I received a 10 page handwritten want list from a gentleman. His handwriting is poor. Much of it is hard to follow.

He is looking for used copies of some early US stamps. It is mostly the high priced material that everyone else needs. What is unusual about his want list is that he wrote down his buy prices. I was shocked.

He is looking for F-VF sound copies. His buy prices are around 10-15% of catalog value. For example, one stamp catalogs $1200 in VF condition. His buy price is $200. The rest of the list is at similar pricing levels.

The retail value of that $1200 stamp in F-VF condition is going to be at least $500 and more likely in the $800 price range. My cost is definitely going to be higher than his buy price.

I think he took a percentage of catalog value for each item on his list and that is his buy price. In my opinion, he is looking for a fantastic bargain that may come around once every century.

He also wants used blocks of four and for some reason unknown to me; he also wants used blocks of six of modern stamps. If it is a horizontal format stamp, it had to be a horizontal block of six (two stamps high, three stamps wide). If it is a vertical oriented stamp, the block of six also has to be a vertical configuration (3 stamps high and 2 stamps wide). Many of the blocks of four and six he is looking for are commemorative issues from the 1940s to date.

Hold on, there is more to come …

This gentleman also requests that before sending any items, I have to make a photocopy of the front and back of the item and note the price. I assume my price has to be at or below his buy price.

Given his buy prices for the early material, I do not picture him paying more than a few cents for any used blocks of four or six from his list.

Consider the work involved here. I am going to spend a half hour or more to photocopy, say, 50 blocks of stamps, front and back. It will cost me $5 in postage to send all of those photocopies to him. Maybe he won’t like the cancels or format of some of the items. I have several hours of work in finding the blocks of stamps, photocopying them, and paying postage to mail them to him. He will select $3 of material because some items will not be acceptable for one reason or another.

There is no profit in this for me. His buy prices are well below what I am going to have to pay for that early material. The used blocks of four and six require so much work making photocopies for the few pennies I make in the end. Thanks, but no thanks.

Because of my professionalism, I sent him a courteous reply stating that I cannot possibly meet his buy prices on the early material and I have no blocks of four or six stamps in my stock. It took a minute of my time and the cost of a first class letter.

His photocopied want list surely went to dozens of other dealers as well. A thirty second read of his request will lead others to the same conclusion – unrealistic buy prices with a lot of effort involved. Other dealers will quickly file this want list in the garbage can.

And that is how a tree in Montana needlessly lost its life to become pages of a want list that will go straight to the trash in every instance.