There are a number of options the collector has in both buying and selling covers, more than ever with the advent of the Internet:

BUYING: In the vast majority of situations, you're going to receive exactly what you thought you bought, but you should always be guided by the adage "Let the buyer beware." Unlike some collectible hobbies, there is little problem here with fakes. What you need to watch for are:

  • Used and damaged covers being passed to you when you were expecting the opposite.
  • Flats - These are salesmen's samples; they have not been creased and stapled and are not considered collectible.
  • Lots of duplicates when you expected basically one of each.

Aside from individual collectors and non-collectors, flea markets, yard sales, and paper shows, auctions offer the largest and biggest variety of covers being offered. Ebay on the internet has rapidly become the glitziest and most talked about auction, but my own advice is to stay within the hobby auctions. On ebay, although there are lots of collectors selling there, there are also lots of non-collectors hoping to make a killing on the junk they just found in Aunt Edna's shoe closet. Many have no idea of what they're selling and have no idea of the standards that collectors expect. Also, the competition is often steep. If you're not looking for true rarities, use the hobby's auctions and known collectors. You'll be more than satisfied. The hobby offers a wide and steady array of 'sanctioned' auctions--club bulletin auctions, convention and swapfest auctions, and hobby auctions on the internet. You can check my own auction out as an example of the latter.

Prices are not set in this hobby. What sells for $10 today can just as easily sell for $5 tomorrow and have no takers at all the day after that.. It always depends on who happens to be interested at the time. A price guide was published by Bill Retskin in the 1980s, but the prices were heavily inflated, and no one in the hobby pays attention to it. There are some general guidelines that you may find, but they're just that...general guidelines. Current ball park figures just to give you some idea:

  • Average, run-of-the-mill covers (and this is the vast majority of material) go for .04 -.10 cents per cover, unless purchased in large, bulk lots, in which case you can expect anywhere from .02-.04 cents.
  • Prices will be higher, of course, for the more sought-after types. To get an idea of which types these are, look at the Treasure page.
If you're serious about collecting, your best bet, by far, is to get into the hobby--join clubs, make contacts, go to meetings, swapfests, and conventions, if possible, and trade. I've always found that most covers I want eventually come to me through steady trading by mail with other collectors. And, in the process, you become much more knowledgeable about your hobby.
DONATING: Before we go on to SELLING, please read the Treasure page to see why you're not going to become independently wealthy by selling the covers you have. In most cases of people trying to sell their covers, the few dollars they may get simply doesn't justify the time and effort in trying to sell them. In that case, please consider simply donating them to either a local collector or a collector who will reimburse you postage, such as myself (as long as the covers are unused and unstruck). They'll have a good home, and they'll be appreciated and taken care of...and, when that collector passes on, they'll go to another good home...because they stay within the hobby.

SELLING: Basically, you reverse the approaches outlined above. Always be specific about the numbers, conditions, and age of the material you are selling. Buyers will also want to know which types you have. It's not necessary to do a cover-by-cover inventory.

Also remember, that your covers need to be undamaged and unstruck, unless we're talking about rarities; they don't need to have the matches in them. Examples of unacceptable conditions include:

- Strikers have been cut off
- Covers have been holed (usually from tacks)
- Covers have been glued into albums
- Covers have been written on
- Covers are "flats" (salesman's samples; they've never held matches, never been in circulation)
Most US collectors generally do not want Canadian or other Foreign covers, and very few are interested in labels.

Be aware that sellers' expectations are almost always far too high. "But they're from businesses that don't exist anymore!" Doesn't mean anything. At least 90% of businesses on covers don't exist anymore. "But they're so old!" "Old" in this hobby means pre-World War II, and even most of those covers are considered run-of-the-mill. "

Your selling options include:

  • Ebay, but I'd prefer to see you sell within the hobby. Ebay is time consuming, and they're going to take a healthy slice of whatever you sell your material for.
  • Running an ad in one of the hobby bulletins advertising what you have. The RMS Bulletin has the largest circulation in the hobby and its classified ads run 10 cents per word; for $10 you can also put a classified ad on the RMS web site for 6 months.
    • Directly contacting a collector who buys collections and accumulations in their entirety:
    -Chester Crill, 1533 E. Woodbury Rd., Pasadena, CA 91104 (626-794- 0094)
    -Bitter, Dan, 1800 W. Yosemite Pl., Edmond, OK 73003-2129 (405-340-3815)
    -Loren Moore, POB 1181, Roseville, CA 95678
    -Greg Lund, 7000 Rainswood Ct., Bethesda, MD 20817-2231 (301-469-7125
    Turner, Barry, 37829 Pochantas Dr., Clinton Twnshp, MI 48036-4207 (586-468 3641)
    -Ted O’Kroneg, P.O. Box 65, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, B4V2W6, Canada. (902- 543 -1050)
    -Ron Davis, 3722 Devonshire Drive, Surrey, B.C. Canada V3S0H8
    -Ed Brassard, 1540 Forest Way, Del Mar, CA 92014 858-755-2311
    • Consigning your covers to a club to have them auctioned off piecemeal in lots, normally through their bulletin auctions. In the opinion of many, Sierra-Diablo Matchcover Club has the best bulletin auction, but several of the other clubs have similar outlets. Any such club will charge a percentage of the sale price, but you get higher prices than the above options (other than perhaps ebay) and the club does all the work. The downside is that it takes time; usually, what you have is broken down into individual lots and sold piecemeal through the club's bulletin auction...and that bulletin, depending on the club, may go out every month, every other month, or even quarterly. Of course, the club may offer to simply buy your covers outright.
  • Consigning them to one of the big conventions to have them sold through the auctions there.
    • Contacting local collectors in your area to see if they might be interested in what you have. This is the easiest, quickest way. Send me an e-mail giving me the nearest large city to you, and I'll see what local collectors may be available in your area.

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