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Need help with Plate Blocks (1932-1963) please  
 

 
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Posted 06/05/2011   11:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add BogeysGirl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Message
My grandfather worked at the post office and bought plate blocks from 1932 - 1963. My mother just sent me his stamps stored in 3 shoe boxes. Each plate block has a quantity of 1 - 50 stored in waxed paper.

The wax paper sleeves are starting to fall apart. I want to get them out of the shoe boxes and store them in a way that will preserve them but have no idea where to start or what to buy.

My mother sent them to me to sell for her, but looking them over hooked me. Since there are so many, I'd like to keep some and start my own collection. Assuming most have 50 plate blocks, do I keep 1 plate block and sell the rest or keep 10 for example? Also, there are 5 digit numbers on the blocks. Are some more valuable than others?

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Edited by BogeysGirl - 06/05/2011 11:29 pm

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Posted 06/06/2011   12:11 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wt1 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
First of all, welcome to Stamp Collecting Forum!

I'm not sure I fully understand your post or maybe it's just the way it's worded. Anyway, plate blocks by definition typically consist of a corner block of four stamps with the five digit plate number in the selvage. The earlier ones (pre-1940) can be a bit more valuable and if you have them in a configuration larger than a block, leave them just as they are, as they may be worth a premium to keep them that way.

I don't mean to discourage you, but for the more modern stamps, typically plate blocks of 4 of common 3-cent and 4-cent stamps from the 1940's through the 1960's were a very popular collectible at one time, but the market for them has dwindled in recent years. As a result, many collectors with a supply of these plate blocks have actually begun using them for postage, when realizing that often times these issues command only a fraction of their face value on the secondary market. The reason is that they were produced in such massive quantities (100's of millions of stamps for each issue) they are extremely common, even today. In fact, there are some web sites that will only offer 50% to 80% of face value for the stamps, and that is only because they use them commercially as discounted postage.

As far as a collection is concerned, most stamp collectors would not care as much about the "value" of the stamps on the secondary market but would just enjoy the history and colorful engravings on the stamps as part of their collection. I agree that if you currently have them in "wax paper" sleeves that are starting to fall apart (most likely glassine envelopes, as they are called in the hobby), they are best to be replaced into another storage album. Most collectors opt for either stock book pages or photo albums (not the "magnetic" ones, as they will ruin stamps) as the most cost effective storage devices.

There are a few "more valuable" issues in this date range than the others. Any pre-1940 plate blocks are typically worth a bit more. Any high value denomination stamps would typically be worth a bit more as well. The common 3-cent or 4-cent varieties issued after 1940 are worth very little.

The best way to determine exactly what you have is to acquire a stamp catalog. Many libraries have them in their "reference section" or if you prefer, purchase a copy of "The Postal Service Guide to US Stamps" at your local post office. The catalog is about $20 but will give you color illustrations of all of the stamps from that period and an approximate "value". Just be aware that catalog values quoted are "retail" prices as to what it would cost a dealer to maintain and sell an inventory of those stamps to collectors. With few exceptions, most plate blocks would only command a small fraction of catalog value on the secondary market.

I hope some of this information is helpful. I'm sure that if you wanted to scan and post some of the examples from your collection, there are many on this forum who would be pleased to help you identify and/or value some of the material, should you so desire.

In any event, good luck with your newly acquired collection.
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Edited by wt1 - 06/06/2011 12:18 am
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Posted 06/06/2011   12:40 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BogeysGirl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for your thoughtful response. Specifically what I was trying to say is that I wanted to know what to buy to start and store and organize my own collection. I live in a very humid area so wanted to get started as soon as possible. I was also curious how many of each I should keep for myself.

I originally recieved these from my mother who asked me to sell them for her on eBay. With a face value of $2,000 I was hoping to get my mom a little money and also start my own stamp collection.
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Posted 06/06/2011   01:33 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add san_onofre_collection to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
BogeysGirl,

Here is a suggestion: First, go here and mark each sleeve with the catalog number (There prices are way high but they have a free catalog to look at online.)

http://www.mysticstampcatalog.com/

Now, with the catalog number, you can go to an online plateblock pricelist and see what might be better:

http://www.shaulisstamps.com/PlateBlocks.asp

Now you have an idea of what they might retail for, one at a time, in a store. Wholesale figure 1/3 of that.

Now you can separate what might have a premium over face value from that which doesn't. Most will probably be worth about face value (or less if sold in bulk.) so you can choose to save them or use them for postage. The better you can choose to save or try and sell on eBay (or here.)

As far as collecting, that is up to you. I don't know of any plate numbers that have a premium in the range your talking (1932-1963.) Most issues have only a few different numbers. A common way to collect is a match set (the four different corners) set up on a sheet.

Mounting in an album can be expensive, as fancy albums and mounts end up costing more than the stamp is worth.

I hope this helps.
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Posted 06/06/2011   06:59 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add oldtriguy1960 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi BogeysGirl,

Welcome to the group!

