77 Years of Stamp Collectors’ Approval

One of the questions most frequently asked by new business colleagues, new employees, and new customers alike is, “Why does Jamestown Stamp Company place so much focus on its approval service?”  It’s an understandable question.  The arrival of the Internet changed the way we purchase many items.  Things we used to buy from mail-order catalogs and over the phone are now just a few clicks away for most people.  While times have indeed changed, the relationship between the stamp dealer and the stamp collector has not.

merely selling stamps is not our passion

At Jamestown Stamp Company, we understand that the stamps on approval service may seem a bit foreign to new collectors.  We do our best to offer as many items as we can via our Web site and mailings to introduce collectors to both the hobby and the approval service.  As one of America’s oldest and most established stamp dealers, we see a HUGE number and variety of collectible postage stamps.  Not only would it be near impossible to list online every item that passes through our doors.  But merely selling stamps is not our passion.  Nor is it our focus.  We strive to serve to our customers exactly what they want for their stamp collections.

stamp approvals customers get the first look

Almost every other business is a first come first serve type business.  The stamp approvals service works differently.  When we acquire new stamps, our experts immediately seek those collectible  stamps that will appeal to their approvals customers.  When we acquire sufficient numbers of any one item or stamp set, we do list them online.  But only after our stamp approvals customers get the first look.  Serving our customers is what we do.  It’s our job and our passion.  The Stamp Collector’s Approval is what want most.  And we wouldn’t want it any other way.

What are Approvals?

In his 1957 book, Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting, Richard Cabeen describes the purchasing of stamps on approval as “one of the most important methods used in buying and selling stamps”.  In fact, Cabeen discusses stamps on approval first over all other methods of acquiring collectible stamps.  So, what is the “on approval” thing and why is it so important?

Most collectors do not live close to a stamp dealer.  Nor do they have access to huge numbers of U.S. and Worldwide stamps.  Even if they do live close to a stamp dealer, who can find time with today’s hectic pace of life?  Enter Approvals.  Stamp approvals bring the stamp dealer stock directly to your door.  The dealer mails you a quantity of stamps for you to view and hopefully approve.  You keep and purchase those stamps you like, or of which you approve, and mail the rest back to the dealer.

You can see why approvals are so important for seasoned stamp collectors.  But they are also great for those just beginning  the stamp collecting hobby since they can very quickly and easily view a number of collectible stamps they’d never otherwise see.

– James the Web guy

See Also:  77 Years of of Stamp Collectors’ Approval

Kids and Collecting Pt 2

My friends tell me I’m stuck in the 80’s. Who decided parachute pants were “out” anyway? I can’t force myself to like something just because it’s popular. I also can’t stop liking what I like (or digging what I dig, if you will). As much as I have a hard time understanding it, it’s the same for the current generation.

I’ve tried to impress my daughter with topicals that seemed like young girl topics to me. When she wasn’t interested in flowers on stamps or horses on stamps, I thought perhaps the critics were right. Luckily though, I found that given a wide variety of stamps, my child was very much capable of developing her own taste in topics. In fact, much to my surprise, she was interested in country specific worldwide stamps since she was learning about certain countries in school. If you find yourself up against the same, give our Mixtures or Packets a try. Not only can you snag a large quantity of affordable stamps but you can do so online so you can keep on the parachute pants without worry of laughter.

— James the Web guy

Stamp Soaking

So, you’ve saved a few hundred envelopes with stamps or purchased a stamp mixture. Now how do you get them off that paper? It may sound odd to first timers but you simply let them soak in cool to room temperature water for 5-10 minutes. But first, be certain that the envelope itself isn’t a First Day Cover or have some other historical or personal significance. If it does, it’s better to archive the whole envelope. While so much is made of safe handling, it seems plain wrong to dump your stamps in water. While very few stamps have ink that runs after being doused, current US stamps do not.

Once you’re sure you wish to remove the stamps from their paper select a container large enough to give your stamps plenty of room to soak. Selecting too small a container or using too little water will make the gum (or glue) concentration in the water damage your stamps. So, use plenty of cool to room temperature water. Once the stamps have soaked for 5 to 10 minutes, carefully remove them, one by one, from the water and peel the paper from the stamp. Then place the stamp face down on a blotter or newspaper. When using newspaper, use only news print with low-rub ink. If your hands are black after reading the paper, it’s not low rub.

Once all your stamps have shed their paper and face down on the blotter, give them time to dry. When they have dried, they’re ready to be placed in an album, stock card, or other enclosure.

— James the Web guy

Kids and Collecting Part 3

Anyone half interested in collecting stamps has heard the talk of today’s kids not being interested in stamps. Perhaps there’s a shred of truth to that. But that same truth can be applied to most items that kids collect. Are rocks exciting? They can be, I suppose. But the point is that rocks don’t have to have images of the latest cartoon characters or the latest boy band for a child to pick it up and put it in his pocket. Nor do they have to be rare and valuable. The fact that they are common and easily found makes looking for a different one all that much more meaningful. These same factors still apply to stamps. So, why aren’t more kids collecting stamps these days?

