The Rail Philatelist June 1999 Newsletter
Volume 4 PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00) . Number 3 June 1, 1999Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
CELEBRATE THE CENTURY EXPRESS: Attached is a reprint from STAMP COLLECTOR that gives all the details on the CTC train and a web site where updated information can be obtained. The latest TRANSIT POSTMARK COLLECTOR (VOL.50 #4 May-June 1999, Journal of the Mobile Post Office Society) has a short note by Norman Thetford on his visit to the CTC Express in Ocala, FL. "There was actually no provision to post RPO postmark upon request. There were a number of booths on the station grounds selling tee-shirts... ,ice cream cones and at still another,pleasant ladies were selling post cards of the train at 45c (+ 20c for a stamp with your choice of two postmarks ...) The ladies were a bit non-plused when presented with the mail I had brought along, but willingly postmarked it and decided that they could accept it for onward transmission. It went thru okay (and without the overcancelling that often occurs with "real" mail postmarked at stamp shows)". This may indicate that maybe there won't be a lot of collectible cancels from the CTC Express's tour compared with the Freedom Trains unless someone is out there at each stop to get them done in person. The TPC article also illustrates the two pictorial cancels available in Ocala.
RETURNS AND DISCOUNTS: Returns for any reason are always accepted but, please, only deduct the amount you actually paid me for the item - that is usually not the price listed on the 102 card! My stamp and souvenir sheet cards usually show the approximate catalog value (CV) of the item, while my prices as shown in the price list (and on your order form) are usually 10% or more below CV. In addition, most of you are also qualifying for the 10% additional discount on your total order. So when you return an item and deduct the price on the card rather than from your invoice, you are ignoring two discounts - I can't afford to refund more than you paid and expect to stay in business very long. Here is a recent actual example: a customer returned used Norway #285 marked @ $0.45 (CV $0.50) and #331-3 marked @ $1.70 (CV $1.75) and deducted $2.15 from his payment, not checking to see that he had actually paid only $1.25 for the #331-3 plus had received the 10% discount on his total order. Thus he only paid $1.53 for the two items returned, not $2.15 - no business can afford to refund an extra 41% on a non-sale! Part of the solution would be for me to reprice all my inventory but that would take an enormous amount of time and effort, although I may do so to each card as I sell it. But this then deprives the customer from seeing the actual retail value of his purchases. Even if I do this, I still need your help keeping track of the 10% total order discount. I certainly don't want to have to eliminate the discount nor do I want to have to institute a discount policy for returns. So, PLEASE, deduct just the price you actually pay for an item if you have to return it. Thanks for your help in solving this problem - I am open to suggestions.
STILL JUST THE RAIL PHILATELIST: In my Houston show diary a couple months back, I mentioned the possibility of becoming the "Rail Bibliophilatelist" by buying out a book dealer friend. Well, I didn't for the following reasons (not necessarily in the order of importance):
1. Mike is giving up the show circuit but plans to retain some inventory for a monthly show in the Chicago area. (Therefore the financial arrangements weren't going to be as good as I first thought).
2. I would have to rent twice as much space at shows. (Costs up, sales ?).
3. I would need a bigger van to haul the extra stuff around. (Can't abandon the Previa).
4. I would have to work much harder lugging the extra stuff in and out of shows. (More back pain?).
5. Not a single reader commented - no "I like train books too" or anything. (Are there any buyers?).
6. I can barely keep up with what I am doing now. (How could I make time for another product line?).
7. If I am cutting back on shows (and I am!), does it make sense to take on a product best sold at shows? (Can I really compete with AMAZON.com?).
Sometimes it helps to lay out the concerns as above when making a difficult decision. After due deliberation, I decided I was satisfied with the path I am taking and didn't need more challenges in my life. So I updated my personal train book list (now about 1500 volumes) and bought about 50 more from Mike at the Denver GATS - his last road show. We both went home happy!
WHAT IS YOUR COLLECTION WORTH? I know many of you don't want your spouses to know how much you spend on your hobby, but I implore you to leave them some sort of record so they have some idea of your collection's cost and true value. Otherwise, they are likely to greatly under or over estimate its value, either way to their detriment and/or disappointment. Don't leave your survivors in either of these positions. These two experiences from my recent past illustrate the opposite extremes pretty well I think:
1. At the April Helena, MT train show there was a feeding frenzy of activity at a corner table but I was too busy unloading and getting set up to participate. I learned later that a woman was selling her husbands railway collectibles - $30-$50 hard cover books were going for 50c each, model train cars and parts were going for equally ridiculously low prices. She could have been charging 10 times as much (or more!) and the stuff would have sold just as fast! If only her husband (or a trusted friend) had given her some advice before she was picked clean by the vultures.
