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How Do I Collect Modern US Plate Blocks

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Posted 10/17/2017   1:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add wonfish to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've recently restarted collecting plate blocks -- I used to as a kid in the 60's and 70's. But the USPS have certainly made it far more complicated. My question: for a stamp issued like the recent JFK stamp where there is one unique plate number on a mini sheet, do I just collect the usual number of stamps containing the plate number? It seems a shame to ignore the title and side pictures. Also, on this stamp there is a margin (selvage?) around the perforations. So do I carefully cut out the block through the center of the margin? If so and if the post office is willing to sell me a plate block especially of very high value stamps, how can I trust them to cut it acceptably?
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Edited by wonfish - 10/17/2017 1:31 pm

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Posted 10/17/2017   2:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Welcome to SCF wonfish!

For all practical purposes, you cannot collect plate blocks, pairs, or marginal pieces of modern U.S. Stamps for two reasons: 1.) die cuts, and 2.) self-adhesive gum. The die cuts effective separate every stamp and every piece of selvage in a sheet. There are no paper "bridges" as with the old stamps with water-activated gum. And, with the self-adhesive gum you have material which is unstable. It will not be adhesive forever. At some point will stabilize (crystallize) and the stamps will fall off their foil backing.

The only way to collect modern U.S. Multiples is by collecting the imperforate items. The U.S. Postal Service phased these items out several years ago.

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Edited by bookbndrbob - 10/17/2017 2:57 pm
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Posted 10/17/2017   3:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would start afresh in an entirely new direction. Happy stamping and welcome back.

These days even older plate blocks and sheets are being used for postage. The stamps on First Day Covers are being soaked off as "used" singles. Times have changed.
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Edited by redwoodrandy - 10/17/2017 3:38 pm
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Posted 10/17/2017   4:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Hal to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Depending how deeply or how specialized you wish to get in Plate Block collecting you may wish to consider getting a current or slightly outdated "Durland Standard Plate Number Catalog". They are a great reference tool. You can find copies listed on the web.

https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamp...atalog.html#

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Posted 10/17/2017   4:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another issue with respect to collecting modern plate blocks is that many modern issues don't have plate block numbers. But if you want to collect those that do have plate block numbers, I second Hal's recommendation, but with a caveat. An older Durland catalog will not do you much good for modern issues. I have the 2012 edition, with a 2014 supplement. It would tell you what you want to know, and unlike older editions, is illustrated!

Basil
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Edited by blcjr - 10/17/2017 4:29 pm
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Posted 10/17/2017   4:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bobplates to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Plate block collecting is alive and well. Perhaps not as popular as it once was but the idea that older issues are being used as postage and sold below face is certainly not unique to plate blocks and should not prove a disincentive. In fact it could provide an opportunity.

The Durland Catalog is a must have. There is also the plate number tool on Stamp Smarter and of course the US Scott Specialized. Why not go back in time and start filling in the earlier issues that you are missing or collect matched sets or all the numbers for a particular issue... definitives are a particularly interesting area for this pursuit. Similarly, some of the bicolor issues are very challenging and not super expensive. Issues like 651 or 702 or 703 or C23. Some of the combinations are very challenging! How about hunting for tagging varieties on the early 1960's issues. Some of the best looking modern stamps IMHO and very affordable.

Bob
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Posted 10/17/2017   7:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Stampman2002 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
From my point of view, modern plate blocks don't exist. Oh, I know there are numbers added by the various printers, but they don't have any meaning.

I do collect modern material, but I collect the entire sheet. As you mentioned, there is considerable artwork on most commemoratives outside of the stamps themselves. As a sheet, it makes a nicer presentation. Another consideration is that with the self-adhesive stamps, singles often have perf tips which extend beyond the backing paper and will adhere to the page or mount. I've taken to keeping one stamp (or block or strip) from the sheets I use as postage and trim around the stamps to give an oversized backing paper border. Here's a couple of examples:





I got the idea from some of the coils which have oversized backing paper, such as the example below.




If you want to collect just the blocks with the "plate" number, that is your choice. The bottom line is that it is YOUR collection and whatever makes you enjoy it is entirely up to you.
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Posted 10/17/2017   9:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I agree that plate number blocks for non-engraved stamps loses some of the initial meaning and appeal.
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Al
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Posted 10/18/2017   02:11 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add chrisblack67 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
U.S. Plate-blocks from the 1930s-1940s are low costing for good quality stamps.

ebay- you can buy in bulk, as well
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Posted 10/20/2017   12:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wonfish to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all for your feedback. I'll probably though still collect plate blocks, just because I've already started and I can leave something behind me. I'm not worried about rise in value. Single stamps I bought as a kid, with rare exception, are worth less with inflation that what I paid for them -- usually a dime or a quarter in the early sixties.
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Posted 10/22/2017   4:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, plate blocks are pretty much dead and gone, a bit sadly. That doesn't mean you can't collect older plate blocks, as some have said. That gives you the chance to focus and achieve greater completeness -- until they bring back plate blocks (which is likely to be never).

As for modern stamps, it's a bit of a mystery how you collect them. Most collectors are going too want a single. Either you remove a single from the sheet and deal with removing the gum on the back and then mount it the way you would have done in the past -- or you collect the entire (damn) sheet. Of course, that means you're suddenly no longer collecting one of each as collectors have done for generations. You're collecting 20 of each. That's 20x the cost, a choice that certainly does not appeal to me. This applies to "sheetlets" (or whatever these things are called) with the same stamp repeated. But even with sheetlets with a number of different stamps, collecting the entire sheet often means collecting multiples of each stamp. That gets expensive very fast. I also don't particularly like becoming a collector of selvage. The borders around stamps which many collectors collect just don't interest me -- as a "stamp" collector, I mean, rather than a border or selvage collector. Hard to know what do do about that, though.

I really like StampMan2002's idea of saving the last stamp from each sheetlet and trimming a wider border of backing paper around it. That's a great idea. I wonder, of course, what happens to the self-stick glue over time? Does it age like normal gum on the back of stamps without a problem? Or does it get more and more gummy? If so, it should be removed, but how?

So many questions.
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Posted 10/22/2017   8:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My primary interest in plate blocks as of late is for definitives. If I know a stamp came from plate "x" it helps in identification of some varieties.
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Al
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Posted 10/24/2017   10:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Perf10 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Many former plate block collectors have moved to plate number coils. PNCs are often collected in strips of 5, or as singles.
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Posted 03/29/2018   3:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add TylerTed to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I notice that Scotts does not show values for plate blocks. Is there another good resource to find the values of older plate blocks. I have many from the early 20th century. I have been using the US/BNA catalog, which does include plate block values. Any other "standard" values for plate blocks? Thanks.
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Posted 03/29/2018   4:14 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Are plate # blocks of four so common that Scott does not bother to list? Then why list block of four? Who collected plate # blocks of six and why?
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Posted 03/29/2018   4:19 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add TylerTed to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I recently inherited a lot of stamps (like so many others). I have been working my way through them over the last several weeks, trying to catalog them as best I can. My grandfather seems to have collected mostly plate blocks. There are thousands of them. Most are plates of four, but there are also many sixes as well. I assume (at some point) there was added value in collecting them this way. But, as I said, I cannot see any designation for these blocks in Scotts. I'm wondering how to catalog them now. I have no interest in selling these stamps--I am enjoying this new hobby! But, I would like to know how to catalog them properly.
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