Stamp Collecting for Dummies — Errata

By John Jamieson

When I first heard that the philatelic world had been “recognized” as worthy of being included in the extremely successful “FOR DUMMIES” series I was excited. This would be an exceptionally welcome boost to the hobby. I immediately bought a copy at the first “main stream” bookstore where I could find one. One of the first things I glanced over was the glossary and immediately found a term I had never run across before. After quickly reading various sections of the book — just to make sure I felt it was a book worth handling — I ordered 100 for our literature inventory. I knew that most of our regular clients would not benefit greatly from the book, as they already know most of what they need to enjoy their hobby BUT I was certain many would be pleased to buy a copy — take a glance at it, just in case there was something there for them — and then pass it on to someone they knew who was teetering on the verge of being interested. Perhaps their son, daughter or grandchild would be encouraged to begin a collection by a really good “how-to” book.

Well I have to apologize for not taking enough time to “study” the pictures.

The first copy I had went to a long-time collector in Edmonton — a fellow who has been actively involved in encouraging collectors for, I'm sure, far longer than he would like to admit. He has even run “how-to-collect-stamps” seminars in Edmonton. I felt his review and opinion on the book would be most valuable.

The response I got from him a few days later was most discouraging!

He called me a few days later stating that the editing was “terrible”, immediately pointing out a dozen photos that were rather blatantly WRONG!

Well I set to reading the whole book, word for word, and cover to cover. As well, I sent him back to read all the small print. The result is this Errata which is intended to help the readers get over the confusion that would be caused to a novice and make sure that the readers get off to a good start with our hobby. There is a tremendous amount of excellent ideas, useful tips and valuable direction throughout the book. The main problem is a few of the photo paste-ups, which were obviously done by someone who was NOT even a novice stamp collector, and were, unfortunately, NOT reviewed by the author before it went to print. Dick Sine certainly knows his stuff and would never have let this slip by.

Enough of that — let's begin:

Page 20 — Figure 2-1

The stamp shown is NOT an airmail stamp. This replacement photo shows two real airmail stamps. One is particularly important to collectors. Know why? REPLACE with THIS PHOTO:

Page 21 — Figure 2-5

Just delete the words “postage due” after “Special Delivery” in the photo description. This is indeed a Special Delivery stamp, used, in addition to regular postage, to pay for prompt individual delivery of a letter to the addressee. Scott US specialized catalogue states: “A Special Delivery stamp, when affixed to any stamped letter or article of mailable matter, secures later delivery during daytime and evening at most post offices, so that the item will not have to wait until the next day for delivery.”

Page 32 — Figure 3-2

The lower photo reading “Privater Nachdruck” is NOT the Watermark on this stamp but is a private backstamp. The watermark on this stamp, the German 2 Mark “Graf Zeppelin” issue of April 19, 1930 (listed in the Scott catalogue as #C38) shows the watermark below when viewed from the back of the stamp against a strong light or on a dark background. The photo of the front of the stamp is fine.


Page 47 — Figure 3-10

Pretty close, but this has nothing to do with gardening. The inscription on the bottle should read “Watermark Fluid”.

Page 70 — Figure 5-1

The inscription on this photo implies that is supposed to show some idea of what “light” and “heavy” cancels look like. All of the 5 stamps shown have lovely light corner cancels that any collector would be very happy to have in their collection. But, alas, one of the jobs of any postal worker is to cancel these little labels we call stamps very clearly — to make sure no one can reuse them on another letter. Below are a few cancels that make stamp collectors simply sick. What a shame the postal worker did such a “good” job of canceling these stamps. He certainly made sure there was no chance anyone would use these over again.

ADD with THIS PHOTO just to show what normal to “ugly” cancels look like:

Page 71

Under “Gumming up your goods” the terminology for “No gum” might have been affected by the “with-or-without” gremlin. While the term “no gum” is accurate for describing stamps originally issued without gum, many philatelists (advanced stamp collectors) prefer to refer to these stamps as “Ungummed” to indicate that there never was any gum applied, “No gum” being reserved for a stamp that was originally issued with gum but has lost it's gum along the way. Perhaps it was stuck in an album and someone had to soak it off to salvage it thus losing the gum. Two slightly different terms that can be muddled up or confuse a novice. Certainly “No gum” means there is now no gum.

Page 81

At the very end of the 2nd line of the 4th paragraph the “or” should be “of” to make the sentence read “That is the basis for media ads for stamps at ‘50 percent of Scott’ or sometimes even less”. OK that one was a little picky.

Page 85

In the last of the 5 points just above the final paragraph on the page someone was is too big a rush and missed the word “to” before the word “consider”. OK this one is picky too, but I don't want you folks to pick on my errata (which will undoubtedly miss something) too much.

SERIOUSLY — If you do discover other errors in the book that I have “still” missed please write or email me to straighten out my straightening out.

Page 169 — Figure 11-4

Now flip way over to page #169 (that's 84 pages that are perfect — or I did not read very carefully). But either this photo is a pretty major boo-boo or the caption writer added “the first” by mistake. While this is definitely a “U.S. airmail stamp” it is definitely not the first. So either take your pen and scratch out “the first” OR, ADD THIS PHOTO showing the United States' first airmails.

Page 170 — Figure 11-5

The item shown in this figure is not a parcel post stamp but is a pair of the “non-denominated” coil stamps (Scott #1947, issued October 11, 1981) valid for paying postage on domestic letters. These were prepared when the government was anticipating a rate increase but where the final rate had not yet been approved. This way the stamps were ready and waiting but the “C” could be instantly designated 19¢ or 20¢, the two rates that were being considered at this particular time. As it turned out the rates jumped from the previous level of 18¢ to 20¢ later in October of 1981. Interestingly, the Christmas stamps for 1981 did not have values printed on them but “became” 20¢ stamps when they went on sale.

ADD The following PHOTO showing a United States' Parcel Post stamp.

Page 210 — Figure 14-1

The album page shown has a preprinted frame on an otherwise “blank” album page. Preprinted album pages, with spaces for the stamps, look more like the following photo. Most such albums only have black-and-white photos of the stamps, but some high-end albums show the stamp photos in colour, beautiful, but expensive. (But then you really don't have to buy the stamps to make your album look great!)

Page 212 — Figure 14-3

This photo is definitely not a stamp hinge. It is a pair of an early issue from Afghanistan from the 1870's.

ADD The following PHOTO showing a stamp hinge and how to use it.

Page 213 — Figure 14-4

The photo is definitely not of a stamp mount. Looks like a portion of a glassine envelope.

ADD The following PHOTO showing the two major types of stamp mounts.

Page 230 — Figure 15-4

The unusual stamps shown in this illustration are definitely not reprints from Buenos Aires. They are Austrian Newspaper stamps issued in 1851 (Scott P1/P4). The common “reprints” of Buenos Aires look like this:

Page 233

Last paragraph Where the author is discussing certificates of authenticity it is implied that Figure 15-5 shows one of these certificates. What appears in this figure is a listing of expert services that you can find at the “” web site. Shown below are a couple of samples of what the leading expert certificates look like:

Back to Top
Back to Top