Hotchner: Collecting to Sell

Collecting to Sell
By John M. Hotchner

I recently received a letter that threw me for a bit of a loop. I’m going to quote it below, edited a bit to eliminate repetition, and then make a few comments. Yours would be welcome also.

The Letter: “I’m not a dealer per se. I am for all practical purposes an accumulator. I buy what I can, U.S. issues only. My holdings gathered over the last 65 years are extensive. I have no need or desire or intention to sell anything. What I’m doing in increasing my holdings is easy-going and enjoyable.

“When I make a purchase, I weed out everything used that is not of collector grade: anything torn, creased, stained, or with short perfs I simply discard. I do so because no one will buy things in those categories. Thus, out it goes.

“For mint singles, blocks, etc., I do likewise, except that I use the pitch-outs for postage. Mostly with stuff like that I run into thins or disturbed gum as a disqualifier. As to centering, if it is only Fine — it goes into my scrap postage box.

“What upsets me most up here in the Midwest is that when one talks with a dealer about having them make an offer — they automatically tell you, ‘I’ve got all of that; not interested in buying any more, etc., etc.’ One cannot help but wonder how dealers stay in business without upgrading or expanding their own inventory.

“I bring this to your attention because of my experience at the American Philatelic Society stamp show in Milwaukee a few years ago. I approached the booth of a major national stamp retailer who does a lot of advertising, and talked to the owner. I asked him if he would be interested in buying my duplicates from the 1922 definitive issue?

“He told me, flat out, ‘No’…. Claimed they have all this stuff and would not be buying any more of it for the foreseeable future. Suggested I go and chat with another dealer present. I did and I purchased over $1000 worth of items for my personal holdings.

“Bottom line is when I returned home I ordered, from the national firm, a Scott #560 (8¢ Perf. 11×11, 1922) plate block, Mint, Never Hinged, in Very Fine to Extra Fine condition. I got an immediate reply saying that they have been unable to keep this in inventory for the past ten years. Just in case the reply was wrong, I tried again this past February. Same result, except that as a courtesy, they noted that had recently acquired some plate blocks of the 1922 issue, but they were only in Fine condition, and would I be interested? I would not.

“The point I make is this: Dealers and stamp company owners are for the most part totally unaware of what is actually happening with their own inventory; thus trying to deal with these people is a real — in your face — put down.

“However, if one works with their own holdings, we have a lot better idea of areas of weakness, and heavy duplication. Ignorance is expensive.

“Over the years I’ve read many offers to buy. One buyer from the Chicago area even sent a representative up for a look-see about 10 years ago. He was definitely interested, but not in paying a fair price. He wanted to steal my holdings at 9% of catalogue value. He had the grace to look insulted when I rejected his offer.

“Thus, I have decided to continue my efforts of accumulating, and at my demise, deed over to my son all of my philatelic holdings. What I’ve set aside for him will be used to augment his business as a dealer when he retires. For now he is a collector of mint singles, but then he will also have a large holding of high-grade plate blocks. By doing this, we will just bypass all the con artists.

“I don’t know for certain if I am doing right by pushing the dealer issue down the road one generation — but it sure feels right to me and to my son. I have found that the hobby is a great way to stay in touch as a family.”

My comments (addressed to readers, not the letter writer as we have had subsequent correspondence): While disclaiming any intention of selling anything, our letter writer has made movements in that direction, and did not like the responses he got, so walked away from the deal. In another effort in that direction, he was rebuffed by a dealership where one hand seems not to know what the other hand is doing, and that experience ticked him off. I can sympathize. My reading is that he came to the no-sell decision after the experiences he describes.

While he indicates that he has 1922 material to sell, that is the earliest he mentions, and two things occur to me. First, while there is some good material in that era, stamps and even plate blocks in premium condition starting in the late 1920s are not difficult to fnd; and not difficult for dealers to purchase in bulk at favorable prices. Secondly, it is possible that the dealer(s) assumed that the bulk of the material offered was from the later era, and truly did not fit in with their needs.

It is also possible that the dealer was put off by the manner of approach or another factor, and chose not to do business with the letter-writer.

