pages with no stamps on them. Now there are seven. In general, there aren't a lot of pages that feel sparse.

And some of the larger countries are approaching completion--at least aside from those pesky semi-postals and "offices." From the first part of the alphabet, Argentina, Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, and Germany are down to no more than a dozen or so missing regular issues/commems.

In spite of being at the halfway point there are still a bunch of countries for which I haven't a single stamp. I had blogged in May 2010 that out of 408 countries/political entities in the Blue, there were a surprising 76 staring back at me with only empty spaces. Now with the album half full, I am lacking stamps from 53 countries. I'm still not clear as to why there should be so many. For example, although my holdings of Italy were good, I was able to score 66 additional Italian stamps from my latest eBay purchase. But even though the original owner of this album obviously had a good collection of Italy, he or she didn't have a single example of Italian Occupation stamps from Calchi, Calino, Caso, et al, in spite of the fact that there are many of these that catalog under one dollar each. A similar story could be told for plenty of other countries. So this reinforces my impression that there are dozens of countries that elude most Blue collectors for reasons other that cost.

The next major milestone I guess will be 20,000, but who's counting :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Strange habits of eBay sellers

It's already mid-March and I'm chagrined that I haven't posted anything yet for this month. In my defense, I've actually been working on my collection every day and will have a couple of posts related to this, but not for another week or two. So in the meantime I thought I would write on a generic topic, specifically about some of the stranger things perpetrated by eBay sellers of Blue Volume Ones.

Right at the top of the list are those sellers who say that the Volume Ones they are offering are "unique" and that these albums are rarely offered on eBay. Have they really not done any research? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there is never a day that someone doesn't have a Volume One for sale. So are the sellers who make such claims clueless or …?

Somewhat related are sellers, almost always ones who admit being unfamiliar with stamps, who think the albums themselves are valuable for their maps, spaces for rulers and flags, etc. They lovingly photograph the bindings, title pages, and advertising materials. They go into rapturous detail about how the album is an homage to dead countries and bygone times. But about the stamps, if there are any, not so much.

And what about the sellers who go to the trouble to take photographs, but these are too blurry to show condition and sometimes even identify what stamps are being depicted? And we are not talking about one or two fuzzy-wuzzies. There are at least a couple of sellers who have on multiple occasions uploaded dozens of blurry photographs.

And then there are the sellers who have the focus thing down but only include a small portion of the album page in the photo. (I'm not talking about providing detailed photos of the valuable stamps which are always appreciated.) Perhaps there are photo-hosting sites that charge by the square inch?

I don't see it too often, but don't you love sellers whose take photos of entire pages but who upload the images randomly out of order? Like many of you, I suspect, I compare the images of prospective purchases against my own collection and there is nothing like seeing a page of Zanzibar followed by Aden followed by Switzerland followed by Belgium.

And finally there are the many approaches taken by sellers as to the number of stamps in their albums. I particularly like the sellers whose titles say something similar to "Bulging album bursting with stamps." Then when you get to the fine print of the description you see a phrase like "there are hundreds and hundreds of stamps." As the Blue contains thirty-five thousands stamps, don't they know that an album containing hundreds of stamps is 98-99% empty? Not exactly bulging. To state the obvious, even in an album containing 3500 stamps, 9 out of every 10 spaces would be blank.

And how about the sellers who not only do not give a count but go out of there way to say that "no, they won't count them, so don't ask"? (Of course, some of the most prolific sellers rarely give counts, preferring to supply hundreds of page shots instead. Thank goodness, because most of their textual descriptions are cookie-cutter and next to useless.)

No doubt you have others that could be added.