The massive, once in a decade, Stamp Exhibition and Show opens in just three months – WOW!! Are you as excited as we are?

Apart from the event, there is so much more to do and see in the city. I just saw a photo of one of my sons visiting the 9-11 Monument – I will find time to go there during our time in New York.   I recall COLLECTORS EXCHANGE participating in a Stamp Show in the city just 10 days following the 9-11 attack – the attack site was still burning – I remember the sense of loss and bewilderment of that time. Yes I will visit that monument while we are there. You may want to plan to do the same……….


Recently I mailed out a stamp package to a client. To add a little ‘spice’ I enclosed the stamps in a Postal Stationary envelope. I made up the rate with commemorative stamps.

The package never arrived!

A very concerned collector let me know of the non-arrival. It appears that the envelope didn’t survive the mechanized sorting equipment. Fortunately I had enclosed a COLLECTORS EXCHANGE business card inside the glassine envelope containing the stamps. The USPS could read the card through the glassine and returned the package to our office inside a plastic bag, and telling me what had happened. 

There are a couple of lessons to get from this incident. First, always place a business card (or a return address) in any mailing. Second reinforce older covers with scotch tape. Lastly credit the USPS and their customer service – the mail service take a lot of beatings from us stamp collectors – this time they get an attaboy!


Great Britain’s Royal Mail has announced rate increases which will come into affect at the end of March. A first class letter will now cost 64 pence while the cost for second class mail will be fifty-five pence.

This increase will mean many new stamps being issued to reflect the new rates. However present 1st and 2nd class stamps will remain valid.

It is estimated that there are well over 5000 different varieties of the regular (Machin) stamps to challenge the collector. Now you can look for even more, new self-adhesive Machin definatives to add to your collection !


When I was approached during the Fort Lauderdale show with regard to identifying a stamp, I gave the collector my best “OPINION”. That is all that it was – an opinion.

One of the most difficult determinations in philately are shades. In the early days inks were mixed by something approaching “a bucket and spade method”. Quality control devices as we have today, just were not developed back then. Canada’s Small Queens, or Britain’s Edward VII low values are prime examples of the variation of shades available to be collected. Apart from the listed shades found in the catalogues, there are many other “sub shades” as well. Then there is the issue of oxidization, particularly with the red inks, to contend with. Some colors just fade with time, are affected by humidity or heat, and so on. On top of that my eyes see a shade of say bluish-pink differently to your eyes.

The background light source is also a factor.

So for the collector with a potentially valuable stamp, show it to a knowledgeable collector in the local stamp club. If that person believes the stamp to be a good example of the valuable variety, it may be wise to seek an endorsement from a recognized authority and obtain a certificate of authenticity. The authority will charge for this service. When you read the certificate it will still employ the word “OPINION”!

As an aside, the detection equipment available today and used to discover altered stamps, forgeries, etc. is so much more sophisticated than, say, twenty or thirty years ago. Even if I obtain a stamp with a good certificate from a recognized authority and which is dated in the 1970’s or earlier; or even early 1980’s, I take the precaution of submitting it & requesting a new certificate. Such action makes me feel confident that I will be selling a valid stamp, even though that word ‘OPINION’ will still appear on the new certificate!


At the recent ASDA Stamp Show in Fort Lauderdale, a collector was recommended to come see me re a small collection that he had inherited. He told me that it was not worth much but that it contained a couple of Ceylon, Queen Victoria stamps that maybe valuable. One, he told me, had been expertized but he had misplaced the certificate. However when he 1st received the certificate, he had offered the stamp on eBay but had not received any bids.

The alleged expertized stamp was thought to be the 1857-59  one shilling violet Scott # 11. It was in fact a one shilling purple, Scott # 57 (issued about a decade later) that had had the perfs trimmed so that it appeared as the imperforate #11.  While it would easily be noted by many of us, it was sufficiently like the #11 to fool a novice collector.

It was not easy for me to have to tell the visitor to the show that what he had was worthless, but in fact he appeared grateful for the information that he received. 

There is a charge to employ any expertising company and often it is worth the expense. However I recommend that if you have a potentially valuable stamp or cover, ask other members of your stamp club, or take the item along to a stamp show & ask a dealer for an opinion (ensure that he is not too busy before approaching). If you get a positive reaction, then, by all means,  send on to an expert.


