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Thread: What to do with postage stamps....

  1. #1
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    Default What to do with postage stamps....

    ...when you have way too many?

    My father, who passed away in 2001, was an occasional collector of things that he thought would have future value. One example: he culled out US coins made just before the switch away from silver... and at one point, it was worth 25 times the face value. Another example: he collected certain $1 bills, signed by the Treasurer of the US, the day before she died (having served only one day in office). He thought those bills would have collector value... as it turns out, they didn't.

    His longest term collection, however, was 'plate blocks'.... which are the corner of the sheet of US commemorative stamps containing the serial number of the sheet. These things were popular to collect, back in the 1950's through the 1970's. They weren't actually easy to get; one normally would have to buy a full sheet of 50 stamps, in order to tear off just the plate block. As it happened, several of his part time employees were also US postal employees, who could tear off the plate block in advance (the post office itself didn't really care one whit about plate blocks, so they permitted employees to snatch the plate blocks, as long as the stamps were paid for). Here's an example:



    Anyhow... my Dad created binders full of these... containing special sheets with info about each plate block, and a place to mount the plate block on each sheet. He started in the late 50's... and continued through the mid 70's. He created two complete sets of these sheets, intending to give a set to myself and my sister.

    He didn't, however, collect just one plate block of each new commemorative issue... he collected 'backups'.... many copies of each plate block, unmounted, but stored in envelopes.

    Sometime in the late 70's, he decided to stop collecting... and made some inquiries about the value of the collection, which at the time contained many thousands of plate blocks. Lo and behold, what he discovered was VERY disappointing: the plate blocks had NO value, outside of the face value of the stamps they contained.

    Frustrated and disappointed, he gave each set to my sister and myself, along with the 'backup' plate blocks, telling us that we might as well just break up the stamps and use them for postage. I never broke up the binders full of mounted plate blocks.... but I did use the backup plate blocks as postage for a number of years, until I ran out of them. It was amusing to see just how manyt stamps I had to stick onto a letter, to total the value of a first class stamp, when the denominations were as low as 5 cents

    I forgot all about this, until yesterday afternoon, whilst cleaning out our basement. In the course of going through mountains of stuff, I found three large manila envelopes. containing the commemorative sheets (i.e., the printed sheets designed for mounting plate blocks)... PLUS, piles and piles and piles of unmounted plate blocks.... of all sorts... mostly from around 1970 through 1976.

    So, I have this massive pile of stamps, worth only their face value, and only as postage.... but I only RARELY ever mail a letter. I pay my bills, for the most part, electronically. I checked on eBay; plate blocks like this sell for barely a bit more than their face value.

    So... what do do with them......
    Last edited by Norman Bernstein; 02-12-2018 at 10:08 AM.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  2. #2
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Ayup. Dad worked in the post office system here in Canada for 35 years. He didn't collect the plate blocks corners that you have described; he collected the entire stamp sheets. Apparently there was the thought that complete sheets, with blank borders intact, were going to be rare & valuable. One of these days I will have to go through the immense stack of stamp sheets and find out what I've got, and whether there is any market for them. I have absolutely zero interest in philately.


    (edit to correct a speeling error... mmd)
    Last edited by mmd; 02-12-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    People's interests change! One day, no one wants them, the next, people are trying to buy them. It's like any market for collectables. As long as you have a place to keep them, I would! Ya just never know.

    I happen to have maybe 200 posters, printed by the Germans when there was a time there weren't any newspapers in occupied territories. Were put up on telephone poles every day with the date. Lots of propaganda but, also helpful info as to what's available and prices for that day. Ex; the current price of bread or eggs. I still can't give them away but, there's a lot of history in them. So, I'm keeping them. Posters from 1914-1918.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Quote Originally Posted by S.V. Airlie View Post
    People's interests change! One day, no one wants them, the next, people are trying to buy them. It's like any market for collectables. As long as you have a place to keep them, I would! Ya just never know.

    I happen to have maybe 200 posters, printed by the Germans when there was a time there weren't any newspapers in occupied territories. Were put up on telephone poles every day with the date. Lots of propaganda but, also helpful info as to what's available and prices for that day. Ex; the current price of bread or eggs. I still can't give them away but, there's a lot of history in them. So, I'm keeping them. Posters from 1914-1918.
    Drop a letter to the Imperial War Museum https://customerportal.iwm.org.uk/contact-iwm/ they might be interested in decluttering your cupboard.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Ayup. Dad worked in the post office system here in Canada for 35 years. He didn't collect the plate blocks corners that you have described; he collected the entire stamp sheets. Apparently there was the thought that complete sheets, with blank borders intact, were going to be rare & valuable. One of these days I will have to go through the immense stack of stamp sheets and find out what I've got, and whether there is any market for them. I have absolutely zero interest in philately.
    I wouldn't know anything about the Canadian stamp collecting market... but if it's like the US, those sheets would be worth only the value of the postage... if actually used as postage... and would be worth far LESS than the value of the postage, if sold to a stamp dealer.

    Maybe in another 50 years, they might appreciate in value. That is why I'm keeping the complete sets of mounted plate blocks, organized into binders... and will give them to my daughters. Of course, right now, they have NO interest in them... but maybe, in 50 years...
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  6. #6
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Norman, I have the same problem - My mother and father were also collectors and I am attempting to clear out their collections of plate blocks and First Day covers. I will be watching this thread for updates.



