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Your Stamps

'Cheap' Is Often Expensive in Long Run

August 21, 1986|BARRY KRAUSE

Question: Will you please send me the address for the topical society that concentrates on aircraft, especially commercial aircraft?

I am a philatelist, not a speculator. I specialize in U.S. issues. Do you know of any poor, cheap Zeppelins?--J.K.

Answer: For information on the American Air Mail Society, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to AAMS, 102 Arbor, Cinnaminson, N.J. 08077.

To answer your other question, I'm not sure what you mean by poor and cheap. The stamps you refer to are the U.S. Zeppelin issues, Scott Numbers C13 to C15 and C18. The whole set of these four stamps typically sells for $1,500 to $2,000 in nice mint condition with original undamaged gum, a bit less for fine canceled copies.

Poor stamps (or seconds) may have serious defects that detract from their appearance, such as missing corners or severe surface scrapes or pinholes. A set of U.S. Zeppelins from the 1930s that is priced at, say, $300 or $400 may not be worth buying, because they would be so hard to sell when you decide to get rid of them.

Many stamp dealers in the bigger shops and some stamp-auction companies have cheap Zeppelins for sale if you really need them to fill an album space, but I don't recommend buying them. See your nearest stamp dealer for help in tracking down a set to fit your budget, but remember: Cheap stamps may be expensive in the long run.

I've never regretted buying an expensive stamp. I've often been disappointed when selling my cheap stamps.

Q: Whenever I go to a stamp dealer to sell stamps they play a cat-and-mouse game with me. They usually say something like, "What do you want for these stamps?" Then, if I name my price, they say, "What do you really want?"

It seems to me that an honest businessman should be up front in buying or selling merchandise. I think that stamp dealers are trying to take advantage of people by buying as cheaply as possible, regardless of the true worth of a collection.--R.A.C.

A: I agree with you. I don't like dealers who play guessing games. Ethical and knowledgeable stamp dealers will not hesitate to put a buy or sell (wholesale or retail) price on anything that they understand.

In other words, if a dealer is familiar with the fair trading prices of a certain stamp, then he should be able to state these prices publicly and stand behind them with his checkbook and reputation.

If a dealer can't talk prices with you in an intelligent and mature manner, I would walk away from him and find somebody else who is more serious about doing business.

Q: A good friend of mine has offered to sell me his 40 Imperial Japanese stamps. Please help us to determine their values. They were issued from 1876 to 1904.--J.M.M.

A: The stamps you describe vary a lot in price, from a few dollars used for a small group of them, to many hundreds of dollars for a choice mint selection of the rarer items. Beware of counterfeits and damaged or repaired stamps, which are common in early Japanese issues. I recommend that you take them for a professional evaluation at a stamp shop. An appraisal fee may be charged.

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