The Rail Philatelist June Newsletter
Volume 5 …………… PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)……………. Number 5 June 1, 2000
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
OOPS!:In my haste to get the May newsletter and pricelists out, I made several critical mistakes. One was a typo of Gambia #2026-9 as #2206-9 (those numbers don’t exist yet!). The more serious, from my standpoint, was that I listed the prices for all the PHILEXFRANCE 99 souvenir sheet pairs as if they were single sheets. Thus, I’ve been filling orders for them at below my cost. Several of you got some great bargains but I can’t stay in business very long doing that. That old saying “I lose a little on every sale but make up for it in volume” doesn’t work in the real world. See the “BAD ORDER TRACK” in the stamp lists for the correct listings and prices. The prices in the original list will no longer be honored, effective with this announcement and correction. Thank you.
ATA HANDBOOK #138 WORLD RAILWAYS PHILATELIC : The new 700 page loose-leaf railway stamp handbook by Norman Wright Sr. is due out any time now. I have 30 on order but don’t know what my price will be including postage (probably around $35.00). If you want one, let me know quickly (in case I need more from the limited printing). This will be an extremely useful addition to your library. Annual Supplements will keep it up to date so you won’t need to repurchase this part again as has been the case with previous handbooks and catalogs. Norm has done an outstanding job compiling all the data from various sources and is to be commended for producing the most comprehensive railway stamp handbook ever assembled. Be sure to order yours early! It will receive lots of use as you work with your collection. Here is the “official” press release:
“New ATA Handbook 138 Published!
The long-awaited all-new ATA Handbook 138, "World Railways Philatelic," was released at the National Topical Stamp Show June 16-18 in Buffalo, N.Y.
This new, expanded version of the Handbook was compiled by Norman E. Wright, Sr.., a CJRR Unit Governor who has been providing annual supplements to the ATA's 1996 HB-130 for the past several years. The new handbook contains upgrades of many listings and features of previous editions, corrections and additions, new issues released worldwide through 1999, plus a number of other new features for users.
The 700-page Handbook, in an 8-1/2 x 11" looseleaf format (to allow insertion and addition of annual updates) contains more than 25,000 listings and more than 500 illustrated stamps of railway interest. Many previously unlisted and/or unknown varieties also have been added, as well as a considerable expansion in scope from previous ATA railways handbooks.
Priced at $35 plus postage, the new Handbook 138 may be ordered directly from the American Topical Assn., P.O. Box 50820, Albuquerque, NM 87181-0820 U.S.A.”
THE STAMP HOBBY...: Thanks again to Michael Laurence, Editor/publisher of LINNS STAMP NEWS for this fifth insight from his APS Tiffany Dinner speech:
“5. The stamp hobby creates stable marriages. It's a fact that stamp collectors have a much-lower-than-average divorce rate. Linn's reader survey data supports this. By extension, I conclude that stamp collectors create more stable families, which benefits society overall. Why the lower divorce rate? I have no idea. Perhaps the hobby passion dissipates the urge to philander. Perhaps having another world to retreat into makes it psychologically easier for the hobbyist to patch up marital disagreements. Or perhaps the prospect of losing the collection in a divorce settlement is a strong incentive to make the marriage work.” (ED: The last comment was probably tongue-in-cheek. I hadn’t even considered this before now but it makes sense to me.)
APPROVALS & OCCAM’S RAZOR: I continue to get requests for approvals. Except for my New Issue Service, I have resisted doing approvals because for me they are too complicated. I go by Occam’s Razor, a postulate that the simpler the explanation or solution, the more likely it is to be correct. (This insight was put forth by the fourteenth century British philosopher, Sir William of Occam - hence the name). Selling by pricelist as I do seems the simple solution: I determine the stamps I have in stock, make a list and mail it; the customer checks my list against his collection or want list and mails me an order which I then fill to the extent of stock on hand. Approvals, on the other hand, require that I remove a selection of stamps from inventory, make a record of all the stamps sent, package and mail the stamps insured; the customer then compares the selection to his collection or want list, selects the ones he wants and returns the rejects insured mail; then I have to re-file the rejects back into my inventory. Thus approvals involve three handlings of the stamps rather than two and higher postage costs (unless my selection process is so good that the customer always keeps them all - not very likely even for beginning collectors, let alone the intermediate and advanced collectors who represent the bulk of my business.) Plus any stamps out on approval are not available for sale at the shows I do. For new issues the approval process is simpler: after processing a mailing from my new issue sources, I mail out similar selections to dozens of customers; since they are new issues, most customers keep all of them; the few returns are then put into inventory for the first time (but often not until a couple months after their receipt). If my analysis is faulty, I would like to hear your comments. Thanks in advance.
