US Stamps

Knowledge is power: a powerful adage that stamp collectors should keep in mind

Jan 23, 2015, 2 AM

On page 1 of the Jan. 26 issue, we reported the discovery of a new die-cutting-omitted error of a United States Flag and Fireworks coil stamp.

If you read our story, you are familiar with the somewhat unusual way Linn’s learned of the error.

When I first contacted the gentleman who had purchased the roll of error stamps, it became apparent that he was not a stamp collector.

He simply bought the stamps for use on his mail.

He told me that when he discovered that he couldn’t easily remove stamps from the roll backing paper (because of the missing vertical die cuts), he started tearing stamps from the roll before removing the backing paper.

I asked him to send to Linn’s a short strip of stamps for examination.

That analysis confirmed that the stamps were indeed genuine errors.

A second call was placed to the owner of the error stamps.

I told him that his stamps were genuine production errors that would have market value well beyond their face value.

That caught his attention, and he asked how much the stamps might be worth. I explained that the marketplace ultimately would determine the value, and that he would need to seek guidance from a collector dealer who specializes in modern errors.

I said that we would provide him with additional information when Linn’s returned the strip of stamps to him.

Although the gentleman was not a stamp collector, the instruction he received helped him better understand the significance of the stamps he had.

Had Linn’s not reached out to him, his error stamps would have continued hiding in plain sight.

As he told me during one of our conversations, he had intended to keep using the stamps on his mail.

Only after he learned more did he see the wisdom in holding onto the stamps he had left.

I recount these details for you as a way to hammer home the maxim that knowledge is power — even for stamp collectors.

In fact, that adage is particularly true in any colllectibles market.

Knowledge helps you see the value in something that others miss.

Have you ever watched Antiques Roadshow on TV?

How many times have you seen the jaws of unsuspecting people drop when the expert gives them the appraisal figure for their item?

More than once or twice, I’d wager.

Acquiring the knowledge necessary to be an educated, informed collector takes time and patience.

Fortunately, there are myriad ways to do so.

Connecting with other experienced collectors by attending shows and joining specialty societies are two solid steps in the right direction.

Of course, subscribing to Linn’s and other hobby publications will help you grow, as well.

You might also consider approaching a collector and asking him or her to be a mentor.

Such one-on-one relationships can be most enriching.

Stamp Market Index

The quarterly Linn’s Stamp Market Index does not appear in this issue.

The Linn’s and Scott editors are exploring ways to provide data that is more relevant to activity in the U.S. stamp market today.

It is our intention to begin a new market analysis feature in Linn’s later this year.


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