Knowledge pays dividends

Knowledge pays dividends
By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.

For me the greatest source of pleasure and philatelic education is in the breaking down of collections and accumulations that I have bought.

Plunging head first into my Scott Specialized Catalogue and other reference material is pure bliss as I attribute each stamp. There is also the very real possibility of making a “find”. And, this has happened on more than one occasion. If something better than originally thought is found in a collection purchased from a collector or estate, a further check is sent. Then again sometimes a fi nd is made under the very nose of a dealer who should know better. Let me give you two examples. The unknowing parties will have to remain nameless.

Once while examining lots at a major New York auction house, I was looking at what was described in the auction catalog as a 1¢ Blue Type IV (Scott No. 23). On the stamp that I was examining, both the top and bottom outer lines were clearly broken. This makes it a Type III (Scott 21) and easily worth at least three times the Type IV price. The best part is that this stamp was completely sound and was in fact one of the nicest 21’s I had ever seen. Fearing that someone else would notice the obvious, I waited in great anticipation as the lot came up for bid. A few nominal bids were offered and the lot was mine at a bargain price. I had a buyer who insisted on a Philatelic Foundation certificate and it was subsequently sold with good papers.

In another instance I found a 3¢ Rose “C” Grill (Scott 83) resting in a (major) dealer’s stock book identifi ed, believe it or not, as an “E” Grill (Scott 88). I asked if he was certain that it was Scott 88 to which a curt reply of, “You’re a dealer. You should know what it is” was given. Yes, I knew what it was and paid his price. I happened to be doing a rather large show at the time and later the next day a collector visited my table and couldn’t pay quickly enough for the sound Scott 83 he had been seeking for some time. Again, the Philatelic Foundation certificate was requested and obtained.

Now before I get all kinds of nasty replies, let me make one thing perfectly clear. If it were a newer dealer who would not be expected to have the depth of knowledge that a full-time professional should have, the error of his ways would be pointed out and a not to be forgotten lesson would be learned. But, how can anyone holding himself out to be a major player mistake a “C” Grill for an “E” Grill. Look up the differences and you will see for yourself.

The perusal of reference books and clippings in my offi ce is tantamount to a classroom session. I was fortunate enough to have known Lester Brookman, Herbert Bloch, Pat Herst, Robert Siegel, Ernie Kehr, Mortimer Neinken and many other philatelic luminaries. They taught me so many valuable lessons and were never hesitant in spending their time with the newer dealer. I was also told that if I spot something that is misattributed by someone who should easily know better, buy it. So it is with me at this late date as I have been mentoring several newer dealers.

Experience and repeated classroom sessions with your books will make the identification process become “second hat”. You will not have to open a book to see what the difference is between a 1¢ Blue Type III and Type IV. The prospective seller also becomes duly impressed with your prowess.

Getting back to my opening statement of how much I enjoy breaking down collections, this gives me a very valuable refresher course. Looking at the Type differences once again reinforces my attribution and identifi cation thought processes. After 40 years it is still new and exciting.

More than once I was able to turn down what seemed at the time to be a fantastic buying opportunity. A collection of doctored coils was passed upon and the potential seller made aware of what he had; the same with an album of some questionable cancellations. Just this morning, as this is being written, I was able to help a collector who emailed a scan of a Scott No. 213. When told he had a fake cancel, he was grateful in having saved some hard earned dollars.

Whether you are a collector or a dealer, remember to learn your lessons. In this hobby, sound philatelic knowledge is a powerful thing. Not only is a smart collector or dealer able to help others with one’s acumen, but it’s often fun to be able to use such background to save or make money.

Spend some time studying. It can pay huge dividends.