MAY TRAVEL: When they say that travel is broadening, they mean physically as well as intellectually. A month of my morning exercise routine of a few minutes on a self-propelled treadmill, 30 minutes on an exercise bike preceded and followed by sets of 30 stretches and 40 sit-ups had my weight down to 200 before I left on the WESTPEX/Las Vegas trip but high living and great eating ballooned it back up to 208 - it may be time for Slimfast or Metabolite or liposuction - or, Heaven forbid, a cut-back in my food intake! (Since it takes two minutes on the treadmill or 15 minutes on the bike to burn the 100 calories from a 6 oz. Yoplait Light Yogurt, I don’t even want to think about how long I have to exercise to overcome a great prime rib dinner I had for my birthday!) Aside from the weight gain, the trip went pretty well. Trains were few and far between on the trip out. Only saw about half the usual number in Wyoming - there wasn’t even much happening in Green River when I stopped at the Embers for dinner before continuing on to Ogden for the night. [I learned later that AMTRAK had been diverted over the UP that day because of snow slides in Colorado, so that probably explains the light traffic.] With the high price of gasoline, I had decided it didn’t make sense driving for two extra days and 1200 miles to come home from WESTPEX to load up the magazines and books for the Las Vegas train show but it also didn’t make sense to carry the ton of unneeded material all the way to San Francisco and back. So, while in Ogden in March for the Hostler’s show, I had checked out storage facilities and found a place to leave the heavy stuff I didn’t need in San Fran. Wednesday morning I got to the storage place when they opened at 8:30 AM, filled out the paperwork, unloaded my stuff, and was on the road by 9:30. Since there were only a few days left in April and I would be out by May 5, they prorated the monthly fee and charged me only $10.67 instead of the $25.00+ I was expecting. Turned out to be a good deal! The lightened Previa was able to charge over the Nevada hills and passes at 70 mph compared to the 50 mph struggles up the Wyoming hills the day before. Again not many trains but some interesting activity at Fernley,NV. Saw Sperry Rail Car SR50 there. Even more surprising, a pair of blond BNSF geeps with a green BNSF wide-vision caboose were switching some cars in the yard there. I thought they only had run-through trackage rights on the UP. The Reno Hilton had sent me an April Showers promotion which included a $29.00 roomrate plus a $20.00 allowance toward the slots. Cheaper than Motel 6 and a much fancier room - another good deal even if I didn’t win anything. (I checked to see if I could get a similar deal for the return trip but the young lady informed me that since I spent less than an hour at the slots and they expected a 4 hour average for comps, the best rate I could get would be $66. I thanked her and booked Motel 6 @$35). I saw the Sperry Rail Car again on Thursday climbing toward the snow sheds on Donner Pass but nothing else until I got to Roseville, CA. I circled the new yard trying to find a good vantage point for my return trip and concluded there wasn’t really a great place to observe all the activities in such a huge yard. There didn’t seem to be many locos in or near the repair shops but there were dozens at or near the service facilities. The yard seemed jammed with cars based on my quick glances while driving across the overpasses on each end of the yard. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to look around as I had to get into San Francisco to set up for WESTPEX. Driving in downtown San Francisco was an interesting experience. I addition to making a couple wrong turns which took me somewhat out of my way, it seemed like I had to contend with beer trucks clogging the narrow streets while unloading at bars on every block! I did make it to the Cathedral Hill Hotel in time to attend the Dealers Bourse and make a few purchases. Since I couldn’t start setting up until 6 PM, I went across the street to Tommy’s Joint, a famous SF eatery and had the Buffalo Stew. It was better than usual because I got there before the evening rush-hour crowd and even had a table all to myself! The load-in went smoothly after a dealer friend tipped me off to use the service elevators instead of the regular elevators like every one else was doing. After getting set up, I spent the rest of the evening (until 10 PM) going thru John Van Alynstyne’s stamp stock. Unlike most shows where the first day is the best for sales, the second day is about half, and the third day is half again, my sales were almost the same all three days - better than my sales at most shows but just marginal when balanced