Let’s Get Serious About Discount Postage

by Tom Alciere

     Discount postage is one of philately’s economic indicators. As more collections get liquidated, this stuff piles up faster than it can be used. It’s time to get serious about marketing it. Philatelic journals need a classified ad column for "discount postage."

     I made a pitch to an organization that helps people with learning disabilities. I presented my dentist’s bill, which came in a double-window number 9 envelope with privacy tint and a gummed flap. The return address shows through one window and mine through the other. It went through a postage meter for a half cent discount. I suggested buying such envelopes and having somebody spend all morning affixing 29¢ stamps, then spend all afternoon affixing 18¢ stamps. Sell these to billing offices, which will buy them to help out. Helping out won’t even cost them anything because the price would be competitive with what they’re already paying. The organization could afford to do this because they’d be buying postage at 30 percent off and reselling it at full face value. If discount postage does not look businesslike, a notice could be printed on the back of each envelope, showing that the dentist is helping out. This would also educate the public about the availability of discount postage and the folly of assuming Grandma’s cache of 3¢ commemoratives must be valuable. Furthermore, many of the stamps will find their way into kiloware.

     At the World Stamp Show, one dealer offered me a coil of 3000 3¢ stamps for 65 percent. These could be valuable to a mailer with rolls of 8¢ stamps: four 8¢ stamps plus five 3¢ stamps makes 47 cents. However, prospective buyers don’t know what they are going to get. Describe it by category, because more 3¢ coil stamps will fit than large 3¢ commemoratives and some mailers worry about the appearance. Break it down by denomination and format. Remember that five 3¢ stamps are easier to affix if they are from a gummed, perforated coil than if they are the newer, self-stick type which must be applied one at a time. Prices will fluctuate for each category. Dealers with a surplus of 22¢ stamps might be able to trade with a dealer who has a surplus of 25¢ stamps, and both dealers win, with more 47¢ combinations.

     Many charities could use up discount postage, and once they do, the stuff is spent, not competing on the market with new crateloads. I’m contacting non-profit organizations to ask if they can use up discount postage. I will post the list on http://stamps.directory when it is done.