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Condition Is Key to Value of 1846 Letter

November 12, 1987|BARRY KRAUSE | Barry Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, 90053.

Question: After my mother's death, we found in her effects a sheet of paper rather like a modern air letter: a message on one side, address, stamp and postmarks on the reverse. It contains a clear watermark. The letter is about 8 inches by 11 inches, is addressed to an attorney in London and carries two postmarks: HULL 17 FEB 1846 and SW 18 FEB 1846. The stamp affixed is a 2-pence light-blue Queen Victoria in very good condition.

I remember my mother showing me this 45 years ago when I was a child. What is its present value?--G.T.B.

Answer: From $20 to $100 are typical retail prices for covers or letter sheets stamped with Great Britain's 2-pence blue on bluish paper (Scott No. 4; issued in 1841).

But condition is all important in pricing early Great Britain stamps, either on or off cover. Does your stamp have good color and full margins around the design? Is it damaged by scraping, folding, staining or tearing? Is the letter clean and undamaged?

And nice, clear postmarks also increase the value.

Q: I wanted to find out the price of Israeli stamps Numbers 7-9, but the dealer's price list reads "P.O.R." instead of a price. What does this mean?--P.E.

A: "Price on request" is used for expensive items on which the price may be a bit negotiable, or for stamps that are rapidly changing in value due to a fluctuating market. Write or telephone the dealer for the price. These Israeli issues, by the way, catalogue at $725 mint, $420 used.

Q: My son, while on vacation from college in Manila, brought me some stamps from the Philippines. Are they of monetary or historical value? I have a mint sheet of 50 of the 3.20-Pesos Marcos issue dated September, 1982; Imelda Marcos in several denominations; Ferdinand and Imelda together; the new Aquino 60-pesos; John F. Kennedy; overprints from the 1971 Philatelic Week, and a Women's Year stamp.--C.E.

A: Catalogue values of your stamps range from a few cents each to about $1.75 for the 1982 Marcos 65th birthday issue. Your mint sheet definitely has some value, maybe $20 or $30 retail. The other stamps are not rare.

You asked if they have historical interest. All stamps have historical value because they are the postal paper emissions of world governments, and as such they reflect the politics, art, economics and history of the issuing nation.

It might sound a little old-fashioned in a world of video games and other electronic entertainment, but kids today as in past years can benefit from stamp collecting. I learned the names and locations of the countries of the world by studying my foreign stamps when I was a boy. The names of present and past rulers, what the country's currency is called and landscape scenes are all found on stamp illustrations.

Q: How many stamps has Russia issued?--T.S.

A: Volume 4 of the 1987 Scott Catalogue lists 5,441 major stamp numbers for Russian stamps, plus another 200 air mails, semipostals and postage dues. By custom, Soviet stamps are listed under "Russia" in the catalogues, even though Russia is technically just a republic of the modern U.S.S.R.

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