against the high cost of doing the show. Hotel and parking alone were over $130 a day and the table fees were high also. Add the 2500 mile travel costs and the budget didn’t leave much for meals. But you know that didn’t stop me. I had bought a container of orange juice and box of donut holes during a gas stop in Sacramento. Since the room had a coffee maker, I was all set for breakfast, too busy for lunch, and really hungry at dinner time! Friday night a good customer and I walked a few blocks up the hill to the Hotel Majestic for dinner. It truly was majestic. A well preserved and ornately decorated building on the exterior, it was even more sumptuous on the interior! The cafe was exquisite - one of those places where the ambiance and the food’s presentation was as important as the taste. And the taste was superb - tuna appetizer, asparagus soup, lamb chops, and lemon sorbet. Service was extremely attentive while my guest and I enjoyed our relaxed evening of conversation and epicurean delights. The tab was probably the priciest dinner for two I’ve ever had but it was worth every penny! Saturday night Pat Dowling (20th Century Classics) and I caught the cable car down to The Empress of China for probably the best Chinese dinner I can ever recall eating - we shared some excellent seafood egg rolls, scallop soup, a lamb dish, and another dish I’ve forgotten - they went together extremely well! The sales highlight of WESTPEX occurred Sunday when three orientals asked me how much I wanted for my Bargain Box. I didn’t know exactly how many covers were in the box but I figured there were over a thousand so I said $400. I told them I could give them another box to sort the covers into to count them. They decided to go to lunch and then come back. Since I was selling the covers at 50c each or 12 for $5.00, they wanted to negotiate an individual price per cover in case there weren’t as many as I thought. We agreed on 35c each and they left the one who didn’t speak English to count them (turned out he was doing the buying to take them back home to China). We came up with 1182 covers - $413.70 worth, so my top of the head estimate wasn’t far off. They were thrilled with the $400 purchase and I was happy to see a box of covers finally go even if I didn’t make much profit on them - I’ve been carrying them around for a few years - I think I bought most of them at the St. Louis APS show! Now I’ll have to make up a new Bargain Box. Saw a few container ships unloading in Oakland harbor as I left the bay area but didn’t see any rail activity. Stopped for the night in Davis, CA and had a great prime rib dinner at Marie Callendar’s. My original plan for Monday was to spend a couple hours at the Roseville yards, then catch both AMTRAK 5 &6 at Colfax and spend the rest of the day on Donner Pass. But my pre-selected vantage point near the westend yard throat proved to be a good location (including a shade tree) so I parked there for most of the day. There wasn’t as much activity as I had hoped but that’s probably because I’m never satisfied. I did see several trains each way plus yard activity. The hump engines periodically pulled a long string of cars almost in front of me and then slowly backed them over the hump (which was out of my field of view). Trains of note included the Sperry Rail Car SR50 slowly working it’s way west, a short westbound BNSF stackpack, and both AMTRAKs, the eastbound with just one express boxcar, the westbound with four. A retired railroader from Missouri on a tour of state capitols (leaving Sacramento for Boise, ID) stopped for a short visit and told me his experiences as an emergency engineer (he was a signalman) during a couple railroad strikes. Always something to fill the time between trains! Shortly after 4 PM I headed over the pass. Saw a couple helpers waiting part way up the hill and a stackpack approaching the snowsheds on my way down. Spent the night in Reno and won enough to pay for my dinner and breakfast at the Hilton’s Grand Canyon Buffet and room at Motel 6. Once again AMTRAK eluded me as I drove across Nevada but I did see a couple trains. Between Wells and Wendover I thought I was seeing a mirage because I saw the outline of a train toward the south floating like a mirage does and I didn’t think there should be a rail line there. Turned out to be a real train heading west on the old Western Pacific after descending from Silverzone Pass. Another train of interest was the Geneva Steel taconite train heading for Provo, UT which I passed just north of Salt Lake. It looks like a motley collection of empty hopper cars but, as I learned from the Green River foot bridge, the cars are partially filled with taconite pellets (iron ore). It is too heavy to fill the cars completely. On