Rare! Very Rare! Ultra Rare! Actually, "as common as muck"!!

I know I may be raking over old ground here but, I have been in this `game` for nearly 50 years and to read some of the item descriptions on here, just beggars belief. We all know there can be a vast difference between Scott values and SG values but come on folks, stop attempting to `inflate` the value of items by claiming stamps to be `Rare` etc. when they are clearly `common` stamps. I questioned one tonight that has been listed as RARE and with a selling price of nearly $400 when in fact it has been repaired, has no perfs. at top (scissored off) and is in the current SG at just £65 in perfect condition! Therefore, the seller wants 4 x catalogue value for a stamp worth no more than a couple of £`s in this condition. This kind of selling, if allowed to continue, will only get this site a bad name. Some poor sod may fall for this unscrupulous sellers tricks, spend a lot of money on what they think is a rare stamp only to find out later down the line, that is has no value whatsoever. Before anyone decides to jump down my throat, yes, someone has pointed out that I have a few on my listings that are incorrect in that they are not the genuine stamp and I am in the process of finding the stamps in question to see what the differences are. If they are wrong, I will delete them! We can all be `educated` but I will not try to deceive anyone by stating RARE, etc. when they are just common stamps!


  • 98 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • There are a lot of stamps that are rare and yes even unique if you move into the Cinderella telegraph revenue fiscal areas. To think you are going to dictate to others the ability to describe their stamps is fool-hearty at best. I suggest you spend more time on your hobbys.and less trying to tell others what to do including telling the management how to run the site. This is how delcampe went to hell. listening to a few sellers rant over nothing.
  • edited November 2016 5 LikesVote Down
    I don't think any one person has enough knowledge to police the site for grossly mispriced items. There are covers with 20 cent stamps and $5000 cancels. There are beat up first day covers of early issues that bring several hundred dollars.

    Catalog value often bears little resemblance to actual sales pricing. I had an Austria collector offer me $10 for every copy of a stamp I could find (it was a minimum catalog value stamp). I found 2 in 4 years of searching. I bought a torn size 10 cover off a stack of 50 identical covers from a dealer for $1. I put it on Ebay and it brought almost $200. I watched a cover I passed up at $75 bought by another dealer for $150 and sold at auction two months later for $2500.

    A site that takes it upon itself to try to "police" transactions will not last long. Keep in mind that many sales on this site are dealer to dealer sales. Every single MNH British Commonwealth set that I sold on Bidstart for $75 or more (at 60 to 125% of catalog) was sold to dealers for resale.

    If a dealer prices his/her stock too high it will not sell - I don't see the fascination of trying to force/enforce limitations on how a dealer presents or prices stock - it's a free country. It is a very slippery slope when someone imposes their thoughts (right or perhaps wrong) on someone else's livelihood..
  • Now, Chris, it's not right to lump all sellers/collectors from a country into the same sack. In the same vein, one can say that in the UK, it's the Gospel according to Gibbons. People use the predominant catalogs that are used in the land that they live. To call one group of collectors basically "stupid" and that the UK way is the only correct way is very arrogant on your part, insulting to the rest, and casts a dim light on UK philately.

    As in any group of users of any catalog, many do not read the information contained in it. If they did, much of the problems associated with stamp descriptions would not exist. Must of the frustrations many collectors go through to ID a stamp would go away as well.

    Your translated definition of "unmounted" from the UK to the "mint never hinged" from the US is incorrect,and shows your ignorance of the Scott catalogs. According to Scott, mint, never hinged refers to unused stamps that have full gum with no hinge marks or other disturbances on the gum.

    Terminology between catalog types relating to condition, colors, and other things is relative to, once again, the land where the collector using the predominant catalog lives. Collectors properly using stamp catalogs (they are not just full of pretty pictures and values) would eliminate much of the ambiguity found in the hobby. The large philatelic associations in the world could take the initiative to standardize terminology in the hobby around the world, if they would take the initiative and if they could agree to the terminology that should be used. Even if all that were done, there would still be the lazy collectors who won't read/acquaint themselves with the instructional information that is contained in all catalogs.

    Basically, we are all SOL on all counts, and must rely on how willing we ourselves are individually willing to learn about our hobby. Is not doing so irresponsible behavior on the part of collectors, sellers and philatelic associations? I leave that for you to decide.
  • I am not saying that "policing" a site for obvious misstatements is a bad thing. What I am saying is that it must be done carefully, lest someone who really does know what he is doing be wrongfully accused of a misdeed.

