Tips On Trading--
Some Resolutions For Collectors
by "Billboard Bill" Thomas
Happy 1996! It's New Years' resolution time for new collectors and used ones,
too. You new collectors are actually purer than many old-timers, because you come to us
with no bad habits. But heed these resolutions so that you can more quickly graduate from
New Collector to Used Collector...
Don't send used, bobtailed or national covers to anyone unless you have arranged
to do so in advance. A few collectors accept them, but not many.
Weigh your trading mail carefully so there is no postage due on it. If it's just
a tad over 1 oz., add some more covers or subtract some.
Send covers that your trader collects! Boy, it's yechhy to receive a batch of Ma
& Pa Motel or diner covers when your trader KNOWS that you don't collect 'em. If you
can't send what they collect, say so and tell 'em you'll try to do better next time.
Don't just drop a trader. If you want to quit trading, at least have the
kindness to tell them so, and tell them why. Some folks are sensitive & will go jump
off a pier if you just abandon them, so be considerate.
Don't expect miracles. A trader does NOT know what you have, so trading is a
shotgun thing--you send 20 or so covers, and you hope that at least some of them are new
to your trader. So try to include at least a few rare covers, like, if you're sending
casinos, send along at least one exotic foreign one or a real oldie. You might receive a
real happy "thanks!"
Trade in fair quantities. Very few of us actually count the covers and trade one
for one, but most of us try not to be chintzy. If I get a 1 oz. letter of covers, or a
dozen or so covers, I try to return like quantity; if the trade is 2 oz., I try to make my
trade that way, too. Sometimes I fail.
Enclose at least one cover (or box) any time you write to a collector, even if
you're not trading; it's a courtesy and sort of Society handshake. If you write to a
non-trader for a cover you want, enclose a few covers and a SASE so that he's not burdened
with paying that postage for your wants.
Think about getting a fax machine--it's a worthwhile investment. It enables you
to swap info about covers, it gets your info there instantly AND it often costs less than
a letter--costs me 27 cents to fax a full page from FL to CA. My machine is a Brother 660,
which has a photo quality resolution of 32 shades of grey, phone memory, delayed
transmission, AND it's also a copier! They don't tell you the handset cord is special-only
their cord will work.
Join several clubs-a local one, if there is one, so you can attend meetings, and
several remote ones for their bulletins & membership lists. You can learn a lot about
what's new in covers, who's selling or buying what, and some good historical info about
matches & hobby-related things. All clubs have good bulletins; some of the good ones
are Long Beach MC, Sierra-Diablo MC, and (ahem) my own Denver Strikers.
Get to an RMS convention or a local swapfest if you possibly can, as you can
learn so much more by direct contact. If you're out west, go to AMCAL in May; if you're
eastern, go to United Eastern Swapfest in June. You need not stay for the whole period,
but go nearer to the end if you can manage it. More & more local clubs are having
3-day long weekend swapfests with displays, auctions & most all the features of the
This article was originally published in the RMS Bulletin,
January/February 1996, issue #458.