Why in the world would you do business with an ASDA Dealer?

Why in the world would you do business with an ASDA Dealer?
     The Answer is quite simple.
James E. Lee

As an ASDA dealer we subscribe to a set of ethical bench marks: integrity, honesty, expertise, dedication and respectability. These are not merely tenets listed on the association’s letterhead. These are the guiding principles for any professional worth he/her salt. As a collector today you have many avenues to follow when spending money on your collection. You have access to eBay, stamp shows, retail stores, mail order, public auctions and more. Each of these sources of material has its pitfalls and how you chose to navigate them will determine the outcome of your collecting experience. Whether you are just filling holes in an album or striving to develop a world class specialized collection, you can chart your own course or enlist the support of a dealer to reach your goal. This column will focus on the later. Please excuse my bias as a professional philatelist, but if you follow my advice I can insure that you will have an enjoyable collecting experience while pursuing this marvelous hobby of stamp collecting.

Before we look at the steps and approaches used to build a collection, I want to share with you a letter to the editor from a recent issue of “Mekeel’s”. In brief, a reader wrote that he had collected stamps for over 40 years and had spent in excess of $100,000 during that time. When he sold his collection this year he received a check for $20,000. The tenor of his letter would lead one to believe that he was upset with the evaporation of his capital. I don’t know what he collected, how he collected, or if he had a goal. But a swing of $80,000 should grab anyone’s attention. If you follow the steps below you should be able to stay out the philatelic equivalent of “harm’s way”.

Here is how an ASDA professional will be able to help you build your collection.

Once you decide on an area to collect, educate yourself about that area. Acquire
and read all of the available literature. The study of old auction catalogs will provide a census of material that exists in your chosen area. Next find a dealer who has a strong background and knowledge of the area that you have chosen to collect. Just as you wouldn’t go to a plumber for a heart value replacement you don’t want a cover dealer advising you on collecting a specific area of classic U.S. stamps.

As stated at the beginning of this article there are many avenues to pursue when it
comes to acquisition of material. A knowledgeable dealer should be able to assist
you with all of them.

The dealer you choose to work with will probably be able to supply you with pieces
from his/her own stock. As a specialist he/she will know where to find the elusive
pieces you will want as your collection grows and matures.

The relationship that you build with this person will be to key to your experience. A
dealer should be able to advise you on the material available to you. He/she may advise you to pass on a certain piece until one of the better quality copies come along. An example would be a conversation that I had this past week with a fellow dealer seeking my opinion on a piece he had been offered for a client. Since it was an essay he sought out my advice. The item was being offered for somewhat over $12,000. I told him that the item had recently sold at auction for about $6,000. My advice was the $12,000 item was of questionable provenance. I suggested that if his client can afford $12,000 he can probably afford $20,000 for a quality piece. If my assumption is correct, advise him to have patience, for a quality piece comes up at auction at least once each year. I am sure his client will be quite happy by the end of the year.

Your dealer should be able to represent you at public auctions, examining items of interest to you and bidding on them for you as well. In some cases you may want him/her to bid in their name to preserve you anonymity to the auction house and sale floor. Some collectors employ this strategy because they feel it keeps them from being run up in price.

You can use your dealer to act as a broker when you have the opportunity to acquire a significant amount of material for your collection from another dealer or collector. This strategy keeps you out of the negotiating mix and may result in more favorable terms of purchase.

Most importantly the dealer you have chosen to represent your interests is your eyes and ears in the marketplace. He/she has the time to pursue your interests through contacts within the marketplace. This can save you an untold amount of time and probably some money as well.

When it comes time to sell, what better person to advise you than the person who has spent years helping you build your collection. In the final analysis, the goals any collector will want to achieve are years of enjoyment, satisfaction that they have fulfilled their intellectual curiosity, and an overall positive experience derived from the years of philatelic pursuit. These results can be achieved when you employ a professional philatelist to help you achieve your goals. Make sure it’s an ASDA member who subscribes to the ASDA code of ethics.

Jim is a member of ASDA his philatelic business is, James E. Lee, www.jameslee.com and he can be reached by email at jim@jameslee.com