Price May Depend on Envelope Design

Question: I have been collecting first-day covers dated July 1, 1969 to Nov. 21, 1979, all originating from Bournemouth-Poole, England. Where can I go to get them evaluated, and what price might they bring?--M.T.

Answer: About 50 cents each, more or less, depending on the cachet (envelope design) and whether you have the high values of each set on cover. For example, a block of 4 of a 1-pound stamp on a first-day cover could sell for several dollars.

Any stamp dealer will evaluate your covers, but I recommend a smaller shop if you want to sell them, because most of the larger companies already have material like this in stock and would probably not be interested.

Q: My set of air mails from India has 6 different values, ranging from 2 annas to 12 annas, and each stamp shows a side view of old King George and a flying biplane. What are they worth and when were they current?--T.G.


A: Issued in 1929, this first set of Indian air mails catalogues for $39.50 mint, $32.75 canceled.

Q: How can you tell the difference between a genuine and counterfeit Confederate States stamp? I have a few that look like the pictures in the catalogues, but the printing quality looks like an amateur job.--P.D.

A: A good stamp dealer familiar with Confederate issues is your first destination. Some Confederate issues were poorly printed to begin with, so it takes a little experience in handling these issues to be able to verify their authenticity.

Q: You have mentioned several times that stamps of the past 40 years are worth face value. The U.S. Postal Service sells other items, such as space-shuttle covers from a Challenger mission, maximum cards, souvenir pages, American Commemorative Panels, souvenir cards and yearly mint sets.


Do you feel that these other products will gain in value at a better pace than stamps, plate blocks, booklet panes and full panes?--W.J.L.

A: No, except for the space-shuttle covers and some of the souvenir cards. The Challenger space-shuttle covers were a one-time thing, and you have to buy them on the secondary market (from a dealer or collector) instead of from the Postal Service because they are sold out.

The future is impossible to predict with certainty, but past records of stamp prices indicate that most of the stuff sold by the post office since World War II has been a poor investment. The first souvenir cards from 1954 to 1970 have gone up tremendously in value, except for two issues. Some plate blocks have paid off handsomely, but nobody knew for sure that they would skyrocket in price 10 or 20 years after they were released.

I don’t recommend stamps from modern times for investment. I recommend old stamps, preferably nice 19th-Century issues, for possible long-term price appreciation as part of a comprehensive investment strategy. If I knew what stamps would double in value by next year, I’d buy them myself and get rich.


Q: The glue on the stamps of the new Presidential series leaves much to be desired. My local post office told me to paste them on. How could the Postal Service have goofed so badly?--M.M.

A: The U.S. Postal Service’s new souvenir sheets of America’s Presidents were designed primarily for collectors and were first distributed at the recent AMERIPEX stamp exhibition in Chicago. The gum is not the best, and I’ve heard complaints from other people about it.

My own experience is that these stamps tend to stick to an envelope OK when you thoroughly lick the gummed reverses and then press them down firmly for a few seconds. I guess these issues weren’t meant to see heavy postal use, so the Postal Service didn’t bother to do a good job with the gum in their busy production schedule.

Q: After having served in Germany in the U.S. Army, I’ve become interested in starting a German stamp collection. You have mentioned specialist collector’s organizations for other countries. Is there one for German stamps?--H.W.


A: The Germany Philatelic Society was founded in 1949 and now has over 2,500 members nationwide. Benefits include a handsome monthly journal called the German Postal Specialist, sales circuits, expertizing service, slide programs for loan and a translation service. Dues vary depending on when in the year you become a member. For information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Christopher Deterding, P.O. Box 779, Arnold, Md. 21012.

Q: In a recent column you had an inquiry about canceled stamps from other countries, and you said they wouldn’t be worth much.

There is an organization in Washington that is happy to get any kind of canceled stamps, U.S. or foreign, for wounded servicemen. I’ve been sending them stamps just from my personal mail for years and they’re very grateful.

Here’s the address: Stamps for the Wounded, 4201 Cathedral Ave. N.W., Apt. 924E, Washington, D.C. 20016.--J.R.


A: This is a good organization. It is completely run by unpaid volunteers, and all stamps donated go directly to American servicemen who are recuperating in hospitals.

Stamp collecting is a great pastime for people who are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair. Col. Green, a famous philatelist in the early 20th Century, had one leg. Most physical handicaps don’t hinder serious stamp collectors.

Barry Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.