the eastbound trip the cars are filled with coal for a power plant back in Wisconsin or Minnesota, so this is one of the few hopper trains that pays its way in both directions! I got to Ogden early enough to spend a couple hours of twilight at the wye but there wasn’t much activity - I saw more trains from my Sleep Inn room than I did down by the tracks. My grand plan was to work on the G & H lists while watching trains at the Ogden wye, parked near the 31st bridge. I did get some work done on the lists while parked there Wednesday and Thursday, but not nearly as much as I needed to - trains kept getting in the way. Four different UP lines come thru the Ogden wye from the west and north heading east: the Los Angeles- Salt Lake line, the old Western Pacific and Southern Pacific lines from California and the old Oregon Short Line to Pocatello, ID and points north and west. In addition to the run thru traffic and pairs of GP-15s shunting cars to local industries, there was construction work on the yard throat. On Wed, UP 903066, a Wellman crane, brought a “snap-trak” ready built switch south and unloaded it in the work area. On Thursday, I got a close up view of a Pandrol Jackson Model 6700 Tamper and Kershaw Ballast Regulator in action. They not only make a lot of noise but raise a lot of dust. The UP had a water truck on hand to keep the EPA at bay. There is also a tie storage yard near the wye so when train activity was slack, I watched the overhead crane loading and unloading slabs of concrete ties. A 43 car tie train came into Riverside yard Wednesday evening and moved to the tie yard Thursday about noon. Each tie car has two stacks of ties 21 long by 4 high with angle braces at both ends. There is a bypass track along the south leg of the wye so thru trains to or from Salt Lake and points beyond come thru at speed - the first warnings are the crossing light bells sounding. Most of the bypass traffic was in the afternoon. All the other trains crawl thru the wye in various directions. One of the Hostler Model RR club members stopped by for a couple hours Thursday morning so I spent time talking with him instead of working on the price lists. Another railfan from Connecticut (in the area for his daughter’s college graduation) stopped by for a short time as well - I also noticed he had “my” parking spot Friday morning when I drove by on my way to Las Vegas. I had dinner at the Union Grill both Wednesday and Thursday not only to extend my train watching time but also because the food and service are excellent - it may be Ogden’s finest restaurant - it is always busy. I took a little time off from my train watching Thursday afternoon to go to the storage facility and load up my excess baggage. The trip to Las Vegas Friday was uneventful with only a few trains along the way including the Utah Railway working in their south Salt Lake yard. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas train show was also uneventful. Almost no one came. Fortunately, one of my good mail order customers drove up from LA and made a major purchase or I would have been whistling “Dixie” with the rest of the dealers. Several dealers indicated that there hadn’t been a decent train show since Denver in March. One, who has been struggling with finances for some time, was seriously looking into taking a valet parking job in Las Vegas. Another is looking to cut back since he can no longer afford to keep losing a couple hundred bucks per show (and he often sleeps in his truck and makes his own sandwiches and meals!) Most feel that eBay and the Internet are having a major impact on show attendance and sales. And high gas prices aren’t helping - I saw prices over $2.00 per gallon but never paid more than $1.54. The trip home thru the mountains on I-70 yielded a couple train sitings including the westbound AMTRAK near Glenwood Springs with the usual compliment of passenger cars and express boxes plus a privately owned former California Zephyr dome car tacked on the tail. It also reminded me why I don’t take that route when fully loaded - we struggled over Vale Pass and the approach to the Eisenhower Tunnel at just 30 mph with the snow flurries and the other traffic flying around us (me and my overloaded Previa). I made two day trips to the ROMPEX show in Denver to buy and to view two junior railroad exhibits. The two frame exhibit by Nathan Matteson, The Development of Railroads in the United States, contained the items you would expect while the three frame exhibit by Dzintars Grinfelds, Railroading in the U.S., was much more advanced and included a Mali Deluxe sheet I had sold him at WESTPEX. I’m not sure what awards they received. I did my part buying but many dealers seemed disappointed with their ROMPEX sales.
