The Rail Philatelist February 2001 Newsletter
Volume 6 ............... PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)................Number 3 February 1, 2001
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
"The best laid plans ..." Where has all the time gone! When I tied up for the winter in October I thought "Four months with no travel! I'll get a lot done here at home." I had grand plans to spend October organizing stamps; November filing RPOs, FDCs and event covers; December sorting cinderellas and January boxing magazines. Here it is February and I've barely kept pace with the influx of orders, I'm behind on the new issues, never started any of the planned projects and it is time to be "on the road again" to borrow a phrase from Willie Nelson. Thanks for your continued support and patience. I guess I should be thankful I have projects to look forward to.
LINN'S STAMP NEWS "2000 READER SURVEY": When I saw the summary of the LINN'S 2000 Readers Survey a couple months ago, I sent in my SSAE for the full version. Michael Laurence's introduction states "This is Linn's seventh consecutive biannual (every two years) subscriber survey. The results have been consistent over the years, lending additional confidence to the survey findings. This year's survey contains no major surprises. The typical Linn's reader is a retired man, 63 years old, well educated, with an average household income of $89,100. He lives in a home he owns himself, has an average net worth of $766,000, and spends more than $2,000 a year on stamp collecting. He maintains many different collections, but his major interest is in United States stamps. He spends at least an hour and a half a week reading Linn's, saves his copies for months, and acts on what he reads." Since the median US household income is only $40,800, stamp collectors tend to be wealthier than average. Some of the more interesting details of the survey, at least to me, were as follows: (1) Fully 57% of Linn's subscribers were 60 or older and 84% were 50 or older. (2) 65% of subscribers live east of the Mississippi - this is significant to me since fewer than 40% of those on my mailing list live there - there may be an underserved market in the east for me! (3) 52% use a personal computer to access the Internet and over 40% made online stamp purchases - that is higher than I expected although the latest surveys do show 51% of US households now have a computer. (4) About 70% subscribe to one or more of the other stamp periodicals (see below). That means they get two or more publications (I get ten!). This is significant because recent articles showing a declining subscriber base and total circulation of almost 200,000 for the six major stamp periodicals (American Philatelist, Global Stamp News, Linn's Stamp News, Mekeel's & Stamps, Scott Stamp Monthly, and Stamp Collector) means that fewer than 100,000 different individuals actually subscribe. The real number of serious stamp collectors is probably less than 70,000 and may not be too far different from the 55,500 paid circulation of Linn's, certainly many fewer than the 22 million the USPS counts as stamp collectors. (5) While over 63% don't collect any topicals, "Railroads" was the most collected topic at 7% followed by "Space" @ 6%, "Olympics/sports", "Religion" & "Ships", all @ 5%. (6) About half the collectors store their collections in stock books. (7) The median value of the collections (80% US) was $17,600. (8) About 70% spent more than $50 on new issues in the past 12 months - That is a much higher percentage than I would have guessed but it probably is because of all those US collectors buying new issues at the post office. If you need New Issues, see the "ARRIVAL TRACK" or join my New Issue Service to keep your collection up to date!
NEW PRINTER:Just before Christmas, Office Depot had a sale on Hewlett Packard (HP) products so I rushed out to buy the HP G55 Office Jet all-in-one color copier, printer, scanner that I have been coveting for sometime. It is compatible with Macs and PCs but when I read the fine print I learned that for operation with a Mac I needed operating system 8.6 or greater (I'm still on 7.5) and a USB cable (my laptop doesn't have a USB port!). Consulting with the Mac "expert" at the local CompUSA store, I was told I "should be able to buy a PCMA card with a USB connector but they didn't have any and he hadn't seen any for a couple years". A call to Macwarehouse requesting a USB PCMA card elicited the response "Who told you that! There is no such thing for your computer". When pressed, he allowed as to there being another $89 device (I forget the name) that uses the printer port. After entering an order for the "device", a USB cable and an operating system upgrade (about $200), I recalled my bad experience trying to get the other scanner I bought from them to work from the printer port (It doesn't!). When queried, he allowed as how the "device" might encounter the same problem but "It is returnable". Deciding that "discretion is the better part of valor", I cancelled the order, and the G55 stayed in its box in the foyer over the Holidays.