Randy Savadow, owner of the Browse House in Daytona, Florida, died over the weekend at the early age of 56. He had suffered a massive heart attack a few days earlier. His passing is a tragic loss to the stamp collecting community and particularly to all of us who knew him. Jean and I feel such a sense of sadness as we knew him and his wife Kathy so well.

We will attend the funeral tomorrow. 

Our sincerest condolencies go out to Kathy and their extended family.


Just reading the American Philatelist Society website & saw a welcome message from a new member (a long time coin collector, now entering the stamp collecting hobby, and praising the quality of the website). It remided me of my experience over the weekend.  I was attending the ASDA sponsered stamp show in Fort Lauderdale where I was approached by a man, I guess he was in his mid to late 40’s who was returning to the hobby after being away from it for a number of years.  The following day another man, a little older also came to my booth. He was not entirely new to the the hobby but was expanding into collecting Great Britain. He started at the beginning buying a plated Penny Black & some other Victorian issues.

On the other hand a family (grand-parents and children) visited me. The children was from Haiti and were staying with the grands over Spring Break; one boy played soccer back in his island home and selected stamps from our “SOCCER” topical stock.

To all these new collectors, young and old – WELCOME WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL ENJOY STAMP COLLECTING!



At least one Auction Catalogue I receive will often add the words “NH – therefore must be worth at least double the catalogue value”.  Some catalogues actually differentiate between ‘hinged’ and ‘never hinged’ with according price premiums. We all know that Scott finds an arbitrary point in the 1940’s to state “Prices for all unused issues after this date are for never hinged examples” or words to that effect.

Many collectors pout at this and tell anyone who’ll listen “I’m not a gum collector!” However those very same collectors will typically select a never hinged stamp when it is available and it is the same price as a hinged example!

It is a sticky question!

Where I have difficulty is why an NH one pound stamp issued in 1945 is considered to possess a x2 premium when the same value stamp issued in 1946 does not. Or why an NH stamp issued in 1875 should have just the same x2 premium as an NH stamp issued two decades later. I realize that the two aforementioned stamps may have different catalogue values but should the NH premium be the same?

And another thing!

Very often when one finds a long set, it may be that all are NH apart from the two top values that have been previously hinged – this I can understand – probably plain economics or it is so difficult to find the top values NH. However what is as frustrating is finding that same long set with the lower three denominations hinged when the rest are not. When a collector starts out, lack of funds or lack of knowledge may encourage him (or her) to use hinges on the low values that he obtains. With subsequent knowledge of hingeless mounts, all subsequent purchases are safely encased in Showgard mounts – maybe even those few early values are remounted to give the page symmetry.

Now back to the “sticky question”.

I’d like to know your opinion on this subject.

As you know, I am interested in the stamps of Great Britain and the entire British Family of Nations. So I will use these as the basis of my thoughts. I propose:-

Queen Victoria Issues up to 1890                                         NH Premium = 3.0

Queen Victoria issues after 1890                                          NH Premium  = 2.5

King Edward VII issues                                                        NH Premium = 2.2

King George V issues up to 1932                                          NH Premium = 1.85

King George V issues after 1932 + King Edward VIII issues   NH Premium = 1.33

King George VI issues                                                         NH Premium = 1.25

This may seem a bit complicated, and maybe it is. On the other hand it may be too simplistic.

Maybe high values – say 5 shilling values and up should deserve a little more premium; maybe some lower values may need a little more as well.

Certainly some countries’ issues are easier to find NH than others. We all know how stamps from warmer climes tend to be plagued with toned gum. This often caused the collector/owner to float the gum off before it suffused into the paper and affected the appearance of the stamp face.

So what do you think? Should we have a standard at all or should we leave all well alone? Please let me have your comments and/or suggestions.

This could be the start of quite a discussion!!


It has been cold by Florida standards – not at all pleasent for snowbirds and other tourists, but great for us stamp folk. We are not tempted to go to the beach or potter around in the garden and we can concentrate on our stamp collections and exhibits. 

Jean and I attended both the APS Exhibition in Atlanta and the Sarasota Annual Show these past two weeks. We met up with many old friends (one couple even presented us with a bottle of scotch!) and it was evident that many a collector was upgrading a collection, or maybe improving an exhibit.

Fort Lauderdale and Naples are on our itinery in the next several weeks – hope to see you there!


Jean and I are looking forward to seeing you at the Atlanta Hilton this weekend.

We will be bringing Britain’s new Starwars issues – get to us quickly for these spectacular issues – they’ve been snapped up early at previous shows & we’re in danger of running out.

Stay safe as you journey to this exciting exhibition!