Question: I have a set of Helgoland stamps, which I bought as a child at the end of World War II. Over the years, two people have examined the stamps and told me that they think one of them is authentic and worth about $10,000.
Where do I find an honest appraiser, and how do I protect myself from being victimized and losing the stamp in the authentication procedure? How do I find a purchaser?--S.B.
Answer: The American Philatelic Society Expertizing Service will authenticate this stamp for 1 1/2% of its catalogue value. I'm not sure what you have. Helgoland is a North Sea island off the northwest coast of West Germany. No stamp from there is listed in the Scott catalogues at $10,000, but several are priced between $1,000 and $3,000. If the stamp is valuable and genuine, any large local stamp dealer will be happy to buy it or auction it for you.
For an expertizing certificate application, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (business size) to APS Expertizing Service, P.O. Box 8000, State College, Pa. 16803.
Q: I received these first-day covers from my father (photocopy attached). What is their present value?--C.B.W.
A: You have a set of National Parks imperforate blocks on uncacheted first-day covers. These stamps were issued March 15, 1935, and are worth a few dollars each per cover. Your covers have no cachet (special envelope design on the left front side) and therefore are not worth as much as cacheted issues.
Q: Please evaluate these stamps: two sheets of President Truman 8-cent commemoratives, a sheet of 10-cent space stamps picturing Skylab, a block of four of the 8-cent Tom Sawyer issue and a sheet of 15-cent Veterans Administration stamps.--E.F.N.
A: Face value for everything. These are common U.S. issues of the last 15 years.
Q: I have two Australian stamps showing the coat of arms of that country. One is a 1-pound value, the other is 10 shillings. Their condition is nice mint. Are they valuable?--S.B.
A: Issued in 1949, the 10-shilling denomination currently catalogues at $25 U.S. dollars, the 1-pound variety at $40.
Q: I am a Boy Scout troop leader in Los Angeles, and one of our merit badges is awarded for stamp collecting. I would like to turn on my scouts to stamps. What do you recommend in the area of albums, types of stamps and supplies?--G.H.
A: Start by having the boys save stamps from their own and their parents' mail. Teach them how to soak stamps off envelope paper in cold water, then dry them face down on waxed paper. Stamp shops often have secondhand albums for sale for a few dollars, as well as packets of foreign stamps priced cheaply. New collectors should learn how to hinge stamps on an album page, how to identify a stamp's country and basic grading of condition.
Q: What are these worth? A Cook Islands stamp showing Captain James Cook, 3-shilling value, and an 8-cent Hong Kong postage-due issue (photocopies enclosed).--T.L.
A: About $3 each, mint or canceled. The Cook Islands item dates from 1949, the Hong Kong stamp from 1946.
Q: I have first-day covers of the "Army" issue of 1937, the 3-cent and 4-cent values in purple and gray. What are these worth?--R.J.
A: A couple of dollars each for normal cachet designs. A cachet is the envelope design of a first-day cover. Rare designs of limited editions by obscure companies are worth more than common ones. Your Army stamps were issued in 1937 by the U.S. Post Office to honor our Army.
Q: What is the rarest stamp in the world?--E.D.
A: Several stamps are distinguished by the fact they are one of a kind. But I guess you want to know the most valuable stamp. It is the 1-cent black-on-magenta British Guiana issue of 1856, currently unpriced in Scott's catalogue but last sold five years ago for $1 million.
Q: I am interested in railway post office cancels. Do you know of a society organized for the study of these philatelic items?--E.W.
A: The Mobile Post Office Society specializes in the distribution of information on subjects like railway post offices, highway post offices, sea-post mail and steamboat cancels. The society has 600 members and publishes a bimonthly journal called Transit Postmark Collector. The society also operates mail auctions and sells publications on mobile post offices.
Air mail and modern sorting machines have made most mobile post offices obsolete, but the time was when much of the world's mail was sorted and canceled in small post offices on board railroad trains, ships and mail trucks.
Dues for the Mobile Post Office Society are $10 per year, plus a one-time $1 initiation fee. For more information or a membership application form, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Andrew C. Koval, Secretary, MPOS, 2434 West 103rd St., Chicago, Ill. 60655.