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Posted May 14, 08 15:03 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Richard Matta

Prepayment - was it still common in the 1840s to mail multiple copies of a letter to make sure that at least one arrived, or was that mainly of an earlier era?  I can see how the post office might be unhappy to have to carry 2 or 3 copies but have only one accepted for payment.

Posted May 23, 08 9:31 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Re: Stampless Cover Rate Frankings

 Follow-up question several of us have discussed via email.  You occasionally see a picayune rate cover with no indication of being prepaid.  How would a postmaster know to mark the cover so the receiving PM would collect 6 1/4c instead of 6c - because the other PM requested it be done that way?  Suppose the recipient insisted on paying the actual 6c rate - how would they balance the accounts back to the originating PO?  Or would a 6 1/4 marking always indicate that the cover was prepaid?

Posted May 23, 08 9:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Richard Matta

RF - there was a discussion of those Topps collectibles on the Liberty Series discussion group board a few months back.  If I recall, they seem to fetch in the $100 range.

Posted May 23, 08 9:38 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


RF - I hit "refresh" on my browser and my last posting repeated itself.

Posted May 26, 08 8:40 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

alaskastan (and SCG)

I will probably be at NAPEX Friday morning, depending on my schedule.  A lot going on these days.  Stan - speaking of picayune covers didn't you buy the one from Maryland that I mentioned on ebay?  You don't see as many from the east coast where more currency presumably was available.

Posted May 26, 08 8:44 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Stan Groves

BTW, one of my colleagues may be joining you in your adopted state a few miles ;-) away in Juneau.  If he ends up there I'm hoping to pick up a new client and may have to make the trip occasionally.

Posted May 28, 08 20:11 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Modern postal history

Sorry if I offend.  The 21st century cover was posted not for its postal history value, but for the fun of my finding it as a needle in a haystack 4 years later.  The late 20th century advertising cover is by far rarer than just about any 10c green, and the last cover was 1937, modern only by some standards.  When that 1937 cover was mailed over 70 years ago plenty of then-70 year old covers were already considered "classic."

Posted Jul 6, 08 16:29 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

German "refused" label

"Annahme verweigert" translates essentially the same as the French "refuse".  As for why the postage due, I don't know unless someone was strict about the "private mailing card" label?

Posted Jul 19, 08 20:08 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Ravi V - that "Free" postmark may have been created to indicate free-franked mail, but was used regularly as a cancel on postpaid covers and may have no significance whatsoever.  Can't answer your other questions.

Posted Jul 20, 08 15:09 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Washington "Free"

I have seen that marking on patriotic covers from the period late spring through summer of 1861.  I would hypothesize that as DC was inundated with soldiers in that period, they pressed into service any available handstamp until more could be made.

Posted Jul 21, 08 15:25 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


From the current Downeast Stamp auction, lot 1113 is a correct usage of the DC integral "Free" handstamp, on official correspondence signed by Zevely.

Posted Aug 2, 08 20:29 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1877 Newspaper

Ron Cipolla - my ebay find of the week - $30.  Note that it is an English newspaper that was mailed locally in Germantown, presumably PA (can anyone make out the street name?).


Posted Aug 3, 08 12:23 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1877 Newspaper

Geoff D - that was a few years before transient second class.  Presumably 3rd class.

I have a few nice transient second class uses - but none as early as yours so not of interest to this board.

Posted Aug 4, 08 21:11 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1799 Washington DC

Is there anything that "could" be done to improve this cover or "should" be done to keep the damage from getting worse, without doing it more harm?


Posted Aug 5, 08 17:02 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Tape stains

RF - thanks.  Stains don't appear to be oily, but hard and crusty like paste or glue rather than scotch tape, so hopefully they won't spread.  I worry more they may  eventually eat away the paper.  That's a $100 cover so not going to spend multiples getting it restored. 

Posted Aug 13, 08 18:07 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Private Mails

I think those PES rules (payment of regular 1st Class postage, though not by imprinted stationery) remain in effect today for occasional transport of letters.  Volume mailers also are supposed to enter into a contract with the USPS, presumably to be able to prove compliance.

