Sunday, September 30, 2012


Collecting on a Shoestring 5

In 1969, I was given a North American album and a large packet of US stamps at the end of a visit to relatives in Canada. This got me started collecting US as this packet filled a large chunk of the US pages in the album from the 1950s and 1960s and challenged me to try to fill the rest.

I managed to fill a lot more of those gaps from visits to a local flea market. There were a couple of dealers that regularly had stalls and the stamps were usually a couple of pence each. Soon I had reasonable coverage of issues from the 1930s up to the mid 1970s. In the 1990s, I heard of a group - the Cover Collectors Circuit Club - through which members exchanged covers and even experiences and stamps. This filled even more spaces. What with moving around the country for work, my membership lapsed.

Throughout each of the moves, there were opportunities to visit dealers and fairs. I bought covers, loose stamps and sometimes the remnants of someone else's collection. I also bought kiloware which, simply put, is  a large quantity of stamps ripped off of envelopes and usually donated to charities to raise money by selling on to dealers.

On one occasion , I purchased the remains of a collection of US material covering up to around 1940ish. Most of the stamps were relatively common but included varieties such as coils and the odd booklet stamp. It appears that the original owner had annotated the collection giving a few details and a catalogue number for the stamps. So rather than break up the pages, I just incorporated them into the folder containing my collection. Two of these pages are illustrated here showing how the original owner kept his collection

From another dealer, I purchased sheets which were taken form a special one country album for the US. An example is illustrated below.

The pages have illustrations of each stamp and when the stamp is obtained it is stuck over the top of the image using either a hinge or hawid mounts. The USPS strip illustrated is mint (unused) and is mounted using the hawid system.

With many of the definitive series, one observes changes in shade and coloration over a period of time. Some of these changes were down to environmental factors while others due to changes in ink. Also, some countries produce precancelled versions and many countries arranged for or allowed stamps to have a perforated design as a security device protecting theft from companies buying in bulk for postage.

The above sheet show how I show some of these variations without going into specialised catalogues which sort of explain some of these variations and assign a catalogue number to each. For example, since 1967, Britain has issued Machin definitives which simply consists of the queen's head and the value. Since decimalisation in February 1971, more than 1000 stamps and varieties of these stamps have been produced. A specialist Machin collectors group exists for those specialising in those stamps.

A first class Machin that has been cancelled at Watford on an IMP (Integrated Mail Processor)

Some US issues are massive compared to other countries. There have been issues where sets of 50 stamps have been known. These sets have included state flags, flowers, birds, animals and even sites. The next three sheets illustrate one such flag issue.

All of these flag stamps are genuinely used on real mail and hence have real cancels which are not the best possible. They do represent the normal treatment of stamps on mail.

It is your choice how you present your collection and what you include such as postcards, tickets, coins, photographs, leaflets, etc. If you plan to enter sections of your collection in competition, then you have to follow the rules of that competition as to what is acceptable. 


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