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Ata Checklists - Help Or Hindrance?

 
 
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Posted 08/11/2019   10:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add profgreeley to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello everyone.

Several years ago when I picked up stamp collecting again after abandoning it as a child, I joined the ATA in order to purchase some of the checklists they offer. I only purchased one (paintings on stamps), and it seemed fine at the time, but as I've been creating a custom album for my fine art stamps, I've noticed a fair amount of omissions and also some dubious information about iconographic sources that I've corrected in my own album annotations.

Just wondered what the general perception was among all of you regarding topical checklists and their usefulness...
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Edited by profgreeley - 08/11/2019 10:02 pm

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Posted 08/12/2019   11:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add moneil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I hope there are some here knowledgeable who will be able to comment. I am considering ATA membership later this fall (when I will have time) and purchasing some checklists.
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Posted 08/12/2019   11:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add profgreeley to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi moniel. I suppose I shouldn't have used the word *hindrance*, but the subject line wasn't long enough and I was trying to lengthen it. I guess my point is that I'm not sure how much one should rely on checklists. The one I bought contains some notes that have occasionally been helpful, but I am reticent to purchase any more – especially the major lists that cost $75 – because I imagine I might be able to do a better job myself. But creating one's own checklist is very time-consuming, and I've been devoting many hours a day to the project. Part of me thinks I should just fork out the money, and the other part thinks that I should save it for acquiring more stamps and supplies.
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Edited by profgreeley - 08/12/2019 11:48 pm
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Posted 08/13/2019   01:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hy-brasil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've seen the ATA checklists over the years. Considering the time you would spend researching the same data, the checklists are a bargain and can probably do a better job at finding stamps than you can using existing catalogs. Some people would actually enjoy that rather than working from a list. Still, I don't know how anyone could do that without seeing every stamp of a huge number of sets, particularly those of the last 20 years or so.

As for list descriptions, I'm sure you've found stamp issuers get it wrong sometimes, with the wrong title or artist. In the real art world, there are artist misattributions being corrected all the time, unknown artists being identified all the time, paintings once thought genuine now exposed as forgeries. There are versions of paintings like Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" which exists in multiple versions with one considered by many experts to be a forgery. How far are you willing to go to confirm your description is correct today? I would not expect a one-line description on an ATA list to be always correct. You did, of course, submit your researched corrections and references to the ATA to update the list you found was lacking? The lists are compiled by volunteers after all, hopefully based on their own collections.

Further, does one include the many George Washington-related stamps based on the unfinished Gilbert Stuart portrait? Is a detail shown from a larger work enough to be considered worth collecting? Is an engraved stamp representative of an actual oil painting? Depends on your approach. I would doubt that the ATA lists would be anywhere close to complete just due to the flood of new issues today, but it would be an extremely useful guide for building a collection.
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Edited by hy-brasil - 08/13/2019 01:32 am
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Posted 08/13/2019   02:52 am  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Part of the problem must be the huge explosion of issues that took place in the 1960s and grew thereafter, much of which seems to have been aimed at thematic collectors. Presumably those who created the lists did so by combing one or other world stamp catalogue, and are now doomed to combing again each year. Sisyphean, or, more prosaically, a process familiar to those of us who spent our child's early school years with nit comb in hand.

One solution for you might be to take a year's subscription to Yvert's digital catalogue and gradually develop your own list. This would also enable you to focus on particular countries if you wished to:

https://www.yvert.com/CT-1571-bibli...n-ligne.aspx

Yvert also offers an album designed for the art stamps that France has issued over the last sixty years. It looks quite tacky to me, but others must like it.

It would be interesting to see some of your self-designed pages.
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Posted 08/13/2019   11:13 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I never realized the large ones (maxi-lists) were $75. I had been a member many years ago and did not recall that expensive. I had sent corrections for some list but did not get any credit for contributions to the list.
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Al
Edited by angore - 08/13/2019 11:14 am
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Posted 08/13/2019   11:17 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As more and more stamp databases come online, it becomes much easier to simply search the stamp description for topical subjects of interest. For example, it is easy to search for keywords on US, Canadian, and Australian stamps using the Stamp Smarter databases.

Over time, I am unsure that the selling of topical checklists will remain viable.
Don
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Posted 08/13/2019   11:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Oracle of Delphi to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I use the ATA checklists frequently, but I have collecting interests with fewer entries than the maxis that cost $75. I find the checklists convenient since I don't have the time (or the inclination) to do the kind of searches that would be required to duplicate the effort that goes into these lists. Although, as Don points out, that will become easier as online databases become more prevalent.

The other consideration for me is the fact that I'm not looking to capture every last stamp out there in my area of interest - just want to build an interesting collection. So it doesn't matter as much to me if a list has overlooked a few items here and there. The volunteers who have contributed to these lists have put in a massive amount of work. I find the lists to be incredibly helpful, as they were in assisting my buying activity at the Omaha stamp show as well as ensuring that I don't buy the same stamp twice unless I intended to. Although there is something to be said for the excitement of the search in poring over a dealer's stock looking for items of interest, I prefer a more efficient approach. When the future comes and online databases preempt these lists, then I'll think about joining that future. In the meantime, I don't mind contributing a few dollars to support the checklist effort and the ATA itself. To each their own.
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Posted 08/13/2019   12:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add profgreeley to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks to everyone who has weighed in on this. I appreciate your thoughts!
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Posted 08/13/2019   11:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add erilaz to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've never bought any ATA checklists myself. For a couple of my smaller topical areas, I compiled my own lists. For Esperanto, however, I invested in a couple of specialized catalogs of Esperanto-themed (and Esperanto-inscribed) stamps, postal stationery, and poster stamps, which have proven extremely useful.
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Edited by erilaz - 08/13/2019 11:25 pm
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