ASDA Mentor Program Presentation

Here is an outline of the program together with what you can do to enroll.

ASDA Mentor Program

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Why Collect Postal History Presentation

This is a pitch I have made to several stamp clubs in an attempt to attract pure stamp collectors to postal history.

Why Collect Postal History

I would appreciate any comments that you may wish to make.

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American Stamp Dealers Assoc. Mentor Program

Are You Stuck in a Philatelic Rut?

You may be a candidate for the ASDA Mentor Program

  • Are you unable to add to your collection because the items you seek are simply too hard to find or too expensive to buy?
  • Is your collecting just routine (like periodically ordering new issues or FDCs)?
  • Do you just want to get more out of your hobby?

If so, I suggest you examine how your present collecting pursuits fit into the many dimensions of philately that are available.

Dimensions of Philately

There are countless dimensions to philately. That is what makes it such a fascinating hobby. For stamps, the list is impressive:

  • Country or Geo-Political, Topical,
  • Historical (Classics, 20th Cent., Modern)
  • Type (Postage, Airmail, Revenues, Telegraph, Special Delivery, etc.)
  • Varieties (Watermarks, Perforations, Die Types, Errors, Double Transfers, etc.)
  • Condition (Gem, Fine, Average, etc.)
    • Unused (Mint, Hinged, NG)
    • Used, Cancels (color, fancy, towns, etc.)
  • And, various combinations of the above

For postal history, the dimensions are more numerous and the possible combinations are enormous. They include most of the items above plus many more. For example, the first dimension has more meat on it as covers can reveal many details not usually available on stamps:

Country or Geo-Political, Topical, Use (Postage, Airmail, Revenues, etc.)

  • Specific originating locales: States, Cities, Railroads, Ship Post, etc.
  • Destinations, Routing,
  • Historical (Classics, 20th Cent., Modern)
  • Type (Postage, Airmail, Express, Telegraph, Special Delivery, etc.)
  • Varieties (Watermarks, Perforations, Die Types, Errors, Double Transfers, etc.)
  • Unusual use
  • Auxiliary Markings
  • Forwarded, Missent, Postage Due, etc
  • Delayed (crashes, stolen, embargoed)
  • Early use (e.g. FDCs)
  • To or From Famous People
  • Condition (Gem, Fine, Average, etc.)
  • Used – most postal history
  • And, various combinations of the above

Ready to expand your philatelic horizon?  You may be a candidate for the ASDA Mentor Program.

The ASDA Mentor Program

Recently, The ASDA announced its mentor program.  The stated purpose of the program is to help serious adult collectors acquire skills in their areas of collecting interest, or to assist experienced collectors who wish to become dealers. [I have not discussed the dimensions of philatelic dealing because there have been several excellent articles in this magazine on the subject recently.] The program enables those who are accepted to gain the information they seek from mentors, who are members of the ASDA, via email and information available on the Internet.

To get an idea about the areas of expertise that members of the ADSA have and who are potential mentors, go to the ASDA on line member directory at

The Mentor Program Outline:

  • Mentors are ASDA members who are qualified experts in fundamentals & who have adequate computer skills & facilities
  • Mentors commit to 1year/client
  • Mentors cannot offer to sell to ‘clients’ during the term of the mentoring relationship (Mentors may sell to clients of other mentors, of course)
  • A breech of rules by a mentor is considered a violation of the ASDA code of ethics
  • Client or Mentor may terminate the relationship at any time
  • Clients may re-apply
  • Communication between clients & mentors is principally by email (clients are not to expect phone, postal or physical contact, but these may take place by mutual agreement)
  • Coordinated by ASDA member, Don Tocher

The program is not an appraisal program. If you want an appraisal, find an appropriate dealer in the ASDA directory, and contact the dealer directly. However, questions of relative value are fair game. For example, you and your mentor are free to examine questions like:

Note that the ability to send and receive images by email can be a big help in communicating with your mentor.

Note that the ability to send and receive images by email can be a big help in communicating with your mentor.

To Request an ASDA Mentor:
Send an email to me at with the following information: 

  • What do you want to get from the program?
  • Brief professional & academic resume

You will be notified if you are selected to be an ASDA Mentoree.  The information you provide will be placed in the mentor coordinator’s database and it will only be shared with prospective ASDA mentors.

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Markings on Stamps – published in Linns, 12/2006

Published in Linns, December, 2006

In the November 6 edition, Mr. Kenneth Suess argues against marking on the back of stamps.

I would like to offer another perspective on the subject. I am a lover of and a dealer in classic U.S. stamps and covers. During the first 20 years or so of stamp history (beginning of course with the British “penny black” of 1840), postal authorities around the world struggled to meet a rapidly growing demand for stamps. This effort severely taxed the production technologies available then and resulted in the largely inadvertent creation of the many varieties and sub-varieties now known to philatelists. In the case of some stamps, the varieties were spread over a single printing plate. In these cases, it is possible to “reconstruct” a plate by discovering an artifact on a stamp that is peculiar to a specific position on the plate that printed it. This process of identification or “plating” is a specialty today of many of our fellow philatelists.

In U.S. philately, two of the more famous early students were Carroll Chase and Stanley Ashbrook. Much of their work in identifying U.S. stamps is preserved in the pencil notations that they made on the back of stamps and covers. These scholars handled and marked literally thousands of items. Ashbrook often added his distinctive signature to the piece. These markings are truly archival, and without them, much of their work would have been lost or at least would have had to be duplicated over and over. Here is an example of one of Chase’s markings on a 3ct 1851 stamp.

The notation on this stamp, 70 R 2L , means “stamp #70 from the right side of plate 2 in its late state”

Whereas I agree with Mr. Suess that indelible or strongly impressed marks are detrimental (to value as well as esthetically), the markings by the students noted above and their many successors actually enhance the value of the objects in question.

The following is an illustration of the ‘archival’ or positive aspect that responsible notations offer us:

When I acquired this beautiful cover and saw Ashbrook’s notation on the back I remember feeling the thrill of discovery. Covers showing uses that involved demonetized stamps shortly after the beginning of the Civil War are scarce. This one being a transatlantic use of the 24ct 1857 stamp on a patriotic cover made it something very special. However, aside from the Ashbrook notation there was also the “R Ishikawa” marking as well. Ryohei Ishikawa was a famous collector whose renowned collection was auctioned off several years ago. I happen to have copies of the auction catalogs and I looked up the lot in question. I was surprised to find that since Ashbrook’s analysis other scholars noted that this was not an “old stamp not recognized” at all. Rather it was a case of insufficient postage, which at the time carried no value on transatlantic mail. The “23” in the NY CDS on the cover indicated that 23 cents credit was due to the country whose ship carried the letter. Later, I found out that New York City was one of the last cities to demonetize the 1857 issue, and by October of 1861, had not yet done so.

So, if you see marks like the ones illustrated here, please do not erase them as Mr. Suess suggests. You may actually be reducing the value of the stamp or cover and you will certainly reduce a certain aspect of its provenance.

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Welcome to the PostalNet Blog!

Welcome to the PostalNet Blog!

We have created this blog as a means to exchange educational information in addition to providing a sales resource between dealers, collectors and anyone interested in Philately.

Comments or suggestions are welcome in hopes of creating the most positive user experience and philatelic resource for our followers and contributors.

Comments or suggestions can be sent to

Please be sure to check out if you are interested in U.S. Classic Stamps and Postal History.

Thank you.

View Don Tocher's profile on LinkedIn

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