Stockpiling material from the era where good quality is available in quantity (say much of the material from the late 1920s to modern times) is not a good investment strategy. Yes, some items, carefully selected from among the most often seen material, can be good for investment: unfolded booklet panes, some popular theme se-tenants like Space and Lighthouses; high face plate blocks, etc. are okay.

But the bottom dropped out of the plate block market many years ago in the 13¢ First Class era when the USPS tried to take advantage of the market by issuing 12-stamp plate blocks. It has never been restored to its former glory. Most from the 1940s on sell wholesale in the best circumstances at face, and even below. Consult catalogue prices to get an idea of what few plate blocks are more desirable.

However, if one is determined to invest, the same amount of money put into classic material will bring better rewards. You will have less material, but it will appreciate. And it will sell more readily, and for better prices. Remember this rule of thumb: “Common material remains common. Proven high quality/limited quantity material appreciates.”

On dealers’ buy offers, two things: One is that they are entitled to try to pay the lowest price they can get away with. Don’t you as a collector try to pay the lowest possible price for your acquisitions? Second, while I am not claiming that 9% is a fair figure (though it is understandable for mostly modern stamps/blocks that will retail for half cat. or less), keep in mind that dealers selling most modern material to knowledgeable collectors will not be able to get more than that, and may well get less; and they have their overhead to pay for. And, oh yes, the object is to make a profit. For example, how much does it cost them to send a representative to visit to review your material in your home and make an offer?

That said, the seller always has the ultimate power: You can always try to negotiate a better price, and failing that, you can refuse to sell.

Finally, on the subject of kicking the can down to the next generation, it seems like a good strategy in this case as the son intends to be a dealer, and will sell the high quality items at retail to collectors, while the father is selling to dealers at wholesale.

So, in summary, let’s call this method of collecting what it is: Investing. There is nothing dishonorable about it. It can even be as enjoyable to the collector as collecting for pleasure. But I feel that investors have to go into that pursuit with eyes wide open; not with hope, prayer and assumptions about what ought to happen when they get ready to sell.

As with any financial transaction where entrepreneurs are hoping to make a profit, it is a tough world out there. Willing buyers at your price can be a good deal more scarce than you hoped. People not willing to pay your price are not necessarily stupid, crooked or hard-hearted.

They are steely-eyed realists. And you need to be too.

Should you wish to comment on this column, or have questions or ideas you would like to have explored in a future column, please write to John Hotchner, VSC Contribu-tor, P.O. Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125, or email, putting “VSC” in the subject line.

Or comment right here.

NAPEX 2018 Announces Jury

[press release]

The Board of Directors of NAPEX is pleased to announce the composition of the jury that will judge the exhibits at this year’s show.

    • Mark Banchik, New York (Chairman of the Jury)
    • Elizabeth M. Hisey, Florida
    • Stephen Reinhard, New York
    • Charles J.G. Verge, Ontario
    • Timothy G. Wait, Illinois

Those interested in exhibiting can find the show prospectus and application at The deadline for submitting an application is April 15, but prospective exhibitors are urged to apply as soon as possible. All of the 230 frames at NAPEX 2017 were filled several weeks before the official deadline.

NAPEX 2018 will be held June 8-10, 2018, at the Tysons McLean Hilton Hotel, 7920 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia, 22102, just off exit 46A of the Washington Beltway.

NAPEX was founded in 1949 as the National Stamp Exhibitions of Washington, DC, Inc. It is the premier stamp show of the Nation’s Capital and an American Philatelic Society World Series of Philately show.

More information about NAPEX can be found at

APS Exec To Speak In Allentown

from the Allentown Philatelic Society:

You and your club members are cordially invited to attend our Spring Social that will feature Scott English, the APS CEO, as our guest speaker. You may bring a guest as well.

Here are the details:

Time and location: Saturday, April 21, 6-9 pm (cocktails at 6, dinner at 7), Northampton Country Club, 5049 William Penn Highway, Easton, PA 18045.

Cost: $33 per person. Cocktails are on a cash basis (credit cards accepted).

