Question: In one of your columns you stated that recent stamps are worth about the same in blocks or singles because so many are issued. Does this hold true of the 13-cent Indian-head penny stamp (Scott No. 1734)? These seem to be somewhat rare. I couldn't find a post office here in Bakersfield that sold them.
I understand that they were an experimental issue because of their size. Could you tell me a little about this stamp.--R.L.K.
Answer: This stamp now sells for $1 per plate number block of four. The face value of that block is 52 cents. So although a single stamp is worth face value, the plate block is worth about double face, an exception to the rule that I stated.
If I remember correctly, when this Indian-head stamp was issued in 1978, the U.S. Postal Service was trying to save paper by issuing a stamp that had shorter dimensions than normal. They wanted to see how the public accepted them.
I didn't like the stamp's size then, because it was too easy to lose or drop on the floor. Because most U.S. stamps since then have been of the customary larger sizes, the Postal Service must have drawn the same conclusion.
Q: I am interested in the stamps of Greenland. Are they popular among U.S. collectors? Does Greenland issue its own stamps? How can I obtain them?--R.K.
A: Greenland stamps are obtainable from Denmark. Send an airmail letter (44 cents postage) asking for the latest rules on ordering Greenland stamps to: Gronlands Postvaesen, 100 Strandgade, P.O. Box 100, DK-1004 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
The Danish Post Office prints Greenland's stamps, and they will sell mint issues, first-day covers, and special postmarks to overseas collectors. My latest information indicates that they will ship post-free and accept international money orders or personal checks in payment.
Q: I have a stamp collection that has been handed down from my father. It contains a great number of stamps from the early part of this century.
While I realize that the majority of dealers are honest, I am apprehensive about taking the stamps in for an appraisal, because I would not know if anything of value had been removed without my knowledge.
What safeguards can I take, and how can I find the most reputable dealers in my community?--J.M.
A: Stay with your stamps. Don't let them out of your sight if you're worried about them. Any reputable dealer will be happy to appraise a collection with the owner present.
But remember: Appraisals can be time consuming, so ask the dealer how much his fee will be before giving him permission to study your stamps. Many dealers will refund the appraisal fee if you sell the collection to them.
Don't feel obligated to sell to the first dealer; try more than one. Many dealers will give a quick informal appraisal for free if you let them glance at your stamps. Check the local Better Business Bureau for evidence of customer complaints against the dealers you are visiting.
Q: Could you tell me if my United Nations first-day cover has any value? Photocopy attached.--H.V.M.
A: This sells for $1 or less. It is the souvenir sheet portraying the Stained Glass Memorial Window at U.N. Headquarters, designed by artist Marc Chagall and first issued Nov. 17, 1967.
I remember making about 100 first-day covers of these myself and having them mailed to my address. A couple of years later I sold them for less than face value, which didn't pay for the stamps or my work. Total first-day covers issued for this item was 617,225, enough to supply all U.N. collectors in the world with more covers than they can possibly use. The lesson I learned from this is to collect for fun and not to make big profits.
Q: Are Canadian commemorative stamps from the last 10 years in canceled condition of value?--R.H.
A: Only in large quantities for most issues. Typical retail value for recent used Canadian issues is a few cents per stamp.
Q: Is there a stamp club for adults in Long Beach?--B.L.
A: The Long Beach Stamp Club meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Millikan High School, 2800 Snowden Ave., Long Beach. Dues are $4 per year, plus a first-year initiation fee of $2. Meetings usually include an auction or stamp-bid board, a lecture or slide show and time to meet other collectors. Attendance varies between 40 and 70 out of a membership of about 150.