    Interesting comparison of perfins by the way - in the US most dealers price them at the same level as they would a stamp without the perfin (assuming similar centering, cancel, etc). But on common stamps perfin collectors value the perfin itself. The Perfins Club has a huge catalog of known perfins numbering in the thousands - many large corporations had a different perfin for each location. Each is rated as to scarcity and there are published guidelines as to approximate values. Whenever I take the time to pull a few dozen out of my bankers box of perfins and take the time to identify them I have no problem selling most in a couple of days at 20 cents to a couple of dollars each. Better than being relegated to decoupage. When I come across a "more uncommon" one it is generally sold privately, like other better finds.

    I can't recall this ever becoming a huge problem on Bidstart - it's pretty easy to just ignore (like those "graded" 3 cent commemoratives they ask several hundred dollars apiece for while one with equally good centering is right next to it at 8 cents.), The sad part is that they actually sell at shows.

    And the 800 pound gorilla (Ebay) almost encourages exaggeration.

    Censorship is a slippery slope and a tough sell here in the states for many reasons.
  • Price is determined by what the market will bear.

  • "Rarity often does not equate to high price but to what a person is willing to pay for it.".

    There is a lot of scarce postal history (under 10 known) that nobody collects... When "Old Joe" completes his county cancel collection all those $50 to $500 covers become unsaleable.

    Back in the 80's I bought a #10 size Byrd Expedition cover off a stack of 50 identical covers - they had been held together with a rubber band and all had a 2 inch tear at the bottom. I paid one dollar for it. When Ebay took off and finally got pictures I put it on Ebay and it went for almost $200. I sent out a "congratulations" and got a rather terse "congratulations my xxx ..." response. The winner told me that there were only two people in the world who were looking for that cover - an obscure coal stop on the southern run that had proved elusive with one known copy reported which no one had actually seen at the time.

    Two months later the dealer who had sold me the cover (and still had the other 49 held together by the rubber band) put one on and it brought ten dollars from the other guy. He tried another one two months later and it did not start at $5. It was a rare cover, then a scarce cover, then a common cover with no buyers ......

    That is not an uncommon scenario in postal history, dpo's, machine cancels, perfins, etc where there are still discoveries to be made.

  • We're blessed here to have so many of the world's rare stamps at such cheap prices.
  • What you didn't add was that the seller is British and the listings are from his Ebay store. Are you also going to say "BYE,BYE.." to Ebay ?
  • yeas and after they remove Rare.. then next comes --> scarce... uncommon... not often seen... real winner...

    where does the slippery slope stop? my thoughts are there are med for neurotic obsessing of this type. In some countries this is the national sport.
  • I prefer mine medium rare.
  • Not to me. HipStamps offerings represent but a miniscule percentage of the total stamps available. I'm sure, with a few minutes effort, I could find dozens of examples of common-as-muck stamps for which there are 0 or 1 examples listed here.
  • There are some who would also complain that ebay.de listings are all in German and follow the gospel according to Michel. smh
  • Steve - could you give an example please - I just went through several pages of his stock and didn't find what you are referring to .... thanks.
  • edited March 2018 3 LikesVote Down
    I may be looking at the wrong dealer - I come up with Dr. Phil as "retired". I see a few low value booklet panes, coil ends, etc. and a few plate blocks from the 1954 Liberty series. The $3,99 booklet panes are Scott 1036a and are listed at $3.99 each except for the partial plate number and the miscut. Other dealers have 1036a booklet panes priced from 75 cents to $7.00. The plate blocks are similar in comparison pricing, actually falling at or below the halfway point in comparative pricing.
    If these are the ones you are talking about it would be hard to find fault and you would first have to go after a lot of other dealers who are priced higher.....
  • edited March 2018 3 LikesVote Down
    Steve - For the avoidance of any doubt, the listing you highlighted is compliant with our terms and conditions - there's no issue with this listing in that regard. With over 5 Million listings on HipStamp, you will often find similar stamps for different prices. Just because one seller may be selling a US # 1036a MNH Plate Block for 33¢, it does not mean if another seller is selling the same item for $1.99 it's an issue (with regards to our terms and conditions) - it is not.

