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'E' Issue Printed for 1988 Postage Increase

December 17, 1987|BARRY KRAUSE

Question: Will there be a postage rate hike in 1988?--T.L.

Answer: Probably. The U.S. Postal Service has already started to print nondenominational stamps with the notation "E" on them to signify the next "emergency" regular issue in the series, which has included "A" through "D" over the last few years of rate changes.

According to Donald M. McDowell, the Postal Service's stamps division general manager, more than 13 billion stamps will be needed to meet the demand for new stamps when the new first-class postal rate takes effect. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints about 35 billion stamps per year for the Postal Service.

The new postage rate scheduled to occur sometime in 1988 will probably be 25 cents, with 24 cents as a less likely possibility.

Q: I have a sheet of the 1981 Christmas stamp without any perforations. What is the value of this "error"?--R.A.K.

A: Catalogue value for a pair of stamps from this sheet (Scott No. 1939a) is $200, so the whole sheet is probably worth several thousand dollars at auction.

Q: My set of Guatemala stamps has seven color varieties and ranges from 1 centavo to 25 centavos. The stamps are triangular in shape and show the national emblem in their centers. When were these made and what are they worth?--T.L.

A: First sold in Guatemala in January, 1929, this set currently has a catalogue value of $5.10 mint, $4.60 used (in American money). These were official stamps, used by government agents in that country.

Q: I am considering starting a collection of the postal paper of Norway. Are those issues particularly difficult to obtain, and what is their potential for long-range price appreciation?--D.N.

A: Scott's 1987 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Volume III, lists 874 major issues of Norwegian stamps, plus 67 semi-postals, and about 130 air mails, postage dues and officials.

Post-World War II issues are generally reasonable in price, but Norway's 19th-Century stamps include items costing hundreds of dollars each.

As an ally of America, and as a nation with a highly literate population, Norway takes its place among conservative stamp-issuing entities of Western Europe. This means that collectors accept Norway's stamps as good long-term investments and as philatelic material that is worthy of serious collecting.

Q: I have been a theatrical agent since 1967. Over the years, I've received hundreds of letters from foreign countries. Now I have about 50 jam-packed coffee cans full of these stamps.

Could you please advise how I can bring these to a legitimate stamp dealer and try to sell them? How would I know if I was receiving value for them?--G.M.

A: If your stamps are normal regular issues, commemoratives and air mails of the last 20 years, the chances are that they are not worth a lot of money. Remember, most modern nations issue many millions of each stamp design, and quick communications and transportation allow the most distant collector to get new issues from any country.

This stuff--closely clipped stamps on the original envelope corner--is sold mostly by the pound. A few dollars a pound might be a fair price for nice foreign stamps with clean cancels.

Local dealers tend to specialize in certain issues or countries and may not want to buy bulk recent commercial mail adhesives, which is what you have. I recommend that you look under "Stamps for Collectors" in the telephone book Yellow Pages, and call some dealers to see if they are interested in buying.

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