The Rail Philatelist July 1997 Newsletter

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Volume 1 ………………………………………………………………………. Number 10 July 1, 1997


Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:

NOTICE: If there is a RED DOT on your mailing label, this is the LAST FREE NEWSLETTER and price list you will receive. If after 10 newsletters and lists covering all the countries of the world alphabetically and all the material I have to offer, nothing has interested you, I am obviously wasting your time and my postage mailing these things to you. I'll be happy to resume mailings whenever you are ready to order and I can help you build your collection - write me then. Or you can continue to receive the newsletter and price lists by sending $8.00 (or equivalent in collectible train stamps or U.S. postage) to help defray the costs for the next 10 issues. Sorry but I can't continue to let the paying customers subsidize the "readers". The newsletters will still all be available free on my web site so you can always read them there.

PACIFIC 97 REPORT: Pacific 97 was the biggest and best stamp show I'll probably ever do. Not only were my sales very good ( I sold more than enough to pay off this computer before the June 30 deadline!), but the social aspects were outstanding even if we were so busy most of the time that I didn't get out of the booth much (not at all the first 4 days). A very special thanks to Norm and Florence Wright for bailing me out by coming by the booth every hour on the 30th to pick up another handful of newsletters to mail at the Post Office for the special cancel ( you could only submit 50 at a time and after the show opened I couldn't get out of the booth). I met many old customers, some for the first time, Horst Brix from Germany, Art Dyson from Great Britain, Doug Sprott from Canada, the entire US Handbook 130 team and many others from the US ( can't mention them all). At least 31 attended the Casey Jones Railroad Unit meeting at 10AM on Saturday, June 7. In addition to making introductions and conducting a question and answer session, President Bill Chappell gave a very informative slide presentation on the modern Russian overprints (He has also prepared a small book on the subject - ordering details in the future). I gave my 30 slide Railway Philately talk covering all aspects of the subject briefly (similar to the exhibit on my web page). In addition to the CJRRU meeting, some of the guys used the booth where I was working as a meeting point throughout the show so I got to see most of them each day and get reports on what they had found and which country booths were selling what train stamps. It was somewhat comical to watch five men in their 60's (and older) scamper off like a bunch of school boys when Art Dyson reported that the South African booth was selling their new train set three weeks before the issue date! Just one of the great memories. It is really invigorating to see others get as excited about this stuff as I do! And of course eating is great in San Francisco - "The Empress of China" in Chinatown (twice), a couple places on Fisherman's Wharf plus several other excellent restaurants and a couple of parties with heavy hors d'oeuvres hosted by Linn's and AFINSA (the latter a European firm promoting stamp investment that I half expected to tout the infamous "Face on Mars" stamps in their slick sales pitch). I also managed rides on the cable cars and the streetcars (F Line) but didn't have time for the BART. I did manage to see several excellent exhibits (there weren't any on train topicals per se but there was one on South Australian Railway Parcel Stamps in the Revenue section) and I also managed to buy a few things that will be showing up in my stock some time in the future including some interesting Hejaz Railway paper that I need to study first. The days were long and tiring particularly since we were on our feet most of the time from 7AM 'til 7PM but all in all it was a totally worthwhile experience - I'm glad I had the opportunity to participate and to meet so many of you. I was working in another dealer's booth so he had most of the expenses - I paid only for my transportation and meals so that kept my expenses down to a manageable level. I kept a daily journal of my experiences during the show so I may share some other information with you from time to time as the mood strikes and space permits. Or send in your questions.

STAMP OF THE MONTH: Actually the set of the month, Cameroun #589-92. This set has always appealed to me because of the excellent designs and bright colors. Issued June 10, 1974 to commemorate the inauguration of the Yaoundre-Ngaoundere line, Trans-Cameroun Railway, the set shows a route map & tracks, a diesel freight train on the Djerem River bridge, a track laying machine and welding rail joints ( in Africa in 1974! - when did the U. S. railroads start using welded rail?). This is a difficult set not found in most collections so I commend it to you (see below).


At one time I thought I knew but now I'm not so sure. We've all heard the standard litany - condition, supply, demand, etc. Somehow supply and demand don't seem to play as big a role as they should. Case in point: France #327-8 issued May 31, 1937 for the 13th International Railway Congress catalogs $11.15 mint, $5.75 used. While a handsome set, it is as common as dirt (excuse my French!) - I think I've seen it in every train stamp collection I've ever looked at so I can only assume that it is also in every French collection if I cared to look. Thus the demand is about ZERO. And the supply is ENORMOUS! I've got 2 or 3 lifetime supplies already - in fact I've had to tell a couple dealers who put train stamps aside for me, "Please, no more France #327-8". On the other hand, the Cameroun set profiled above catalogs $1.00 and is difficult to find - they sell about as quickly as I put them in the red boxes so they never even seem to make it to my price lists ( I only had 3 sets in stock when I first wrote this - none now). And how about India International Control Commission - Laos and Vietnam #5 which catalogs the minimum $0.15 - I've only seen 3 in my entire 22+ years of train stamp collecting and dealing. I think that catalog valuations may be almost random or arbitrary at best. What are your thoughts? Send me your comments.

I ASKED, YOU ANSWERED: In March I asked "How do you mount or store your train stamp collection?" While the responses cover the spectrum from Don Kesler's computer generated pages to glassines in shoe boxes, the majority of topical collectors responding appear to prefer the Vario (or similar) stock pages because of the flexibility they offer in rearranging the collection as it grows. But as Wallace Henderson of Kentucky noted, "Of course, it would be a lot easier if some countries didn't produce their stamps in so many different sizes!" Amen to that! Causes me fits too trying to arrange my stock for display at shows. Now, what about cover collections?

NMRA TRAIN STAMP PROGRAM: The NMRA convention in Madison, WI July 28-August 2 will include a "Trains on Stamps" contest using 16 page exhibit frames. For more details, contact Radleigh Becker, 444 Hilltop Dr., Madison, WI 53711 Telephone 608-231-1817 Good luck!

RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH : "When my ship finally comes in I'll probably be waiting at the train depot."


Al's signatureAL PETERSON



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