The Rail Philatelist November 2000 Newsletter

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Email Notification



Volume 5 ............... PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)................Number 10 November 1, 2000

Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:  


RED DOT: It is time once again to prune the mailing list. If your mailing label has a dreaded red dot, that means I haven't heard from you in 10 months. This will be your last newsletter/pricelists unless I receive an order or a subscription (see masthead). I can't let the paying customers subsidize you.

WHAT HAPPENED TO TURKMENISTAN?: When I included the photo of Turkmenistan #54 last month, I thought there were several Turkmenistan offerings in the "T list". Much to my consternation, there weren't any! I checked my database and the entries were there as they should be including a "T" in the column which selects them for inclusion in the monthly lists. Took me awhile to discover that instead of a "T", I had a "T " - a T space! The invisible space had prevented their selection for the list. Concerned, I checked the rest of the alphabet and found 93 similar problems thanks to the "FIND/CHANGE" feature. I don't know what they all were but that's almost one and a half pages of material I thought I was offering that didn't make the lists, 35 in the "B list" alone! They will be in upcoming lists - the missing Turkmenistan items are at the end of the "V-Z"list.

SHOWS: Remember that old song lyric "There's no business like show business"? Well, these days there is "no business at shows"! Particularly stamp shows. Even Filatelic Fiesta in Santa Clara, one of my best shows in past years, wasn't worthwhile this year. The major retail chains like to measure their progress by the growth in "same store sales". Well, my "same show" sales show considerable negative progress as the following table indicates:



2000 SALES/97-99 AVE.*


Denver GATS

Stockyard Complex, Denver, CO



Hostler's RR Festival

Ogden Union Station, Ogden, UT



NMRA Convention

San Jose, CA 00, St.Paul, MN 99,

Kansas City, MO 98, Madison, WI 97



Las Vegas GATS

Cashmen Center (97, 98 & 00)




Providence,RI 00,Cleveland, OH 99,

Santa Clara, CA 98, Milwaukee, WI 97




Santa Clara Convention Ctr.(97,99 &00)






*A three year average was used to mimimize the effects of one good or bad year.

And this table excludes my three biggest losers (WSE2000, ATA Buffalo and WESTPEX) because I didn't do comparable shows the preceeding three years. (And probably shouldn't ever again! I'll give WESTPEX one more try but I have no interest in doing the ATA show in Mesa, AZ in June). Actually, I was surprised when I compiled these numbers because I didn't think the train shows had held up as well as they did (Denver was a one big sale anomaly.). This partially validates my weak moment decision to sign up for seven Great American Train Shows (GATS) rather than the five I signed for last year (they offered a FREE show if you do two more in 2001 than you did in 2000 - I think that indicates they are having a hard time getting dealers!). Stamp shows are definitely on the decline. At FILATELIC FIESTA, I talked with Marshall Burde, who with his wife Maureen, run the show for the San Jose Stamp Club and also promote shows in California as Burde Enterprises. They are dropping their one day shows because they are having a hard time getting dealers. My Mother-in -law clipped an article from the DAYTON DAILY NEWS reporting that poor attendance at AIRPEX, an APS "Champion of Champions" show for many years, has forced the Dayton Club to consider holding the show in alternate years (that will really kill it in my opinion). They used to have 30 dealers and now are having a hard time getting 15-20. My own club in Colorado Springs can't find enough dealers for SOCOPEX coming up in two weeks (I've never done well there even when I ran it, so I don't do it anymore). Pat Dowling, dba 20th Century Classics, is having increasing problems finding dealers for the shows he runs in Denver - he has already cut out the shows he ran in COS, KC and Santa Fe, NM. What does all this mean? I obviously don't know, but I think the surfiet of stamp shows the past few years will become a dearth as the one day and weaker two day shows disappear. Many of the three day shows will (or should)cut back to two. The LINNS STAMP NEWS  and  STAMP COLLECTOR   show listings may not even be one page in a couple years, let alone the two they take up now. Why the decline? Rising costs (WESTPEX is increasing fees over15% for 2001) and declining sales cause dealers to drop out. This starts a death spiral - fewer dealers attract fewer customers since there is going to be less material for them to chose from. I'll use myself as an example: I usually attend the monthly stamp bourse in Denver if I can but I'm not going this month because instead of the usual ten dealers there will be only four (conflicting shows in North Platte, NE and Cheyenne, WY siphoned off some regulars) and I can probably see them at SOCOPEX in two weeks (although there will be only seven dealers there instead of the usual 16!). If all the collectors who usually show up for the Denver bourse do, the four dealers should do pretty well since the money spent won't be cut in as many slices. But if too many collectors take my approach, the couple hundred dollars I usually spend and whatever they usually spend, won't be spent. What is worse, many collectors will show up and find that the four dealers there don't have what they are looking for - with ten, they might have found something. Now those collectors leave disappointed, vowing not to waste their time on stamp shows, so attendance at the next show declines even if all ten dealers participate. Attendance declines, sales decline, dealers drop out,... That's the death spiral. Collectors and dealers are both turning to mail order (good for me) and especially eBay (I've got to get busy there) since those forums are a better fit for the philatelic persona than shows are anyway. Most of the dealers I talk with are cutting back their show schedules as I have and spending time putting things on eBay (which I plan to do also). What is your take on all this?

