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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column


       July 2006




     New Australian Stamp index CD released. Ronald Reagan new stamps




The US Post Office will issue a special $8 sheet end May at the Exhibition - which is illustrated nearby.

The sheet features three historic United States postage stamps originally issued in 1923 - the $1 Lincoln Memorial, the $2 U.S. Capitol and the $5 Statue of Freedom that stands atop the Capitol's dome. They were produced from the original 1923 dies created by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

A superb and simple concept and design, and boy I wish Australia Post had the foresight to issue such an item for our recent major international - the ill fated "Pacific Disaster 2005". If there was a special stamp issue for that flop, it was so insipid I have forgotten it already.




 What a superb looker




Had Australia issued an $8 sheet like this, depicting the 10/-, £1 and £2 First Watermark 1913 Kangaroos it could have looked superb. Those three stamps in combo have the most wonderful colour interaction, as all of us who have owned or seen a Specimen set can attest.

I personally would have purchased 100s of such $8 sheets to use on collector mail and parcels for the next year, as I did with the magnificent $5 "Kangaroo" giant stamp of nearly 2 years back.

The sheet itself could have a face value of $5, $8 or $10 ..... the Roo stamps could be reproduced exactly as they were in 1913.




New Stamp CD ROM



Reader and dealer Geoff Sherrington sent me a CD Rom recently that has images on it of most of the Australian stamps issued since 1913 - right up to May 2006, the date I type this.  It also includes the Australian Antarctic Territory and 1946 BCOF Japan issues etc.

There are about 2,700 different images in the standard JPG format, at very sharp high resolution of 600 dpi.  They are all indexed chronologically in a neat Excel spread sheet that has about 3600 rows of 17 columns wide!

Each row covers one stamp and the columns outline each stamp's description, colour, value, watermark, date, die, perforations, variety (such as paper, printer, some listed varieties where relevant), catalogue numbers, key words and so on.

 Essentially all of the 2512 primary numbers from the ACSC are here. "P" stamps are usually listed only under the primary stamp design, not by the contents of the tabs.

The amount of scanning work and data entry work involved in this new production must have been phenomenal. Thousands of hours I am told.  It illustrates ‘Specimen’ issues from 1913, and perf ‘OS’ Defins and Commems, and even mini sheets and sheetlets of the modern issues. It has issue dates of most issues.





Sample illustration



I selected one stamp at random - the 1913 1d Red Kangaroo perforated Large "OS" - illustrated nearby. The listing for that reads as follows in one neat line:

Year : 1913 - 1 pence red Kangaroo and Map, First Crown over A, Die I. Perf 12. ACSC 2Aba. S.G. O2. Michel 2IXLI(51X). Comprehensive 2LOS, Seven Seas 2L. Variety Perforated Large "OS". Comments - Animal, marsupial, kangaroo, roo, map Australia.

The images I looked at were all very clear, and indeed the one shown above is taken direct off the spread-sheet by clicking on the blue hyperlink cell. To use them separately, you simply right click on the image, and left click ‘Save Picture As’ option, and type in the short name you want to save it as.

You can then email the image or use it in any way you wish. Add it to a web page or Auction listing. The result is a good clear scan of this stamp that is about 150 - 200 Kb in size - perfect for normal use and emailing. This illustration here was emailed to the Editor after saving via this method, off the CD Rom.

And I must stress right up front I am almost techno illiterate. I do not know how these things work, or why it works, and unless DEAD simple, simply can't GET it to work! If I can use this, ANYONE can use it.

For anyone listing stamps on eBay or dealer internet price lists etc, this CD Rom could save a LOT of time with scans and listing data like catalogue numbers and description. Even if you value your time at only $30 an hour it pays for itself in an hour of use.

For general dealer usage the same applies. If you have a client after Orchid topicals you key in CTRL+F and a search box pops up. You can then type ‘Orchid’ or ‘Butterfly’ or ‘Dogs’ in there, and a LOT of matches come up with applicable scans for each.

You can then email these images direct to your client to see if these stamps suit their needs etc. AND all the catalogue numbers for these sets are shown cross-referenced using the numbers from the Gibbons, Michel, Seven Seas "ASC", ACSC or "Comprehensive" catalogues - all readily displayed, that you can add to the email.


 Great for ‘want’ lists


This part is to me a VERY valuable asset. I often get long ‘want’ lists from collectors listing only SG or Michel or ASC catalogue numbers etc. This CD Rom is worth many dealers buying JUST to use as a cross-reference for catalogue numbers, as it can save you hours.

Likewise it is easy for a collector to arrange his ‘want list’ as a print out or email using this CD as the basic data base.

The spreadsheet is "open", so you can add your own data to it - such as how many stamps you have of which one, how much you paid for a stamp, and when, and from whom, etc.
The CD is Excel searchable by key words - especially useful for thematic collectors. You can cut and paste descriptions for making eBay listings for sale, and you can edit the spreadsheet. You can even re-format to make individual labels to slip into your albums.

Catalogues have become horrendously expensive in recent years. I am flying back from Washington DC with a carton of the new "2007" Scott Catalogues for clients which lists Australia/USA/UN etc. Saves air freight costs!

The many thick German Michel volumes now run to $A120 each. And local postage on each of the Michel or SG or Scott works can easily be another $20 on top of the $120.

So all this number and photo data on a compact CD Rom for a fraction the cost of a single catalogue saves keeping up to date with buying a bunch of foreign catalogues. Updates occur every month or so for this CD I am advised. So the CD ROM you buy next year has an extra year's issues encoded within it.


