Readers of The American Philatelist remind us frequently that they read the magazine for two reasons. They want to learn about different collecting areas and different ways to collect. And they want to check the advertisements to find stamps or covers to grow their collections. Since 1887, articles in the AP have delivered insights about thousands of philatelic topics, and ads have provided a pipeline for collectors to connect with dealers.
How to build your stamp collection
But one subject has been lacking for too long in our pages: what are the best ways to build a stamp collection? What do the experts recommend when it comes to filling in those albums and stockbooks? Welcome to the Stamp Collectors Buyers Guide Special Issue. If you want to build your collection bigger and better, you will want to read every article this month. Instead of asking experts to write articles, we took a different approach. Associate editor Susanna Mills and I interviewed a group of the best and brightest names in philately. We delved and probed. We got them talking! And they shared with us both the obvious things that you may have forgotten and the lesser-known tricks of the trade that perhaps you have not heard previously.
How I Collect
We started by speaking with four collectors whose articles you have seen in these pages: John Hotchner, Wayne Youngblood, Carol Bommarito, and Kris McIntosh. Each has their own unique approach to collecting. Reading their stories and following their tips will enable each of us to improve how we collect.
Advancing from intermediate to advanced collecting
Did you know that 54% of APS members self-identify as advanced collectors? Another 42% consider themselves intermediate level collectors. The question that begs to be asked is, how does a collector grow from the intermediate to the advanced level in the hobby? We consulted with two experts who earn their living by helping collectors progress (and purchase). Charles Shreve is famous for the counsel he has provided to such well known philatelists as Bill Gross. As Director of Siegel International, Charles’ most important role is to build great collections. Victoria Lajer is Managing Director of Stanley Gibbons. She plays a crucial role in guiding SG’s clients as they progress in the hobby. It will interest you to learn that neither Charles nor Victoria had ever been interviewed on the specific topic of advancing from intermediate to advanced collecting. You are reading it here first, folks!
How to buy safely and at low cost
With stamp shows in stasis for the moment, collectors have been expanding their use of “remote” stamp buying. But without the comfort of meeting your favorite dealers face-to-face, there are still uncertainties and dangers in buying online. Wendy Masorti, former APS Director of Sales, counsels us on internet buying. The APS was founded in 1886 and one of its first member services was the round-robin sales method using circuit books. Well, Circuit Sales are still going strong 135 years later! Current Director of Sales, Carol Hoffman and Circuit Manager Bill Dixon tell us about this powerful way to build your collection. Similar in many ways to approvals, but with the added safety of dealing through the APS, learn why you should add Circuits to your buying methods.
How to start a new collection
Each of us has arrived at the point where we realize either we have unintentionally embarked upon a new collecting area or we have decided that it is time to start a new collection. We reached out to veteran dealer Jay Smith to get you the best advice about starting a new collection. I regularly read Jay’s weekly newsletter. It is chock-full of helpful advice, including ways to begin a new collection. Jay is also a senior member of the APEX Expert Committee. His advice is sought on many philatelic topics. We bring you his best counsel on starting a new collection.
Collecting new issues
One of the most popular sections on our stamps.org website is the New Issues pages. We average about 10,500 views per month. New issues collecting is more popular than ever. And the flood of new issues from around the world is relentless. If you wanted to buy one of each stamp newly issued, you would need an annual budget of around $50,000! But even if your new issue collecting is not that ambitious, it is still a major challenge to learn about pending new issues and then to find where to buy them. We asked two veterans of the new issues wars to share their secrets with you. Bill Silvester has written the “New World Issues” column in The American Philatelist since February 2020, and John Stefanek sources new issues for APS affiliate and ATA study unit Gay and Lesbian History on Stamps.
Albums and supplies
Every collector faces the challenge of picking the right album for their individual, unique approach to collecting. There is no one right answer, of course. But there are many paths you might best avoid. We went to two of the most experienced executives in the business and got the scoop on smart decision making. You of course will know Jay Bigalke, the former editor of the AP. Jay is now Editor-in-Chief of both the Scott Catalogs and Linn’s. He knows a thing or three about stamp albums. As does Paul Bartolomei of Palo Albums. You might remember that the polybagged January AP was accompanied by the complete Palo catalog. I hope you retained it as an example of the types of albums available in the marketplace. Between these two pros, we offer you an insider’s view of procuring albums just right for you.
In philately, nothing is more valuable than having trusted relationships with stamp dealers. The best dealers offer you the stamps you are interested in collecting, in good condition, and at fair prices. Such dealers stand behind their merchandise and help you find those difficult-to-obtain items. But, with so many dealers out there, just how does a collector identify the right dealers for them? We turned to two of the best in the business. Stanley Piller is a trusted dealer and counselor to many of the great specialists in U.S. classic stamps. He may not have purchased his inventory of 1847s direct from the post office, but many of them are post-offices fresh! Liliana Rosende of Champion Stamp offers a very different perspective on stamp dealing. Champion is the last remaining street-level stamp dealer in New York City. Champion’s success where all others have faded offers lessons for both collectors and dealers. Of course, dealers have to nurture relationships with their clients. But trusted relationships are a two-way street. Learn how to establish and grow lasting relationships with your network of dealers. Your stamp collection will thank you!
The Editing Philately Column is reprinted from the March 2021 Issue of The American Philatelist, The Buyers Guide Issue. If you are interested in joining the American Philatelic Society to gain access to members only benefits such as this highly acclaimed monthly magazine, visit Together We Grow today!