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Self-Made Philatelic Inventory: How Useful Upon Liquidation?

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Posted 03/27/2021   10:55 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add BFRomeos to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I welcome any thoughts about the usefulness of a stamp collection inventory (in my case an Excel spreadsheet) to a dealer, auction manager, or other principal with whom I would transact liquidation at some future date. A record in my inventory includes the usual suspects: Scott catalog number; date of purchase; expenditure; description to include subject, denomination, color; condition; extraneous remarks regarding selvage, etc.

Obviously, some of these variables are subjective while others are not.

Would not be surprised to hear that my self-made inventory is useful primarily to me... unless you have tips/suggestions for enhancing the inventory format for the prospective future buyer's convenience.

Thanks in advance...
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Posted 03/27/2021   11:33 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add canyoneer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I keep an excel spreadsheet that shows my inventory, price paid, date purchased, and from where. I have APS insurance and if there's ever a need to file a claim, I have these records. For the higher price items, I do keep scans of the receipts.

It's kind of fun. I've been keeping track since 1974 (at first on paper). After having entered it all, I can see spending trends over the years. On the downside though, I can see how prices (adjusted for inflation) have not changed much in 46 years .
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Posted 03/27/2021   12:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I keep one as well, using Excel.

My immediate use was to keep some orders straight and also to have a sort of summary and index to purchases for insurance purposes. Edit: I batch scan receipts periodically and then note in the spreadsheet the file name for the big batch in which a given purchase record is preserved.

I also figured it could not hurt at the time of liquidation to have something like this. Even if only to sort by dollar amount in order to cherry pick (say everything over $200), and as an index to those for which I have certificates (certs is one of my columnar data points which I would recommend).

I have also used my spreadsheet as a current working tool to note the dealer, and in the event bargaining was involved, how much discount off their initial list/ask they took. This has helped when I go back to him or her to know how much they might bend. Some much more than others.



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Edited by jleb1979 - 03/27/2021 12:49 pm
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Posted 03/27/2021   12:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BFRomeos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Okay, here's how I should have posed the question:

What are the features of a self-made inventory that are expected, most trusted, or appreciated by a potential buyer or an independent appraiser? Assume the inventory was compiled honestly and accurately. Implicit in this is the fact that not all inventories are "created equal."
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Posted 03/27/2021   12:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gmot to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I track most of this too. I think what would be of interest to someone else handling your collection would be ID, estimated CV, basic condition (M/U). For typical items, they would have little interest in details such as when bought, description, etc. For higher end items, condition notes, provenance (if applicable), certificate, etc. For lower/mid range a total CV for a all or portion of a collection - I do it per album page, per country.

As noted above, having that info is very useful for insurance - getting insurance last year was the kick in the pants I needed to do a better inventory.

Edit - when including CV, indicate catalogue/year used. I've bought collections where the last CV was in the 1980s in Deutsche marks - good to know before bidding!
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Edited by gmot - 03/27/2021 12:53 pm
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Posted 03/27/2021   4:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'll pitch back in again with my critical fields. which are columns in my flat file Excel scheme:


  • purchase date

  • dealer or auction with lot no. (helps to match the receipts)

  • batch no. for my system of grouped scanned receipts

  • Scott no. followed by quantity if not a single, so this is for pair, block4, block10, booklet pane of n....

  • condition (using limited set of abbreviations)

  • apparent grade (from cert or dealer, often left blank)

  • certificate (here I use a format of "PSE 2020" etc.)

  • purchase price paid

  • keyword (here I might say Columbian, Pan-Pac, ex-Gross, error, line pair, paste-up, plate no.)

  • comments



Hope this helps more.

I have not done catalog value myself - I see the purchase price as more of a driver for careful attention during ultimate disposition on the top stamps. I thought it would be a hassle unless I just took the dealers CV figure.... Maybe that is an error on my part.

Edited to add that I consider it essential as a disposition tool that the inventory be easily sortable, and searchable, printable, and portable. So I have used Excel.
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Edited by jleb1979 - 03/27/2021 4:22 pm
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Posted 03/27/2021   4:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What jleb said. Excellent!
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Posted 03/27/2021   6:38 pm  Show Profile Check eyeonwall's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add eyeonwall to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Unless the dealer knows you very well, they will not trust that you have properly ID'ed your stamps or properly graded them or noted all the faults or alterations. If they have to go strictly off a list they will assume the worst or near the worst. A list should merely be a starting point to get them interested. They are not interested in a long list of mostly common items, they want to see the list of your better items (you can summarize the common items by saying for instance 98% complete 1940-87). If you want to see a dealer's eyes roll into the back of their head, give them a total catalog value that includes all the 25c stamps. It will prove you are clueless. They would definitely be interested in who you bought from as they will be able to judge the quality and accuracy of things you bought from certain dealers or auction houses (some are known to be good, some bad).
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Posted 03/27/2021   6:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Parcelpostguy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
An inventory tends to have two objectives:

First it informs the family what you have and gives a sense of the value BALLPARK when sold. For that, all of your information is trustworthy. But you must convey to the family that a "value" or catalog of $100 for an item may sell at $20, but a "value" of $100 for 50 items combined may get $2.00 added to the total.

Second it informs the potential buyer, or third party seller, what to look for and check. Sorry, but such a list has no trustworthiness by itself other than the level of trust the buyer or third party seller has in you. If they are not a close, close friend, your trustworthiness is not part of the inventory.

In line with the second circumstance many auction houses will simply state in the description "owners value is" which of course means zero from most sellers and conveys basically little to all buyers.

Now for an independent appraisal, the inventory will help that person know what to skip as anything valued under $50 or $100 is not worth paying an appraiser for the time to appraise such low value items.