Posted Aug 14, 08 9:42 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Private Express Statutes

RF - I realize the laws were changed many times, but the provisions today "mostly" are just carryovers of the original laws.

Some historical information that may be of interest:

Posted Aug 14, 08 10:21 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Private Mail Statutes

RF - check out Mr. Campbell's homepage.  Ironically, he lives just over a mile from me.

Posted Aug 19, 08 13:28 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

local pronunciations

Matt - and not too far from Ballmer Merlin, on the Chest Peak, is Havre de Grace, pronounced more or less "have-er-dee-grace"


Posted Aug 27, 08 22:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Gregory Shoults - happens a lot with Nutmeg.  They own most of the material and appear to be pretty strict about their reserve (which is unknown but usually somewhere around 60% of their "estimate").  If they don't get the bids they want (presumably to recoup their cost?), they simply take back and try again.  I've seen items listed 5 or 6 times, and have lost to the book more than once only to see them reappear.  Sometimes they eventually lower their expectations, other times the item ultimately disappears only to reappear on ebay.  I just bought an item from Droege on ebay that came in Nutmeg's packaging.  

Speaking of which I could kick myself for bidding too low on a "way" cover in yesterday's Nutmeg.  It was misdescribed so I thought it would sell reasonably.  I was wrong, was the underbidder at 150% of their estimate.  But, I did win a lot of DC covers in which I spotted a hidden gem that I needed for my county collection.

Posted Sep 5, 08 13:25 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Duck stamps in the news

For those who are having trouble opening the link, here is an email version that I received today:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- People calling a federal phone number to order duck stamps are instead greeted by a phone-sex line, due to a printing error the government says would be too expensive to correct.

The carrier card for these duck stamps had an incorrect phone number on it.  The carrier card for the duck stamp transposes two numbers, so instead of listing 1-800-782-6724, it lists 1-800-872-6724. The first number spells out 1-800-STAMP24, while the second number spells out 1-800-TRAMP24.

People calling that second number are welcomed by "Intimate Connections" and enticed by a husky female voice to "talk only to the girls that turn you on," for $1.99 a minute.  ["If you want us to quack, we are happy to oblige."]

Duck stamps, which cost $15 apiece, are required to hunt migratory waterfowl.  [Female tramps, who cost substantially more than $15, are frequently sought after by men who tell their wives they are "out duck hunting".]   The government uses nearly all the revenue [from stamps, not tramps] to purchase waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2006-2007, the latest figures available, duck stamp purchases brought in nearly $22 million.  [Latest figures for phone sex lines are not available, but are believed to be several orders of magnitude higher.]

This year's stamps, which feature a pair of northern pintail ducks, went on sale July 1 and are good through June 30 of next year. The error will not be corrected until next year's duck stamps.  [Not by coincidence, Intimate Connections also features a pair of "northern pintails", who went on sale July 1 and are said to be good through the entire night.]

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the program [that is, the duck stamp program, not the phone sex program], printed about 3.5 million duck stamps attached to cards with the wrong number. An agency spokeswoman, Rachel Levin, said it would cost $300,000 to reprint them.  [A spokeswoman for Intimate Connections has offered substantially more to leave them as is.]

"I don't know that it would be worth it to do a reprint," she said Thursday. "That's a lot of money we can be using for wildlife conservation. With all of the needs for conservation, it doesn't make sense to divert money away from an important cause." For those people who like to dial by letter, the card does include the proper 1-800-STAMP24.  [Yes, don't we all prefer to dial by letter.]

"As best we know, it was a typographical error that was not caught," Levin said, stressing that the stamps are still valid.  [Though not being used as much as anticipated.]

The agency first learned of the mistake a few days ago, when a duck stamp owner informed them about the glitch [he called to say "thanks"]. Levin said the agency has not received any complaints.  [Duh!]

The error, which was first reported Wednesday by Denver TV station KUSA, is limited to self-adhesive versions of the stamps. The moistened version, which is printed in much smaller numbers, does not come with a carrier card.  [Most callers prefer the moistened version ... oh, we're still talking stamps.]

