The Rail Philatelist March 1998 Newsletter
Number 8 March 1, 1998
Volume 2 . Number 8 March 1, 1998
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
First, I apologize if my survey question on income offended any of you. One of my mentors took umbrage and properly pointed out that it was none of my business. He went on to say " I find the question intrusive - you are not a bank or other institution that needs to establish credit, and even though I know it is not your intent - I'll bet that you will have turned off a number of people - this is simply not your business." Since my salary was a matter of public record for most of my working life, income has never been a sensitive issue with me - I assumed that anyone who didn't want to reveal their income would just leave it blank and complete the rest of the survey. I haven't kept records of names with responses - I just tabulated the results even though most respondents put their names on their surveys . Sorry for my faux pas!
SURVEY RESULTS PART I:The reason I asked about income was to confirm my hypothesis that train collectors come from all aspects of the socioeconomic spectrum and I think the data bare that out. Incomes were reported in all categories, but it wasn't a uniform or even bell-shaped distribution - it was what in my physics days we called a tri-modal distribution with almost equal numbers (25% each) reporting incomes of $20-30,000, $40-50,000 & >$60,000. Respondents were mostly retired (67%) while 33% were still employed. The occupations, both former and current, ranged from professional (doctors, lawyers, etc) thru sales and service to students - a few have even worked for the railroads! 33% are in their 60's, 27% in their 50's, 22% in their 70's, 9% in their 40's with a couple of octogenarians and one young whippersnapper in his 20's so it is indeed primarily an old mans hobby. More next month.
PHOTOS: While one customer requested that I include catalog numbers with the photos in my price list another suggested that I not waste space on photos - "just include more stamp listings since the photos don't reproduce well anyway". I don't really include photos in lieu of stamp listings, I include them to fill blank space on the pages. The process I use in creating my price list is as follows:
As you can see, the photos are more of an after thought and probably aren't getting the attention they deserve, but they aren't getting space at the expense of stamp listings. When I get my new scanner (my Christmas present from my wife & son William), I'll be able to scan the photos directly into the document and then add text (catalog numbers). Haven't had time yet to go buy this improvement, but it will come eventually! Thanks for your comments and suggestions.
TRAINS ONLY NO.2!: The American Topical Association has reported that "Birds" are the number one topic for 1997 among new members with "Trains" dropping to second after being first in 1996. Unfortunately no statistics are given as to the numbers in each category. Note also that this only includes new members - I'll bet if ALL members were surveyed "Trains" would be NUMERO UNO!
DISTINGUISHED TOPICAL PHILATELIST: Congratulations to Oliver C. Atchison, editor of the Casey Jones RR Unit's "Dispatcher" for being selected by the American Topical Association as one of this years Distinguished Topical Philatelists - it is an honor he richly deserves for all his selfless work and dedication. He will receive the award at the National Topical Stamp Show '98 to be held July 17-19,1998 at the Fairview Park Marriott, Falls Church, VA. I am sorry I won't be there to help him celebrate - that's the weekend my oldest son and his fiancé chose to get married here in Colorado Springs (and I didn't even get a vote) - can't be everywhere I guess!
CELEBRATE THE CENTURY: Your US Postal Service has put a train stamp in each of the first three "Celebrate the Century" 15 stamp sets - the 1900 set includes the movie "The Great Train Robbery" (no train visible), the 1910 set includes canal "mules" on the Panama Canal stamp and the 1920 set will include an electric toy train stamp according to the news release. Seems a shame to have to buy the whole awkward $4.80 sheet for just the one stamp but that is probably the proper format. The 1900 and 1910 sheets have been in short supply at my local post office so I suggest you get yours as soon as possible. Each clerk gets only a few of each since they aren't easy to handle - I've been to the post office the last three days and each time only one of the five clerks had any left and then only a couple of each. I hope to be able to offer the single stamps in my US pricelist if I can ever get enough sheets. I may have to break down and go to the philatelic window downtown.
"SOLD OUT": I hate having to put a "sold out" on items you order as much as you hate seeing it, but it is virtually impossible to find most of the train stamps I list in sufficient quantities to meet every request. For that , I apologize in advance. A customer suggested that I issue "Rain Checks" for "sold out" items. While that may work for Wal-Mart and the big retailers, it won't work in the topical stamp business except for New Issues (and even some of them are received in short supply!). There are three problems with the "Rain Check" as I see it:
(1) There is no wholesale source I can go to with assurance that new supplies of a particular train stamp will be available (and certainly none that will respond in a timely manner). My extensive inventory has been built up over the past 20+ years by buying every train item I see when I see it - sometimes more than one of an item is available, most often only one - from as many sources as I can contact. Thus when I am "SOLD OUT", I cannot guarantee when, or if, I will ever see that stamp or cover again!
(2) Prices fluctuate and often I pay more for an item than I sold the last one for.
(3) Because of the above, it would be unfair to my customers to have them pass up buying a needed item from another source if they can while waiting for me to fill a "Rain Check" that I might never be able to locate. The bookkeeping presents another concern but that can be overcome. "Rain Checks" would work if there were readily available sources for resupply, but then you wouldn't need me in the first place!
