Kind of feels like a struggling organization- APS - is trying to distract from its current problems (web site continues to be awful; membership continues to slide; no real idea how to engage youth) with a Merger. I hope the ASDS stays away from this. Why join a sinking ship?
Quote: Wonder why we didn't hear about this from APS FIRST?
I noticed that too. My only thought was the same as that of the HipStamp partnership...
Quote: Anytime you hitch your wagon to a horse, the horse can either go in the right direction or the wrong direction. Hoping this works out for everyone.
In my opinion APS reputation traditionally has been higher than that of either HipStamp or the ASDA. (I am unclear how ASDA vested interest in keeping paying members might influence decisions when disciplining 'bad' dealers.) Don
Yeah, these announcements after the fact, or at least after decisions have virtually been made without any input from membership is getting annoying.
Also, as I replied to Wayne Youngblood's post about this on Facebook, at first blush I'm not a fan, given the longstanding ethical lapses on the part of certain ASDA member dealers and the blind eye given them. This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house with respect to any APS member complaints against ASDA dealers.
I thought that the APS was on firm financial footing? This proposed merger immediately in the wake of the outsourcing of the APS's ecommerce functionality makes me wonder if there's more going on behind the scenes that the membership is unaware of...
Then again, I always react cynically to these sorts of things.
To me, it seems like the APS is 'punching downward', partnering with organizations which are less prestigious than itself. I do not know enough to know if it is due to other situations, but in any case it does seem like a pair of decisions which carry significant risk. Time will certainly be the ultimate judge and jury on these two decisions, but I do respect the APS Board for having courage. Don
Quote: Uniting the Hobby-A Merger of the APS and the ASDA
10/3/2022 Uniting the Hobby: A Proposal
At the Great American Stamp Show in August, I presented to the American Stamp Dealers Board of Directors to merge the APS and ASDA into a single organization. This idea is modeled after the American Numismatic Association, where collectors and dealers work together as one for the health of the hobby and integrity in the marketplace.
Following the meeting and the feedback of the ASDA Board, I prepared a confidential memo, sent on September 22, 2022, for the APS and ASDA Boards to begin a discussion of whether the idea had merit and was worth pursuing. Any proposal would have to be approved by the ASDA Board and submitted to the ASDA membership for approval, followed by some legal processes in the State of New York. The APS Board would also have to approve the changes.
In the memo, I outline how the transfer to the APS would work and propose a timeline of January 1, 2023, or as soon as practicable. The January 2023 start date is, to be candid, too ambitious given the approvals required. It is, however, an idea worth considering. If approved, it should enhance the collective strength of organizations and philately. So that APS and ASDA members can evaluate the merits, the memo is below. The proposal is, by no means, final but a starting point for a worthwhile and necessary discussion.
For those attending NOJEX, the APS is hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Friday, October 14, 2022, at 1 pm, in the Seminar Room. Please join us to discuss this, our work at the APS, and the state of the hobby.
I look forward to the discussion ahead. Uniting the Hobby A Merger of the APS and the ASDA
Confidential Memo: ASDA Board of Directors and APS Board of Directors
From: Scott D. English, Executive Director, American Philatelic Society
Background: The APS, founded in 1886, and the ASDA, founded in 1914, have each worked to maintain a robust and trustworthy philatelic marketplace. Though the two organizations represent the buyers and sellers distinctly, there has been significant overlap in membership for the past 108 years. One of the ASDA founders, John Walter Scott, was elected APS President in 1917 and served until he died in 1919. At one point, the APS and ASDA collaborated to issue expert opinions. Though the formal relationship ended more than two decades ago, many ASDA members still serve on the APS Expert Committee. A critical service by the APS has been hosting annual stamp shows since 1977, offering buyers and sellers a meeting place to exchange information, buy and sell stamps among trusted members.
Times have changed. The storefront stamp shops which once were common have slowly shuttered. The stamp show dealer population is declining and now makes up less than a quarter of the ASDA membership. Online dealers dominate the marketplace, selling directly or on platforms like eBay and HipStamp. As sales migrate online, buyers and sellers must rely on the platform's policies, hoping for fair arbitration by knowledgeable philatelists. Instead, those bound by a code of ethics are treated the same as bad actors by clumsy policies undermining the 100+ years of knowledge and good practices established by these two organizations.
Failing to adapt and assert our collective membership value in the digital marketplace will erode consumer confidence and allow bad actors to profit from unsuspecting buyers. The APS and ASDA have a long history of accountability, transparency, and promoting good business practices within the philatelic marketplace; it is critical to continue. To remain effective, we should merge these organizations as one to leverage our respective brand strengths without wasting resources on duplication of administration.