The government uses a contractor, Ashton Potter Security Printers of Williamsville, New York, to print the duck stamps. Levin said she did not know whether the error was made by the government or by the company.  [In an unrelated news story just over the AP wire, Ashton Potter filed notice with the SEC of its intent to make a tender offer for substantially all of the stock of Intimate Connections.]

Ashton Potter's president and chief executive, Barry Switzer, said that the company was provided with the wrong telephone number.  "We reproduced the wrong number correctly," he said. "We regret this whole situation happened, but we did our job properly."  ["It's just a coincidence that our phone bills jumped 800% the day after they sent us the number."]

Posted Sep 28, 08 9:46 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Question about soldier's letter

I have a question about the cover below (actually a front, somewhat crudely pasted on an envelope) before I put it up on PM. The endorsement "Cross Roads Md Sept 9th" looks like a postal marking - one interpretation is that when mail from such a tiny PO was forwarded on to DC where it would be put on train north to Baltimore and beyond, the DC post office added the additional CDS and "Due 3" stamp. Another possibility would be that the writer noted the location where he perhaps stopped for the night and it was hand-carried to DC for mailing. I have a couple of other covers from that fit the latter category, but usually just have a crude notation of some desolate stationary camp away from any local PO. This unit had been in southern VA previously, and presumably was marching north from DC toward Antietam at the time - maybe 60 miles - as they were there for the battle a week later (but did not participate). Personally, I think it unlikely that a soldier on the march would even know the name of the local town, much less the short-lived PO name which was different.


Posted Sep 28, 08 9:59 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Question about soldier's letter

PM 832 is an example of what I'm talking about - there are a lot of similar examples from the defenses around Washington with some notation of the location where the letter originated.

Posted Sep 28, 08 11:18 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Military uses

RF - makes sense, and it is extremely common to see covers "originating" in Washington that actually came from units in the field - primarily Northern VA where there were few working POs except Alexandria. Which is why it seems unusual to me that someone would take the time here to add the name of the PO and date - doesn't seem very expedient - why not just drop the whole lot in a mailbag and either have the military deliver or leave it to the local postmaster to send along with the next rider/stage? See, also PM 10413 where the blue "Due 3" handstamp appears to have been added in Baltimore, which presumably was the first main PO it encountered (I acknowledge it was for a different reason - they apparently disallowed the abuse of an MC free frank).

Posted Sep 28, 08 11:49 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Military uses

RF - sorry, #732 - I "copied" and pasted number but apparently didn't take

Posted Sep 28, 08 12:01 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Military mail

RF - my only point is that Baltimore added the "Due 3" before sending on, maybe something similar happened here, local PM thought it was free and DC added the due marking?

Posted Nov 10, 08 15:54 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

"Jumbo" single to the point of being silly

ebay 220306835721 - I think I'd much rather collect the block of 9


Posted Nov 18, 08 7:39 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Nick Kirke - I don't think we Americans are being difficult. We start with the month because that is how our calendars work, we look at the month first, then the date. RF is correct that it would make sense to start with the year (that is how I inventory my covers), but in day-to-day usage the current year is implied. Putting the day before the month strikes us as no more logical than putting minutes before hours when telling time. Belated showing of recent acquisition - "modern" cover that doesn't quite make the cut for PM.


Posted Nov 29, 08 15:49 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Beyond my expertise

Can someone tell me if this is on white paper or blue paper, I know nothing about them. Dated 1846, thanks.


Posted Nov 29, 08 17:04 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1841 two pence

RF - not a piece, it was used to mail a newspaper from London to the US, I just showed a closeup of the stamp. I said I didn't know much - my old 1999 catalog lists the white paper as worth about $700-800 on cover, thought that it might have some value even if 25% missing. I'll put on PM if it is of any interest.

Posted Nov 29, 08 17:24 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1841 2d

RF - Scott's classic specialized 1840-1940 lists 1840 #2 as printed on white paper and 1841 #4 as printed on bluish paper. That's why I asked, I don't know the difference between them, I owned a penny black once and a few penny reds, but no other UK stamps. BTW, I tried to list on PM and it said "cover added" but I don't see it. Sounds like it is not worth bothering, however.

