Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, December 18, 2017

Managing my stamp collection in a computer age - not what you expect

I look at computer based programs offered for stamp collectors and give them a whirl now and then. I'll go through a passionate period of "WOW, this is might be fun" and then I stop using it after about a week or two and go back to my old none tech way. This amuses people who know me - I work with computers everyday and love to play around with software. However, I find most inventory management software too cumbersome. Computers get in the way of enjoying the simple pleasure of wandering through my stamp collection. 

Most of the software I've looked at is too expensive, doesn't offer a trial version or so aesthetically off putting I can't be bothered putting effort into it. If the software looks like it stepped out of the 90s, it doesn't speak well for the program's overall utility in an age of touch screens. But the most important issue is, for me, it takes too many steps to do a simple job. I can whip the info down into a book faster than it takes to fill out a form.

That doesn't mean I don't use computers to help with my modest collection. I do have a few spreadsheets for certain jobs. I also scan stamps so I magnify the details.  I tend to keep most of my notes and collection lists in a couple of small black books. I don't like sitting at my computer when I'm playing around with stamps so a book and pen are much quicker to pop down a bit of information.  

One thing I do is make quick sketches of cancels that catch my eye. It's usually stamps that I don't think I'll keep because they don't fit into my collection but I like the cancel and want to remember it. It's easy to whip off a quick pen sketch of the cancel, along with a note on the envelope/stamp or question about it that I want to look up later. I suppose I could get up, flick on the scanner, pop the stamp in, scan blah blah. It's easier to jot it down in my little black book. 

I was thumbing through the black book today, looking at earlier entries and was struck by how diverse they are. Here's one page:Scan from a page from my black book of stamp cancels

If I find relevant info or a correction while looking around on the internet, I'll add it. Makes an interesting little archive. I kept the Australian cover because of the airmail cancel. 

Here's one of my favourites. I  kept this cover as well below because I loved the graceful crane cancel. 

Read more: Managing my stamp collection in a computer age - not what you expect

I was getting worried - Talman Stamp auction

One of my favourite places for stamp auctions has been AWOL for months and I was getting very worried. John H. Talman stamps, in Toronto, runs numerous auctions throughout the year and I've been able to scoop some great lots in the past. No idea where they've been, there wasn't a sign of activity for ... well .. months and months. I just checked their website and a new auction is notice is up. 

They've also posted a note promising more auctions: "After this sale we hope to hold sales more frequently. We have many buyers eager to buy and we hope to provide the material they need. We do appreciate your participation in our sales and look forward to your bids for this sale. John H. Talman"

I'll cruise through the catalogue and see if I can find a sweet offering to post for you. 

Check out the listings here 

Sunday September 3, 2017 - Public Auction - 2:30pm at THE EAGLES' CLUB 17 ELM STREET, DOWNTOWN TORONTO (Two blocks north of Dundas Street west off Yonge Street). You can also use their bid form if you can't attend. 

RMS Nascopie salvaged mail - Vance Auctions offering

I look forward to ogling the latest auction catalogue from Vance Auctions.  Their Aug 23, 2017 offering is now online and hosts the usual excellent offerings. Some items are beyond my reach, but in previous auctions, I’ve managed to snag a few bargains that scratched specific itches, so  I enjoy paging through their catalogue.  

Something a bit different caught my eye this time. If you are a salvaged mail collector, they have a gem – stampless, but a gem nonetheless. Check out item #4446 - “Salved from the sea” RMS Nascopie. The stamp floated off into the ocean somewhere but doesn’t detract from this cover:

Scan of RMS Nascopie salvaged mail cover

R.M.S. Nascopie WRECK cover with 2 Eastern Arctic Patrol / R.M.S. / Canada 1 Aug 1947 violet oval cancel to Richmond Hill, Ont. Has s/l "SALVED FROM THE SEA" violet h/s. Has lovely multi-colour World Map design. Salvaged from the wreck of the R.M.S. "Nascopie" lost at Cape Dorset, July 1947. F-VF, stamp floated off ....Est 500.00+ (from Vance Auction catalogue)

Read more: RMS Nascopie salvaged mail - Vance Auctions offering

Well Hell - I live in the wrong country! Sandafayre Stamps

Doing an internet whip around the various auction houses to see what's happening and spotted this:

Screen capture from Sandafayre auction house looking for help

Well, Hell. I guess Toronto is a bit too far away to throw my hat in for the position. The commute would be a bitch. If you apply, drop me a line and let me know what it's like. 

The possible sale of an icon - Stanley Gibbons on the auction block?

Logo for Stanley Gibbons A BBC article passed by my desk yesterday afternoon that raised my eyebrows a bit - World's oldest stamp business Stanley Gibbons up for sale.  SG and/or part of the business may go be sold as the owners look for fresh capital to expand into new markets. As you will see, it's all a bit of a mystery. 

It's a bit hard to say which part, if any, of the Stanley Gibbons Group will be sold off. There are quite a few businesses under SG umbrella, including coin, wine, antique and book auction houses.  It was a direct result of their little buying spree to acquire such diverse holdings plus close to a $39 Million (US) loss last year alone, that led SG to a comprehensive restructuring of the business. So, when the headlines screech Stanley Gibbons up for sale, it might actually mean they might just shed some of their auction houses or the entire business. If the June 12, 2017 Strategic Review is anything to go by, it looks like SG is trying to refocus on it's core strengths of stamp and coin dealing and are actively looking for a buyer.

The SG Group muddied the waters with talk about a possible buy out offer when they posted online they had been approached by Disruptive Capital Group. However, Disruptive is disputing it made any type of take over bid. In a statement relased on June 9, Disruptive states " Disruptive Capital Finance LLP ("Disruptive") confirms that it is not making an offer for Stanley Gibbons Group plc." Regardless, as of June 13, SG posted the following update on the London Stock Exchange page:

Following the announcements of 12 June 2017, Disruptive Capital Finance LLP ("Disruptive") has requested that it be allowed to participate in the Formal Sales Process announced by the Company yesterday morning. The Company has agreed to this.  Disruptive has also agreed that its participation is conditional on any offer for the Company, which may or may not be eventually made by it, being recommended unanimously by the Board of the Company.  This statement is made on behalf of both the Company and Disruptive.

RNS Number : 9503H
Stanley Gibbons Group PLC
13 June 2017

Who knows what is actually going on. We'll have to wait and see. It's pretty clear Stanley Gibbons board wants to sell, just what and to whom is the question.  

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And here I sit with my stamps in a complete muddle, and nobody has bothered to tell me what it's all about."
"Listen now, Hemul," said Snufkin slowly and clearly. "It's about a comet that is going to collide with the earth tomorrow."
"Collide?" said the Hemulen. "Has that anything to do with stamp-collecting?”

- Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland   

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