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Dropping Items Out Of A Catalog - Stamps That Aren't Traceable For N Years -True Scarcity, Or Gone?

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Posted 11/30/2021   09:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add rismoney to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I wanted to ask readers about this. This has to do with a decline in the velocity of stamp flow and what has disappeared through time, as well as proper record keepingand curation through the years.

I believe the catalogs should start keeping track of some of the issues 'discovery dates' and report on when they were last seen, particularly minor listings. I think, these are just not traded, privately held, or disappeared from philately and are now seemingly impossible to surface up regardless of might or money. The auction houses who report about buyers deceased, or deceased dealers themselves who would have had the information about their potential whereabouts has increased so drastically, that it is hard to say at this point whether or not these stamps still exist.

Is there a delisting process? Should there be? If a type of stamp has not publicly traded/reportedly privately traded in 75 years should it, itself, get an obituary, until such time someone can demonstrate its existence? I am not saying to remove it from the catalog per se, but even a note that the record of that stamp's current existence is re-called into question?

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Posted 11/30/2021   09:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To what end? That is, how does knowing that a certain issue hasn't been bought/sold/traded since 1972 or whenever benefit me? If I collect the area, all that would tell me is that finding an example of that particular issue will be very difficult... but I probably already know that because I collect the area and haven't come across it. And if I don't collect the area, the information is perhaps interesting, but not impactful.

The Museum of Philately (https://www.museumofphilately.com/rarities) already does this to a small extent, and Siegel Auctions does amazing research on many of their listings, all searchable, that could give one a very good idea about velocity.
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Edited by classic_paper - 11/30/2021 09:38 am
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Posted 11/30/2021   09:41 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wtcrowe to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is definitely a tricky situation. I know that Dick Gordon who was one of the editors for the British section of the Scott Catalogue in the 1970's once delisted an item as he had not seen one in over 30 years. Dick was a part owner of Harmer Rooke and former owner of Equitable Stamp Co. in addition to being an editor for the Scott Catalogue. As luck would have it the following year he found the delisted item in a collection consigned to him for auction.

I hope that the editors of the current Scott Catalogue have a paper/electronic trail for delistings and a similar trail for obscure listings. I know that Eugene Costales, a former editor of the US portion of the Scott Catalogue, kept a listing. Unfortunately, that listing disappeared after his demise.
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Posted 11/30/2021   09:51 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Revision control is something that typically occurs with any quality organization. Whether or not they make the revisions visible to the public is another story. Folks can decide for themselves where their favorite catalog publisher might fall in terms of 'quality' and likelihood of revision control. (FYI, there are plenty of revision control products available to buy, companies do not have to 'roll their own' in terms of controlling revisions of documents, databases, or software code.)
Don
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Posted 11/30/2021   10:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Very tricky indeed. And it takes considerable time and effort against other demands.

Taking stolen material as an example, how long was the "Ice House" cover missing before it resurfaced? How long was the Starnes collection gone before resurfacing? Should the unique items from the Starnes collection been delisted?

There has been a recent thread on the Ferrary collection. I suspect a significant number of its rarities were destroyed during WWII. Which ones? A "confirmed as gone" list would be interesting.

Just at a level-of-effort standpoint, it seems more logical to do as Scott has noted in several places in their U.S. Specialized catalog "The editors would like to see ...". Make the process a multi-step effort amd first publish a list of things which need modern-day confirmation as existing. Many unique items are held for many decades across several generations - kept safe and sound, just not seen. How many inverted Jennies have been owned by the same person for more than 50 years?

Related to this, it is also very difficult to get catalog errors corrected or deleted. I have a cover with a weak strike of a postmark which is undoubtedly the source for an incorrect catalog listing as someone in the past made a tracing and filled-in the parts they wanted to see instead of reality. It had been copied and recopied into several places. Hard to erase an error once it gets into print!
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Edited by John Becker - 11/30/2021 10:52 am
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Posted 11/30/2021   11:14 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I don't know that there is necessarily a one-size fits all solution to this. It can probably be categorized by situation.

For example -

Missing items:
- item not seen for a long period of time
- items considered stolen

Partially Destroyed Items:
- large multiples possibly broken up
- stamps soaked off of an important cover
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Posted 11/30/2021   11:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Delisting is a terrible idea. Catalogs are exactly that: compendiums of things in existence; they are not price lists. To delist something implies that it never existed, which is fine if an error is being corrected. But just because a genuine, known item hasn't been see in 50 years (well within a single person's life expectancy), is no reason to pretend it doesn't exist. Catalogs are not designed to show a specific collector what she can buy in the marketplace, or what he can expect to view in a friend's collection; to a greater or lesser degree, they are designed to literally catalog what is known.

The answer I think, is to move away from automatic price updates (adding 3% pro forma to every listing each year for example), and instead more rigorously adopt the " - " (dash), to show that the listing is so rare, unique, or infrequent that a legitimate estimation of value (a whole other thread, lol) cannot reasonably be made.
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Posted 11/30/2021   12:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add JLLebbert to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I recall reading in Linn's a few years ago about a U.S. stamp that was issued with no fanfare and subsequently discovered by a druggist. He accumulated several dozen copies and passed them on to friends & customers. It was listed in Scott for a few years but after a decade or two the stamps could no longer be located ... so it was dropped from the Scott catalogue. I think the stamp issue occurred circa 1920.
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Posted 11/30/2021   1:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rismoney to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I do apologize if you guys think this is a silly discussion. I genuinely wanted to get your feedback.

classic_paper. I am not really concerned about the price of an item. My goal is collecting for fun and attempting to complete an area. The stamp could be $10 or $10000. For me the sole dash is problematic. The "Scott Catalog of Errors" lists items that are 'known 2, or unique' and I think that provides some helpful context.