Posted Dec 29, 08 11:18 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Richard - the stamp identifier doesn't add much when browsing, but can be useful for searching (particularly as the number of covers increases), so I would encourage it be retained and used.

Posted Jan 1, 09 23:37 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Tournament of Roses

Dave - I have one a bit later.


Posted Jan 1, 09 23:40 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

3c 1861 question

The stamp on the cover below struck me as somewhat odd, at first I thought it might be a heavily inked pink shade but it is very late and looking more closely I wonder if it might be a double impression - or kiss print? It is especially noticeable lower left.


Posted Jan 1, 09 23:40 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

3c 1861 question

Stamp close-up


Posted Jan 3, 09 20:55 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

PM won't accept large scans

RF - you might consider whether it is possible automatically to "resize" scans down to 100 dpi (Steve Davis does it on his Yahoo site). I have several thousand covers scanned at 300 dpi - PM won't accept them that big - and none are great rarities worth the time and effort to downsize individually (well, a few are quite rare, but they are post 1954 and have little monetary value - yet).

Posted Jan 4, 09 10:33 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


thanks, wasn't aware that you could do batch conversions

Posted Jan 4, 09 12:51 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


thanks, wasn't aware that you could do batch conversions

Posted Jan 9, 09 6:53 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

irfanview batch resize

Thanks to those who suggested that I use Irfanview to change DPI from 300 to 100 on a large number of files. For future reference, note that changing DPI does nothing to change the file size or PPI, you have to change the picture size by a corresponding amount (to 33%) to do that. BUT, PM still rejected some scans as too large (it either won't display the scan or rejects the entire cover), I had to reduce the jpeg file quality by 50-60% as well. Richard - for future reference, is there a maximum file size that PM will accept for a specific photo rather than trying to figure it out by trial and error?

Posted Jan 9, 09 7:08 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

file size

RF - that was my point, DPI really only is relevant to printing - the real issue is PPI so you have to reduce the dimensions by the same percentage, or you just increase picture size. But, for some of my scans, the original cover is so large that even keeping the dimensions at original size and reducing DPI to 100 still left file size at 1.5 to 2 megs.

Posted Jan 9, 09 9:31 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


RF - I think we are saying the same thing but talking past each other. Your calculation may work for normal sized covers scanned at 150 dpi. However, some of my covers are much larger. Take the "plow" cover I posted - it is approximately 6x12" (I have some that are twice as large). Scanned at 100% original size, 300 dpi output, and applying 10% jpeg compression, the original file is approximately 5.2 megs. When I reduced it to 100 dpi and 100% original size (i.e., resized by 33%), the file size only dropped approx 10%, to 4.5 megs. Saving at additional 5% compression gets me to 2.7 megs. Saving at 10% compression instead gets me down to about 1.7 megs. I think I ended up saving at 30% compression to get down to the one I posted - in addition to the 10% compression on the original file.

Posted Jan 9, 09 9:40 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


RF - I guess I did not compress the smaller images - just resized. Will do so in the future. I scan all my covers at 100% and 300 dpi with no compression, but some of the larger ones I resave at 5% or 10% compression. Some of my earlier scans were smaller but I then found that I had to keep going to storage to find the covers when I needed to examine or print fine details. Very difficult to see perf details on stamps, plate numbers on PNCs, postmark details, etc. when scanned at 100 or even 150 dpi.

Posted Jan 24, 09 17:02 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Free frank

Can anyone figure out the signature on PM 12024?

Posted Jan 29, 09 17:32 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Ravi - accounting between 2 offices? I have an inbound cover (PM #766) where the rating was crossed out - Stanley Piller had a bunch of these - suggesting that the mailing postmasters probably weren't aware of the franking privilege of the recipient (which seems odd). Similarly - though not a post office department use - PM 12028 is marked "public service" but also rated 17 cents.

Posted Jan 29, 09 21:20 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Matt, no Ravi's is 1840 and mine are 1799 and 1848, respectively. BTW, I quit my old firm about 4 months ago to start a small practice, but my prospective partner backed out. I talked briefly with your firm about joining the DC office (small world), but was invited back to the one I left and have decided to return.