Action Item: Merge the ASDA into the APS organization to form the American Stamp Dealers Alliance, a division of the APS. The target timeline would be by 1 January 2023 or as soon as practicable.
Identity: The structure would resemble the American Philatelic Society Expertizing Service, APEX. The American Stamp Dealer Alliance maintains an identity and logo for use within the hobby. We propose tweaking the name to better fit and preserve our 501(c)(3) status by avoiding having an Association within a Society.
Operations: We expect the current ASDA Director to rejoin the staff serving as director. The Director's functions include member services for and recruitment of ASDA members, management of the annual APS Summer Show, and support of World Series of Philately shows. The ASDA Director would also be the relationship manager of the eBay and HipStamp partnerships. Finally, the ASDA Director will manage a revised Dealer Advisory Committee. The APS would include a shared employee (50 percent) with the Membership Department to assist with ASDA operations.
American Stamp Collector and Dealer: The ASC&D is a valuable asset, second only to the ASDA brand. For the first year, we expect no significant changes to the current operations of the ASC&D, overseen by the Editor-in-Chief with the contract editor. We plan to offer a discounted subscription to APS members in Year One. After that, we plan to provide members with a choice between the AP and the ASC&D with an add-on membership option to receive both publications.
APS Dealer Membership: The APS Dealer Membership does not have the same rigor or cost structure as the ASDA membership. Within 12 months, the APS will work with the dealer community to establish standards and a proposed tiered membership structure to meet the needs of dealers and stable long-term funding for the ASDA.
APS Dealer Advisory Committee: Revise the Dealer Advisory Committee to better represent the diverse dealer community. The Committee would advise APS leadership and the Board on dealer matters and maintaining a robust philatelic marketplace.
Institute of Philately: The hobby's future is to identify and educate dealers and experts to retain the knowledge needed for a trustworthy marketplace. Former ASDA President Stanley Piller embodied the expert dealer as a reliable source of quality philatelic material and a critical member of the APS Expert Committee. We should continue his legacy. Any available funds held by the ASDA combined with fundraising efforts would serve as the seed funding.
Possible Bylaws Change: Add a requirement for voting dealer representation on the APS Board of Directors. This change would be subject to the approval of the APS membership. For the 2022-2025 term, two ASDA members are serving as Directors-at-Large.
Conclusion: We are at an opportunistic moment where we have the knowledge and leadership to accomplish this merger as a meaningful partnership. The APS is the most financially sound it has been in decades and will continue to strengthen in the years ahead.
Scott English is the Executive Director of the American Philatelic Society.
Quote: For those attending NOJEX, the APS is hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Friday, October 14, 2022, at 1 pm, in the Seminar Room. Please join us to discuss this, our work at the APS, and the state of the hobby.
I wonder how many people will actually show up for that.
My first and only concern is how will the ethics complains be handled against dealers? I can see dealers happy to toss common hobby members but why on earth will they punish a professional ASDA member?
Now the fact is the APS has APS Dealer Members who must subscribe to the APS ethics rules. The ASDA members have never been stopped from joining the APS as dealer members (unless there was good cause) and the same can be said for the NSDA members.
Scott English monitors and posts on the SCF which he did in the HIP-APS thread. Perhaps he will post here on this thread with some background, a lot of background, on the reasoning behind the merge exploration. From where I stand, I see no obvious pro-philately benefit to the general members of the APS. I however would welcome some transparency as to why the APS Leader thinks there is.
As to this plan modeling the current numismatic model, I don't hear just warm and fuzzy good comments coming from coin collectors who only see unicorns and rainbows. The beast which is that hobby has a rather large and dark underbelly from what I hear quietly mumbled.
I have interacted with the ASDA in the past regarding an ASDA dealer in NJ. It was a complete waste of time to complain. The ASDA never answered my specific complaints which had detailed information regarding fake, altered and misdescribed items. Again, they never responded. Not once. And the dealer continued to display the logo on their listings. I do remember a problem with Anthony's not paying their dues however but continuing to use the logo. After they paid up all was fine. Except for the bogus material. That was never addressed at the time. There is zero reason to have any faith in the ASDA. Sorry.
Between the HipStamp deal and this I reiterate what I stated in the APS/Hip topic. These large decisions need to be voted on by members of the APS. If the By-Laws do not have this provision that needs to change.
So, what will be next and will dues paying members have any say before it happens?
It seems as if all of the focus is on the transactional part of philately. Hooking up with Hip and ASDA is not the way to stop bad actors. The way to do that is to make a serious, robustly promoted, intensive and concerted effort to educate collectors of all levels and to promote affordable authentication.