Menu: buffet features rolls and butter, club salad, Chicken Francaise, Portabella Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Red Skin Potatoes, Green Bean Almandine, Mousse, iced tea, lemonade, coffee and hot tea. It’s a buffet so you can eat all you want!

Dress: it’s a country club, so no jeans (including “designer” jeans), no shorts, no t-shirts or cutoffs – coat and/or tie is not – I repeat not – required – collared shirts and slacks are the norm for men, women dress accordingly.

Payment: Please make your checks payable to me, William Harris, and mail them to me at 3238 Altonah Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017. I will confirm receipt of your check via email.

Last Day to Sign Up: I must receive payment by April 7. If you are planning to go, please keep this in mind.

If you have any questions, please email me or call me on my cell, 610-217-3511.

Bill Harris
President, Allentown Philatelic Society

Americover 2018: Another Hotel Bargain

[press release]
Hotel Savings Also in Mind for Annual Stamp & Cover Show

Collectors and dealers attending Americover 2018 in the Atlanta area will be treated to one of the biggest bargains in stamp collecting shows: The official show room rate is $99, and it includes free breakfast for two at the hotel’s excellent buffet.

Americover 2018 will be held at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast August 3-5, 2018. The hotel’s address is Hilton Atlanta Northeast, 5993 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092. The annual stamp and cover show is sponsored by the American First Day Cover Society.

The $99 rate is good from Wednesday through Sunday nights; additional nights at that rate may be available if guests contact the hotel directly. Although Americovers run for three days, there will be a special tour on the preceding Thursday and a post-show dinner event Sunday evening after the show closes. The group code is AFDCS2 or reservations at the Americover 2018 rate can be made using this link. There is also a direct link for reservations on the Americover 2018 website:

Parking is free, as is the complimentary shuttle to nearby attractions and the MARTA transit system.

“I was just at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast for Southeastern Stamp Expo, and this is an excellent venue with an outstanding staff,” said Lloyd A. de Vries, president of the AFDCS. “And I’m very pleased that this is the 28th consecutive year with an Americover room rate right around $100.”

All Americovers are World Series of Philately shows dedicated to first day covers and the fun of stamp collecting. Locations move around the country: 2017’s show was held in the Cleveland area and Americover 2016 was in Falls Church, Va., near Washington, D.C. Other recent locations have included Somerset, N.J., Oak Brook, Ill., Irvine, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind. Americover 2019 is set for Saint Louis, Mo.

For more information on any of the Americover shows, visit the AFDCS website at, send e-mail to or write the AFDCS at PO Box 16277, Tucson, AZ 85732-6277.

No ASDA New York City Shows in 2018

For the first time in decades, there will not be a stamp collecting show in New York City organized by the American Stamp Dealers Association.

“Right now I haven’t found a venue that isn’t pricing me out of New York City,” ASDA executive director Dana Guyer told The Virtual Stamp Club. Instead, “we just joined forces with NOJEX for our October show.” NOJEX 2018 will be held October 19-21, 2018, at the Meadowlands Hilton Hotel in East Rutherford, NJ. The U.S. Postal Service has already expressed its support of the combined show.

In recent years, the ASDA shows in New York have been held at the New York Hilton, one of the more expensive hotels in Manhattan, just half a mile from Times Square. It had plenty of space, unlike the previous show location at The New Yorker Hotel, across from Penn Station.

A hotel on West 57th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues has been used by smaller stamp shows, but none is currently scheduled there.

However, Guyer says the days of a big Manhattan show may not yet be over. “i am working on a spring New York show for 2019,” she said.

New York may have been the last major city with a stamp show “downtown.” The Boston-area show moved years ago to Boxborough, Mass., 29 miles away. SESCAL in Southern California is now held in Ontario, Calif., 35 miles to the east. Chicagopex could really be called Itscapex, because it is held in that suburb. NAPEX moved years ago from Washington, D.C. to McLean, Va. Philadelphia no longer has a show at all.