2. At the Orlando, FL APS STAMPSHOW a couple years ago, Doug Kelsey, then Executive Director of the American Topical Assn. solicited buyers for the late Howard Burkhalter's railway cover and cinderella collection, the train stamps were to be auctioned by Apfelbaum in Philadelphia. Since Howard was the original editor of the ATA Railway Handbook, I was indeed interested in seeing the collection even when told the asking price was $17,000 - much more than I could afford at the time, but I would find a way. The collection was at ATA headquarters in Tucson, AZ and, as usual, I was on a tight schedule. However, I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn't see the collection so I made arrangements with Doug to view the collection in Tucson Wednesday morning. After packing up from the show Sunday evening, I drove about 400 miles to Tallahassee, drove 1000 miles Monday to San Antonio, TX, and another 1000 miles Tuesday to Tucson. I got to ATA HQ early Wednesday morning with great expectations and was shown into the back room where the collection reposed in a large number of 3-ring binders. After a couple of hours of feverish activity and note taking, I was sorely disappointed to find only 10 items that I would be interested in for my personal collection and a total monetary value less than 10% of the asking price. Don't get me wrong - it was a great collection that Howard had lovingly assembled from his extensive correspondence and the gifts received from his collector friends. But very few items had any market value, almost all of the items had more sentimental value than monetary value. Based on both the high price expectations and my being the first to view the collection, I was neither surprised nor disappointed when my "low" offer was not accepted. Early this year one of my good customers sold me the collection (missing a few items he kept for his collection) for less than my original offer. He had purchased the collection from the ATA some time last year for a couple hundred dollars more than my original offer. Considering the time value of money (a couple years interest) and that I was a dealer making a wholesale purchase while my customer made a retail purchase, Howard's widow was not well served by the initial unfounded high expectations nor the long delay before the sale was finally made. I don't know what became of the train stamp collection, to my knowledge it never came up for auction. So PLEASE make sure your spouse has sufficient data available to make informed decisions when disposing of your treasured train items.
TRAINS 99 EXHIBITS & AWARDS: The exhibits at the London TRAINS 99 show all had something of interest so I spent quite a bit of time at them starting on the first day as previously noted. What made the exhibits easy to view was that they were arranged in clusters so that each exhibit effectively stood alone, not in the long rows of frames seen at US shows with some exhibits continued around a corner. I wish I had had more time to spend on all of them - there was something to be learned in each one. Hopefully one of these exhibits may inspire you to get started on one of your own. Here are some brief synopses of the 37 exhibits presented in 9 different classes as taken from the program and Palmares with my limited commentary in ():
INVITED: "The Railways, We Need You", Yannick Delaey, 8 frames Development and evolution of locomotives and trains with their various sub-classifications and organizations. A Large Gold medal thematic exhibit (which contained some exceedingly rare material (also a couple of fakes) and was very well organized and presented -I'll present the outline next time). Non-competitive
THEMATIC: "Victorian Urban Mass Transit", Keith Downing, 2 frames This exhibit demonstrates the evolution of the tramway before the coming of electricity, and the continuing remnants, which linger on into the present day. 81 pts VERMEIL. "Austro-Hungary",John Bathard, 2 frames The inception, expansion & dismemberment of the Unified Railways of Austro-Hungary. 58 pts BRONZE "Fascination of Light Railways - on Postal Stationery", Franz Blazek, 4 frames The development and story of world railways. A record of the almost 175 years-long story (1825 to present day) of passenger and freight trains, inventions, further developments and a perspective of the future described exclusively in philatelic terms and possibilities. 75 pts VERMEIL.
