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Apfelbaum? Newbie needs advice...  
 

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Valued Member
Canada
14 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   4:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add cshahar to your friends list  Get a Link to this Message
Hi. I am new to this hobby. I have recently bought several lots at Apfelbaum's, mostly on their "buy it now", usually with a discount involved. The average price has been $700-$800 per lot for collections and about $125 per individual stamps (mostly 19th century US for latter).

The reason I am posting this is that I have heard some really negative remarks about Apfelbaum on this site. It is true that I found some lots over-priced, and sometimes they lend themselves to hyperbole, but just how wary should I be about them specifically??

Thanks,

-Charles
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Valued Member
United States
155 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   4:30 pm  Show Profile Check adcaplan's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add adcaplan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have been happy with the collections I have bought from them in the past. One thing to watch out for is the same lots appear week after week in their sales, and the price changes can be dramatic. I would expect prices to decrease over time, but there are times that they double week to week, for no apparent reason. I have also seen some lots that are listed as sold when they have a big sale on (33 or 25% off), then will re-appear again in the next sale. Even with that, I have had a lot of success buying collections (Israel) from them, taking the items I need for my collection, then breaking down the remainders and re-selling on e-bay (last 3 times I did this, I more than doubled my money, and added some interesting items to my collection). I haven't bought any single stamps from them, so no idea about those.
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890 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   5:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Personally, I would be wary of them.

Jack Kelley
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Canada
257 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   5:57 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dutchman1948 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would not touch them with a ten foot pole. Misdescribing lots to make them appear better is one of their issues.
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Posted 01/03/2017   6:14 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
They make me nervous.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1941 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   8:19 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add chasa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Advice: ask questions before you contract to buy things + before spending a hundred dollars on a stamp have a hundred dollars worth of education/expertise.
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Valued Member
United States
259 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   9:12 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tvorog to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Some years ago (before they were indicted in auction shilling scandal) I've bought from Apfelbaum two classic French stamps: 1 franc carmine Napoleon and 15 centime green Ceres from the first 1849 issue. Both stamps looked great — four margins, etc. — on scans.

Under closer examination, Napoleon had a pinhole visible against the light (not described), and 15c Ceres has been expertly shaved as to hide the thin on top of the stamp by making a smooth transition from the normal thickness to the thin part of the stamp. I never bought from Apfelbaum again.
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Valued Member
Canada
14 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   9:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cshahar to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Wow. These are horror stories. Thanks for illuminating me regarding their past practices. I am very disappointed to hear about your experiences, but I am sure nowhere near as upset as you were.

So the question is: Are there any auction houses you do trust??? I have started to do business with Sandafayre, for instance.

-Charles
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Valued Member
United States
259 Posts
Posted 01/03/2017   10:08 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tvorog to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Charles, if you have enough money, Sandafayre would be a relatively more reliable choice, though their starting prices look rather high to me. Scandinavian and Dutch auctioneers are usually (but of course, not always) more straightforward when it comes to describing faults and other things reducing stamps' value.

I don't know, what's wrong with the British dealers but, in my experience, they are... how to phrase it politely? Quirky? Too knowledgeable for their own good? For them, feeling superior and haughty seems to be more important than making money — unless, of course, they think you are a really rich customer, in which case they become insufferably obsequious.

I've been always looking for reasonably priced high-quality classic stamps, and, using dozens of specialized catalogs plus patience (a lot of patience!) one can catch, once in a while, an opportunity when some relatively unknown seller offers very good stamps at very low price on eBay.

It is even funny sometimes. For example, I know a large-volume seller who, after two or three months of trying to sell his stuff at high prices, regularly loses his nerve and offers part of the same stuff starting at 99 cents per lot. If I manage to catch this moment before others do, I usually get a few jolly good lots for a song. Some other dealers would suddenly accept half-price offers... You never know.

But most of the material on eBay is either of low quality or overpriced. One has to be very, very careful.
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Edited by tvorog - 01/03/2017 10:11 pm
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802 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   12:14 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jbcev80 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Charles

I have heard all sorts of horror stories about them. In fact, I know someone who once sued them for monies owed.

For trustworthy, reliable and very honest Kelleher comes to mind.

Jerry B
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Edited by jbcev80 - 01/04/2017 12:17 am
Valued Member
Canada
14 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   07:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cshahar to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you again all for the illuminations!

-Charles
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United States
523 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   10:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dudley to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Charles, it seems you are focusing on classic US issues. In this vein, I second Jerry's endorsement of Daniel Kelleher and would add Matthew Bennett to the list. The gold standard is Robert Siegel, but with them you are often bidding in the stratosphere. More down to earth, I have always had good luck with Dutch Country Auctions. And as a Canadian you should check out Vance Auctions as well.

I have also bought from Apfelbaum, but very carefully. I would not stake a lot of money on them.
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Valued Member
United States
205 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   11:36 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The prior posters have given you good advice. I have bought from Kelleher as well, and they are a good US 'collector-grade' and better auction house now. I will buy from them again, I'm sure. I will only mention that the owners used to run Nutmeg, and leave it at that. Always go in with your eyes open wherever you buy - which can be quite hard for someone starting out. You've done well by asking the informed and helpful people on this board.

I agree with Bennett auctions - I'd put them up there about with Siegel, but Harvey Bennett is semi-retired now, and his sales aren't usually on any defined schedule. I bought a lot of stuff from him in years past.
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Edited by txstamp - 01/04/2017 11:40 am
Valued Member
United States
338 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   12:56 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another top-flight US auction firm is Schuyler Rumsey out of San Francisco.
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Valued Member
United States
187 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   1:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add SPQR to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Agree that Siegel / Bennett / Rumsey / Kelleher are top-shelf firms; however, cshahar is unlikely to find many $125 single stamps or $700 - $800 collections in their sales. In 2016, the average lot price at Siegel(with buyers premium) was almost $2,900. Apfelbaum does not charge a buyers premium and includes free shipping, so that is really equivalent to a $100 hammer (or less) for single stamps or $600 - $650 hammer price on a collection. Some of the smaller firms mentioned might be a better fit.
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Valued Member
Canada
14 Posts
Posted 01/04/2017   1:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cshahar to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all so much for a wisdom borne out of experience. I shall follow-up on some of the suggestions mentioned on this thread! I am really glad I came upon this site!

-Charles
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