One contributing factor is certainly the fact that much of any given day’s mail is metered mail (printed rather than stamped). Another is that busy parents are less likely to ask post office clerk to view the varieties available. Instead, we use a machine, the Web, or just ask for a book of stamps. It looks like both of those reasons are related more to adults than factors controllable by children. And on a rainy day, which requires less effort on the part of the parent: dragging out the stamp collection and answering questions; or, handing them the remote?

So, where’s our defense as parents? I’m a parent too. All of the above are also related to time…a commodity that continues to dwindle with each new generation. For our kids to learn to take time to collect stamps, we have to do the same. It’s actually a refreshing thought. Take an hour or so the next time you have a chance. Upon your child’s first glance at a pile of stamps, the likely first question will be, “which one is your favorite”? From that moment forward, collecting stamps may be one of those few loves you and your child share for years to come.

— James the Web guy

Finding Rare Postage Stamps

Is it even possible to find rare postage stamps these days? One of the things that I feel makes this hobby so exciting is the possibility of finding a true treasure. Think about it. Unlike most other collectibles, postage stamps–while on a letter–were often tucked safely away. While many collectibles are stored away safely, letters of significance were and are often protected for later review whether the owner collected stamps or not. Non collectors generally disregard the stamp entirely. This means that while the entire letter or postcard may be preserved, the owner would have no idea what stamp was on it.

Ever hear of the story of the woman who placed an ad to accumulate used stamps for wallpaper? This was soon after the first stamps were issued in England. Most of the big headline type stamps were preserved as known collectibles. Imagine what’s still out there, perhaps in a relative’s attic, that remains unaccounted for.

I remember when metal detectors were all the rage. Unless something was discovered relatively quickly, most metal detectors collected dust for the rest of their lives. But when searching for stamps on old mail, even when the search produces few real treasures, you still enjoy the trip back through history.

— James the Web guy

Stamp Cancel Marks

We were soaking off some stamps the other day and noticed that some of the stamps had large, almost defacing cancel marks on them. Obviously, their purpose is to mark the stamp as having been used. But one would think that postal service would do their best not to destroy any aesthetic value of the stamp(s).

We’re not talking about just one or two stamps either. It seems that most of the stamps from Christmas letters had this problem. I don’t mean to harp on the postal workers. Certainly, they have plenty to do without worrying about lightly canceling stamps. But with all the technology available today, it would seem that less destructive ways of canceling stamps would exist. Do we really need large black marks to prevent the possibility of someone reusing postage stamps? I’ve heard that some offices are using spray on cancels but have yet to see any in my little town.

— James the Web guy

Sports and Stamps

No, I’m not talking about Sports on Stamps topicals. I’m talking about teamwork. It’s basketball season so let’s talk basketball. The NBA is gearing up for the playoffs and we’re knee deep in March Madness. Contrary to what commercials and media hype would have us believe, championship teams are built from a group…not just a single marquis player. Sure, marquis players get all the hype. But alone, they do not win championships.

The same goes for your stamp collection. Unless the goal is to simply keep up with the Jonses, build your collection as a whole and for yourself. Some scoff at postage stamps from certain countries or certain topics. But this is not a hobby restricted to those who believe their tastes are elite.

Don’t get me wrong. Championship teams have stars and so should your collection. But if you have only a handful of prize stamp issues, this won’t be much of a hobby. Feel free to explore countries you’ve never heard of and cannot pronounce. Also, building a championship pro team requires being budget minded. Don’t be afraid to buy a few bargain packets.

— James the Web guy

Stamps and Anticipation

I’ve waited all week to get back to my Mongolia collection only to find that I was out of time. There’s just something about securing a chunk of time for organizing and researching new stamps.

I have 5 new packets and I’ve only sneaked a peek at one of them so far. I could rush it and just go over a few stamps. But I won’t.

I’d much rather save the time for being well spent than rushed. I think Deanna B explains the feeling of looking forward to new stamps best in her September blog about checking the mail for new stamp approvals.

— James the Web guy

Is Stamp Collecting for Nerds

What makes something for nerds anyway? Let me retape my glasses and address this question. I could list famous people who have collected stamps but that would be reversing the same ridiculous stereotype. Hobbies simply don’t make people cool or uncool. This is common sense and we all know this. But none of us particularly enjoy appearing uncool. For this reason very few of us would wear a shirt that proclaims, “I am a Geek”. The opposite would probably also lead to unfavorable comments…wearing a shirt that said “I am Cool”. Regardless of which category you might think you fall into, boldly proclaiming either will probably not pan out in your favor. Just the same, it would be ill advised to carry a perforation gauge to the high school prom. This is common sense.

So, what do you do if you are interested in stamp collecting but fear being labeled a geek? That’s simple. People don’t need to know everything about you. But it’s pretty tough to share the love of the hobby when you feel you can’t talk about it. The Internet is a great place where you can communicate with like minded people. Just don’t get carried away or you may find yourself hiding the fact that you’re actually cool.

Now, if you’re a die hard stamp collector and could care less what people say, kudos. By all means take your stamp album on your first date or your Scott Catalogue on your honeymoon. If you can find one, you may wish to pick up a tie with perforations and watermarks. Seriously, be real and enjoy one of the oldest hobbies known to man.