    Of course as an individual buyer, if you don't want to buy from a particular seller, because you feel that some of their listings are priced too high - that's of course entirely up to you. That being said, many buyers do purchase from this seller, and they have a 100% positive feedback rating with us, with no negative feedback.

    If this item, and many like it from this seller, were listed at $49, etc. - that would be a different story. However, as noted previously, if an item is priced under a couple of dollars, it's generally not going to run into an issue with our terms and conditions with regards to pricing.
  • edited March 2018 3 LikesVote Down
    Do some of you people actually sell stamps? Seems to me you spend more time spying and complaining about others than trying to sell your own stuff. If you see something that looks wrong, report it to management and move on. You did your job. OCD can be very debilitating.

    I love it when I hear people protesting about a movie. Next thing you know, people are lined up to go see it, and it makes millions.

    In fact, I should be listing more stamps to sell myself, instead of constantly reading some of this drivel.
  • Carol,
    It is very hard to find anymore. The link have for is from the One Cent Franklin Plating
    Archive Site. There is a lot of good info under the Fakes Forgeries and Fraud link bottom left of the home page and from there to Scads
  • I wholeheartedly agree with the initial post.

    Hipstamp is a specialty site. Members should expect a greater degree of accuracy and forthrightness from sellers. Sellers who consistently puff up their descriptions and overgrade their offerings should be sanctioned. This would help both buyers and honest sellers. IMO oversight would go a long way in setting Hipstamp apart from other on-line selling venues.
  • "I hope that this type of selling is not ever allowed on HipStamp. It would cheapen and diminish the site."

    This is exactly why / what I meant when starting this discussion. Seems the `powers that be` are actually allowing this to happen right now. There are a few sellers here that either know nothing about stamps or, in my own personal view, are only here to attempt to rip-off unsuspecting buyers by claiming items are Rare, Very Rare, etc. OK, we have cancels that we class as Rare, etc. and if you view them in context of say 99% of Duplex cancels are in the £1 to £4 price bracket, when you have one at say £100, then yes, we class that as Rare. However, when you have sellers clearly stating that stamps which have a value of say 20p / 30c / etc. are RARE in capitals, then those listings should be deleted before any unsuspecting buyer sees them.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the eBay "Top Rated" program is useless even though we are on it! We are there in, shall I say, `name only`, as we don`t receive any benefit from it, as we refuse to give Free Postage. To us, Free Postage is a non-starter. We tried it a few years ago and it made no difference whatsoever in overall sales. Therefore, we stopped giving it.

    As for comments regarding membership of say APS, etc. thats OK if you are based in the USA. We were once members of the APS under another name but ceased membership in 2002 because we gained no benefit from being a non - US member. Ideally, if the powers that be are thinking of something along those lines, what about the `obvious`, say a "Rogues Gallery". That would be more beneficial, as it would root out the sellers who are not being upfront with their items.

    These are my / our personal views and no doubt, there are pro`s and con`s with anything along the lines of keeping this site `honest` to everyone. However, if nothing is done quickly, this site will gain a reputation that it allows anyone and everyone to list whatever they like at ridiculous prices, just like dear old eBay!
  • that is including a few here thinking they can also dictate how to price one's merchandise. this is none of your business if you don't like the price.. don't buy it. the sellers will catch on eventually but if the site owner was to have price controls or all a few whiny complainers to run things - it would be just like delcampe.
  • Chris,

    I did do a search for that stamp,went into his store typed rare in and searched his store and low and behold 77 items came back with the word rare in the title. Strange thing is that the seller in question actually has 39,917 items in his store.

    Now if you are having a problem with what he put into his item descriptions I can understand how misunderstandings can come up them. This is what his descriptions actually say after the stamp description.

    Hundreds of high quality GB items for instant purchase always available in my shop.

    Including the unusual, the superb and the very rare

    (I did edit out the other site name)

    Now with him having a store description like that after the stamp description does not seem like the best idea. It will lead to misunderstandings because as sure the sun rises in the East and sets in the West,people will misread that and assume that he is talking about the stamp and NOT other items in his store.

    I will agree with you that putting his store description into the stamp description is not good but to say it's outright fraud is a huge stretch. If you are going to make the claims that you do back them up with actual facts and not hyperbole.