The only major show now regularly held in downtown venues is the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow, which moves to a different city each year, but even the APS can’t touch downtown NYC, LA or Chicago. The 2017 edition was in Richmond, Va., this year’s is in Columbus, Ohio, and 2019 will be in Omaha, Nebraska (albeit with a tie-in to the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad).

Banksias (Australia 2018)

[press release]
Banksias to feature on Australia Post stamp issue

Australia Post is celebrating the botanical beauty of the Australian bushland, the banksia, in its latest stamp issue.

Banksias hold great historical significance to Australia. They were among the first flora species collected in Australia, during Captain Cook’s 1770 journey on the Endeavour, and scientifically described. The genus takes its name from botanist Joseph Banks who collected five species during the voyage.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said: “we are excited to acknowledge banksias as an Australian botanical icon, striking in both the natural landscape and in native gardens. For those with a keen interest in Australian native plants, we believe these stamps will be a popular collector’s item”.

The genus banksia is a group of woody evergreens with diverse foliage and large, brightly-coloured flower heads that range from prostrate shrubs to trees of up to 25 metres. Of the 173 species in the genus, all but one are endemic to Australia.

The stamps feature the artwork of celebrated Australian botanical artist Celia Rosser OAM, who was Monash University’s botanical artist from 1974 to 1999. Working alongside Australian botanist and banksia specialist Alex George, Ms Rosser produced scientifically accurate and highly detailed illustrations of banksia species. Her impressive 25-year work on the project culminated in a three-volume publication of her life-sized artworks, titled The Banksias, and earned Ms Rosser an honorary Master of Science in 1981 and an honorary PhD in 1999 from Monash University. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1995 for her services to botanical art.

Ms Rosser said: “banksias are a great love of mine and I am thrilled Australia Post has created this stamp issue to celebrate their beauty and durability. They capture something really special about Australia”.

The artworks shown on the stamps and minisheet are held in the Monash University Collection. The four domestic base-rate ($1) stamps have been designed by Australia Post designer Jo Muré and feature the following species:

  • Banksia speciosa which occurs naturally on Western Australia’s south-coast, and has long, triangular-lobed leaves that can reach eight metres in height.
  • Banksia grossa is a small, slow-growing shrub, growing to around one metre. This fire-resistant species is limited to the north of Perth.
  • Banksia coccinea is known for its bright red flower heads, highlighted by its grey-green oblong foliage. It grows to around eight metres and blooms from June through to January in Western Australia.
  • Banksia cuneata has two common names, Matchstick Banksia for its flowers and Quairading Banksia for the place it was discovered. It is listed “endangered”, with less than 2,500 mature trees evident in the wild.

The stamp issue products include a minisheet, first day cover, stamp pack, set of four maxicards and booklet of 20 x $1 stamps. They are available from 20 February 2018 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794, and online at while stocks last.


For more information visit .

Mike Mellone: An Appreciation

by Lloyd A. de Vries
The Virtual Stamp Club

If you collect first day covers in the U.S., you owe Michael A. Mellone a debt of gratitude. Maybe two debts of gratitude: He helped establish independent shows for first day cover collecting, and wrote and published the catalogues that made it possible to identify and systematically collect cachets.

He passed away February 12, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 72.

For nearly two decades, Mike guided the annual shows and conventions of the American First Day Cover Society. He and his promoter partner Steve Ritzer produced two of the society’s first standalone conventions in the “modern” era, in 1986 in Morristown, N.J., and in 1988 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.

In 1992, with Ritzer providing behind-the-scenes support, Mellone produced the AFDCS Cover Fest in Columbus, Ohio. Steve Ripley was the wacky chairman and programmer, but Mellone handled logistics: Finding and checking out hotels, selling and setting up the bourse, and all the myriad details necessary for a successful show.

The following year, Mellone and Ripley called the AFDCS show “Americover.”

On the right, Mike looks puzzled after the Stamford Marriott, where Americover 2007 had just begun, is evacuated because of a fire. His assistant, later his wife, Dottie Graf is with him.

The significance is that, until these shows, the AFDCS was a guest at someone else’s party. Space for first day cover exhibits and dealer booths was limited. The hosts even controlled the events the AFDCS could hold.