Posted Feb 1, 09 21:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Happy Ground Hog Day Eve

Dave - I'm originally from Pittsburgh. In fact, Art Rooney II and I were 1st year associates together in the same law firm. One of us now has his name on the door, one of us still works for a living. Guess which?

Posted Apr 11, 09 9:10 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Maryland Stampless

Russell Crowe - if you are lurking, could you let me or van Koppersmith know if you are interested in helping out with the Maryland portion of the ASCC Stampless Cover Catalog update? For anyone else on the board who has just a few covers, I've been collecting scans for years from ebay and elsewhere and would be happy to add them to my list. I can be contacted at rkm4 @ -- just delete the extra spaces.
I have found this discussion interesting as related to stampless covers, where a rough estimate of the magnitude of covers sent can sometimes be gleaned from the PM receipts for the year. However, especially because of certain large hoardes being found, the numbers can be skewed. My very rough estimate of "ordinary" survival is in the range of 1 in 1000 or 1 in 2000 for the pre-1850s time frame.

Posted Apr 11, 09 9:57 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Stampless survival

RF - you may be right. But, here are some numbers for folks to noodle over. For 5-6 years I have saved a snapshot of every Maryland stampless cover I saw on ebay or in purely internet dealer stocks - except Baltimore. I assume that a relatively high percentage of lower value items ($50 and under) eventually will be cycled through ebay as America's "flea market", other than those that are locked up in collections.

Deleting duplication (some items have been turned over 3-4 times), the total number of covers I have scans of is roughly 800. A rough guess of additional items I've seen in auctions in the last 10 years or so that I did not scan is maybe 100-200 (many eventually show up on ebay anyway). From correspondence, heresay, etc., (and from seeing the same 3-4 people buying on ebay), I'm aware of fewer than a dozen "serious" collectors of Maryland stampless who have large numbers locked up, add those who remain anonymous and I'd still guess the number is fewer than 20. That may be a few thousand more (I'd say only a handful have more than 100-200). I'm also familiar with dealer stocks, at least on the east coast. Let's say I'm off by a magnitude of 100 (I seriously think that is high), and we are talking 80,000 covers for a period of roughly 50-60 years (probably another 10,000-20,000 are locked up in institutional collections).

I haven't been as diligent at saving scans of higher value items from auctions, so the % there is probably way off. For instance, I only have scans of 3 or 4 Pleasant Grove covers though I've probably seen around 10 over the years.

Posted Apr 11, 09 11:34 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Maryland Stampless

Of course, Baltimore is another story. There are probably more Baltimore around than all other Maryland towns combined.

Does anyone know how many items were in the Hagerstown Bank find? 20,000? 30,000? They probably represent a sizable % of all Maryland stampless, maybe 8-10%? Rough guess, probably 25% were not Maryland or had stamps, and half the remainder are probably Baltimore.

Posted Apr 17, 09 19:50 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Revenue on package

I have an RB11 on very nice "Dr. H.D. Whitbeck's Cathartic Granules" wrapper around what appears to be an unopened vial of pills - only some slight wear around the edges. I was going to list on ebay but if anyone wants it I'll send it $20 postpaid.


Posted Apr 17, 09 19:50 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


flip side


Posted Apr 22, 09 9:52 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Civil War patriotic

I'm having a hard time imagining that this is a legitimate war-time usage - was there any time period from 1862-64 when the Manassas Va post office would have been operating in the service of the US? The Regiment was near there June 1863 but it was a battlefield, not under permanent Union occupation.


Posted Apr 22, 09 10:05 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Interesting 1879 note re Hawaii postage stamps

Ebay item 220354087656

Posted Apr 22, 09 10:07 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Manassas, VA

RF - thanks, I thought only Alexandria was in regular operation in the north

Posted Apr 28, 09 22:50 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

1850 California cover

Technically, as I understand it, California went directly from being a Mexican territory to a US territory in 1847, essentially under US military control until statehood, and it was never an independent country as Texas was. The "California Republic" was more a state of mind than a reality.

