StampStore or eBay?

Original column by Wendy Masorti, APS Director of Sales, republished from The American Philatelist, February 2018

New sellers will often contact the American Philatelic Society with the question, “Should I sell on eBay or StampStore?” Both services provide a way to sell online and charge minimal fees and commissions. Therefore, in order to answer the question, it is important to understand how StampStore differs from eBay.

With emerging technology in the late 1990s, the APS realized the importance of branching out our mail sales program to offer members a way to sell their philatelic material online. Specifically, we wanted to tailor a program to provide members with a hassle-free selling experience. After researching other online services and knowing our clientele, in September of 2000, we launched StampStore with a specific goal in mind – to offer an easy, affordable way for members to sell online without needing internet experience or special equipment.

On eBay, a seller is responsible to upload each listing with a description and has an option to add images (practically a must for philatelic material), which the seller must provide. The seller can choose methods of payment, which can include everything from checks to the electronic PayPal system. The seller must handle all shipping and returns. Sellers on eBay can set their own fees for shipping, which range from free to several dollars per item.

StampStore Sellers FormStampStore, on the other hand, does much of the work for you. You complete a submission sheet for each item (mounting the item along with description, prices, etc.) and mail them to the APS. We take care of scanning images and uploading item descriptions to the online store, as well as advertising, answering buyer questions, payment processing, shipping, and handling returns/refunds. All communication with the buyer is handled by the APS; the seller remains anonymous and is identified only through a seller ID number. Sellers can view reports, change prices, and receive monthly payments for items that sell.

Also, unlike eBay where the seller or a representative must have online access, many StampStore sellers do not even own a computer; they rely on our sales staff to help them change prices or check on statuses of items.
StampStore can provide one-package shipping from several sellers to a single buyer. Since all items are housed at our facility, a buyer can purchase from multiple sellers when placing an order and receive all items in one package. Standard shipping for an order less than $100 is $2.95 plus 2 percent of the sales cost for handling and insurance. If an order is more than $100, the shipping is free of charge. We also offer a 30-day money back guarantee on all items.

We are not saying that you should not sell on eBay, but rather that you ask yourself these questions:

“How involved do you want to be with the actual sale? Do you have the equipment and knowledge necessary to upload and maintain the listings? Do you have the time to package and ship sold items promptly? Are you prepared to handle unhappy customers and process returns?”
Considering that many of our sellers mail in hundreds of submissions to StampStore at a time, you can only imagine the potential volume of questions and shipments they could be dealing with. Also, buyers who purchase multiple items from several different sellers would receive multiple shipments and shipping charges.

It is also important to point out that all members selling on StampStore are APS members and abide by our Code of Ethics. While the APS provides this selling/buying service, the APS does not own the material being sold and does not guarantee the accuracy of members’ content in the listings. While members price and describe their material, they may unknowingly misdescribe the quality or authenticity of the items being sold. Therefore, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and sellers may be charged fines for their misdescriptions. Seller privileges may be revoked for repeat offenders.

So, only you can answer the question, “eBay or StampStore?” If you are interested in selling with us, request a free seller packet or visit www.stamps.org/How-to-Sell-Online.

YPL Fellow Dani Leviss Interviewed by Lloyd de Vries

Young Philatelic Leaders Fellow Dani Leviss was recently interviewed by Lloyd de Vries for The Virtual Stamp Club. The interview can be heard with the audio player below or on The Virtual Stamp Club interviews page.

The Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program was founded by the American Philatelic Society in 2009 to identify and support the best and brightest aspiring philatelists. The program coordinates and funds transportation to, lodging during, and activities at: APS national shows, Smithsonian National Postal Museum, and the American Philatelic Center for enthusiastic young collectors between the ages of 16 and 24. Additionally, YPLF connects participating Fellows with seasoned collectors, exhibitors, writers, and dealers to expand their perspectives and exposure in the philatelic world.

June 2017 American Philatelist Available Online

The June issue of The American Philatelist is online for APS members to view. Here are some of the highlights:

Machin by Douglas Muir. This month marks the 50th anniversary for the simple, yet so complex, Machin series of stamps from Great Britain. The author offers an account of the Machin heads’ first appearance and this year’s special anniversary commemorative stamp issue.

My Lifetime Stamp Pursuit by Matthew Healey. The iconic Machin stamps, named for the sculptor who helped create them, were first issued almost at the exact time the writer was born. When he was old enough to learn about stamps, Matthew felt a natural connection to the design featuring a profile of Queen Elizabeth II. He tells the basics of collecting this multifaceted series.

Conquering Early Stamps of the Himalayas by Joseph Iredale. Nepal, a landlocked nation home to Mount Everest, first started printing stamps in 1881. The early issues feature native design elements, marginal inscriptions, pin-perfs and imperforates, and different papers.

Collecting Coast to Coast. Not-So-Counterfeit Cinderellas, by Wayne L. Youngblood. Free franking for soldiers, the privilege of being able to send mail at no cost, started in 1775. But Congress helped establish rules and the postal service has frowned on those who break them, even if for identifying free-franked mail.

British Empire: Gilbert and Ellice Islands by Noel Davenhill. We travel to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, a series of atolls and coral islands that fell under British rule — first as a protectorate, then as a colony — for more than 80 years.