The biggest question to be answered in regard to this deal is "why was this necessary"?
I see an organization either losing its focus or engaging in seat of the pants dealmaking in order to increase membership.
I want nothing to do with the ASDA nor Hip and I now know what to do with my next APS renewal notice.
Quote: Online dealers dominate the marketplace, selling directly or on platforms like eBay and HipStamp. As sales migrate online, buyers and sellers must rely on the platform's policies, hoping for fair arbitration by knowledgeable philatelists. Instead, those bound by a code of ethics are treated the same as bad actors by clumsy policies undermining the 100+ years of knowledge and good practices established by these two organizations.
Quote: Conclusion: We are at an opportunistic moment where we have the knowledge and leadership to accomplish this merger as a meaningful partnership. The APS is the most financially sound it has been in decades and will continue to strengthen in the years ahead.
Yes eBay and Hip (and other large platforms) set their own rules and enforcement structure. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING the APS or ASDA does will have any influence over those private businesses identified as the main competition of organized philatelly. The APS+ASDA will have less influence on those large bodies than our satellite's recent impact on a tiny rock orbiting a larger asteroid done so at a cost of at least 330 Million dollars.
The APS partnered with HIP; HIP which does not follow any significant philatelic organization's code of ethics, nor is HIP required to do so as they are exempted from liability under the third party hosting rules set up by Congress and adopted in to US law. Perhaps the APS is having a bit of heartburn having heard feed back on the lack of ethics to which HIP can be subjected too. That will not change having ASDA dealer member employee to oversee the APS-HIP relationship.
The APS cannot reasonably believe that in partnership with the ASDA, the join entity can be the sheriff of the philatelic internet, especially when the elephants and giants of business in the room don't want us, have not asked for us and are expressly absolved of such by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Circling the APS and ASDA wagons will not in anyway change the fact they (an we) are in the wild wild west of the lawless internet; an internet far beyond the control and geography of the USA.
Please explain the plan, the issues resulting in the plan, the goal and the implementation expectations to meet the goal, if any such exist.
Now I welcome any information which reduces the pessimism in my above statements.
This proposal seems to take a long view despite a current stabilization of APS finances. But, exactly what the benefit will be is not guaranteed.. The perception may be it cannot hurt. Whatever ASDA has in the treasury is not significant enough from what I have seen to change APS's balance significantly long term. It would be a one time bump.
I see the fundamental issue as a declining membership with fixed or increasing costs. The dues alone today does not cover expenses so outside income is needed. So, the idea is do something rather than nothing.
I doubt even under the most optimistic scenarios that membership will ever grow significantly as many do not see a need for organized philately. Linn's circulation has dropped so not just organized groups. The same is true about many traditional dealers.
The hipstamp action was to avoid cost from internal operations and hope for more revenue too.
In a business proposal, there should be costs and benefits identified into the out years unless it is just hope and pray.
There is an Noble Spirit employee on the APS Board so he knew for some time.
The saying 'follow the money' may apply here. I do not know what is happening but as a longtime member of APS, it is concerning.
In my mind, APS began to change after Bob Lamb left/retired from being executive director. In a nutshell, it seems that costs increased, staff numbers increased, and staff members did not come from the stamp collecting community. The APS is becoming less a collectors organization and more a business organization.
My reasons for joining and keeping membership was to have access to stamp sales (circuits), stamp insurance, a monthly magazine to help keep up with the philatelic world, and a screening system for members (that could also be dealers) that had teeth for unethical practices. In addition, as my learning increased, knowing there is a library that stores philatelic literature that I could get access to through the library system or borrow or get photocopies. To me all else is fluff.
The changes I've seen. I stopped getting circuits when the cost for postage exceeded that cost for stamps I would buy. Then the internet started, and the stamp store started. A good thing for the collector. In the beginning they said that they would screen the items in the stamps store. But that apparently did not last, and many items are not as described, especially in the pre 1940 era.
Then they moved to office and library to new location in a flood plain (for books?) that required a lot and I mean a lot of work.
I then began to notice other things like hiring people in high paid positions that were not collectors. Then continuing increasing cost for more hires such as for assistants to assistants. Then an economic pinch came and staff were dismissed staff to get to a supportable level. A good thing. But then things got economically better and they went back and hired more people, again many from a non-collecting background.
Now as a nonprofit they are merging with a for-profit. Now they are discussing merging with a dealer organization.
I thought the APS was to be made up of mainly collectors that were to help the collector collect?