Only $A30 post free



Cost of the CD Rom is $A30 including postage and packing within Australia in an AP secure mailer. Anywhere overseas costs $US25 - PayPal accepted, and in my opinion is excellent value if you do not enjoy scanning. It is a fast and compact way to access illustrations and catalogue numbers.

The CD is packaged professionally with a custom colour outer label inside the hard 'jewel' storage case.

The uses are many. It is a very clever and long overdue idea, and a product of six year's work Geoff tells me. I do like to see folks rewarded for hard and innovative work, and hope this product has good commercial success.

Australia leads the world with this compilation, which is both cheaper and more comprehensive than similar products from other countries.

Contact the creator Geoff Sherrington re ordering details, or payment or dealer enquiries about this production. Some larger dealers such as myself stock this item and we can mail copies too.




Spanish Hi Jinx
The Afinsa mess in Spain has been THE talking point around the stamp world in the past month.

To re-cap my detailed run down from last month where some 5 BILLION Euros was lost by around 400,000 unsophisticated investors in Spain and Portugal.



The photos nearby show a crowd of angry investors fronting police who are blocking entry to the sealed off wooden doored Afinsa Madrid headquarters. And more Spanish police leaving the locked Forum Filatelico offices armed with a Search Warrant.

The good news is that the effect of this disaster seems confined nearly exclusively to Spain and Portugal.

The Stanley Gibbons share price did not fall too much at all, given that the (Afinsa majority owned) USA Escala (Manning) Group shares price has now settled at around 25% of what it was before the scandal - as I type this.

The old expression - "if it sounds too good to be true - it probably is" rings loud in many ears now, I can bet.

Essentially these were people believing a 10% interest return could be obtained buying stamp investments, when banks were paying one third that rate. Just not possible, and like all pyramid schemes of this type, the bubble bursts eventually.

I just sold a pair of hinged 1913 £1 roos this week for $A8,000. They came from the Royal Collection. I am collecting them in Washington from the owner. Material like this is scarce, has superb provenance, and is highly sought after. The goings on in Spain has not affected that market one jot.

Scarce stamps like that will keep increasing in value. Overpriced modern junk that Afinsa ploughed into "investment parcels" was never worth anything like what the bunnies paid them for it - simple as that.




Ronnie Returns


The USA issued a 37¢ Ronald Reagan stamp on February 9, 2005. That day would have been his 94th birthday.

I illustrated the stamp in my column January 2005 and said: "the design is illustrated here ,as it is one of the most warm and appealing looking USA stamps I have seen for some time, and I am sure will be enormously popular worldwide."
(Disclaimer - I personally feel Reagan was somewhat of a complete doofus as President, but my comment was based on the stamp design not his leadership ability!)





4 metre high stamp



 I have no hard statistics on it, but my guess is Reagan was the most popular President for decades. I guess when you are competing against the likes of Richard Nixon and both George Bush's it is not very difficult to win votes in that poll.

Reagan MUST be popular - the US Post Office released on June 14 the exact same stamp again with the new postage rate of 39¢. USPS spokesperson Lauren Sposato told Linns Stamp News that this decision was entirely based on the huge popularity of the 37¢ stamp.

To issue the SAME design commemorative stamp a year after the first one is surely unheard of in USA stamp history?



Nixon Unpopular


I bet both the Reagan stamps will outsell the 1995 32¢ Nixon issue - five to one. That stamp issue was incredibly un-popular with the public and even rated a story at the time in ‘USA Today’.

All over the USA, postal clerks reported that people were asking for any stamp other than Nixon. The ‘USA Today’ article quoted a Post Office sales manager in Houston saying 9 out of 10 customers turned down the stamp when it was offered.

Only 80 million Nixon were printed, and I bet most were destroyed later. Numbers ’sold’ have never been released. USPS know what they were doing – they issued 400 million of the Marilyn Monroe stamps, released the following month!

517 million sold





Nixon is quite a contrast to the 1993 29¢ Elvis Presley issue.  USPS claims it is their largest selling commemorative stamp in history.  Over 517 million stamps were sold.  They reportedly made a phenomenal profit on that one stamp.

The USPS website admits it sold 124 million stamps that were never used as postage – called "retention" in USPS jargon. That's no surprise, considering the millions of stamp collectors, and Elvis fans out there.   That is $US36 million pure profit.

Nancy Reagan is in the centre of the three standing dignitaries in the photo nearby at the unveiling of the original stamp issue at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, in Simi Valley California. 

On her left is US Postmaster General John Potter,  and on the right is Frederick Ryan Jr, Reagan's Chief Of Staff 1989-95.

Mrs Reagan said at the 37¢ stamp unveiling: 'The stamp really captures Ronnie's humour and optimism, and I hope the American people will like it as much as I do.'

The 2005 Reagan stamp was chosen as the most important commemorative of 2005 and as the favourite "Stamp Of The Year" in the annual reader poll conducted by "Linn's Stamp News" - the largest selling stamp magazine in the world. 

Ronald Reagan died June 6, 2004 of pneumonia, following a decade long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.



USPS to hike rates


The American 39¢ domestic postage rate of this Reagan stamp will soon be a distant memory.  The USPS has just applied for permission to increase the letter rate next year to 42¢. 

They want an AVERAGE 8.5% rate hike.  Some categories like Priority Mail are targeted for 13.8%,  Express Mail by 12.5%, and packages by 13.4% average.  The domestic newspaper rate would increase a whopping 24.2%.









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Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 25 years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association.  (New York) 
Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society.  (London)  ANDA. (Melbourne)  American Philatelic Society, etc

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