“Trust, but verify.” President Ronald Reagan made this phrase famous during his presidency while negotiating with then-Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Though the U.S.-Soviet relations were on a better footing than they had been in decades, President Reagan wanted to clarify that we were still wary of our Cold War adversaries.
That phrase is handy in the stamp collecting world, and the foundation of the American Philatelic Society is building a community of trust. One of the very first acts any member of the APS takes is agreeing to live by the Code of Ethics. That Code pledges to live by a high standard, and failing that, ensures a complaint process to resolve philatelic disputes.
An APS member shared correspondence with me from Jay Sheffler, of Marlen Stamp and Coins out of Great Neck, New York. The letter claimed philatelic memberships in several organizations. Neither Mr. Sheffler nor the company’s owner is an APS member. Our society attorney sent the company a “cease and desist” letter.
Stamp collecting attracts bad actors who take away from our hobby. One of our critical purposes is to ensure fellow APS members can buy and sell material confidently. We all have dealers we’ve dealt with for years that have earned our trust. Looking for other dealers who might have an item of interest shouldn’t be a guessing game.
I recommend looking at those who advertise with The American Philatelist. In every issue of the journal, dealers from around the globe offer great items for sale and sound advice on collecting, and some might be interested in buying items when the time comes. Our advertisers are investing in the APS and the hobby, meaning they value you as an APS member.
We also maintain a list of current APS dealer members on the website at https://stamps.org/dealers. Thousands of people visit this page each month to find dealers who are located nearby or sell a specific collecting area. The list is updated to reflect the hundreds of dealer members in good standing. Before doing business with any new dealer, we recommend you visit the site and confirm their APS membership.
Collectors worldwide know the APS and the trust that membership affords fellow members. So whether they are selling as a dealer or online, many claim APS membership. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it true.
If, in your dealings, you come across someone misrepresenting their membership status with the APS, please notify us. It is critically important that, as a community, we look out for each other and keep the Code of Ethics as strong as possible to serve the hobby for decades to come.
Counterfeit forever stamps
Wayne Youngblood, frequent columnist, Luff Award winner, Summer Seminar instructor on stamp technology, and recipient of a list of other accolades too long to mention here, has been doing incredible work educating collectors on counterfeit USPS Forever stamps. He recently joined Charles Epting and Michael Cortese of Conversations with Philatelists to share information on the subject. The conversation is a must-watch for everyone in the collecting community to identify counterfeit stamps and is an excellent primer in the expertization process.
To view the June 13, 2022, episode, click here, where a link to the November 22, 2021 episode is included. Both episodes are informative and worth sharing with collecting friends. Thanks to Wayne for his great work on the subject!