I'll add that yes, if you have 50 of one kind of stamp, but some of them have different plate #s, some of those may be more valuable than others. You'll need a Scott USA Specialized catalog, or perhaps another catalog to tell. Some specific plate block #s may be harder to find or less plentiful than others so the value may be higher. For example: The USA Airmail set from 1947, Scott #C36 denominated 25C and shows the San Francisco Bay Bridge and an airplane. Plate block #s up to #25614 are "dry print" and are $3.50 in my year 2000 catalog. Plate #25615 and up are "wet print" and are $4.25 in my year 2000 catalog. Wet and dry print were different forms of printing. I've been looking for plate # singles of these 3 stamps (C35, C34, and C36) to add to my collection.

DAve N.
<><

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Posted 06/06/2011   10:40 am  Show Profile Check jhlovell's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jhlovell to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
welcome Bogeysgirl and wt1 gave you some great advice. I sure hope that we can see some scans of some of the blocks that you have. Welcome - jeff
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Rest in Peace
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Posted 06/06/2011   5:19 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add artlaunier to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
BogeysGirl



Great advice has already been given but, let me add my 2 cents...
Plate block collecting is a fun way to collect, getting the four corners of each of the plate numbers is hard, thus a challenge.
Stamp collecting can be expensive it depends on the stamp but often it depends on how you want to store & display your collection. Suggestion, so as not to break the bank;

1. Find out what the Scott catalog number is
2. Get the information about the stamp
3. Design & create your own album pages
4. Keep perhaps 2 of each plate number
5. Sell here or on eBay the rest, individually or in year sets
6. Have fun with it, make your Grandfathers collection you own.

Good Luck with & again, Welcome to the forum.
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A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (The exact & entire wording of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)
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Posted 06/06/2011   9:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BogeysGirl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks all! This is exactly the info I needed. I'm going to get a Scott book so I make sure I don't accidently sell a plate block that's more valuable than the others. I also didn't know that plate blocks were four corners of a sheet. I'm still confused as to which stock book to buy because I can't tell if they are made to hold plate blocks or just individual stamps because I don't know the terminology. For now I ordered glassine envelopes.

As far as what I have, I think it's the commemorative series, special delivery and airmail, precancels and my two favorites are the Trans-Mississippi Expo sheet of 6 and William Penn and there is only one of each of these. I'll post some of what I have next weekend.

My grandfather died young but some of my fondest memories were working on his stamp collection with him so I will enjoy this for sentimental reasons.
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Posted 06/28/2011   12:12 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ramanandn to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Welcome Bogeysgirl..

I would also suggest looking at stock pages by Vario (Lighthouse) - 3S (which means each side of the page has 3 strips on it). Should be fine to hold plate blocks.These pages can go into any 3-ring binder. Also at a later point, get a slip case for the binder to protect the stamps from dust and humidity.

Cheers
Ram

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Rest in Peace
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Posted 06/28/2011   1:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I_Love_Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Yup, I agree. The lighthouse Vario stock book pages would be that way to go.
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Posted 06/28/2011   1:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nitrolures to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sounds like alot of fun awaits. Definatly look for all 4 corners and different plate numbers. Put them aside as keepers and figure out whats left. Probably better to group small assortments of $25-$50 face value rather than trying one shot sale . Stock sheets do come in 4's for corner blocks and there are a couple ebayers that offer good deals on 50 sheets or more if needed. Going forward you may want to pick a cut off date to say this will be the end of the collection since attaining each and every issue of new releases can cost a fortune. Realize that if you want to get corner blocks for issues pre 1940 you will have to hunt and may have to settle for used as many issues are expensive. Seems like you are already hooked so hanging around here is great for knowledge and experience and once you've hit the 50 post mark you can sell and buy here as well . Take your time and make the hobby fit your wants and budget and you will find great enjoyment especially since you are carrying on with something your Dad started.
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Posted 06/28/2011   3:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ramanandn to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lot of us here have a huge problem making the hobby fit our wants (urges in my case) and budget (let us not even go there..). Fun all the same..
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Posted 07/16/2011   4:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mmerlinn to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Since you have so many plate blocks you may also want to consider a different way of storing them.

Most, but not all, plate blocks will fit in a 3x5 glassine envelope. These envelopes are relatively cheap. Since you must protect your stamps in some fashion, using glassine envelopes is probably the cheapest way for now.

Place one block in each envelope. Mark the Scott number in the upper left hand corner. Then store them in Scott number order in an index file box or cabinet.

You can store more than one identical block in each envelope, but the downside is that when you need to take one out you risk damaging it or the others. It is important that mint plate blocks have no separated perforations and no gum damage. Keeping them in separate envelopes minimizes potential damage.

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Posted 07/16/2011   6:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ray.mac to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
BG-- Welcome--

No one else has mentioned "Durland's Standard Plate Number Catalog", so I thought I'd toss that in. It is a reference showing the plate numbers used for every stamp, and could be a nice reference for you, since you have many copies of each stamp.

If you go to Amazon, and look up the book, you'll find a long review with details, with the user explaining what the book has and how (s)he thinks it's so valuable.

Hope this is helpful to you-- Ray

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