WHO’S IN VIENNA, VA?: My new webpage server provides a statistics package that not only tallys the number of hits and page accessions by date and time but also what web browsers are used, what search engines and spiders visited, where visitors were referred from, what pages are most and least visited and a host of other data beyond my interest or comprehension. But my webmaster and I are most intrigued by the geographical data. More than 25% of the visits come from Vienna, VA. Since I don’t have any regular customers in that area I’m concerned that maybe the CIA is monitoring my site! Or maybe all AOL users are logged in as coming from there since I think their headquarters is there. Anyone from Vienna who can solve the mystery?
STAMP OF THE MONTH: The original stamp (RPG1) was issued by the Irish Republic’s national transport company, Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE), in 1984 for the 150th anniversary of the first Irish railway, the Dublin & Kingston. The “Transport Fee” overprint shown on RPG2 was applied later that same year because the Post Office objected to the design’s “postage stamp” appearance. They required the overprint to indicate the stamp’s exclusive use for railway letters.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: A day without a train is like a day without sunshine.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: The oldest station is the Liverpool Road station, Manchester, England, first used in 1830 and now part of a museum. Speaking of stations...
BEST STATIONS REVISITED: My daughter-in-law, Binky, e-mailed me: “Dad, I agree with Don Kesler about Nürnburg's train station. Ok, so I do not have a lot of choices from which to select a favorite, but of the European and North American train stations I have seen, this one was by far the most impressive. I was attracted more by the architecture than the fact that it housed trains.” (She also chastised me for last month’s newsletter being a little short - hope this one is better!). Wallace Henderson wrote: “It would be hard to beat the Frankfurt HBF with it’s triple trainshed (stub end tracks) and massive headhouse - much superior to the Nurmburg HBF! And all fortunately missed by Allied bombs! Another interesting classic is the Dresden HBF, also missed by the British bombers that destroyed the city. It has elevated thru tracks on both sides of stub tracks on the lower level but the station itself is not as magnificent as Frankfurt. And speaking of magnificent, what can compare to Mussolini’s grand terminal in Milan? It has to be the most imposing railway station in the world!”
WORLD STAMP EXPO 2000: Coming up July 7-16 in Anaheim. Make your plans to attend now! Dickiy Ruston of the US Postal Service held an update meeting for WSE dealers at 8 AM Saturday morning at WESTPEX which I was privileged to attend. From his perspective, planning for the show is going very well. He announced several space-related displays that will be in attendance including a few million dollars worth of space suits, a large mock-up of the starship Enterprise, several interactive displays, etc. The Postal Service seems to be working hard to bring the general public into the show but we stamp dealers need you serious collectors to attend as well. From all indications, there will be plenty of interesting items to entertain the rest of your family while you visit my booth (#115 - way in the back). It should be a great family vacation for your family as well as mine!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
COME SEE MY EXTENSIVE
INVENTORY AT ONE OF THESE FINE SHOWS!
JUN 16-18 NATIONAL TOPICAL STAMP SHOW BUFFALO CONVENTION CENTER BUFFALO,NY
News & Notes Back Issues
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| Jan. 1997 | Feb. 1997 | Mar. 1997 | Apr. 1997 | May 1997 | June 1997 |
| July 1997 | Aug. 1997 | Sept. 1997 | Oct. 1997 | Nov. 1997 | Dec. 1997 |
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| July 1998 | Aug. 1998 | Sept. 1998 | Oct. 1998 | Nov. 1998 | Dec. 1998 |
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| July 1999 | Aug. 1999 | Sept. 1999 | Oct. 1999 | Nov. 1999 | Dec. 1999 |
| Jan. 2000 | Feb. 2000 | Mar. 2000 | Apr. 2000 | May 2000 |