Posted Apr 29, 09 10:14 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


RF - I recognize that California never had a formal territorial government, but the 1847 and 1848 treaties make it clear that it was considered an unincorporated part of the US from day one, not a separate country with any right of self-government or self-determination.

Posted May 2, 09 9:26 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Favorite covers

Hard to pick, but here is one from my local collection that I particularly like, illustrated advertising is hard to find, it was mailed "intra-county" with the county name in the address, and has a nice strike from "Triadelphia" which is now at the bottom of a reservoir (the town actually was moved a mile or so).


Posted May 2, 09 9:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Favorite covers #2

And I know I'm going to catch some flak for this, but here is favorite modern cover. I'm sure there are a few board readers who know why.


Posted May 3, 09 8:24 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Gordon Eubanks - as yours is only one of 2 known first issues with postmark from the county I collect, and I believe the nicer one, I'm envious. Speaking of Stabler's many talents, did you see the contents of PM #783 ?

Posted May 14, 09 9:56 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Modern postcards with special services

Certified and registered are quite rare. Not too long ago I sold a certified postal card for over $600 - of course, it helped to have 2 11c prexies on it.

Posted May 14, 09 11:30 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Modern postcards

Bob H, I kind of wondered what my card would have gone for if instead of an 11c pair (rare enough in and of themselves) it had a solo 22c

Posted May 14, 09 20:49 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

"Solo" usage

Bob H - sorry, "single" as opposed to "solo" usage when on card or stationery.

Posted May 17, 09 22:11 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

2 large-margin IIIa's

(not mine)


Posted May 19, 09 8:28 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Ebay "Most Watched"

Ever since they began blocking bidder IDs it has been hard to judge the competition for certain items - viewing the number of watchers helps bring it back into perspective. I think I may have to move my esnipe bids up a bit higher on 2 items I'm currently watching, as there is more competition than I thought.

Posted May 29, 09 20:16 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Contemporary Usage of 7R1E.........

Ron, even if they weren't demonetized, he'd need 44 of them - I don't think that many unused copies exist...

Posted Jun 9, 09 21:39 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

How quickly the market can change

For several years the market for Maryland postal history has been extremely thin, and I usually faced little competition for all but the most visible items. The Maryland Postal History Society disbanded for lack of interest. Suddenly, several new players appear and the prices on ebay and at auction started going up 2, 5, and 10 times what I previously would have expected, esp. for stampless. This, in turn, has brought out items on ebay not seen in years. I decided I could not compete and sold my collection to one of the new guys. Trying to decide what to do next.

Posted Jun 10, 09 7:00 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

when you should sell your collection

Alan B - that, in effect, was the point of my earlier post, though I suspect my collection was only a fraction of the value of yours. Several items I knew to be unique came onto the market and others bid them up to the point where I could not compete, and ironically those prices brought out more so I either had to open up the wallet or get out. Rather than pay prices that were 2-3 times what I thought they were "really" worth and then be stuck with them for 10 years, I decided to join the selling side while there were multiple buyers out there. I also realized that I was devoting more time and money to a smaller "piece" of my collection and decided to keep a core group of covers and maybe focus on those.

Posted Jun 10, 09 21:03 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Stan - exactly, except for the Civil War patriotics. Several stampless just sold on ebay for $200-300 and I decided that rather than join in the madness I'd sell off my covers (about 300, I think) to someone who could make a real collection out of it. I had a few unique items and might have made a better profit selling them piecemeal, but I did more than OK, even taking into account the items I retained. There were 2 better collections than mine that I didn't expect to come onto the market any time soon.

I still have the patriotics and am considering whether to expand into Maryland generally or the defense of Washington by looking for covers relating to specific forts, batteries, camps, etc.


Posted Jun 10, 09 21:07 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Collections and selling

Nick Kirke - from my limited perspective I'd note 2 things about the kinds of collections to which you refer - first, they were cherry picked to remove the items that could sell individually, and second, they are probably fully representative of 99% of the stamp collections out there - your interest in perfection is close to unique.