NEW COMPUTER: I've been considering joining the Windows PC world for some time, checking prices and features on Dell, Gateway and Compaq laptops. The printer episode sealed the deal. After some reflection on my needs and usage, I decided to stay with the Mac laptop for my travels and buy a desktop PC for home. The Mac is still more than adequate for checking e-mail, doing my finances in Quicken and typing up my adventures on the road. But I got much more "bang for the buck" buying a desktop PC. When the prices came down in mid-January, I was able to buy a Dell Dimension 4100 series with 866MHz Pentium III processor, 128 MB SDRAM, 40 GB Hard Drive, 17 inch monitor, floppy and CD-ROM drives, modem, etc. loaded with Windows 2000 Professional and Microsoft Office 2000 Professional and a FREE CD burner (CD-RW drive) for over a thousand dollars less than a less capable laptop (and $1500 less than I paid for my Mac laptop a few years ago)! And I got it 90 days same as cash, so hopefully I can learn how to use it before I have to pay for it. It arrived about 4 PM, January 16 and I was up and running after dinner. Now all I have to do is get all my database files for the stamp lists transferred from my Mac - wish me luck! An interesting side note about computer capacities: everything I have on my Mac laptop after years of use takes up about 670 MB while the operating system and programs on the new computer consume almost 2 GB (2000MB) before I typed a stroke. Of course, the Mac SE 30 I used before had only 4MB and the Heathkit 59 I did my first pricelist on in 1983 had just 64K! And I never reached full capacity on any of them
NO MARCH MAIL BID SALE: Mail Bid Sale #3 will be delayed until April for two reasons: (1) I'll be on show travel to Ogden, UT and San Francisco, CA the beginning of March and won't be home to wrap a sale up properly and (2), more importantly, my web guru is in Tucson, AZ for the annual mineral show and won't be back until mid-February, too late to get the sale up on my web page effectively. My primary objective in buying the new computer is to become self-sufficient regarding posting items to my web page and making updates but I'm not close to being there yet, hopefully by this summer. The newsletter was created on the PC but the pricelists were still done on the Mac! Let me know how you like the new look (particularly if you don't!).
PAYPAL: A customer from Canada sent his payment via PayPal, so I had to sign up for their service to get my money. I had been planning to sign up anyway since they come highly recommended. And their fees are lower than my credit card processors. The accounts are free for personal accounts but, like everything else, businesses have to pay, although I think they make most of their money on the float. For those of you not familiar with them, here is some info from their web page [www.paypal.com]: "PayPal provides the world's first instant and secure online payment service. With PayPal, individuals and businesses can send and receive payments through the Internet. This revolutionary new service provides a safer, faster, easier, and cheaper way to move money in today's digital economy. With a customer base of more than 5 million and continuing to grow rapidly, PayPal is the world's largest Internet-based payment network. PayPal now constitutes over 10% of all Internet traffic in the financial services category, more than Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America combined." If you would like to sign up, go to www.paypal.com/ and give me your referral using my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. You can receive $5.00 for signing up and I'll get $5.00 for all referrals who sign up, a win-win situation. And this service will make payments easier for both of us.
HELP NEEDED: Paul McGuffin e-mailed "I'm a locomotive engineer for the Union Pacific (SP). I work between West Colton, California and Yuma, Arizona, a run of 198 miles. From Indio to Iris the line drops below sea level and skirts the north side of the Salton Sea. At MP 635.5 just east of our control siding Mortmar or the small town of North Shore, the elevation is about -200 feet. We were under the impression that this was the lowest point in the world for a railroad. I have just found out that the city of Turfan, China is from -300 to +75. And! You guessed it, they have a major railroad running through the city. This line could be lower than our MP635.5. Do you know of the lowest point in the world for a railroad? Not the Dead Sea, that line was -805 feet and removed in 1949.[Ed: My Guinness RAIL FACTS AND FEATS lists the former Hedjaz line as the lowest at -700 feet and the bottom of the Severn Tunnel at -144 feet as the lowest for British Rail, but no mention of US or China] For sure, MP635.5 is the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere. Can you help?" Anyone out there have a good answer?
STAMP OF THE MONTH:France #B257 was the first of many stamps showing the interior of a railway post office car. It also exists in brown overprinted for use in Algeria (#B63) and Tunisia (#B114). Among others showing RPO interiors are Denmark #1077, Japan #1059, Switzerland #790, border of Madagascar #1405a, and one stamp in the just issued New Zealand miniature sheet of 10. An excellent one frame exhibit could be organized around these stamps by including some RPO car stamps such as US#2265, a couple event covers showing the catcher arm in the cachet plus a couple actual RPO markings. Let me know how yours comes out.
THOUGHT OF THE MONTH:"Trains are wonderful... To travel by train is to
see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see
life." Agatha Christie, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
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
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