A man called me about a rare stamp that he had. It was a rare error on a Franklin stamp (I could not get him to tell me which one). He said it was worth $80,000 and was looking to sell it. He called to see if I was interested.
I tried for more information. Did it have a certificate of authenticity? Where did this $80,000 figure come from? What was the catalog number? Every question I asked just made him more annoyed at me. He barely stopped talking and let me get a word in edgewise. He wanted to know if I even owned one of these stamps. That is hard for me to answer when I do not even know what you have.
For the record, no, I do not have any $80,000 stamps in my collection.
The phone call had a very condescending tone to it. Everything he said was abrupt. Sometimes it felt like he was barking orders. I felt like his line of questioning was to make him appear competent and make me appear like the imbecile.
He said that he would probably be better off taking this to one of the auction firms in New York where he could get more money for it. I wished him luck in his pursuit.
I am sure he thought I was an idiot. My years of collecting and dealing in stamps mean nothing. I should accept the “professional” opinion of any stranger who calls me on the phone about their rare stamp. Who am I to question these people? Just fork over the $80,000 and he will be on his way and I will have this rare stamp to sell.
My guess is that he has one of the blue 1851 Franklin stamps (Scott #7 and others). He went online to a major auction house and saw another blue Franklin sell for $80,000. Of course, he has the $80,000 copy too. There is no need to consult a Scott catalog or any other source of information. He has THE stamp. I should jump at the chance to own this rare stamp of his.
Thankfully, the conversation did not take up too much of my time. I learned a long time ago that when someone is convinced that they have the million dollar stamp, no amount of fact is going to sway their opinion. The best thing to do in these cases is to end the conversation quickly and professionally. Let them move on to the next dealer and try to soak $80,000 out of them.
If only it was possible to be a fly on the wall in these people’s lives. I would love to know how many dealers they approach with their rare stamp, only to be turned away every time. No one is taking the bait. They hold on to that stamp for many years before death interrupts their journey to financial freedom. Some heir finds the stamp and sells it for $50, it’s true value, because it is the common variety and not the $80,000 copy.