Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Queen Victoria Listings Come to A Close, Sales Pass $6,500 and Organizing Queen Elizabeth II Definitive Material - E-Bay is a Numbers Game

After a full Thanksgiving holiday off and a day spent organizing the next group of material to be listed, I am ready to finish listing the Queen Victoria material for Canada. My aim is to be finished with this material by early next week, or the end of this week. Then I have to break for a few days to do some bookkeeping for a former client of mine and finish examining a large collection that I am going to be making an offer on.

Queen Victoria is listed up to the 1898 Newfoundland Royal Family Issue. That is the last issue of Newfoundland to fall in that period and then the only material left for Queen Victoria are the Revenue stamps. Revenues are stamps that were not issued for postage but for various customs and excise taxes. In the days before we all paid income taxes, the government raised its money from excise taxes, electrical and gas inspection fees and customs duties. I wanted to share one particular set with you that I just listed last week. That set is the 1897 John Cabot Issue of Newfoundland. This set is quite possibly the most beautiful set of stamps ever produced during the classic period:

      Queen Victoria                                 John Cabot

              Cape Bonavista                                Caribou Hunting

                       Mining                                          Logging

                    Fishing                                The "Matthew"  Cabot's ship  

             Ptarmigan                                       Seal colony

                 Salmon fishing                           Seal of the Colony

                      Iceberg                                     King Henry VII

John Cabot was the explorer who discovered Newfoundland. This set was issued on June 24, 1897 to commemorate the discovery. A pristine mint set retails for just over $400, which is a mere pittance compared to what other long commemorative sets from this period typically sell for. 

As I write this, my cumulative sales total just over $6.500 since July 23. As it is now October 14, that is over 82 days. So I'm averaging just under $80 a day.I'm still nowhere near the sales level that I need to be at to survive. However, my sales are growing as I list more material. E-bay is essentially a numbers game: the more items you have listed, the more you will sell.One of the reasons for this is that their internal search engine algorithm favours sellers who list more material and list more frequently. 

With this in mind, and looking at what has been selling, it was time to decide what to list next after Queen Victoria is done. Initially, I thought of just going in sequence and listing Edward VII and George V. However, Steph noticed that the stamps that are selling best are those in the $1-5 price range. She suggested that I should focus on the less expensive stamps.So I thought that maybe the next best area to focus on are the definitive issues of Queen Elizabeth II. Definitives are simply the regular issue stamps that are usually in use for a period of several years before being replaced. They usually cover the full range of face values from 1c up to $1, $5 or now $10. There have been no fewer than 11 of these sets issued during her reign, and some of them are very complex. 

So yesterday I started on the task of sorting all the definitive material that I have on hand. It turns out that I have a lot more of this material than I thought:

Each of the boxes that you see there (8 red boxes) holds 1,000 stamp cards, each of which usually holds up to 20 stamps each. By my guess, there are probably in the neighbourhood 80,000-100,000 mint stamps here. So I expect that this will keep me busy through to Christmas and possibly the New Year. It should give me several thousand different listings, which will now have the added advantage of quantity: I can expend the labour of 8 minutes (my average) to prepare and post the listing just once and then allow the listing to generate sales multiple times.

This is one aspect of the stamp business that is completely new and has arisen because of the automation that the internet and E-bay allows. It used to be that dealers would consider any inventory quantity over 5 or 10 sets to be overstock and would not buy after they had that much in stock. But now it makes sense to have as much as possible in stock up to a reasonable limit of say 1,000 sets. The reason is because my biggest cost is labour. E-bay only charges me 5 cents a month for a listing. So if I list 500 of an item at 5c per month carrying cost and it took me 8 minutes to prepare the listing, there are 500 opportunities to make a sale at no additional labour cost. If I list a single stamp, once I've sold it the labour that I expended to prepare the listing is gone, as are all future opportunites to make money from it. If I list in quantity like this over a very large number of listings and promote the listings using social media, the chances are very good that I will sell frequently without having to incur additional listing costs. 

The pictures below show some of the sorts that I was working on yesterday:

This was the 1954-1962 Wilding Portrait Issue. Behind me were hundreds of lotting cards with the 1c, 2c and 3c values sorted. The remaining values on the table were the 4c and  above. 

This was the 1962-1967 Cameo Portrait Issue. I hated this issue as a child, but over time, I have come to appreciate the simplicity and retro "Madmen" like feel of it. 

Steph is in charge of dinner this week, so I won't have any new recipes to share until I resume cooking next week. I have a whole new roster of meals lined up for that week, so I should have at least a few good ones to share. 

No comments:

Post a Comment