I kind of agree with you that delisting is not a great idea, and I also wasn't implying to pretend that they didn't exist at one time. As txtstamp notes, there are an array of situations that should prompt some sort of notation or confirmation of existence based on date.

But if a stamp has not been witnessed by a modern cataloger, I think it's time to provide a notation questioning it. Even a ? next to the record, for 10 years, could invite readers to submit proof of the patient's existence.

Catalogs should be living documents. How do we know if there was a blindperf used as the basis for an imperf, and it just wasn't chronicled as such, and the endless pursuit of a pure imperf just never turns up. Many certificates didn't stand the test of time. We know the Z grill exists. We know 4 mint 321 exist. That's great. They can have their price or dash. That's not what I am talking about here. Those are proven, found specimens, ableit super scarce/rare.



My thoughts:
One goal of collecting, besides the journey itself is indeed completion, even within a microsegment. These microsegments can be super hard to track down all the pieces. Completeness is indeed subjective, but a catalog should make an attempt of detailing what it 'knows about'. What I think is reasonable is if a stamp hasn't been seen by Scott/Identified/Reviewed/Whatever put a ? on records for a period of 10 years, inviting anyone to submit to the editors proof that the entry exists. It can either be overturned to a dash in the following year, (implying it can't be priced), or if the time frame expires, put an x on it, until such time that it is found. If 50,75 years of an x, maybe switch to an uppercase X (basically implying, you ain't gonna find one in your lifetime, because some deceased editor might have seen it after WWII on an envelop and they mislabeled it).

I dunno, I agree it's tricky, but the catalog does a disservice implying that all its listings are indeed out there, when it can't publicly support that claim. Maybe an appendixed bibliography to support their listings would go a long way. Even so much as charging money for this access to the data would be huge.
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Edited by rismoney - 11/30/2021 1:48 pm
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Posted 11/30/2021   1:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add JLLebbert to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In recent years Scott has added a counterfeit section. So rather than delisting a stamp, why not create another section/chapter that lists questionable or long-unseen items?
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Posted 11/30/2021   2:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
That's not a bad idea.
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Posted 11/30/2021   2:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Is there an assumption by either catalog publishers or readers that something may be listed as actual, that is only speculative? I mean to say, isn't the basis of any catalog, that there was at the time the entry was first made (whether 1880 or 2020), a known example of that listing (or what was believed to be, in the case of a forgery)? Who cares if no one has seen a specific example in fifty or one-hundred years? If on-going proof is required to ascertain the validity of each entry, all you're doing is questioning the work and truthfulness of every previous edition of every catalog. I don't think it's a silly topic at all, it goes to the heart of every philatelic and numismatic reference work. Take for example, the Bible Block (unused six-block of the USA 1847 1c general issue). First appeared at auction in 1912 after presumably being kept and forgotten about for its first 50-60 years. Most recently, it sold in Siegel's 2018 Bill Gross auction. If it's not seen for another 50 or 100 years, are future philatelists supposed to question its existence?

It's certainly fair to list a piece is "unique," or "few known," or similar. I just don't see the need to ever delist something unless it's been shown to be a fraud.
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Posted 11/30/2021   4:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I agree with Classic Paper. If there is a catalog listing for something it existed at some point. Why even get into the quagmire of what has not been seen since listing or at some other point. How does a catalog publisher even know that something is destroyed or stolen or in private hands for decades and why should they care.

I want to see things go in the other direction. More listings in Scott for items which are in the Russia and other specialized catalogs that they do not include.

It would also be great to see the effort put into cleaning up pricing and other errors which abound and are carried over through years of annual catalogs.
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Posted 11/30/2021   5:00 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
All of you are talking about deleting a stamp here or there in the catalog . My opinion is just the opposite , the catalogs need to delist a few hundred thousand stamps that nobody collects . You may think this is a joke ......but those catalogs have gotten too thick and all this modern new issue stuff just got to the point NOBODY COLLECTS THIS STUFF . Yea before you got upset ,try and find a album with Austria 2001 to 2021 issues ,I been looking and guess what nobody ever seen one and don't get me started on all this recent issues of the British Colonies you can find this stuff in post office subscribtion glassines or dealer display cards BUT.....BUT find me a album with them mounted ......sorry it is like finding a Unicorn . They don't exist .

We should be more interested in a expanded catalog for 1940 to 1980's and all this stuff that is making the catalogs thicker and more expensive because we see nobody collecting the recent issues ,but don't tell me they exist except in dealer stocks and exchange hands between dealers but never make it to the collector .
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Posted 11/30/2021   5:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Floortrader - I agree. At the very least Scott could offer a volume "B" of the WW Specialized that picks up where the current volume leaves off, 1941, and goes to some point. The current 12 volume Scott does not work well for many and prices quite a few out of purchasing it.
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Posted 11/30/2021   5:15 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bobby De La Rue to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I can recall Stanley Gibbons deleting a stamp from their listings about 30 years ago, but I can't remember the colony. My ageing grey matter thinks it may have been Gold Coast or Gambia. The stamp was a 2d in a pearl grey shade.

In recent times, SG221c (1/- black DLR, Wmk 36, perf. 11) under New South Wales was deleted on my recommendation.
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