Do You Buy Stamps?

Do You Buy Stamps?
By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.

This happens to be one of the most frequently asked questions of us. Sometimes, in an effort to practice economy, the last word is omitted but we are still able to ascertain the inquirer’s intent without much difficulty.

There have been numerous occasions when we wished to reply, “No, we do not buy any stamps. When certain items are required for our inventory we simply turn to our Stamps Needed machine and enter the Scott Catalogue numbers desired. After the proper commands are entered for used or unused and centering, we merely press our green ‘start’ button and within seconds we have sufficient material to replenish our stock.” Ah, the wonders of the modern computer age, eh?

We are not referring solely to those face-to-face encounters at shows or in our office. A surprisingly large number of these inquiries arrive by email or postal mail. But, so far we have bitten our tongue and retort with, “What do you have for sale?”

We would prefer that the seller be a bit more specific. Perhaps asking, “Are you currently buying fine and better material, like unhinged plate blocks of the 1920 to 1940 era?”, or, “I have a small collection of early U.S. stamps that I’d like to sell. The stamps are all used in the 19th century and used and unused for those issues up to 1930. There are a few faults and I have noted them.” That kind of language is a sweet song to any U.S. dealer’s ears—and mine tend to perk up when I encounter someone willing to offer such detailed specifics.

When we ask the seller to send the stamps to us in order that they may be properly evaluated, you would think that we are asking that one of his children be sent instead. Indignation usually reigns at our attempt to make a fair offer. More than once we have had a scathing reply calling our personal attention to the integrity of the seller and boldly questioning our audacity to think otherwise.

Even though we advertise that we deal solely in pre-1940 U.S. stamps, we are asked to buy everything from foreign collections to fi rst day covers. When the reply is made in the negative, we are looked upon with disbelief. “You’re a stamp dealer aren’t you? Why aren’t you interested in buying my stamps?”

When we point out that we do not sell that type of material and that the collector should seek out the dealers from whom it was purchased, the veins begin to pop out in the neck and the face turns a deep crimson. The legendary stamp dealer Pat Herst called this breed of collectors The Impossibles.

We have yet another name in mind. We would suggest that the seller make the material presentable and in an orderly fashion. This means casting aside all protective mounts and arranging the stamps in catalog order on stock pages for ease of spection. An inventory list, againin sequential order, is a big plus as well. The dealer is then able to check off each item as it has been examined and make any necessary notations as to condition and the like.

We have yet to meet a seller who does not possess some idea of the price that is desired. Why not state the price up front? A simple declaration such as, “These are the better items; the ones in this book are more or less common; and these are the few fl awed items. I would like to receive $______ for the collection.” In our humble opinion this surely beats playing Let’s Make a Deal.

It is hoped that these few words will inspire many prospective sellers to foster a better line of communication with their favorite dealer or dealers when the time comes to sell. Assuredly—and in practically every instance—it will cast the seller in a much better light with the dealer. And note this most especially: If the seller’s price is a fair one, there should be little doubt that it can be readily agreed upon.