Monday 23 July 2007

FDC's. Their role in a stamp collection need to well defined. Point of view.

Do you consider FDC’s relevant to a classical stamp collector? No! Unless it is a letter carrying Penny Black sent on the date of issue or a similar item from before the concept of FDC's were invented. Could even very well be of a later date if genuinely a letter reflecting the proper postal rate.

But why are FDC's not terribly popular among advanced traditional collectors? Because their postal purpose is questionable. They are wannabe letters, but never become letters. A letter is basically a message to somebody who is absent. If the receiver replies you even have a correspondence. FDC's do not carry messages, they just mark an event. The stamp on an FDC furthermore often does not reflect a rate for services rendered.

These facts do not mean that FDC's cannot form part of a stamp collection. I am sure thematic collectors wellcome them. I myself include FDC's in my open class collection. They represent my theme and add to the variety of objects. Whether they fall in the category of stamp related material (50%) or non-stamp related material (50%) I do not know. The judges will surely tell me if the balance in my collection is out of order.

FDC's should be accepted for what they are. A collector's item marking an event. Problem is that suffisticated dealers sometimes make unexperienced traditional collectors believe that FDC's belong in a traditional collection and even may gain in value like traditional stamps and covers sometimes do. FDC's, however, very rarely do gain in value to the great disappointment of many a young collector!

Sunday 22 July 2007

Help me write a book (E-book) about Stamp Collecting and Philately!

Many a fine book has been written about Stamp Collecting and Philately, but if you think carefully. When did you last see or hear about a new Introduction to our hobby? Specialized catalogues and studies, yes, but an Introduction? And in case you did, did it take into account the last ten to twenty years development within the field of Stamp Collecting and Philately or was it just a rehash of older books on the subject?

I have been asking for a recent introduction to philately in several bookshops in Europe, but unsuccessfully so. I suppose the demand for such a book is not con­sidered huge or even worth while testing by the publishing houses. All that can be said about the hobby has been said in details they might say, which is probably true, but in my view they are still wrong.

Why? Because during the last ten to twenty years, the framework with­in which Stamp Collecting and Philately has been operating has changed tremendously to the hobby’s advantage. Albeit that very likely there are fewer Stamp Collectors and Philatelists to day world wide than before – I insist on using both concepts – the hobby still merits the characteristic of attracting a world wide interest and due to the Internet and all the activity that follows from it, the hobby has better conditions today than for very many years. If given just a slight but intelligent and inspired push drawing on the collective knowledge of the past, but taking full advantage of the new framework I am quite certain that Stamp Collecting and Philately will continue to attract the interest of millions of people and help further understanding and tolerance among peoples, qualities strongly needed in the world of today.

Now what to do? Help me write a modern introduction to Stamp Collecting and Philately in the form of a book, or preferably an E-book. Help me to give those that are tempted to take up this old hobby the tools and instruments they need to become successful Stamp Collectors and Philatelists.

Let’s start by putting together a draft easily accessible and logical modern Contents section. As for a draft working title for the book I suggest:

Philately of Today
Introduction to Stamp Collecting and Philately in the Age of the Internet

Looking forward to hearing your ideas and comments!

With Collector’s Greetings


Sunday 15 July 2007

Why do I collect …. :The bi-coloured stamps from Denmark and DWI?

I collect the Bicoloured Stamps from Denmark and The Danish West Indies (DWI). Why? Because I find the colours of these stamps to be very pretty, especially the early printings of the series. With a little help from my friends I have also learnt to appreciate the challenge it is to be able to plate these stamps and to reconstruct whole panes. As far as the 4 øre and the 8 øre values are concerned plating them is often the only possible way to decide to which series and what printing they be­long. The more you know about these stamps, the greater are your chan­ces in finding real rarities for your collection without having to pay big sums of money.

I finished my latest post to my blog by encouraging collectors who exhibit or intend to exhibit their collections to tell their story of how they started building their stamp collection and also to tell the story of the collection, which are two different things. I also promised to tell the story be­hind one of my collections in my next post to my blog. Here it is:

The Danish Bicoloured series dating from 1870 – 1905 intrigued me ever since at the age of 6 I started collecting stamps. Being Danish and living in Denmark it was natural for me to collect postage stamps from Denmark and following the widely used AFA catalogue I also made an attempt to identify the few samples I had of the 4 øre blue/gray and 8 øre red/gray. All the other values were not within my reach since they were highly priced, several of them more than 100 Danish Crowns, (5 £ in 1960) and at that time I had no reason to doubt that the catalogues prices were always the right price.

Using a magnifying glass I tried to sensitize my eye to separate stamps with normal and inverted frames and of course thick and thin frames. The latter worked out well, but the former remained a mystery to me for many years, the reason being that I had a picture in the catalogue as my only guide and not one single original stamp with a thick frame like the stamp I show above. In fact I believed I had one, only the catalogue did not register it. Many years later I understood that my “thick frame” was but a stamp printed with a worn down cliché.

But it was the colours that fascinated me the most. However at the same time they caused me a lot of problems. Stamps with the same face value clearly did not look alike but distinctly different. The colour of the frame and the oval varied a lot.

12 – 13 years of age I several times at the public library borrowed the impressive book of G.A. Hagemann from 1941 about the bicoloured is­sues. Haagemann describes the colours in a very delicate and persuasive manner which still today is valued by the specialists.

However the colour descriptions did not lead me to a convincing result and the hardest one to convince is sometimes yourself. I looked for primary and secondary frame errors: alfa, beta and gamma, they were called by Hagemann, but to no avail. I did not understand the basic idea. What was the significance a ”frame group”?

Finally I put the books to a side and began sorting my bicoloured stamps according to how much they looked alike. I benefit from this exercise this very day – approximately 40 years later. It gave me a visual impression which I still remember. What I had not understood at the time was that I needed a lot more stamps in order to make progress along that route.

I acquired my first AFA Special Edition 1966 when I was 16 and again worked tirelessly on separating the printings inspired by a member of the local stamp club. But it wasn’t until as a member of Copenhagen Philatelic Society (KPK) I met collectors who really knew about the mysteries of the bicoloured series and were able to explain them to me that my collection started growing in a structured way.

Today we have the impressive book by Lasse Nielsen in 6 volumes about The Bicoloured Stamps of Denmark. You cannot do without it if you decide to work seriously with these stamps. However, you still need a comprehensive and large material for your studies, and a lot of paitiance in order to learn the special characteristics of the series, and not just the colours. The study group of the KPK on the bicoloured issues will help you. Collectors from all over Denmark and even a very keen and advanced collector from Hamburg, Germany, meet once a year to discuss bicoloured topics. Those interested are welcome.