  • Just like with most other (non-philatelic) purchases (used cars, for example), the bottom line is always 'Caveat Emptor.' 'Knowledge is power,' another ole cliché, also comes to mind. The buyers always have the choice between purchasing or not, and I would say its a safe bet that most have catalogues where prices could be checked, as well as the ability to comparison shop right on this site itself or by using others such as eBay.
    "Bye Bye Hipstamp?????" Don't let the door hit you in the.......well, you know.
  • I'm guided by the late Simon Dunkerley's thoughts on what is rare: http://stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=72674&p=4585035&hilit=rare#p4585035

    "As I have written, I like to think of something as being rare when you have the money or chequebook in hand and cannot find it to buy.

    In other words, if something is easy to find, then by definition, it is not rare. You may fluke something here and there - and that might make something elusive or even scarce, however, rare is one of the most over used words in philately, and I am sure many other fields.

    A 5/- Bridge is not rare. I once knew a dealer that had approximately 500 in stock at the one time - counting postally used, CTO, mint and mint unhinged - and it included several complete sheets. That might seem impossible, however, I can guarantee it is true. I saw the dealer buy many of them and even bought some at auction for him from time to time when he couldn't make it. If you are chasing a perfectly centred MUH stamp that is perfection in every respect, then that is certainly hard to come buy and indeed scarce.

    When I was young, I used to think that a 1930 penny was rare. Then I once had a stand at the Opera House stamp and coin show and was next to a well known dealer. In one display case he had no less than 13 from memory on display in varying grades. At the time the average price was around $10,000 each. I asked him how many he actually had in stock and it was about 20! We are talking about a coin that generally sells now for between $20,000 and $25,000 in average condition. I went on to ask him how many he thought had survived and about 2,000 was the answer. My next question was how many would change hands each year in Australia and the answer was about 100. So if you had $2,500,000 to spend, over the course of a year I could potentially find you about 100 of these. In my view that cannot be considered rare. Yes, it is much 'scarcer' than the very common dates which are available in huge quantities, but it cannot be considered rare. The price is held up because it is so popular.

    When I write about the rare watermark inverted varieties or missing colours or imperforate errors, I generally refer to the rarities as when there are 10 or less known. Now that is rare. Sometimes there might be an item where 50 or so are known, however, they are 'very tightly' held, and one comes onto the market only every now and then. In the context of what is available to new buyers on the market, that is rare.

    Simon Dunkerley"
  • Well, to each his own.
  • There is something that looks to be troubling about some or all of that seller's listings. I just spot-checked one other one:


    If the catalog number is correct, it catalogs for $2.25 in the 2017 Scott. Asking price: £150.00
  • You were looking at one day and admittedly there are very few abuses listed today. I've been following this for months and I've seen many
  • I used to own a Q5 with a Hoboken cancel on it. The word Hobo was the only part of the cancel that was visible. It also happened to land on the top of the train.
    Nothing rare about any of it.
    Even the Hobo on the train. Try to find another one though.
  • Chris, wholeheartedly agree with you. There would not be a single stamp on HipStamp that is rare. Such stamps command prices in the tens of thousands and up.

    I see no reason why the wording cannot be automatically stripped from titles and descriptions and for the offending sellers to be sent a warning email.

    We can also all help weed out unscrupulous sellers by using the REPORT ABUSE button located on the SELLER tab for each sale item.
  • It's nice to make generalizations, but to say there would not be a single stamp on Hipstamp that is rare is a bit of a stretch. What would you call manuscript cancels that are (properly) rated by Helbock as RF-8 and RF-9 (and confirmed by people who know) ? How about unlisted old routing markings on letters c. 1800? Obscure machine cancels rated by Hanmer as "R" and "RR" that the late Bob Patkin retailed at several hundred dollars each?. I've picked up enough of these things on both Bidstart and Ebay over the years to make it worthwhile to continue the search.

    And who is going to determine that a listing is in error? I've seen enough bad certificates over the last 35 years to know that things are not always as they seem. It is a slippery slope. In the early days of Ebay there was a group of people who exposed many of the fakes, forgeries and doctored stamps - it apparently rankled the feathers of the guilty dealers and must have cut into Ebay's profit a bit too much. I believe that there is a similar forum these days outside of Ebay.

    Just my two cents

This discussion has been closed.