TRADITIONAL: "Railway Letter Stamps: Ireland 1891 to 1920", Ivan Edmondson, 5 frames Railway letter stamps issued between 1891 and 1920 by the railway Companies in Ireland in agreement with the Postmaster General for conveyance of a single letter by railway. Over 200 identified printings were made: 108 printings, mint and used examples, are shown with printing details where appropriate. 90 pts GOLD plus Second Best of Show. "British Railway Letter Stamps - An Introduction", Philip Tyrrell, 3 frames A detailed introduction to the letter stamps of the railways of England, Scotland and Wales in the period 1891 to 1928. 51 pts BRONZE. "The Railway Parcel Stamps of Western Australia", Derek Pocock, 5 frames Showing the range of issues including essays, proofs and errors from all periods, includes studies of design and cancellations over 85 years. Although artistically unattractive these issues provide an interesting study - as do all railway parcel stamps." 75 pts VERMEIL (The judges didn't realize how rare some of this material really is!) "Parcel Stamps of the North Eastern Railway", Fred Taylor, 2 frames A study of the various issues of the parcel stamps produced by the North Eastern Railway, Great Britain. 78 pts VERMEIL. "Queensland Railway Parcel Stamps", Francis Kiddle (Exhibition Chairman), 2 frames A study of the Railway Parcel and Newspaper stamps issued initially privately, and then by the Government railways. 82 pts VERMEIL. "Railway Parcel Stamps of South Australia", Martin Walker, 5 frames A study of the issues used by the Railways in South Australia from 1885. Proofs, essays and examples used on parcel wrappers and tags are shown with the issued stamps. 86 pts LARGE VERMEIL (Saw this one at Pacific 97 also). "Eisenbahnmarken aus aller Welt", Mrs. Gisela Woodward, 4 frames By the late Herr Fritz Junke, managing director of the German Private and Small Railways. From his professional contacts there developed an interest in their operations and their special stamps. In the late 1970's he assembled a large collection of related material, of which this is part. A gold medal collection used to publicize the German railways through many articles in Germany. INVITED. "NSW Railway Parcel Stamps", Ed Druce 3 frames The display shows the evolution of Parcel and Newspaper stamps used on the railways of New South Wales. 74 pts SILVER. "Victoria Railway Parcel Stamps", Francis Kiddle, 2 frames Victoria, like the other Australian States, issued their own railway parcel stamps. This exhibit provides a study of the various issues. 77 pts VERMEIL. "Talyllyn Railway Centenary: The Commemorative Railway Letter Stamp Designs", Neill Oakley, 2 frames The development of the stamp design from Terence Cuneo's original study, by the sketches and proofs produced for the event. Also, the subsequent use of the stamp to meet the railway letter fee increase. 70 pts SILVER (But my favorite because of the fantastic and rarely seen original artwork).
POSTAL HISTORY: "Tanganyika TPOs 1929 to 1935", Christopher Cruttwell, 2 frames After the War, some years elapsed before the railways were operative, and several more years before TPOs opened. This display shows the marks of the TPOs with skeleton marks of the new Tabora-Mwanza Branch registration etiquette and registered mail from the Railway agencies. 76 pts VERMEIL. "Disasters", Howard Longden, 3 frames This display shows the various covers with cachets, labels, or manuscripts explanations concerning disasters which have occurred to mail in Transit either on trains, Railway Company ships or aircraft. 87 pts LARGE VERMEIL (These items are quite scarce and always in high demand). "The Early Traveling Post Offices of Great Britain", Harold Wilson, 5 frames The display shows the development of the four main early services and some of their feeder services together with the handstamps used. 91 pts GOLD plus Best of Show. "The Railway Postmarks of Roumania to ca. 1900", Paul Hirsch, 5 frames An in-depth study of both the Traveling Post Offices and Railway station postmarks of Roumania. 79 pts VERMEIL. "New Zealand RTPOs", EW Leppard, 2 frames Railway Traveling Post Offices operated from 1878 for 93 years until September 1997 as railways developed in North and South Islands of New Zealand"(Numbers don't come out right but I'm not sure which are wrong), 69 pts SILVER BRONZE "Victoria - the Railway Traveling Post Office 1865 to 1912", Roy Holland, 4 frames A detailed study of the TPO Railway Mail Guard (MG) system. Nos 1-19 with tying covers for each line proving the TPO traveled on the line stated. 86 pts LARGE VERMEIL. "Cyprus Government Railway", Robin Davis, 2 frames The CGR operated for some 46 years between 1905 and 1951 and the first frame is a study of all the postal cancellations used. the second frame is a display of covers routed via the CGR that were posted at outlying villages along the railway between Famagusta and Nicosia. 74 pts SILVER. "Hungarian Railways and the Post", Mervyn Benford, 5 frames The exhibit treats all the postal historical aspects of Hungarian railway-post operations with a strong focus on TPOs, station postmarks and early developments. 70 pts SILVER
AEROPHILATELY: "Railway Air Letter Service of Great Britain", Frank Jones, 3 frames (Showed all aspects of railway air letter service stamps and covers, particularly the Great Western). INVITED
POSTAL STATIONERY: "Mexico Hidalgo Express Mail", Francis Kiddle, 2 frames The Hidalgo express mail was run completely using the railway network around Mexico city and was unusual as it was organized by Mexicans in opposition to the Wells Fargo Express. The exhibit illustrates the story of philatelic material used. 70 pts SILVER.