    Rick

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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Nick, I actually like them. My SIL took German at Vassar and she's translated a few.They are interesting. What's also interesting, the posters are written in 1, or 2, or even 3 languages depending how much territory they still occupied. 1914, just two, by 1916 3, by late 1917 a few with 4 and then by 1818 back to two.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Quote Originally Posted by S.V. Airlie View Post
    Nick, I actually like them. My SIL took German at Vassar and she's translated a few.They are interesting. What's also interesting, the posters are written in 1, or 2, or even 3 languages depending how much territory they still occupied. 1914, just two, by 1916 3, by late 1917 a few with 4 and then by 1818 back to two.
    I would have thought that those posters would have significant value... the kind of thing that someone would bring to 'Antiques Roadshow'.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  9. #9
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Norm;

    Unfortunately for you and me(I collected avidly as a kid) stamp collecting is of no interest today. Collectors groups have disappeared. My grandkids are unimpressed with the history behind the stamps in my collection, including plate blocks, both US and Israel. The things aren't interactive. If they want to know about a strange sounding island they can google it, not be bound by a little picture of it on a stamp.

    I cant see a long term change in this. I've got then all in a box in the attic. Just don't throw them out like we did with the baseball cards in the 40s and 50s.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    I would have thought that those posters would have significant value... the kind of thing that someone would bring to 'Antiques Roadshow'.
    So would I just for the historical and cultural aspects. And I don't think A. Roadshow is likely to come here Funny, it's amazing what you can find. When I was having fun having a leak repaired again. The carpenter and I were just chatting about US presidents, which one I liked or didn't and why!I said I was biased because of JA and JQA. He mentioned that he'd done some work for an elderly widow who couldn't afford to pay the full amount of the bill. He went on and said he'd seen a tin lantern with JQA on it. The widow gave it to him as partial payment. I offered to buy it for logical reasons figuring if authentic had to come from 1824 or 28 pres. campaign. He said for 400.00 I could have it! Oh did I hem and haw being Scottish and basically sight unseen, no guarantees on authenticity blah, blah. Well, I bought it and had an appraiser look at it. It fit, style, hinges, workmanship! Sigh of relief. The Smithsonian didn't even look at it and called it a fake because there was no campaign stuff in presidential campaigns until late 1830's except ribbons and small stuff. Anyway, about a yr. later, my BIL called me up to ask if I still have it and I said I did. He said GOOD because one similar but, in worse condition had just sold at Sotheby's for 18 grand.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    My grandfather was a post man and brought me plate blocks.

    Most from the 60s.

    Not sure what to do with them.

    I used to save up for 25 cent stamps figuring they would be worth a fortune.

    Imajine,,, one stamp being 25 cents!.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Philately will get you nowhere.
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    ^My opinion, exactly!
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Veterans' National Stamp and Coin Club

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Medical Center
    Veterans' National Stamp and Coin Club No. 135 S.C.
    3601 South 6th Ave.
    Tucson, AZ 85723
    MATERIALS NEEDED:
    United States and Foreign Stamps both "ON" and "OFF PAPER" - U.S. and Foreign Coins and Paper Money - Sports Cards - Post Cards ( Old and New) - First Day Covers - Foreign Covers - Old U.S. Covers ( before 1920) - Cut Squares - Hunting Permit Stamps - Catalogues for both Stamps and Coins - Albums and Stock Books.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    There appears to be some interest on ebay..
    https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stamps/plate-blocks
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    They have no value to you now so your choice is either toss them or hold on to them. Either way, it won't cost you anything.

    I'd hold onto them just because they were my dad's and they might have some sentimental value. Who knows what they'll be worth in 30 years?
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    The thread reminds me of the early days of the internet when it was coming under government regulation and the government wanted to, in effect, charge for a postage stamp every time it was used. It is sometimes amazing how short-sighted people can be. Then again, it might have cut down on the spam and the silliness.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    That one's valuable, Norman, one of the owls is upside down

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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Norm;

    Unfortunately for you and me(I collected avidly as a kid) stamp collecting is of no interest today. Collectors groups have disappeared. My grandkids are unimpressed with the history behind the stamps in my collection, including plate blocks, both US and Israel. The things aren't interactive. If they want to know about a strange sounding island they can google it, not be bound by a little picture of it on a stamp.
    Yep. Just the other day, I came across part of my stamp collection as a kid. I showed my daughters ( 10 and 13) and described how these represented travel from some person in Sweden, in a land unlike our own, to a ship and then across the ocean and then on through our postal system before finally making it to the destination in the US.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Ah, you restored a fond memory of my brother in trouble. This was in the mid 50s. He must have been 9 years old . He filled out a cupon from the back of a comic book, and mailed it away. The ad said, "FREE STAMPS!"
    Well, indeed he got a net bag filled with hundreds of cancelled stamps. Next week, he received an envelope with a half dozen stamps and a note saying something about being "On Approval". Now, the mailbox was about 200 yards from our door, and it was his job to get the mail, so my parents never saw the weekly envelopes full of stamps "on approval" till one evening the phone rang. My mom answered, and it was a man demanding the return of the "on approval" stamps, or a check for the grand sum of $18.00.
    It took a while for my bro to fess up, and he was made to write a letter of apology which was shipped back to the stamp man along with the stamps and a couple of bucks for his trouble.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: What to do with postage stamps....

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbys View Post
    My grandfather was a post man and brought me plate blocks.

    Most from the 60s.

    Not sure what to do with them.

    I used to save up for 25 cent stamps figuring they would be worth a fortune.

    Imajine,,, one stamp being 25 cents!.
    You and Norman should become penpal's.

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