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Confused about precancels  
 

 
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Valued Member

United States
16 Posts
Posted 11/14/2016   8:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Twslisa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Message
My grandpas stamps include a lot of types that are further divided by whether there is a regular cancellation or a precancel. I've tried reading up on these but I still really don't get it. Here are my questions:

1) When someone says they collect precancels, exactly what are they collecting? Are they trying to get an example of all the different precancels, even if the stamps themselves are duplicated, or trying to get all the different kinds of stamps with a specific precancel?

2) Say I have two stamps that are the same design and year, in the same condition, and one was cancelled in the usual way while the other was precancelled. Does the precanceled stamp have a higher value, or does it depend whether the precancel itself is rare? How would I find out whether there is a difference?

Forgive my ignorance. I am really just trying to see what kind of tsuris I have ahead of me as I try to value the stamps (right now I'm just trying to organize them).
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United States
3926 Posts
Posted 11/14/2016   9:04 pm  Show Profile Check Petert4522's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Petert4522 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lisa, neither one of your questions are easy to answer.
The first question you answered already. There are collectors who collect these by state, by city, etc. They can also collect them by stamp - just collect one stamp and find all the precancels. There are numerous possibilities.
For a regular collector a precancel is worth less than the same stamp cancelled. To a precancel collector some of his stamps can be very scarce ( read expensive ).
There is a precancel society here in the States, and they could help you if you are interested. Go to http://precancels.com . Hope this helped just a little.

Peter
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Posted 11/14/2016   9:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ikeyPikey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Twslisa, Greetings:

You've got the basics worked-out.

Yes, there is a spectrum of value, and rarity/availability is, as always, a factor.

Yes, people collect the usual subsets: by issue, by city, on/off cover, etc.

One surprise that is waiting for you is that US collectors can include/exclude precancels that were overprinted centrally (by the US Bureau of Engraving & Printing) or were overprinted locally.

As with other overprints & cancellations, forgeries abound.

If you get the bug, know that:

- postage stamps were precanceled in other countries, too (eg UK),

- US postal stationery was precanceled, and

- US parcel post stamps were precanceled.

Go get 'em!

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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Posted 11/14/2016   10:20 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add chasa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
All good answers. If you post pictures here we can comment on scarcity/value.
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United States
16 Posts
Posted 11/15/2016   04:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Twslisa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I doubt there'll be any rare precancels here. It looks like mostly major cities, primarily Denver, though I've seen a few from places like NY, Toledo, Portland and Worcester.

Right now I'm just trying to organize, putting each type of stamp in its own glassine envelope (that's assuming I can identify the type, which is a maddening exercise in itself). Maybe once I get that project accomplished, I will further separate out the precanceled stamps, tho I very much fear that if I tried to do that by type of stamp and city, it could become quite a project.
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United States
124 Posts
Posted 12/25/2016   6:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Stampman2002 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Precancels can be very daunting, just because of the sheer number of them. A complete collection of all U.S. precancels, on every stamp type they were used on, would like number 1.5-2.0 million stamps, and that is considered conservative by some.

This of course, includes ALL types of precancels, from the silent precancels of the 19th century and the early precancels to the Bureau precancels and all non-bureau precancels.

Don't discount the possibility of a rare precancel showing up in your grandfather's collection. I bought a book of precancels at our local club auction which yielded one stamp in the $200.00 range and several in the $10-$50.00 range. A LOT of collectors don't have an interest in precancels and since they have no interest, don't take the time - and it does take time - to find out what they have. The collector who sold the collection to me was quite surprised when I thanked him for such a wonderful collection.

As someone stated earlier, posting images of the stamps with precancels might help you out a bit, when you get to the point you want to explore it.

Good luck with your collection!
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Posted 12/29/2016   10:38 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dkabq8 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If you are going to delve into US precancels collecting, I highly recommend the PSS Computer Program for MS Windows. It is a database which contains the content of the PSS T&T and PSS Bureau catalogs.
http://www.precancels.com/software/

If you are old school, you can get a printed verion of the PSS Bureau catalog; however they are currently sold out of the PSS T&T catalog.
http://www.precancels.com/publications/

Good luck!
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