MORE ON SHOWS: It may not be direct fall-out from the Post Office's disastrous WORLD STAMP EXPO 2000 in Anaheim, but the Postal Service has cut it's stamp show budget by about 70%. A LINN'S STAMP NEWS  Oct. 16, 2000 front page headline read "Budget cuts bring tables, chairs back to mega-event, Stampshow". Instead of supporting four major shows each year, the Anaheim mega-event has been eliminated and the APS Stampshow and two  New York mega-events will have severely reduced budgets starting with the Nov. 9 -12, 2000 show. This prompted the American Stamp Dealers Assn., which manages the mega-events, to announce that conventional tables and chairs will be used rather than the much-panned plexiglass counters. The floor plan was also consolidated with exhibit frames and the dealer bourse on the same floor. Postal Service support for youth areas has been eliminated and the Postal Service area will be staffed at 60% of former levels. While ASDA has tried to put a positive spin on the changes, a budget reduction from $1.5 million for four shows to less than $500,000 for three shows has major impacts which probably won't be evident until after the November mega, or maybe the March event. (I wonder why STAMP COLLECTOR  didn't even mention the subject in their Oct. 23, 2000 "Special New York Mega-event Issue".)

TRAIN REPORT: No travel this month but, like in everything else, I'm about a month behind in my train reports. The trip home from Providence was almost trainless most of the way - saw the tailends of a couple autoracks in Ohio, crossed over a major yard in Chicago but traffic kept me from rubber-necking, then saw one BNSF manifest near Princeton, IL. My drive across Nebraska made up for the previous lean 1400 miles however. In addition to a clogged BNSF yard at Lincoln with eight trains trying to get through, I passed four more coal trains on the way to Grand Island. There I followed the UP main west on  US 30. Five trains on the way to Gibbon where the Kansas City line joins the three track main, another 15 from there to North Platte. Spent an hour in North Platte watching  three trains leave the EB ready tracks, a rail grinding train, crawl thru, a pair of geeps working the "van yard" as UP calls it, and another four run-through coal trains and manifests. After a slow drive past the locomotive repair shops where 100 or more locos are usually in evidence, I got stopped at the west end yard throat as two trains headed west and one came EB (I'm probably one of the few who don't mind getting stopped at a RR crossing!). All in all, I saw 16 trains from North Platte to Big Spring, five of the last six  EB being the first stackpacks I saw all day (starting about 4 PM Tuesday). That got me wondering if the intermodal yards in Chicago and LA shut down on the weekends since I assumed these were the vanguard, having left LA Monday morning while no WB from Chicago would have caught up with me yet. Anyone know if the intermodal yards work 24/7 or just a five day week? On my trip to St. Louis for the Regency Auction, there wasn't much happening on the old Kansas Pacific, just a powerless coal train sitting near Wild Horse, CO and an EB struggling up a hill near Oakley, KS. Since it was dark by the time I got to Kansas City, I almost didn't stop at Santa Fe Junction. I'm glad I did - among the eight trains I saw there in less than an hour was AMTRAK's "Ann Rutledge". After her 9:10 PM arrival at the KC station, she comes west empty on the highline where I saw her, a GE Dash 8-40B, two coaches and a cafe/coach. Then she backs into the south leg of the wye out of my field of view, and proceeds back to the station, turned and ready for her 7:35 AM departure to St. Louis (If I'd known then what I know now I could have ridden her from KC to St. Louis and back!). I didn't have time to visit the railroad museum in St. Louis this trip but it is certainly worth doing if you have the time.  I also got to see the Ringling Bros. circus train on the siding near the Kemper Arena coming and going. My only railroading in St. Louis was a couple glimpses of the beautiful, stone station in Kirkwood (still used by AMTRAK) and the viewing (and purchase) of a bunch of train stamps.