Posted Jun 11, 09 10:55 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

In Defense of Madness

Coleman, couldn't agree more - I paid what I thought were outrageous prices for many of the items I had, and considered myself lucky to make a profit on the collection, though in part that was because I had found quite a few other items at real bargains. Main reason for quitting was that you and at least 2 others were buying unique items that presumably would be locked up for a long time, and 2 big collections had other unique items. Had to choose between continuing to spend crazy amounts myself or selling to someone else who was willing to spend crazy amounts. After bidding twice my limit on several items and losing, I decided on the latter approach. You can probably guess where the collection went.

Posted Jun 13, 09 19:48 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Dave S - congratulations, I'm looking at another 20 years.

Ron C - were you going to send me your address? I think I misplaced it.

Posted Jun 14, 09 7:09 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Why do I bother?

I wrote the seller of this 1c franklin type IIIA rare and told him it was a type V with perfs cut off, he responded "thanks for your opinion" and ignored me of course

And I wrote to the seller of this patriotic cover to point out the stamps were added and of course again it is only my opinion so get lost.

I looked at the links below for reporting but there is no option for misidentified or mistaken, and I'm not going to accuse someone of deliberate fraud or forgery.

Posted Jun 30, 09 11:07 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Is part of the problem that we are reaching a point where modern technology is catching up with the ability to detect fakery? If one can duplicate a grill or perforation so precisely it cannot be told from the original, then do grills or original perfs have any relevance any more? Might chemical or laser technology reach the point where postmarks can be removed without leaving a trace?

Also, for those stamps that are identified by color, can anyone trust anymore that the color of a typical 150 year old stamp has any semblance to its original state?

Posted Jul 11, 09 19:31 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Not that I have any stake in this, and I agree with Ken Lawrence, but as a lawyer I would say that Stephen T's quoted language supports Mr. E's contention: "Birch’s new venture was more commonly known as the “Jackass Mail Line” - not "the final 180 miles of Birch's new venture".

Posted Jul 11, 09 22:39 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Stephen T - I don't disagree with you, just that the quote you used doesn't support your position.

Posted Jul 13, 09 19:57 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

ebay fakes

I believe those ebay fakes were originally sold on ebay Germany where the "fake" part was in small print. I almost got fooled by a 65c Zep cover on which I had bid 100 Euros as my German is rusty and it was hidden in fine print. When I saw the selling price was 55 Euros I figured something was wrong and reviewed the listing more carefully, then I told the seller I would not pay for it and took an unpaid item strike. After I complained to ebay it was removed. He had a lot of other items for sale, some went for prices close to the real so others obviously were fooled.

Posted Jul 15, 09 14:07 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Pittsburg or Pittsburgh

The United States Board on Geographic Names changed the name for Federal purposes, including the post office, but in and of itself the decision was not binding on the city or state. I think Pittsburgh simply was large enough that the ongoing local resistance to the change was reversed.

Also, it is obviously quite possible for an official town name and its post office name to be completely different - but when the difference was one of spelling only I think many locales just gave up.

Finally, somewhat related, I find it interesting that a movement is picking up momentum to change the official state name of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations on account of supposed negative connotations of the word "plantation". People joke about Rhode Island not being an island - but originally it was.

Posted Jul 19, 09 20:21 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Speaking of airmail

Sorry, Matt, I bought it for the 50c usage - the perf 11 is not as tough as Scott value would suggest, but it is hard to find on a commercial envelope as opposed to a tag or parcel. That seller has put up some nice airmail uses, keep an eye out for another.

Speaking of outbid, I'm kind of amazed at this one. Maybe EKU or someone found the historical connection important, but not a particularly tough town. Bruce B if you are lurking maybe you can drop me a note? Thanks

Posted Jul 19, 09 20:23 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Maryland stampless

Of course, a handful of determined bidders are making it difficult to figure out values for the new ASCC

Posted Jul 21, 09 20:28 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Try to follow

the Kirke-Biales discussion after a couple of glasses of wine. Kind of surreal.