MAXIMAPHILY & OPEN CLASS: "Canadian Pacific Railway", Iain Stevenson, This three frame display illustrates the philatelic story of one of the world's greatest transportation companies. 57 pts BRONZE. "Aspects of the Philately of the Caledonian Railway", Iain Stevenson, 2 frames This exhibit examines some philatelic aspects of Scotland's "Premier Line" covering Traveling Post Office markings, Railway letter and Parcel Stamp usage and Company Stationery. 72 pts SILVER.
ADULT ONE FRAME: "The Stamps, Postmarks, Special Cancellations and Envelopes Connected with the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway", "Filbert", This exhibit opens with the stamps issued by the Railway in chronological order both mint and used on cover. It then shows British post Office one-day postmarks and Railway produced envelopes issued to commemorate various Railway anniversaries and places of interest near the line. 58 pts TOPAZ. "Wheel of Steel" Ms. Jan Price Through stamps I have endeavored to show the progression and arrangements of railway Wheels. 58 pts TOPAZ. "Chemins De Fer Belgique - Station Architecture & Parcel Post Cancellations", Geoffrey A. Williams Exhibit shows pictorial postcards of the Architecture of a representative selection of Stations on the Belgium Railways at the end of the 19th Century, early stamps and examples of Parcel post cancellations used at these stations between 1881 and 1920. 73 pts EMERALD. "Railway - Related Pictorial Envelopes", John Bohn A dip into my collection of Victorian pictorial envelopes has produced one frame of railway related covers - all postally used. 75 pts EMERALD. "The Northern (Atlantic) Railway of Costa Rica", Richard Saundry Rarely can the introduction of a railway system have had such a profound effect on the economy of any country as has the building of Costa Rica's Northern Railway. The story of this railway is chronicled using a variety of "Ambulante" covers. 77 pts EMERALD. "From Horse Teams to Light Rail", Per-Olof Jonsson The development of the urban mass communication system presented with trams, subways and light transit trains on stamps, Cinderellas, cards, cancels and telephone cards. 63 pts SAPPHIRE. "Colombian Railways", Eric Harris Covers, Postal stationery, Postmarks and postcards 1891-1941. 62 pts SAPPHIRE. "The Railway Postmarks of Estonia", Alan Violet The exhibit shows traveling post office and railway station postmarks from those of Imperial Russia to modern independent Estonia. 74 pts EMERALD. "Lolland Railway Stamps", Francis Kiddle The earliest Danish railway post was started in 1869 on the Lolland Railway. This exhibit studies the first issues. 82 pts RUBY plus Best 16 Page Exhibit.
YOUTH: "The World of Railways", Alex Frenkel, 3 frames My collection represents the history of Railway's development all over the world and focus on the railway's influence on the life of the Society, Economy, Industry and Culture. 72 pts SILVER
There was also a LITERATURE exhibit with eight entries. I mentioned a couple of them last time.
STAMP OF THE MONTH: Dan Galt writes "You don't know me nor am I a paying customer - yet! ... I'm too much of a 'global' collector,so far, to part with money for train stamps. However, I avidly collect them, culled lovingly from any and all lots I manage to acquire, along with my other topics..." He lists about 7 topics not remotely connected to railways but goes on to say "I've decided that theRural America stamp (Scott #1506 - issued August 16, 1974) has my favorite train. I collected it initially for my agriculture theme, but what is more American than a classic train against the virtually endless wheat fields of the Midwest?" Seems like a great choice to me. (And thanks for the other comments and compliments as well). Tell me your favorite.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "When was the last time you felt the romance of a train?" No, not an AMTRAK ad but from a Holland America Cruise Line TV commercial.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: My thanks to G. C. Gomez who sent this note he copied from an unnamed Central America newspaper: "Guiness Record: The longest freight train of 660 wagons, pulled by 16 diesel-electric locomotives, measured over seven kilometers and made a trip of 8645 kilometers on the Sishen-Saldanha RR in South Africa from August 26-27 in 1989."
WEB PAGE UPDATES: Those of you visiting my web pages will note that in the alphabetical lists I have now listed Belgium, Chinas, Denmark and France separately since the files were getting too large. Other large countries will also be separately listed as I work my way thru the alphabet. By the time you read this most of the other pages such as EXPRESS COVERS,19th CENTURY RR COVERS, UNUSUAL RR COVERS, RAILROAD PAPER, CINDERELLAS, DISNEY, STOCK CERTIFICATES, etc will also have been updated. You can receive automatic e-mail notification of updates by clicking on the appropriate icon for each page you are interested in.
JUNE 25-26 GREAT PACIFIC RAILROADIANA SHOW & SALE Holiday Inn SACRAMENTO, CA