December 11, 2008

New stock and bond calendar for 2009

Bob Kerstein of had just published a new full-color stock and bond calendar for next year. Images of classic items include United States Steel, Indian Motorcycles, Playboy and Standard Oil trust. Appearing for the month of June is what I'd call a unique essay or mockup for a Ford certificate that was never actually issued. Representing the railroad industry are a couple of certificates from the Bodie & Benton and the New-York & Harlem. Representing current problem companies are examples from Lehman Brother, Countrywide and Morgan Stanley.

You may purchase your copy of the Scripophily calendar from for $9.95. Having shipped tons of things at the time of year, please let me advise ordering quickly.


Anonymous said...

For full discloser it should be noted that the vender ads a whopping $6.00 for shipping and handling and therefore the price of the piece is really $15.95 and not the price listed.

Also, this vendor wants to sent the calendar priority mail or higher rates such as FEDEX and does not give an option for good old First Class Mail - or at least I could not find it.

I did order the calendar but if this is how this vendor wants to charge for shipping of orders I will most likely not do business with them. If Amazon can figure out how to ship at not extra cost, I would think that this firm could at least find some lower cost options.

Tim W.

Terry Cox said...

A reader made a comment about the catalog I mentioned yesterday. I thought I take a little time and reply.

I do not normally allow any comments about specific dealer business practices. When buyers have issues with dealers, they should take them up with dealers. I personally know most dealers in the stock and bond business and know that almost all will bend over backwards to accomodate buyers' concerns.

In the case of this complaint, though, Tim W.'s concerns are important because they eventually touch all buyers and all dealers in all collectible hobbies.

Granted, we are only talking about $2. In my opinion, if $2 is that important, no one should EVER consider buying any collectible. EVER!

However, shipping costs need to SEEM reasonable. Some auction dealers charge WAY TOO MUCH for shipping and it really ticks me off! Curiously, Tim W. brought up one of the classic examples of a company whose shipping rates are also often unreasonable. Just in the other direction.

Let's first remember that when Amazon ships books, it often uses much cheaper "media mail" rates. When Amazon sells items for other sellers, it takes up to 34.5% in fees from sellers!!! Furthermore, because of its size, Amazon has tremendous bargaining power and can freely negotiate better shipping rates with UPS and FEDEX. Finally, again as a function of its size, Amazon buys products at discounts unavailable to smaller dealers. Big, mainline sellers like Amazon CAN offer cheap or free shipping that no stock and bond dealer could ever consider.

While Tim W. and I both love free shipping from Amazon, free shipping is actually NOT reasonable.

Second, many buyers forget that packaging is not free. Were I to mail an item like this calendar, at the minimum, I would charge 65¢ to 75¢ for a Stay-Flat mailer plus postage.

Another hidden concern is timing. Mailing at this time of year is problematic. I can't tell you how many times I have been hammered by unpredictable mail delivery in December and then had to weather complaints from buyers. Some of the complaints make it sound like I were delivering items myself! Mail delivery is one of the great bargains in America, but it can be iffy in December. The single best way to insure quick delivery between Thanksgiving and New Years is to use Priority Mail.

I have not spoken with Bob Kerstein about shipping his calendar by First Class Mail, but I certainly would not be afraid to ask. Especially because I am seldom in a big hurry. Then again, if I were giving this calendar as a gift, I would not even think twice about paying a little extra for Priority Mail.

Unpredictable delivery is something I call a "hidden risk." A similar risk is the "self-insurance" risk of shipping inexpensive items. An item like a calendar is too cheap to insure, yet often gets damaged during transit. Guess who takes all the risk of both merchandise and postage. Yes, the shipper. In the last six months, I have personally replaced eight books damaged in transit. It seems to me that postal losses have been rising in the last year or so and losses are always higher around Christmas.

This brings up the issues of more obvious risks that buyers still don't consider. When Bob decides to custom-print a full-color calendar and I decide to publish my own book, we take multi-thousand dollar risks. While we consider those efforts as "educated risks," we never know how many people will buy our wares. We deal with multi-month lead times and we never know what economic calamity lies just around the corner.

When the third edition of my catalog comes out, quite a few of my second edition catalogs will disappear into the recycling bin. By March or April of next year, Bob's calendar will retain little retail value and will likely meet the same fate.

I understand Tim W.'s point about postage being a hidden cost of acquisition, whether for a calendar or for any collectibles my readers buy. I fully agree with him that postage should always be fair and reasonable.

However, I also think that buyers should be equally reasonable. My moderation of this comment is my simple effort to explain a few of the hidden factors that average buyers may not have considered.