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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Dealers and Experts

A client, new to the hobby, once queried my identification of some material I had sent him. I laughed, since the material was in one of the two or three areas where I count myself a specialist - and pretty straightforward material, too. I have no idea what books or comparison material he had in his hand when looking at my approvals.

But how are people supposed to know that I have specialist knowledge for two or three areas - Transcaucasia and Ukraine being the ones I would be confident to claim.

I belong to specialist societies; I occasionally contribute articles to their journals; I am on a List at the Royal Philatelic Society in London which means that I occasionally get asked to give my Opinion on an item submitted to it for just such an Opinion. I co-operate and discuss with knowledgeable clients: I ask their opinion and they ask mine. I have clients who will not buy from another source without running the item they want past me. In all of this, money doesn't change hands. It is all done in a spirit of philatelic co-operation.

Perhaps just as important, I hold stocks for Transcaucasia and Ukraine which are almost certainly the largest dealer stocks in Europe and which have been "sourced" (as your restaurant would say) from major collections, including the collections of those who have written the Handbooks we have to rely on ( Tchilingirian, Voikhansky, Seichter to name just three). It's a Gourmet stock and a lot of it isn't cheap. If I routinely got my identifications wrong, I would have no client base.

Dealers are self-appointed. So are most of the experts selling Certificates, some of them worthless.

Some years ago I bought in an Italian auction an Imperial Russian 3r50 without thunderbolts backed with one of those fancy Italian certificates. When I looked at it, the cancellation reminded me of something ....ah, yes, it was one of the standard Fournier forgery cancellations applied to a Fournier forgery stamp. I didn't ask for my money back; I just learnt a lesson about Italian certificates.

In contrast, there are the Certificates provided by members of the German BPP [Bund Philatelistischen Prüfer], who are recognised by that organisation precisely for their expertise and who issue their Certificates in a carefully prescribed and standardised manner. Hoorah! In general, BPP signatures can be relied on. The worst one can say is that some BPP experts do not actually have collections extensive enough to fully discharge their role.

1 comment:

  1. aaargh! Those certificates drive me crazy. Even the BPP isn't innocent: until very recently one of their Russia "experts" would sign the most appalling forgeries. He is now no longer listed as a Russia expert, I believe, but the aftermath of his work is that their are lots of certificates with his signature lending credence to fakes...

    Ivo Steijn