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Stamps - Philatelias Detriments

( Originally Published 1893 )



ANY are the worshippers at Philatelia's shrine, and many are the characters therein represented." In the rich, the poor, the liberal, the parsimonious ; the one who collects for pleasure, the one who collects for profit, we are reminded that we have many of the characteristics in common with other pursuits, though all of the characters need not be represented to make Philately what it should be, as many of the collectors are very detrimental to our fascinating study.

One of the detriments of Philately is the spirit of speculation, which is a predominant consideration, in many cases, which leads many into our ranks, when our pursuit would be far better off were they not represented.

I certainly favor the monetary consideration in Philately, but such practices should be legitimate. Perhaps I do not make my meaning clear.

I think that the majority of collectors will agree with me in saying that most stamps increase in value year by year, and if you have a little cash to spare, I would advise you t0 invest it in stamps, to fill up some blank spaces in y0ur album. Should a safe and sure investment be desired, after the lapse of a few years the value of your collection will be increased many times its original cost, if you have invested your money judiciously. This I consider a legitimate practice.

Again, suppose you have one thousand dollars, and wish to invest it in such a manner as to bring the greatest interest in the shortest time. You secure a " corner," say, on the United States' 1847 10-cents black, by buying five hundred used copies at $2 each, and holding these stamps two years, until their catalogue value has advanced to $5 ; tour stamps may be readily disposed of at $1. each, giving an interest of fifty per cent. yearly. But you say this cannot be done ! Yes, it certainly can be done and is done. Not in the case of this particular stamp, perhaps, yet I know 0f a collector who is endeavoring to secure a " corner " on this stamp, with indifferent success, but the 1869 90-cents arid 1890 90-cents values are " cornered - to a certain extent. In the case of the former, I know of one dealer having 15o copies of this stamp, and another holding 50 copies. Whither they offer them to the trade I cannot say, but if they do, it is probable that a price much above the catalogue figure is asked.

That the United States' 1890 90-cents is being "cornered," I say without fear of c0ntradiction by th0se in a position t0 know 0f the circumstances.

There are about three dealers in the United States who are quietly buying up great quantities of this stamp, at about ten cents each, and holding them, thus advancing the prices, and good specimens n0w command from fifty to sixty cents each. The expectation is that a new series of stamps will appear in 189+, owing to the change of administration, and as the 1890 series has been in use for a short time, comparatively few of the stamps have been used. Were it not for the " combine," however, good copies could be secured for twenty-five cents at the highest.

How does this speculation affect Philately ? y0u may ask. It tends to make collectors distrustful of dealers, and, in general, our collectors are not of the moneyed class, and take up Philately as a means of instruction and amusement because it requires less cash than many other means of amusement, and if higher prices are asked than they can afford, they are not slow to become disgusted with the pursuit, especially as they know that the prices are exorbitant.

There is another class in the speculative side of Philately. I refer to stamps created purposely for speculative purposes. Mr. N. F. Seebeck, of New York, furnishes the Central American countries a new issue of postage stamps, without charge, every year, with the provision that he may have as many sheets as he desires to sell to collectors. There is only one redeeming feature in his case--that he charges no great amount for each set.

To be sure they are of beautiful design and coloring, but as it was to his interest to make them so, that they might prove attractive to the eyes of the younger class of collectors, as also the low price was made to suit their pocket-books.

Another speculative expedient is the surcharge, and as though a plain surcharge is not sufficient, an inverted letter is generally placed on the type, or the surcharge is s0metimes inverted by mistake.

Those Central American Steamship Company's stamps are nothing more than a speculative issue of reprints. The stamps were printed and the plates destroyed, and the stamps (about 2,000,000) were purchased by a California Philatelist for $1,800, or about one cent a stamp. The holder now magnanimously offers a set of five for only $5.00.

In sending out his circulars he states that Mekeel prices the set at $42.5o, but the values were based upon the representation that only a limited quantity were to be had, when a large quantity had been purchased. Comment is unnecessary !

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