This analogy popped into my head the other day. It makes perfect sense to me.

To all of the collectors who are buying on eBay and thinking that they are getting a bargain, think of it this way. Suppose your doctor prescribed a heart medication for you. Itís not cheap. But you can go to eBay and find several anonymous sellers offering the same little green pills that look like what your doctor prescribed, but at a fraction of the price. Would you buy your heart medication from someone who may not even have a medical background?

Most people would answer ďno.Ē They are not going to risk their health buying unknown pills from a seller they have never met who lives in Kalamazoo, MI. If that is the case, then why would you buy more valuable stamps from someone you have never met before? If you are not willing to take that risk with your health, why are you willing to accept that financial risk with those stamps?

Yes, there are bargains that can be found on eBay. In my opinion, those bargains are very uncommon. For every bargain that is found though, there are many, many other items that are not bargains at all.

There are legitimate sellers on eBay. Some APS and ASDA dealer members sell on eBay. But there are a lot of people on there who bought or inherited a collection and they are trying to turn it into cash. They donít know how to measure perforations, let alone detect watermarks or distinguish flat plate from rotary printing press copies.

If you are going to buy from anonymous sources at bargain prices, you had better know what you are doing. Just because they claim a stamp is a rare coil with a single line watermark, you need to verify that. Do not put the stamp in your album assuming all is well. Otherwise, you risk being sadly disappointed when a dealer with philatelic knowledge goes through your collection picking out all of the spurious and questionable items. That $1000 stamp that you bought for $110 is now worth next to nothing because itís a fake. Instead of saving $890, you threw away $110.

You can buy fake or altered stamps from an APS or ASDA dealer too. It happens, even to the best and most knowledgeable of dealers. We are all human. Mistakes happen. However, the chances of getting a bad item from a recognized stamp dealer are much less than getting a bad item from someone that you do not know. If you find that you bought a bad item from a dealer, they are probably going to take the item back and give you a refund.