There are a number of options
the collector has in both buying and selling covers, more than
ever with the advent of the Internet:
BUYING: In the vast
majority of situations, you're going to receive exactly what
you thought you bought, but you should always be guided by the
adage "Let the buyer beware." Unlike some collectible
hobbies, there is little problem here with fakes. What you need
to watch for are:
- Used and damaged covers
being passed to you when you were expecting the opposite.
- Flats - These are salesmen's
samples; they have not been creased and stapled and are
not considered collectible.
- Lots of duplicates when
you expected basically one of each.
Aside from individual collectors
and non-collectors, flea markets, yard sales, and paper shows,
auctions offer the largest and biggest variety of covers being
offered. Ebay on the internet has rapidly become the glitziest
and most talked about auction, but my own advice is to stay within
the hobby auctions. On ebay, although there are lots of collectors
selling there, there are also lots of non-collectors hoping to
make a killing on the junk they just found in Aunt Edna's shoe
closet. Many have no idea of what they're selling and have no
idea of the standards that collectors expect. Also, the competition
is often steep. If you're not looking for true rarities, use
the hobby's auctions and known collectors. You'll be more than
hobby offers a wide and steady array of 'sanctioned' auctions--club
bulletin auctions, convention and swapfest auctions, and hobby
auctions on the internet. You can check my own auction out as an example of the latter.
Prices are not set in
this hobby. What sells
for $10 today can just as easily sell for $5 tomorrow and have
no takers at all the day after that.. It always depends on who
happens to be interested at the time. A price guide was published
by Bill Retskin in the 1980s, but the prices were heavily inflated,
and no one in the hobby pays attention to it. There are some
general guidelines that you may find, but they're just that...general
guidelines. Current ball park figures just to give you
- Average, run-of-the-mill
covers (and this is the vast majority of material) go for .04
-.10 cents per cover, unless purchased in large, bulk lots, in
which case you can expect anywhere from .02-.04 cents.
- Prices will be higher,
of course, for the more sought-after types. To get an idea of
which types these are, look at the Treasure page.
- If you're serious about
collecting, your best bet, by far, is to get into the hobby--join
clubs, make contacts, go to meetings, swapfests,
and conventions, if possible, and trade. I've always found that
most covers I want eventually come to me through steady trading
by mail with other collectors. And, in the process, you become
much more knowledgeable about your hobby.
- DONATING: Before
we go on to SELLING, please read the Treasure page to see why you're not going to become independently
wealthy by selling the covers you have. In most cases of people
trying to sell their covers, the few dollars they may get simply
doesn't justify the time and effort in trying to sell them. In
that case, please consider simply donating them to either a local
collector or a collector who will reimburse you postage, such
as myself (as long as the covers are unused
and unstruck). They'll have a good home, and they'll be appreciated
and taken care of...and, when that collector passes on, they'll
go to another good home...because they stay within the hobby.
SELLING: Basically, you reverse the approaches outlined above.
Always be specific about the numbers, conditions, and age of
the material you are selling. Buyers will also want to know which
types you have. It's not necessary to do a cover-by-cover
Also remember, that your
covers need to be undamaged and unstruck, unless we're talking
about rarities; they don't need to have the matches in them.
Examples of unacceptable conditions include:
- - Strikers have been cut
- - Covers have been holed
(usually from tacks)
- - Covers have been glued
- - Covers have been written
- - Covers are "flats"
(salesman's samples; they've never held matches, never been in
- Most US collectors generally
do not want Canadian or other Foreign covers, and very few are
interested in labels.
Be aware that sellers'
expectations are almost always far too high. "But they're
from businesses that don't exist anymore!" Doesn't mean
anything. At least 90% of businesses on covers don't exist anymore.
"But they're so old!" "Old" in this hobby
means pre-World War II, and even most of those covers are considered
Your selling options include:
- Ebay, but I'd prefer to see you sell within
the hobby. Ebay is time consuming, and they're going to take
a healthy slice of whatever you sell your material for.
- Directly contacting
a collector who buys collections and accumulations in their entirety:
- -Chester Crill, 1533 E. Woodbury Rd., Pasadena,
CA 91104 (626-794- 0094)
- -Bitter, Dan, 1800 W. Yosemite Pl., Edmond, OK 73003-2129 (405-340-3815)
- -Loren Moore, POB 1181, Roseville, CA 95678
- -Greg Lund, 7000 Rainswood Ct., Bethesda, MD 20817-2231 (301-469-7125
Barry, 37829 Pochantas
Dr., Clinton Twnshp, MI 48036-4207 (586-468 3641)
- -Ted OKroneg, P.O. Box 65, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia,
B4V2W6, Canada. (902- 543 -1050)
- -Ron Davis, 3722 Devonshire Drive, Surrey, B.C. Canada V3S0H8
- -Ed Brassard, 1540 Forest Way, Del Mar, CA 92014 858-755-2311
- Consigning your covers
to a club to have
them auctioned off piecemeal in lots, normally through their
bulletin auctions. In the opinion of many, Sierra-Diablo Matchcover
Club has the best
bulletin auction, but several of the other clubs
have similar outlets. Any such club will charge a percentage
of the sale price, but you get higher prices than the above options
(other than perhaps ebay) and the club does all the work. The
downside is that it takes time; usually, what you have is broken
down into individual lots and sold piecemeal through the club's
bulletin auction...and that bulletin, depending on the club,
may go out every month, every other month, or even quarterly.
Of course, the club may offer to simply buy your covers outright.
- Contacting local collectors
in your area to see
if they might be interested in what you have. This is the easiest,
quickest way. Send me an e-mail giving me the nearest large city to you, and I'll see what
local collectors may be available in your area.