As always, the best person to oversee the sale of a collection is the collector. The best person to describe or lot a collection is the collector.

Of course if you paid top dollar for your 100% 98J or better collection, that does not mean that when you sell folks will be willing to pay a premium for 98J material at that time. The market can change and past performance is not guarantee of future performance.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All that said, the best reasons for an inventory in my opinion is to avoid buying duplicates by mistake and to settle with the insurance company carrying your philatelic insurance if that is a needed activity you sadly must undertake. That is an inventory which needs photos.


(Edit: eyeonwall posted while I was banging out my post. Thus the reason for some message reinforcement.)
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Edited by Parcelpostguy - 03/27/2021 7:03 pm
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Posted 03/27/2021   8:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My Excel inventory was key in a successful liquidation of my US collection on consignment. It was virtually identical to that described by jleb1979. There is no downside to keeping a detailed inventory. Anybody interested in the inventoried material will still review each item themselves and make determinations on merit. If they do not you or your heirs do not want to deal with that buyer because they are not really assessing anything in order to tender a real offer. They are throwing something at the wall to see if it sticks. The "trustworthiness" issue is a red herring. Build a quality inventory record and you will be rewarded. And do not overthink the possible outcomes and who will do or think what. Baby steps. First built the inventory. You can bet that no matter whom Siegel is dealing with they will carefully review each item and engage in due diligence.

As far as:
Quote:
As always, the best person to oversee the sale of a collection is the collector.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The best person to oversee the sale of a collection is a professional with the client base, expertise, market knowledge, philatelic reputation and skills to extract the most value. They will also not be emotionally attached/involved and make better and more practical business decisions. They also have an incentive when disposing of the material on a consignment basis to do the best they can.

All of this is based upon having something worthy of the effort and care to sell.

A good rule of thumb is that if your collection needs philatelic insurance (Hugh Woods as an example) you need an inventory.

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Posted 03/27/2021   9:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
EYEONWALL ----Said it best .

Your inventory is a waste of time ,most dealers could careless

Inventory is find, if your collection has a lot of $200+ stamps ,I sat with Dr. Bob when he is valuing stamps . Put 50 binders and albums in front of him on your kitchen table and he will give a buy price in 30 minutes .

If your not spending $25,000 on stamps then you don't need a inventory , have your certificates with the stamps is more important .

Fiqure everything under $10.00 per stamp is going to end up in a dealer junk box at the auction house .
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Posted 03/27/2021   9:32 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I sat with Dr. Bob when he is valuing stamps . Put 50 binders and albums in front of him on your kitchen table and he will give a buy price in 30 minutes .


Proves my point.

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Edited by rogdcam - 03/27/2021 9:34 pm
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Posted 03/28/2021   11:55 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I believe floortrader is referring to Dr. Bob Friedman. Myself, I agree with eyeonwall and floortrader. I'll add that why would I want to spend time to compile a list of thousands of stamps in a spreadsheet? Speaking only for me, I want to spend my time working on my stamps and not spend yet more time in front of a computer screen (like right now!) filling in lines on spreadsheets. Lists may make sense for those who have spent thousands of dollars on classic US collections. My thousands have gone primarily into Portugal & colonies, Mexico, and Poland. I keep certificates with the albums and have made pencil notes as to any faults next to the stamps.

Where needed, I've done partial, handwritten, lists in order to compile a rough idea of catalog value. As an example, my Portuguese India collection has a current Scott value over $13,000. There is a list.

Having said that, making plans for disposition of your collections when you're gone is essential. Parcel Post wrote: "it informs the family...." Yes and no. Not everyone leaves philatelic collections to a family. Each situation will be unique. Consider leaving collections to a charity, but only to philatelic charities like libraries or the APS. Most charities and their staffs don't have a clue about stamp collections.

Roger wrote: "if your collection needs philatelic insurance (Hugh Woods as an example), you need an inventory." Yes and no. I've not been asked before by any insurer to provide a detailed inventory, like spreadsheets. I currently use Woods, but have used Collectibles (Dan Walker) in the distant past. But this is a good point. The average homeowners or renters policy provides very little for collectibles, jewelry, etc. One needs separate riders, and the prices for the riders may be far more than Woods or Collectibles.

I think the bottom line is to do what works for you, but at least do something.
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Edited by Climber Steve - 03/28/2021 12:11 pm
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Posted 03/28/2021   12:12 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Steve - Well said. I should have been clearer that a threshold needs to be set that triggers inventory listing. I wrongly thought that it would be self-evident that there was little point in listing thousands of individual common stamps. Obviously it was not self-evident. My point on the insurance inventory was geared towards assuming that the insurance might actually be used at some point. No insurance carrier will pay without an inventory and purchase receipts after a certain amount. It would be a travesty to lose your receipts, certs and stamps in a house fire for instance. Which brings up the topic of safekeeping and redundancy of an inventory. USB in the pocket, saved to the Cloud, safe deposit box etc..
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Posted 03/28/2021   1:01 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A spreadsheet is just another philatelic tool and like any tool, it is all about personal preferences. No one should care how Climber Steve spends his time and no one should care how I spend my time. Steve has the luxury of climbing mountains, I have the luxury of sitting in a dialysis chair for 20 hours every week. What makes sense for me to spend my time does not make sense for Steve's time...no worries. There is no point or value in comparing one person's preferences (or time management) against another's.
Don

Edit: And no one has any idea if I am 'wasting my time', perhaps the value of me working on a software inventory while I sit in treatment is that it gives me something to take my mind off of what is going down around me.
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Posted 03/28/2021   2:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What Roger said.

I seem to have had a threshold of $50-100 generally.
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Edited by jleb1979 - 03/28/2021 2:13 pm
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