The Rail Philatelist December 2000 Newsletter
Volume 6 ............... PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)................Number 1 December 1, 2000
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
It is hard to believe that this is my 51st newsletter - time really does fly when your are having fun! Thanks to all of you who have been with me from the beginning (over four years ago) as well as to those of you who have joined me along the way - I couldn't have made it this far without your comments, suggestions and support, not to mention all the orders each month that actually pay the freight. Keep them coming and I'll try to hold up my end of the bargain too!
NEW TITLE: In case you didn't notice, I've changed the title of my newsletter slightly. Thanks to the quick-witted Chuck McFarlane, dba Ausdenmoor-McFarlane, who suggested the title after reading a copy of my newsletter during the APS STAMPSHOW in Providence in August. I considered running a contest to suggest names, but , upon reflection, I realized that Chuck's suggestion captured both the tone of my writings as well as the theme (or topic). Actually, my writing is more rambling than rants, raves or rails based on a strict dictionary definition since neither Webster's rail - "to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation" nor rale - "to make a rattling sound in the throat" accurately describe my deathless prose. I don't think I've yet stooped to Funk & Wagnalls "To use scornful, insolent, or abusive language" either but I've probably come close on occasions. Should I stick with this or do you have another suggestion?
MAIL BID SALE #1: Enclosed you will find my Mail Bid Sale #1 consisting of 23 lots of Belgium imperforate train stamps. Since I only have one of each, I am responding to the numerous customer requests to make such material available in an open forum to the highest bidder rather than at net prices to the first respondent as in my Monthly Specials. If this works, I will try to conduct similar sales each month or two, depending on how much material I can come up with. Meanwhile, the Monthly Specials will also continue. I hope you enjoy this new feature and wish you success in your bidding.
MAIL ORDER/WEB SALES: Since I made a big point about the fall-off in show sales in last month's newsletter, I decided I should comment on my mail order and web sales this month. Thus far I haven't segregated mail order from web sales since they both involve mailing the merchandise to the client and they both originate from the same basic price lists, albeit via different media. If I get active on eBay, as I plan to soon, I'll keep those sales statistics separate. Creating my web page and starting this monthly newsletter in 1996 were probably the smartest moves I've ever made for my business. My quarterly mail sales doubled immediately after I made those improvements. (I don't track monthly sales, just quarterly when I file my sales tax returns - I don't have time to worry about the numbers every month as long as the checking account balance stays slightly positive!). While there are variations from quarter to quarter, average mail sales in 1998 were up only one percent from 1997 but 1999 mail sales increased 42%, mostly because of the plethora of new issues I think. The first three quarters of 2000 are equal to the 1999 averages even though the July-Sept. quarter was down due to my extensive travel & consequent neglect of new issues. So far mail sales seem to be holding up well in the fourth quarter, so 2000 mail sales should at least match 1999. If you ALL send in orders from these lists, I can exceed 1999's mail sales. Thank you for your support!
TRAIN REPORT: I haven't yet reported on my trip to Filatelic Fiesta in Santa Clara in September because there wasn't a lot to report. Yes, I did see a lot of great trains along my favorite trails but there wasn't much out of the ordinary except the following: (1) Because of a sink hole that developed in the Lucin cutoff across the Great Salt Lake on the former Southern Pacific line, Union Pacific is running about twice as many trains over the former Western Pacific route. That explains why I saw more trains near Silverzone pass this trip. (2) Descending toward Colfax,CA on the way on the way out, I saw an AMTRAK train off to my left circling the mountain. Thinking it was the westbound, I rushed to pull off at Colfax to see it come through. Stopping in the passenger car used by the Chamber of Commerce for tourist info, I learned that what I had seen was the eastbound. When I inquired when the westbound was due (since I knew the timetable showed they both passed Colfax about the same time) an elderly gentleman responded that "We never know for sure, but since it is still Friday I guess its on time". I learned in the Roseville station that it was running a couple hours late. (3) On the return trip, I stopped in Green River, WY and the first train I saw as I got to the footbridge was an EB stackpack lead by UP4000 painted with the new winged logo that is a throw-back to the heyday of streamlined train travel - it was a beautiful sight!
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: An early description of the Trans-Siberian railway as "rusty streaks of iron through the vastness of nothing to the extremities of nowhere" makes one marvel at the pioneering spirit and engineering skill of early railroaders.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS:The highest station is Condor, Bolivia at 15,705 feet on the meter-gauge Rio Mulato - to - Potosi line.
HUMAN NATURE: I had the pleasure of spending four hours on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving as a volunteer Salvation Army Bell Ringer, one of my SERTOMA (SERvice TO MAnkind) club's service projects. I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost half the passers-by donated something, most put folding money, including $5 bills, in the kettle, not just their change. That's in sharp contrast to the petty thefts that occur at shows. When filling orders since the Buffalo ATA show, I have encountered numerous 102 cards with used stamps in them while the markings and pricing indicate mint. Obviously, one of my trusted customers who spent a lot of time at my table made several switches to save himself a few bucks when I hastily added up his purchases. I've isolated who it was and you can bet I'll watch him carefully if I ever see him again. But the pain of having my trust violated won't heal. So I'm glad to know that he is a very small minority and that there are so many more generous, giving people in our society. I hope you encounter only the milk of human kindness and enjoy all the blessings of the Holiday Season!
STAMP OF THE MONTH: This postcard depicting an 1876 Christmas scene at the Pleasant Valley, NY railway station brings you my best wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season.
May all your signals be green,
JOIN THE CASEY JONES
RAILROAD UNIT OF THE AMERICAN TOPICAL ASSOCIATION
Dues $8.00. Contact Oliver Atchison, PO Box 31631, San Francisco, CA 94131
News & Notes Back Issues