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Washington-franklins: The Collector's Epic Challenge

 
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Valued Member
United States
150 Posts
Posted 10/09/2019   09:04 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add BFRomeos to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
If you have a complete collection of Washington-Franklins, or the "Third Bureau Issue," if you prefer, hats off to you(!)

More to the point, your accomplishment was certainly not without challenge. If you have the time and patience, please share the story of how you amassed your W-F collection.

NOTE: I'm not asking about identification chores; rather, I'm asking about your acquisition experience. Philatelic rubes like myself might glean a thing or two from your reply.

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Edited by BFRomeos - 10/09/2019 12:06 pm

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116 Posts
Posted 10/09/2019   10:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bud to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My Washington-Franklin collection is not complete and never will be, unless I unexpectedly come into a pile of cash. I do have some bits of advice, though. The greatest challenge is the complexity of these stamps and how to correctly classify and identify them. To that end, consider attending the APS Summer Seminar series on W-F's. The first two day session deals with identifying W-F's, and the second two days with forgeries and fakes. These are "hands-on" courses, and they don't cost a ton of money. Don't know if APS plans to offer them in Summer 2020, but you might ask. If they do plan to hold them in 2020, enroll early because there is high demand. APS also sometimes offers a condensed version of the seminars in conjunction with major stamp exhibitions as part of their "on the road" education program.

There are a ton of resources available to the W-F collector. Most helpful to me have been The Micarelli Guide, which is full of useful information, charts, and important tips, and a reprint of an article appearing in September 2015 in "The United States Specialist," entitled "Washington-Franklin Heads Simplified." It is available at minimal cost from the United States Stamp Society. I have found it very useful to use these resources in tandem, but there are many other publications others can recommend.

Now, how can I get my hands on a nice #485?
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United States
297 Posts
Posted 10/09/2019   11:05 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Walkman82 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have not put a whole lot of emphasis on the Washington-Franklins in my collection. They are a tricky series to master and accumulate. I've completed the first issue (1908-1909) of the series, but no focus on the rest yet. My collecting of U.S. stamps bounces all over the place. One week I'm focused on plate number coils, ducks or postage dues or officials the next week. I thought 2019 might be the year where I make significant progress on the WFs, but it just didn't happen. Perhaps it will in 2020, who knows. Until I decide to attack this area of my collection, I'm just happy to pick up the odd great deals that I find online and at auction. There are still many empty spaces, so the journey continues. Someday I hope to complete the WFs, time will tell.
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Posted 10/09/2019   11:12 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In my opinion to develop real expertise for W/F's you will need to spend substantial amounts of money on multiple resources. But spending money on travel and reference books is probably cheaper than making costly missteps buying the trash that is often found in the marketplace. There has been significant amounts of time and energy in trying to assist hobbyists on Stamp Smarter for this series of stamps but bottom line is that folks need to learn and study the production methods used for the W/Fs. Ultimately there is not a single magical reference book or short cut that will deliver expertise to a casual hobbyist. It takes study and effort (making templates, water marking, building a reference collection, etc.); I do not recommend that this series of stamps be purchased until a hobbyists has made this level of investment and research.
Don




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Canada
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Posted 10/09/2019   11:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Stuart MacNeil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To me the hardest part, other than paying for the damn things, is finding them here in Canada. I just finished getting the Shanghai overprints but I had go to China to get them! People here think getting the Canadian Admirals is hard and I tell them it's childs play compared to W/F!
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United States
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Posted 10/09/2019   11:19 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Walkman82 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for your take, Don...I completely agree with you. Stamp Smarter is an excellent reference for WFs. I view investing in reference books as a necessity to avoid accumulating a collection of the fakes that abound. Careful study and purchasing from reputable dealers or auction houses is almost a must, as are certification for the issues that are valuable or known to be problematic.
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Posted 10/09/2019   11:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have halted my W-F project and have gone onto Machins. Dealing with fakes and elusive watermarks were too much for me.

Jack Kelley
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United States
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Posted 10/09/2019   12:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BFRomeos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
All:

Thanks for the responses, but I failed to articulate the question properly. I'm not asking how to IDENTIFY WFs; rather, I'm asking about strategies for ACQUIRING them. My learning would be served by absorbing the variety of procurement stories proffered by respondents.

As always, thanks in advance.
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Posted 10/09/2019   12:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Flat plate coils are the real bugaboo. Most of the rest is not nearly as difficult if one is systematic about learning the basics and has some basic proficiency with a perf gauge and a watermark tray.
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Posted 10/09/2019   12:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Petert4522 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm asking about strategies for ACQUIRING them.

??? Is there another method besides trading an/or buying ? I am curious

Peter
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Posted 10/09/2019   12:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If anybody intends to get serious about collecting Wash-Franks one thing that I suggest is buying inexpensive copies on eBay that have certs that can act as good examples of what to look for when it comes to perforations, gauging, design, watermarks etc.. Most of these were submitted because they were thought to be a more valuable stamp but turned out not to be and you can reap the benefit of not incurring all of the expertizing cost.

No matter what though as you progress into the more expensive Scott numbers you will need to purchase certified copies. Try buying a real 461 without a cert. It is next to impossible. They are 99% not the real deal. Education is awesome but at the end of the day trying to apply what you have learned to identifying many issues can be exceedingly difficult because of slight variations that make the task more of an art than a science.
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Posted 10/09/2019   12:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cjpalermo1964 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My acquisition strategies have been to work with trusted dealers whom I've vetted by asking about their educational basis for identifying W-Fs, buying from trusted auction houses, and only buying with PF certificates in appropriate circumstances. I also started out by buying a base collection that already included most of the common, easily identified examples, and checking those. I personally was bitten by the W-F "bug" and have never minded the research and close inspection that makes this series fascinating.
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Posted 10/09/2019   1:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add moneil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm assuming that what BFRomeos is asking is, once one has acquired the identification knowledge needed and and has begun to identify and organize their W-F's, where do they go look for the missing W-F's they need ... i.e., which online sites, dealers, auction houses, stamp shows might be their best source?
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United States
150 Posts
Posted 10/09/2019   1:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BFRomeos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@rogdcam
@cjpalermo1964

...thank you, this is what I'm getting at.
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United States
150 Posts
Posted 10/09/2019   1:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BFRomeos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@moneil: Agreed, with clarification... I assume there are some forum participants who have at or near 100% of WF issues. Each person has a story about HOW they amassed them. I'd be curious to learn how.
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Edited by BFRomeos - 10/09/2019 1:18 pm
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Posted 10/09/2019   1:33 pm  Show Profile Check cfrphoto's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add cfrphoto to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I started with Washington-Franklin issue in the 1960s. I was fortunate to find a good mentor who passed on his knowledge, especially about perforations. While perforations, die characteristics, paper and design size are important, color and overall appearance of the stamp is important.

I found some of the better items in the reference collection in bulk lots or lurking, unnoticed in a collection. While some stamps are truly scarce in a mix, the type Ia Scott 500 turns up more frequently than the others. The Perf 11x10 type III Scott 540 comes in second.

A few years ago, I purchased about 300,000 Washington-Franklin stamps in a bulk lot. No, I have not finished going through it yet, but it has yielded more than 20 #500 examples.

Experience is also helpful. A quick glance at the OP's original image suggests that the 1 and 2 cent stamps on the lower right are coil waste, probably Scott 538 and 540. How is it possible to quickly spot such stamps? In addition to the perforations and less useful information in the Scott catalog, color, printing quality and aspect ratio (Is the stamp square looking?) are also important.
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Edited by cfrphoto - 10/09/2019 1:39 pm
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