Worldwide in a Nutshell: Mount Athos by Bob Lamb. Though linked to Greece in many ways (including postal) this mountainous entity home only to Orthodox religious men and hermits has some postal history, including contemporary post offices.

April 2017 American Philatelist Available Online

The April issue of The American Philatelist is online for APS members to view. Here are some of the highlights:

World War I by Ed Dubin and Al Kugel. April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States officially joining the Allied forces of World War I. Dozens of philatelic objects tell the tale of Americans’ involvement before the war, on the home front, on the battle lines, and after the Armistice.

Philately and Philanthropy — The American Philatelic Society and the American Philatelic Research Library present their special annual section thanking donors for their many appreciated contributions in 2016.

Stamp Classics. El Salvador’s Iconic Volcano Stamps by Joseph Iredale. A volcano appears on the first stamps of El Salvador; but which peak is it? Look closely at these four stamps and you’ll see a creative design element.
Collecting Coast to Coast. Diving in the Philatelic Backwaters by Wayne L. Youngblood. Some curious-looking cancellations were administered by devices and in ways we can figure out; some of the back stories remain a mystery.

Expertizing. Upon Further Review by Mercer Bristow. When examining stamps, the APS expertizing committee will work with clients to fill in some gaps not covered by the certificate.

Worldwide in a Nutshell. Bahawalpur by Bob Lamb. Known as a Princely State, Bahawalpur was settled in the 18th century and issued its first stamp under the authority of the Pakistani Post Office after Pakistan and India separated in 1947.

Stamp Madness — The Philatelic Final Four

The field in the American Philatelic Society’s 2017 Stamp Madness contest has been cut to just four stamps after an Elite Eight round that saw a couple of upsets, including a result that was tied online and broken by in-house votes at the American Philatelic Center.

The Stamp Madness Final Four pits the U.S. World’s Fair stamp of 1964 vs. Canada’s Eastern Farm of 1946 and the Elephant of Laos from 1958 against Southern Alps and Chapel from New Zealand.

Please vote via Facebook or Twitter to send your favorites to the championship round!

There were four brackets with four seeded contestants in each. The entire Europe and Afro-India fields have been eliminated, leaving stamps from the Americas and the Pacific divisions.

All of the second round matchups were close, including one — Laos vs. Japan — that was a tie in its online voting and was decided by live voting at APS headquarters. In another second-round matchup, No. 4 seed New Zealand turned back the pre-tournament favorite, U.S. Project Mercury, in a close battle.

Philatelic prizes will be awarded on a random drawing based on both our preview contest in which contestants picked the stamp they thought would win the game and from voting in the championship match.

But don’t hold back until the final to vote. Voting in the Philatelic Final Four will start tomorrow and is open through midnight, April 5.

Here are the capsule summaries of the Final Four contestants.

The Americas
United States (Seeded No. 1 in the Americas) – The artwork for the New York World’s Fair stamp of 1964 (Scott 1244) was created using the artwork of architectural illustrator John C. Wenrich, who worked on both the 1939 and 1964 New York fairs. The stamp features two of the fair’s prominent icons – “The Rocket Thrower” sculpture and the Unisphere globe. The World’s Fair stamp defeated UAR in Round 1 and Greece in Round 2.

Canada (Seeded No. 2 in the Americas) – The Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott 268) of 1946 defeated Chad in the first round and India in the second. The stamp illustrates vital farm products and activities. The scene is a composite from four photographs. The farm house is from a photograph taken in Eastern Ontario, the barn from a farm in Western Ontario, the silo from Central Ontario, and the ploughmen and horses from Quebec. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz, vignette engraved by Warrell Hauck, and printed by Canadian Bank Note Co.

Pacific
Laos (Seeded No. 3 in the Pacific) – A set of seven Asian Elephants (Scott 41-47), including this handsomely dressed pachyderm (Scott 42), was issued in 1958. That year, engraver Jean Pheulpin (see French entry) received first prize for best French philatelic art for a stamp in this set.

New Zealand (Seeded No. 4 in the Pacific) – Southern Alps and Chapel (Scott 256) is part of the New Zealand Peace and Victory stamps of 1946, a set of 11 produced by Bradbury Wilkinson. The 9-cent stamp, dubbed A Spirit of Thankfulness, shows the chapel window at Waiho Gorge. The Franz Josef Glacier can be seen through the window.

The Guidelines
Choosing the field of just 16 special stamps for 2017 Stamp Madness wasn’t easy. Think about it: hundreds of thousands of stamps created worldwide since 1840. We needed a few guidelines to narrow the field. Here were the basic guidelines we used:
• Standard postage stamps only; no airmail, express mail, revenue stamps, etc.
• No specific images of individuals – kings, queens, scientists, musicians, etc.
• Avoid masterwork paintings and photos (statuary and buildings OK).
• Tried to be diverse to designs, colors, topics, and countries. Independent countries only, no colonies.
• No rarities – common stamps only.
• Stamps chosen are from post-WWII through 1970.

As it worked out, there are four general brackets based on geography: the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Africa-to-India. The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Europe and Pacific vs. Africa-to-India. The top seeds will play the lowest seeds from the opposing bracket in Round 1.