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
  • 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

  • edited September 2016 1 LikesVote Down
    Hi Carol, I would call them scarce.

    So what is the REPORT ABUSE button for? It's then up to HipStamp to take any action. I would prefer not to give unscrupulous sellers any wriggle room.

    The forum you allude to is probably Stampboards, where scammers are regularly identified with forensic precision.
  • Agreed - although I still think of anything that actually sells in the 4 figure range as "rare" until I think back to when a set of Zepps was advertised at $10K (and they are a commodity item). So yes, it is a matter of degree.

    The site I recall (after Ebay closed) was US based. Yes, there is a lot of information on Glen's site. I choose to lurk and learn rather than play the mole in "whack a mole".

    It was set up more like Frajola's PhilaMercury site only with the emphasis on stamps rather than postal history. Just can't remember the name and at some point over the years I lost a bunch of bookmarks. Many of the same people are involved in PhilaMercury so maybe it just transitioned.

  • edited September 2016 1 LikesVote Down
    I need to check out PhilaMercury, I'm not familiar with it, thanks.

    Scammers are a raw nerve with me at the moment, having just 2 days ago received the 'french' email scam from lividia32@laposte.net. See http://stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=41739

    Love your "whack a mole". You certainly need a thick skin there at times.
  • Carol,
    the site is/was Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers (SCADS.org) dormant sense 2012
  • That's it !!!!

    Thank you Ross, thought I was just getting old.
  • 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
  • Carol, yes, there are `bargains` to be found even on this site! I, alone, have bought in quite a few in the last 17 days on here. However, it should not be allowed by sellers to over-inflate a stamps TRUE value by stating RARE on the description when it is clearly a common stamp. What I, like other UK dealers, have never quite understood, is how US sellers arrive at a value of lets say Perfins. By their very nature, Perfins are collected by specialists or collectors `in the know` and are not normally collected for the actual `stamp` the Perfin is on. However, having said that, 90% of all Perfins offered by US Sellers are at prices that are just senseless. They seem to think that those stamps are of a similar value as un-perfinned ones when in fact, they only have the intrinsic value of the actual Perfin itself. I highlighted this to one seller last week who seems to think that a collector would be willing to pay in excess of 70% of the UK catalogue value of a QV £1 stamp that has been perfinned (rather badly) and what has a very dirty Parcel cancel on it even though a similar stamp with a light cancel is on eBay for less than 5% of the catalogue value! That is what the majority of Perfinned stamps are actually worth. They are very common in the UK and the US and as such, have very little value as Postage Stamps without the Perfin. OK, that may be classed as a `specialist area` of collecting but it does not detract from the other sellers, some being very well known in the trade, from `offering` worthless stamps at massively inflated prices by stating `RARE` etc. on their listings. To give an idea of what I class as `RARE`, our business has an on-line inventory of 24,000+ items at any one time. We also have a Private inventory for buyers who do not wish to use the web-sites that is in excess of 60,000 items. From the whole inventory, with prices ranging from a few Cents to £1,000`s, we have less than 100 items that we class as RARE! However, one seller alone (and a very well know dealer in the US) on here has listed less than 400 items and nearly 85% are being offered as RARE or VERY RARE! That is what needs to be clamped down on. We remember very well, an Auction House in the US that had thick, glossy catalogues offering similar material 15 years ago, which was 60%+ junk when you compared the actual prices. Another over in Australia has tried similar `tricks` over the years. CLAMP DOWN NOW on here or, people will go elsewhere! Bad publicity is NOT what a new site needs in this cut-throat world. "Moan & Groan" over!!!
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Oh, please point us in the direction of `muppets` who actually spend stupid money on `E-Graded` stamps. We could become BILLIONAIRES overnight! We even have a few on here!! "E-Graded = Extortionate Grading" or, "Every Muppet Stand In Line".
  • 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.
  • This is a very interesting topic and one that I had not spent much time thinking about. I do remember one seller on BS that was always listing items far exceeding catalog value. I would often see this sellers items and think, "what is he thinking?" Perhaps he was just hoping to sell a few items to a few users at ridiculous prices and call it a day. What brought me to think about this and comment, however, is Carol's comment about Ebay and its penchant for encouraging exaggerating. That is so true, and is probably why I don't use it much for stamp purchases. It is too tedious to go through listings trying to find honest sales. But in the end, I always think, oh well, it's Ebay so let sellers do what they want. I hope that this type of selling is not ever allowed on HipStamp. It would cheapen and diminish the site.
  • It would be nice if we (that is, HipStamp management along with members) could implement something along the lines of ebay's Top Rated Seller program, but one which is more subjective and not simply based on feedback and other numbers which do not give a complete picture of a dealer's integrity. Sellers deemed to be worthy could be awarded a HipStamp Seal of Integrity that would be displayed next to their ID in all their listings to assure customers they have passed muster as dealers of proven honesty, ethics, and fairness.Under this program, input would be gathered from members reporting on deceptive listings, exaggerated descriptions, excessive shipping charges, ridiculous pricing, etc.

