By Robert Taylor
During my business transactions with various people who have stamp and coin collections, I sadly come across unfortunate situations that are all too familiar to me.
Typically, when I receive an inquiry from a prospective client, I try to ascertain the size and scope of the client’s holdings. Is it one album of stamps? Is it several albums and boxes of miscellaneous stamps or is it even a whole closet full? Knowing this information enables me to prepare ahead of time what research materials to bring along with an assortment of stamp tools to facilitate the appraisal process.
Back in May of 2012, I received a call from “Ralph”, a gentleman who lived in eastern Tennessee. It was obvious during our conversation that he had a relatively large collection of stamp albums, glassine envelopes, shoeboxes full of miscellaneous stamps, sheets of unused postage stamps, etc. We agreed to an early Saturday morning meeting time since it appeared the appraisal process would take me 3-5 hours.
I arrived promptly at 10:00 AM. I had asked Ralph and his wife to have the material as openly displayed as possible in a well lit area such as a dining room table. Ralph had complied perfectly to my instructions. As he had mentioned, the collection was very large indeed.
I started on the glassine envelopes first. They were neatly marked. Some countries required more than one glassine envelope to hold all of the various stamps yet I noticed that “1 of 2” was missing on some of the key foreign countries such as Germany, Italy and Canada. Next, I tackled the various shoeboxes full of both used and unused stamps but I did not see much in value. Finally, I started on the many albums of all description and condition.
Most of the albums were the typical 3-ring inexpensive albums I come across. However, Ralph did have several expensive “hinge less” albums by Scott (U.S. made) and Lighthouse (quality German made). These hinge less albums alone cost over $100 new without any stamps.
When I opened the first always beautiful red Lighthouse album that said “Canada” on the outside binder, I saw some very nice early Canadian stamps. I also noticed that someone had carefully notated above each hinge, the Scott catalog number of the stamp. I then noticed that some of the empty hinges had the pencil catalog number above the hinge but there was no stamp within the hinge.
I asked Ralph did he own that stamp at one time pointing to the Scott #63 which is the rust colored Queen Victoria Jubilee $3 stamp. Ralph answered, “That Canada album was my father’s and I just was never into collecting those foreign stamps”. I counted twelve hinges that had Scott markings above them but contained no stamp. When I inquired as to their whereabouts, Ralph responded “why, a few months ago, my brother-in-law Harold asked me if I still had my stamp collection and if so, could he see it?”
“Harold did as you are doing then offered to purchase some of the Canadian stamps for his son’s collection. He also wanted some of the glassine envelopes (the missing ones I had come across earlier that morning). So, we made a deal for $350 for 12 stamps plus the few glassine envelopes if I remember right”. I sat there somewhat astounded but not shocked as I had seen this type of situation before.
Ralph was so kind to his brother-in-law, that he sold high valued stamps probably worth several thousand dollars to his kindly brother-in-law for $350 including several early year full glassine envelopes. Not wanting to start a feud between Ralph and his wife, I felt mouth fully zippered closed at this point was the best practice.
I totaled up what Ralph had remaining and paid him a very nice sum but it could have been a lot more had Ralph not been so kind to Harold.
It was obvious Harold knew what he was looking for in key stamps. He certainly took financial advantage of Ralph. Sad ending but that’s real world out there. Ralph should have been at least curious as to why Harold only wanted certain early Canada stamps and not the whole album. Also, why did Harold only want the glassines that said “early years 1 of 2” on them? Why not envelopes 2 of 2 also? Obviously, the early years have the value potential and not the later years.
Please stay alert out there and happy collecting!
Robert can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His website is www.classiccoinsandstamps.com