FRANKLIN MINT AGAIN: Mrs. Grace Varney sent me the album and 18 pages, 9 of which were different than the first set. The album is black with silver trim and lettering. It evidently came with the first shipment of 3 pages (must have been 3 since that's the only common denominator for 21,18 and 9). The certificate of authenticity states "...the Trains of the World Stamp Collection is an official issue of the National Railroad Museum and consists of 50 presentations in a rich variety of philatelic forms, each mounted on a display panel bearing an original work of art. It is further certified that each stamp is in mint condition or postmarked with an official first day of issue date, and that this collection is available exclusively through The Franklin Mint". Signed by Dr. Jerry Musich, Executive Director, The National Railroad Museum. Pages are copyrighted 1988 thru 1993. If you have a complete or partial set available, I have a couple of buyers interested.
QUEEN WILHELMINA AGAIN: Bill Chappell, President of the Casey Jones RR Unit sent this warning regarding the Netherlands Indies "Queen Wilhelmina" issues featured in January: "it should be noted that these are Photogravure, printed in water soluble ink. They cannot be soaked, the ink will run or disappear entirely. Used copies should be left on cut squares. Also only Photogravure safe watermark fluid must be used, such as 'Super Safemark' or 'Super Safe'. Ordinary fluids will cause the design to run." Thanks, Bill, for this important information.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "Yes, in one way or another I have always loved trains" Walt Disney. Pages 17 and 355 of the new book WALT DISNEY'S RAILROAD STORY - The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom by Michael Broggie, Pentrex Media Group, P.O.Box 94911, Pasadena, CA 91109, ISBN #1-56342-006-6. I echo that sentiment!
FEBRUARY TRAVEL: Between shows in Columbus, OH and Somerset, NJ, I finally managed the visit to my son in Pittsburgh and sister in Bradford, PA and APS headquarters in State College, PA that got canceled by car trouble last fall. I confirmed that the American Philatelic Research Library has my newsletters and pricelists on file (I guess that means I've made the big time!) and spent the better part of two days going thru circuit books in the Sales Division looking for elusive train stamps. They only had one train topical circuit book on hand and it didn't contain anything worth buying. Maybe that is why so few of you (less than 10%) indicated that you make purchases from the APS Sales Circuits in response to my survey question. I checked out about 50 country circuit books that had at least a couple useful train stamps in them and took them to my hotel room to work on over night, then checked out a few more the next day to work on in the library while the Sales Division was closed for lunch. Spent about $300 and had a good time in the process! All the staff at the headquarters are extremely helpful and accommodating. If you haven't been there, make it a point to stop if you are nearby. I did squeeze in a little train watching too - I walked around the Knox & Kane RR yard in Marienville,PA on my way to Bradford but the Chinese steam loco wasn't on the property - they did have a nice Porter Industrial diesel tho. On the way home I spent an hour or so at my favorite train spot - Santa Fe Junction in Kansas City, just south of Kemper Arena off I-670. There is always a train or two passing thru there. I saw 9 trains in a little over an hour - had 4 in my sights at one time. I've seen as many as 8 trains at once there since there are at least 8 different routes and 13 tracks including a double deck bridge within the viewing area. Before all the mergers, almost every railroad in the midwest passed thru there so there was a constant variety in the road names on the locomotives - there still are about 10 different road names to be seen - BNSF (BN and SF in all the paint schemes including the new "Heritage" green and orange), UP (including SP and DRGW), AMTRAK, NS, KCS, KCT, GatewayWestern, CN plus probably a couple others I can't recall right now.
STAMP OF THE MONTH: Thanks to Bill McCollister for the write-up of Switzerland Scott #738 that appears on the following page. My apologies for the poor reproduction. He sent it with this note: "Referring to your December 1st News & Notes: I agree with your evaluation of the Atlas of the World's Railways by Brian Hollingsworth, published in 1980. I use it frequently and enclose a xerox of page showing a write-up of Swiss #738, although I do not show Scott numbers in my write-ups. I also use History of Railways, edited by E. L. Cornwell and published by Chartwell Books Inc. in 1976. This title has lots of history and many color photos." Bill also recalled his many trips on BN's number one business car "Red River" before the Frisco merger and his retirement. Thanks, Bill, for the great album page and the additional reference book info! Certainly shows what you can do with a little effort and some research. Since I saw this locomotive in the Swiss Transport Museum last summer, this stamp belongs in my "Been There, Done That" collection. How is yours coming?
MAR 6-8 HOSTLER'S RAILROAD SHOW UNION STATION OGDEN,UT MAR 21-2 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW QCCA EXPO CENTER ROCK ISLAND,IL MAR 28-29 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW CONVENTION CENTER CINCINNATI,OH
MAR 6-8 HOSTLER'S RAILROAD SHOW UNION STATION OGDEN,UT
MAR 21-2 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW QCCA EXPO CENTER ROCK ISLAND,IL
MAR 28-29 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW CONVENTION CENTER CINCINNATI,OH