The Rail Philatelist June 97 Newsletter
Volume 1 . Number 9 June 1, 1997
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
PACIFIC 97: By the time you receive this newsletter PACIFIC 97 will be well underway. In fact, I'm hoping to hand deliver many of them to those of you attending the show and will try to mail the rest from the show to get one of the special cancels. There should still be enough time for you to make it for the Casey Jones Railroad Unit meeting on June 7, 10 AM, Room 250, Moscone Center, S.F. For those of you who don't make the show I'll have a complete report in my next newsletter.
SHOWS: Some of you may have already noticed that there is no show listing at the bottom of this newsletter - that's because I don't have any shows scheduled in June. PACIFIC 97 takes up a third of the month. Then I'll need another third to rest and recover from it and to get the orders and new issues mailed out. And then my wife is taking me to Europe for a vacation - I can't afford it on what I'm making but she's a saver and she's paying - am I a lucky guy or what! She collects Hummel figurines (a hobby I started her on when I brought home a cute little figurine called "Blessed Event" after the birth of our first son). Didn't know what I was getting into! Anyway, the Hummel Collectors Club is sponsoring a trip to Germany to visit the Goebels factory and Sister Hummel's birthplace, then a ride on the Swiss railways to St. Moritz, some site seeing in northern Italy, then home from Milan. Something for both of us - should be great ! Who knows - I might even find a stamp shop or two. Won't be back until mid-July so get your orders in early from these lists so I can fill them before we leave (orders must be received before June 24).
STAMP OF THE MONTH: Unfortunately, most modern new issues don't seem to have much of a story, but this month's selection is an exception so I'd like to share it with you. One of two stamps honoring technological monuments issued October 15, 1996 by the Slovak Republic, it commemorates the Bratislava - Trnava Horse-drawn Railway. This forerunner of the modern railway was the first in the Hungarian Monarchy. For the ceremonial opening run on September 27, 1840, a "train" was pulled from Bratislava to Svaty Jur. When the line was finally completed to Trnava June 1, 1846, the first "train" took three hours and six changes of horses to complete the trip.The Bratislava station depicted
is the oldest railway station in the former Hungarian Monarchy to be preserved in its original state. Also depicted in the background is the original Trvana station. Passenger trains initially had two carriages, while freight trains had five cars, each with loads up to six tons. The "train" was pulled by two horses and 55 animals were made available for each journey. Even at the time of construction the line's engineer, Hieronymi, envisioned the conversion to steam power. This took place following the phasing out of horse-drawn operations between October 10, 1872 and May 1, 1873. The stamp and FDC were designed and engraved by Martin Cinovsky. A million sets were printed in Prague via rotary-recess printing. The information above was obtained from the first day cover insert written by Peter Zavodny.
MONTHLY SPECIALS & NEW ISSUE LISTS: It occurred to me that I am slighting many of you, my most loyal customers, by having my Monthly Special List and New Issue List only on my web site. Since the lists are short and I usually have some space to fill with the monthly stamp lists anyway, why not include the specials and new issues also. You will still have to check the web page for the photos since I won't have space for them too but at least you will know what great bargains and new items I am offering to the rest of the world!. Hope you find this additional information worthwhile.
POSTCARDS: Not the kind I send out when I'm doing a show within 200 miles of you, but railroad picture postcards. I say "railroad" rather than "train" because there are three distinct categories: train postcards which picture trains, locomotives and/or rolling stock, depot postcards which picture railway stations and other railway structures, and scene cards issued by or for various railroads to promote tourism in the areas they served. "Fred Harvey" cards issued for the Santa Fe are probably the most widely collected type in the last category, but B&M, B&O, CB&Q, D&RG, Frisco, GN, MP, N&W, NP, NYC, Southern, SP, UP and WP all had at least one series. There are thousands of railroad postcards - I usually have about 8,000 - 10,000 different in stock, both older at $1.00 & up and modern chromes (Mary Jaynes and Audio Visuals) at 4 for $1.00. Obviously too many to list so you'll have to see them at a show. I haven't figured out any satisfactory way to handle postcards via mail order - the cheap ones (under $5.00) aren't worth the time to try to list since so many sell at shows each weekend I couldn't keep the list current any way - they are mostly one of a kind. Any of you postcard collectors have any suggestions?
NEWSLETTER COSTS: Several loyal readers (I use that term rather than "customers" because some have yet to order anything) have expressed concern about my costs making these monthly mailings. One, Graham Babb of Utah, even sent a five dollar bill to help with the postage a few months back. Paul Margolies of Texas spoke for the consensus when he wrote (among other things):"Just a short note to let you know how much I like receiving 'Al's NEWS & Notes'. The content is informative and even entertaining... I am concerned about your expenses to send out the news letter. I am certain most of us would pay a subscription/membership dues to your special society [of] $8.00-$12.00 per year. Have you thought about bulk mailing sorting by zip code, thinner paper and smaller font size for printing to save money?" Yes, I have thought of those and rejected them thus far. It doesn't seem proper to charge your customers to send them propaganda. Also something about being a philatelist makes it not seem right to do bulk (i.e."junk" ) mailings and the font size is already too small for some of us. Thinner paper actually costs more to buy and five pages with envelopes still weigh over an ounce (although I could drop the return envelope). Not counting anything for time and effort composing, typing, licking, sticking & stuffing (not necessarily in that order), actual out of pocket costs break down as follows: 55c for first class postage, 10c for address label and two envelopes, and 4.1c per double sided page printed at Office Depot (6c or more on my Xerox 5011!). With an average of five double sided pages per mailing, it costs me 85c per addressee which I feel is quite reasonable as long as the orders come in. After an initial mailing of almost 500, I have settled into mailing 250 each month. This number will be reduced after next month's mailing as I prune the mailing list once more to just those who order. So order before then!
WEB SITE: One of my good customers e-mailed me an order along with these comments: "Just an observation for you, you've got the BEST!! web page on a topic in the world. I've linked out to over 50 sites and yours is by far the most comprehensive, in depth and the best quality of any of the other sites. I note that you offer links to other stamp dealers yet I have never seen a link back to your home page[There are a few. Ed.]. Clearly, they can't stand the competition! I know that web space is always at a premium but I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the ability to view the material instantly. It helps me make "buy" decisions quickly so, if you can expand your visual links, especially for your "high-end" material, I think you'll move more stock . . . and help pay for all that server space that is being used!" Thanks Mike - I'm working on it! Sorry - I just couldn't resist sharing that with you all - it made my day! Hope you have a good one too!