Posted Jul 24, 09 13:34 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Scanning watermarks

I've never tried to do a watermark, but my scanner is one that has a light above so that you can scan slides and negatives. It is possible that would work

Posted Jul 30, 09 23:09 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Things to do in Pittsburgh

As a Pittsburgh expat I would recommend crossing the river and taking the Duquesne incline up to the top of Mount Washington and having dinner at one of the expensive restaurants at the top, after dark. Voted by USA Today as 2nd most beautiful view in the US.


Posted Jul 30, 09 23:16 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


BTW, I once worked for a couple of years near the top of the rightmost skyscraper in the photo below. 40 stories up was just about eye level with the top of Mount Washington (basically, a cliff to the south, across the river). BTW, for anyone who has never been to the city before, coming in from the airport after dark is a treat.

Posted Aug 2, 09 10:34 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

grading redux

I hate to bring up the controversial question of grading, but does PSE tend to give higher grades to more valuable stamps? How does this one rate 70?


Posted Aug 2, 09 14:27 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Ron C - that explains it, it is now Heritage

Posted Aug 9, 09 20:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Ron C - great exhibit. I find the ephemera fascinating, I have a lot of later stuff (1890s-now).

Unrelated questions - when did the US first embargo mail to Germany in 1917, I know it was before the actual declaration of war.

Posted Aug 10, 09 10:17 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

mail to Germany

Gerald, thanks. I thought someone here said that mail to Germany effectively ended 2 or 3 months earlier? I've not seen any beyond January 1917

Posted Aug 11, 09 8:05 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

St. Louis expo registered

Nomad - just found this in a lot of mostly junk from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. A shame it is not a complete cover.


Posted Aug 13, 09 10:32 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Ron C

you might appreciate this little ebay find - looks like it was mailed at regular rate rather than as a circular


Posted Aug 13, 09 11:03 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Insurance policy

Ron C - that's what I figured - presumably the same with this printed notice where they filled in some blanks by hand:

Posted Aug 13, 09 21:41 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


I spent the first 21 years of my life in or near Pittsburgh, some of my family is still there. My grandmother's house was a few hundred yards from a steel mill belching smoke and flames (and noise) 24 hours a day and I still have a bit of nostalgia for the place. It does have a certain charm and beauty, but there is a very depressing underside. Like a large percentage of my contemporaries who left to go to college, there was not enough to entice us back. It is not DC, or NY, or San Fran or Chicago or Boston. My wife could not imagine being 200 miles from the nearest Nordstom when one is now 5 minutes away.

Posted Aug 13, 09 21:48 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


And now there is even a Polish grocery nearby where I can finally buy real pierogies, so there is nothing much left to return to except Kennywood Park. (BTW, those of us from Pittsburgh think of drinking Rolling Rock as slumming.)

Posted Aug 13, 09 22:39 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Greg Shoults

Like this?


Posted Aug 13, 09 23:22 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


email me, it may take me a day or two to figure out where it is... rkm @

Posted Aug 19, 09 19:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

3c 1851 identification

I can identify 1c 1851s fairly well, but never quite figured out the 3c. Does this (dated early Feb 1852):


Posted Aug 19, 09 19:36 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

3c 1851 part II

look to be the same as this?


Posted Aug 24, 09 19:35 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


Ken L - do you know if the imperf 368V was used in Philadelphia? I've got one that looks fairly good - parallel sides and same width as a known 383V.


Posted Aug 29, 09 21:34 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Robert L - nothing out of the ordinary about it - US stamps were used in Hawaii

Snagged this one today on ebay, does anyone know the EKU for the USAV?

Posted Sep 1, 09 11:21 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


I am handy with tools (except plumbing) and used to spend a lot of time working on my house - less now that my kids are older. My wife scrapbooks, among other things, so it is my responsibility to take pictures - I end up with several thousand a year. So, I guess my other hobby is photography, though I don't consider myself very good at it.

Posted Sep 3, 09 20:42 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

Medium to low value items

Who are these retail dealers? Where are they? I manage to get to 2 or 3 shows per year, tops. Even then, most of what I see is the same as I saw the last 3 or 4 times. Mr. Perlman, you may be quite right about the higher cost items, but if you only have, say $3000 per year to spend, it would be awfully boring to buy 3 $1000 items.

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