I buy some material on eBay Ė mainly discount postage and inexpensive post-1930 issues to plug holes in my stock. I buy a few earlier and more expensive items, but only from a very select set of five sellers whom I trust.

I made occasional test purchases of moderately priced early US material with other unknown sellers. In my own experience, the majority of this material is misidentified, misrepresented, or outright fakes. Many sellers are unknowledgeable. In a few cases, I believe the sellers are outright crooks preying on unsuspecting collectors. I almost always send the material back from my test purchases because itís not as described. I donít buy from unknown sellers any more. Itís a waste of time.

There are unknowledgeable collectors out there who fall prey to this kind of material. Unfortunately, they donít know any better. Whatís going to happen years from now when these collections come on the market? A few such collections are coming on the market now due to the global recession and peopleís need for cash. It could be trouble or it could be an opportunity for you.

When these people decide to dispose of their collections, they are going to be shocked to find that much of their material has the wrong catalog number, itís damaged, regummed, reperforated, repaired, or a fake. The seller is going to be long gone with their money. Then what?

There will be trouble. A few will give the hobby a black eye with rants about crooked dealers trying to steal their collections for pennies on the dollar. The truth is, they grossly overpaid for the junk they bought. Others may throw in the towel and sell their collections for what they can get. Take their losses and run.

For the collector who isnít condition conscious, it may be a golden opportunity to pick up collections at a bargain price.

Whether it is stamps, coins, artwork, antiques, etc, there will always be fools who donít do their homework. They will get taken and lose money. I hope youíre doing your homework and building a strong collection from reliable sources.