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Quite A Mark-Up for Pooh

Two weeks before Christmas, the International Collectors Society had a one-third page ad in my Sunday comics section (front page, too) headlined "Disney Winnie the Pooh Stamps Incite Collector Stamp-ede." The sub-head is "Mania over new issue is no fairy tale," and under the illustration is "Fans race to get Disney First Editions..."

As is usual for an ICS offering, the ad included a quote from chief owner John Van Emden telling how great demand for these sheets is.

"Collectors are already predicting that in the very near future these stamps will be far more sought after and be more desirable than the U.S. Elvis stamp, the most popular stamp of all time," the ad read. It also called the stamp set "a strictly Limited Edition," and the most you could buy from ICS was 6 sets. Canada Post spokesman Tim McGurrin, however, says 3.25 million of the souvenir sheets were printed, along with just over a million booklet panes of 16.

Face value on the sheets is 4 times 45c, or $1.80 Canadian. ICS' price is $9.95 plus $3 postage and handling, and includes "an individually numbered ICS Certificate of Authenticity." Canada Post is selling them for face value (about $1.33 U.S.) with no charge for shipping or handling. There's no limit on the number individuals can buy.

"That's the free market, but we would rather customers go to us," Canada Post spokesman Tim McGurrin told the Virtual Stamp Club. "They've got a market for Disney, and it's obviously a market that we haven't reached."

You can order direct from Canada Post at 1-800-565-4362 in the U.S. and Canada or from ICS at 1-800-8151.

McGurrin adds that the Winnie the Pooh issue has set a record for attracting non-collectors. "We're getting orders from places we've never gotten orders from before." But he adds that there's always a danger someone is going to take advantage of popularity like that.

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