    Perhaps, initially, it could be awarded based on a positive feedback percentage, and ongoing possession of the seal would be contingent on input received from members in re the above noted issues. Maybe, instead of a seal of integrity, per se, there could be a HipStamp Dealers Association, with a member's good standing dependent upon meeting certain standards in, among other things, listing practices and pricing. Member dealers could then display a seal stating "Member in good standing -- HSDA"

    These are just initial ideas, and I realize there are cans full of worms when dealing with these kinds of judgments. I'd be interested in hearing feedback from others on this idea.


  • Doesn't membership in APS, ASDA, and other philatelic associations carry some weight already. And yes, those can be somewhat political and I don't see any reason to expect that yet another "club" (HSDA or other) wouldn't tend to be somewhat cliquish as well.

    And what would be offered the buyer in way of enticement --- as a buyer I always tend to shy away from whatever Ebay's upper echelon de jour happens to be - I guess it's "Top Rated Seller" now - it used to be something else. It is totally meaningless to me and their "Top Rated Sellers" seem to be those with the most questionable material (sorry, allegedly questionable).

    Just my personal feelings ...

    Carol / webpaper

  • For me APS membership of a dealer is meaningless. You pay your dues, you are a member, unless something egregious is committed by the member. ASDA doesn't mean much to me either for that matter. Take the examples cited earlier. If the OP had written to ASDA to complain about these listings, do you think ASDA would respond with anything other than, "The dealer has done nothing illegal?"

    As you note, Carol, things could easily turn cliquish, and power struggles could ensue, undermining the whole effort. I certainly wouldn't want to be the one in charge of ensuring such a system operated smoothly.

    Still, I wish there was a way of self-policing, to maintain the integrity of the site. Look at ebay; you've got shysters running rampant there, but nobody says "Well, just don't buy from those dealers." Rather, they say, "Ebay can't be trusted." I would like to see that not happen here.

  • "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!
  • Today's search result on Hipstamp:
    Search "Rare"
    3849 listings found.
  • We're blessed here to have so many of the world's rare stamps at such cheap prices.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Price is determined by what the market will bear.

  • Jerry Burkhart firstly, I am not a `whiny complainer` or here to `dictate`. These are my observations and I am quite within my rights to state them. I didn`t start this discussion to be insulted, I did start it to find out `how` seasoned Sellers` can describe COMMON stamps as RARE, etc.
  • Rare is a very generalized term :-) and to generalize even further.. most of those that state something as rare when it has a realistic value of $2 mostly are collectors selling. but that is a generalization as is to state something is rare.

    If your budget on stamps is $5 a week or month.. then certainly a $500 stamp is to you rare. then again the Mauritius #1,2 are rare to most people of any budget. just try to understand that all walks of life collect stamps and until a law is put in place to clearly state that rare stamps equal x $$$ and scarce stamps equals X$$$ then those of you that feel this isa not good can just live with it :-) or not. Rarity often does not equate to high price but to what a person is willing to pay for it. I can post at least 50 personal stamps here that are unique.. no other copy known and I would be lucky to get $100 each but they are Cinderellas or revenues mostly from outside the USA.

    if you decided I was talking to you and are insulted.. so be it.
  • "Rare is a generalized term". Yes, definitely here it is.
  • if you decided I was talking to you and are insulted.. so be it.

    How condescending you are!

    Mind you, I didn`t expect anything else but `excuses` when I started this `discussion`.

    However, at the end of the day, we are only here for one thing really. We buy in what we find `cheap` and just re-list it back onto eBay and make a very good living out of it. From our experience on here it is not the `collectors` that are stating items are RARE but, many are well known US Dealers and none of them have got into this `discussion`. I wonder why not?

    Not to worry, we are not that `interested` an more. We`ll just keep buying but not from the `merchants of venice`!
  • well we actually do agree on a lot :-) LOL I am very aware of prices in my areas of expertise and selling online is an art when it comes to pricing. There are a few actual collectors out there that do not resale.. I do not collect myself.

    Overpricing your product can be caused by a lot of things including not having a clue as to its value :-) I see this a lot with Revenues and Cinderellas, locals and telegraphs.. the good news is you can always reduce your prices later or have a make an offer option. I am not a fan of offers myself but i can understand it's value and mixed with a high price it can be fun at times.
  • "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.

  • Update:
    Search "RARE"
    3995 listings found
  • 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.

This discussion has been closed.