THE STAMP HOBBY...: Thanks again to Michael Laurence, Editor/publisher of LINN'S STAMP NEWS  for this final insight from his APS Tiffany Dinner speech:

10. The stamp hobby creates lasting friendships. I look around this room and I see a number of people whom I call friends, even close friends. A huge number of my friends (and many of the most interesting) have come my way through stamp collecting. This was true before I ever got into stamps professionally (if you can call stamp journalism a profession). ED: This may actually be the best benefit of all. I know I treasure the many friends I've made in the stamp hobby.




STAMP OF THE MONTH: Reading David D. Perata's THOSE PULLMAN BLUES An Oral History of the African American Railroad Attendant.led me to select US #2402 Asa Phillip Randolph. While he was never a Pullman porter himself, he headed theBrotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters fron its inception in 1925 until he retired in 1968, the same year the Pullman Company closed its doors. The book gives some interesting insights on the heyday of "name train" travel.

RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "Humanity does not pass through phases as a train passes through stations. ...whatever we have been, in some sort we still are." C.S. Lewis, ALLEGORY OF LOVE   (ED: somewhat deeper than my normal thoughts)

RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: The narrowest gauge on which public services are operated is the 101/4 in. Wells Harbour (0.7 mi.) and the Wells - Walsingham Railways (4 mi.) in Norfolk, England.

May all your signals be green,


Al's signatureAL PETERSON

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P.O. Box 25505
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
1-800-807-RAIL access code RR


Dues $8.00. Contact Oliver Atchison, PO Box 31631, San Francisco, CA 94131


News & Notes Back Issues
| Oct. 1996 | Nov. 1996 | Dec. 1996 |
| Jan. 1997 | Feb. 1997 | Mar. 1997 | Apr. 1997 | May 1997 | June 1997 |
| July 1997 | Aug. 1997 | Sept. 1997 | Oct. 1997 | Nov. 1997 | Dec. 1997 |
| Jan. 1998 | Feb. 1998 | Mar. 1998 | Apr. 1998 | May 1998 | June 1998 |
| July 1998 | Aug. 1998 | Sept. 1998 | Oct. 1998 | Nov. 1998 | Dec. 1998 |
| Jan. 1999 | Feb. 1999 | Mar. 1999 | Apr. 1999 | May 1999 | June 1999 |
| July 1999 | Aug. 1999 | Sept. 1999 | Oct. 1999 | Nov. 1999 | Dec. 1999 |
| Jan. 2000 | Feb. 2000 | Mar. 2000 | Apr. 2000 | May 2000 | June 2000 |
| July 2000 ||Aug. 2000 | Sept. 2000 | Oct. 2000 |


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