This file was last updated on November 7, 1996.
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AL'S NEWS & NOTES
ON RAILWAY PHILATELY
Volume 1 Number 2 ....................................................................... November 1, 1996
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
Thank you for your positive response to my first newsletter and new pricelist format - keep those cards and letters (and orders) coming. One major problem occurred with the "A" list as the first customer who called pointed out. The computer glitched when I transferred the "A" file from the database to the word processor which caused some prices to show up in the wrong columns - some MINT prices were printed at the end of the descriptions rather than in the MINT column. As a consequence, if there was a USED price also, it ended up in the MINT column My apologies for any inconvenience or confusion this mistake may have caused you - I'll try not to let it happen again. Aside from that, one customer pointed out that the new format is easier to read for those of us getting on in years. I've set the pricelist margins so they can be three-hole punched - I was going to have the printer do it until I discovered it increased the printing cost almost 50% - on my budget that's money better spent on first class postage. Since the newsletter isn't deathless prose, I've set the margins as narrow as possible to cram as much info in as I can. Another astute reader (actually, several) pointed out that O & Q don't have many entries either so if I combine them with P we'll be complete in 11 months. Boy! We're making progress already- Thanks guys and gals (yes, there are indeed several women who avidly collect trains and/or trolleys on stamps). Over the years I've seen that enthusiasm for railway philately is not bounded by gender, age, ethnic or social background - while most of us may be older, white males the fraternity is quite a cosmopolitan group. As the old rhyme goes "Doctor , Lawyer, Indian Chief, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief". And unfortunately there are some thieves amongst us. I've been ripped off several times including the loss of a beautiful mint U.S.#293 at TOPEX in Omaha a couple years ago. But the most aggravating theft occurred last month in Chicago by one of a couple customers I know and trusted. When filling a want list for the 1949 British Empire UPU Omnibus sets, I discovered that someone had removed the MNH low value train stamp from sets in several countries. What makes this crime even more despicable is that in many cases a perfectly good single was available in the same location. A few other non-UPU sets were similarly pillaged. I haven't assessed the full extent of the theft yet since I haven't had time to go through all the red boxes(I'll do that as I update my price lists or file inventory) but I estimate that at least $100 worth of sets were destroyed for the sake of less than $10 in train stamps. And what is really galling is that the thief had to spend an extended period of time under my "watchful eye" to have stolen items from so many countries in so many different boxes. That narrows it down to only a couple formerly trusted individuals. I'll obviously have to change my approach at shows even with customers I know. Thus if I seem to be hovering more than usual the next time you see me, relax, you aren't being paranoid - I am!
SHOWS AGAIN Those of you who have been with me over the past couple years have seen that I've been doing more train shows and fewer stamp shows. One of the biggest reasons is cost per sales dollar. I usually pay about $100 for a 10x10 booth with three 8-foot sales tables at a train show where a few THOUSAND rail enthusiasts attend (albeit not all interested in stamps). Conversely, at a stamp show which only a few HUNDRED attend (only a few with any rail interest) the costs for two sales tables and a backup are from $150 for a small local show to $1000 for the APS STAMPSHOW. Another reason is that I've discovered that my loyal stamp customers will travel to a train show to see me but it's not likely that an avid railfan customer will travel to a stamp show where I'm likely to be the only dealer with anything of interest. And my loyal customers do travel - one prominent customer from the LA area who prefers to remain anonymous has turned up at shows in Atlanta, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, San Jose, Las Vegas among others . Norm Wright and his wife Florence ( both of Handbook #130 fame) have driven from Rochester, NY to Philadelphia,Pa and Springfield, OH and points in between to see me at shows (and I don't think he's made it through all the red boxes yet!). That's why I send out postcards any time I'm doing a show within a couple hundred miles of you - never know when you might want to take a long weekend drive - after all, I do it most weekends! I know train shows offset some of the costs by charging admission - that's why I usually give you a show discount that more than makes up for any admission charge. Speaking of discounts...
CHANGE IN DISCOUNT POLICY With my old complete world pricelists I offered a 10% discount for purchases over $75. With the new alphabet lists, it is more difficult for most of you to reach this total from the more limited selections. And at the same time you don't want to hold off ordering until you have a big enough order for fear of waiting too long and having the items you need sold out by the time you finally get around to ordering. To ease this dilemma, I'll offer the 10% discount on all orders totaling $75 or more within a three month period. To qualify just return copies of the previous order invoices with the order that puts you over $75 and I'll apply the discount to that order. This applies to pricelist orders only - want lists and new issues already include discounts or special pricing.
HANDBOOK #130 AGAIN NW called to comment on my newsletter and pointed out that there are really 272 pages, not 266, in the handbook - 266 numbered pages plus the first page of info (page i) and five pages of photos (pages ii, 100a & b, 102a & b). That makes it an even better bargain than I thought. Incidentally, Howard's original manuscript was over 400 pages so Norm and Florence did an incredible editing job condensing all that info while adding other useful tidbits and photos. WDM E-mailed "You are so right...a book you just have to own." Better order one now while supplies last!
BRITISH RAILWAY PHILATELIC GROUP This is another excellent organization with an outstanding quarterly publication, RAILWAY PHILATELY - 52 pages with a variety of useful articles on all aspects of the hobby. Dues are about $15.00. Contact the membership secretary Peter Johnson at 12 Maplewell Dr., Leicester LE4 1BD, Great Britain. You'll be glad you did!
NEW ISSUE SERVICE There have been a plethora of new issues lately, and mostly a miniature sheet of 6 or more plus a souvenir sheet - I can hardly keep up and I spend full time at this - how are you coping? I send out new issues on approval whenever $50 - $100 worth accumulate to help minimize the postage costs for both of us - you keep the items you like and return the unwanted items via certified mail along with your payment. And you can designate the kind of items you want to receive, e.g. everything, stamps only (no souvenir sheets, etc), steam locos only, no DISNEY, nothing over $10.00, whatever limits you like(after all, it is YOUR collection)! Send a $10.00 deposit and an outline of your desires or limitations. My new issue service isn't the fastest or cheapest but it is the most comprehensive and reliable so sign up today while I still have a few openings.
THE RAIL PHILATELIST
P.O. Box 25505
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
1-800-807-RAIL access code RR