Along the way, Mellone and friends invented the cachetmakers bourse, where the people who design first day covers could sell their products at a reduced-price for tables. It came about at the 1986 show, after cachetmakers and other small dealers took over the hospitality suites at earlier conventions to sell FDCs, pushing out collectors who simply wanted to sit around, eat, drink and talk.

Earl Planty, a business professor, was the first to catalogue different cachets for early first day covers, identifying them, assigning a catalogue number, and even assigning a value. Mellone, however, as they say in football, “took the ball and ran with it.”

First, he added photographs of the different cachets to make identification easier. Instead of parsing a written description, collectors could compare what they had to the pictures. He also expanded Planty’s listings, adding dozens of cachets for those issues.

Then Mellone went a step further: He added issues, first for the 1930s and eventually for nearly every issue through the 1960s.

The first Mellone Photo-Encyclopedia appeared in 1976. It was no coincidence that within a few years, first day covers were one of the hottest specialties in philately.

A collector of a specific issue now knew not only what he or she had, but what he or she didn’t have. “You have a Crosby for that issue? There are five different Crosbys for it, and here is what you’re missing.” Many collectors then made an effort to buy the missing covers. That increased sales, which in turn increased dealers’ interest in acquiring FDCs for sale. Prices rose. Interest increased.

Also helping increase the interest in FDCs was his pocket catalogue. It was first titled Discovering the Fun in First Day Covers, with a license from Scott Publishing Co. to use its catalogue numbers. After a few years, Discovering became the Scott Catalogue of U.S. First Day Covers, with introductory material on collecting, identifying and valuing FDCs that Mellone had written. (Scott discontinued publication of the catalogue after the 2009 edition.)

Mellone’s F.D.C. Publishing Company also produced books and catalogues on other FDC-related subjects, encouraging research and scholarship in the specialty. It also printed 3″x5″ inventory cards for first day cover collections; I still have mine!

Mellone revised the 1930s catalogue, and extended it earlier, into the 1920s. He never got around to doing more with the other decades than reprinting them. Publishing the catalogues was expensive and time-consuming, and he told me he didn’t make much money on them, if any.

Above, Mike receives an Honorary Life Membership in 2005 from AFDCS president Tom Foust, while Dottie gets her HLM from board chairman Dick Monty.

Mike was shy and preferred to work in the background: Steve Ritzer and Steve Ripley were his “front men,” glad-handing and interacting with the public. At some of the shows he produced alone, after splitting with Ritzer, he even asked me to make the public address announcements for him. Mike did the physical work.

This summer, at Americover 2018, as you walk through the cachetmakers and dealers bourses, checking your photo-encyclopedia, take a moment to think of Mike Mellone.

New Exhibition: Women’s Duty & Service In WWI

[press release]
National Postal Museum Opens Exhibition Celebrating Women’s Duty and Service in World War I
Offers Glimpse Into Lives of Four Women Who Served

“In Her Words: Women’s Duty and Service in World War I” opened Feb. 2 at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. The exhibition, open through May 8, offers a glimpse into the lives of four women serving in and alongside the American military during World War I. Through letters, uniforms, ID badges, notebooks and other authentic objects, the exhibition reveals the wartime experiences, personalities and aspirations of two U.S. Army Nurses, a U.S. Navy Yeoman and a YMCA worker.

Visitors will learn about and see evidence of the work these women performed and the circumstances in which they served. Despite limited opportunities and unequal treatment compared to men, women served in record numbers during WWI and for the first time were able to formally enlist in the Navy and Marine Corps. After the war, women continued to press for expanded employment opportunities and political rights, setting the stage for cultural changes to come.

With an emphasis on women’s WWI experiences, the exhibition complements another WWI-themed exhibition, “My Fellow Soldiers,” on display in an adjacent gallery. Taken together, the two exhibitions and related programming provide a rich and textured view of WWI through personal experiences and letters.

“This exhibition raises awareness of the extraordinary work of women during World War I,” said Elliot Gruber, director of the museum (left). “The letters on display offer a unique window into the experiences of four individuals and the motivations to serve their country.”
This exhibition was developed jointly by the National Postal Museum and the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and share these treasured, rare letters from our collection to enlighten the public about the contributions of American women serving in World War I,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dee Ann McWilliams, president of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation. “This exhibition, through the individual stories of the four women highlighted, collectively honors a groundbreaking generation of women and speaks to their patriotism, professionalism and devotion to duty.”

From the outset of WWI in 1914, American women went abroad to volunteer with uniformed civilian organizations, like the Red Cross, providing war-relief services. After the U.S. declared war on Germany April 6, 1917, the Army and Navy assigned nurses to overseas duty in record numbers.

Despite these developments and the increasing visibility of women’s contributions, the military establishment did not treat women as it did men, offering them limited opportunities and unequal benefits. The work they performed and how they were treated during and after the war raised significant questions and helped set new precedents for women’s employment opportunities and political rights.

The museum will host a lunchtime lecture with Britta K. Granrud, curator of collections of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation Inc., March 21, from 12 to 12:45 p.m. She will speak about the history of the service of women in WWI and provide background on the Women In Military Service For America Memorial.

The exhibition will also be highlighted during the museum’s Women’s History Month Family Festival March 10 and 11. Visitors that weekend will have the opportunity to meet curators of the exhibition and participate in related educational programs.

A special website has been created to augment the exhibition, providing additional access to the rich content presented.

About the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). For more information about the Smithsonian, call (202) 633-1000 or visit the museum website.

War Amps [amputees] Envelope (Canada 2018)

[press release]

OTTAWA, ON – February 8, 2018 – The War Amps officially launched its 100th anniversary year today with the unveiling of a Canada Post commemorative envelope, at the Association’s National Headquarters in Ottawa.

Amputee veterans returning from the First World War started The War Amps in 1918 to assist each other in adapting to their new reality as amputees. They then welcomed amputee veterans following the Second World War and established the Key Tag Service to gain meaningful employment and provide a service to the public. The War Amps many programs have grown over the past 100 years from assisting war amputees – whom they still serve – to all amputees, including children.

“Our work now encompasses a diversity of issues, from financial assistance for artificial limbs, to providing a voice for amputees’ rights, to spreading our PLAYSAFE message to children and much more. As we move into our second century, just as The War Amps has fought the battle for veterans since 1918, we still have a modern-day battle to fight to ensure that the needs of all amputees are met,” said Brian Forbes, Chairman of the Executive Committee of The War Amps.

Shown above: Second World War amputee veteran Charles Jefferson and members of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, Olivia Miller and Dante Fotia, unveil the commemorative envelope.

The envelope reflects The War Amps long history and innovative programs through photos and text. Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services at Canada Post said, “The War Amps is an important part of Canada and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of amputees in this country. We are delighted to issue a commemorative envelope that celebrates its rich history and the vital work it does.”

The War Amps work for Canada’s amputees over the past 100 years would not have been possible without the public, said Forbes. “The War Amps receives no government grants and our programs are possible through donations to the Key Tag and Address Label Service. Thanks to the continued support of Canadians, our commitment remains to improve the lives of amputees long into the future.”

Envelopes can be purchased by visiting Canada Post’s website [direct link to the envelope]. Please visit for more information about The War Amps 100th anniversary.

USPS on Vacation???

VSC member Lefty Dundee reports…

USPS on eBay – On Vacation (?)

Home > eBay Stores > US Postal Service Store > All Categories
This store Seller is currently away. Please add this Store to your Favorites and come again when we re-open on Monday, 2/5/18.

This is why USPS has nothing for sale on eBay…
You have to go to It seems no eBay at the moment.


And here’s the likely explanation, from the stamp-selling part of the

Due to systems upgrades, orders placed Tuesday, January 30th through Sunday, February 4th will require an additional 3-5 business days for delivery. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

When there’s a major operation at SFS (including the annual full audits), everyone gets conscripted to work on it and other operations such down. In this case, you can’t sell stamps over the Internet if the computer systems are down!