About Stamp Dealers - Part 5

All larger dealers in the principal cities and the specialist dealers are personally known to each other, for they gather at the national conventions and great stamp exhibitions which are held periodically at various cities. Such gatherings are of great importance to dealers and collectors alike for often such meetings will be the only occasion when the dealer has opportunity to meet his clients in person and vice versa. But while this camaraderie exists to such a marked degree among the stamp professionals, each is an independent competing with the other. It is unlikely that any other business is so completely free of "cartels" or restraints. The smallest and the largest operates in a completely free market.

To "police" their activities, the dealers have formed a national association, the American Stamp Dealers Association, to be a member of which one must subscribe to a "Code of Ethics" which is quite possibly one of the strictest codes of any commercial group. Through this organization disputes are settled by arbitration boards, penalties are levied on those who may break the rules, and thefts and counterfeiters are tracked down. Because of its activities the ASDA not only has saved many thousands of dollars for its members by apprehending thieves but also has similarly aided collectors. Not a few collectors today owe the recovery of their collections to this active dealers organization. Just how effective it can be was demonstrated when a swindler set up shop in Montreal for the double purpose of swindling dealers and collectors. This fellow sent out "Want Lists" to dealers all over the country. Such requests were accompanied by what appeared to be reputable references. At the same time he solicited orders from collectors. His was a large-scale operation involving over a hundred thousand dollars in both directions. Almost before he got started, however, a report was made to the ASDA Executive Secretary in New York who immediately contacted the postal authorities in Canada.

Within hours the swindler was apprehended and caught with the material. Within a month the Canadian authorities had successfully prosecuted the man and sent him to jail. The Canadian postal authorities then returned all stamps to the dealers who had sent them in good faith and, aided by the ASDA, even succeeded in sorting out and identifying the owners of the material which had been unpacked by the thief. When the operation was completed, all in a very brief time, practically a hundred per cent recovery had been accomplished. In fact, so quickly was the thing done that many dealers learned of it only when they had received the return of their stamps from the authorities. The same effective aid is offered to collectors who may have been victims of theft or swindle. A report to the ASDA immediately swings into action the machinery of the organization and within days, before the material can be sold, every member throughout the nation and the many overseas members are notified to be on the watch and are supplied with a complete description of the material stolen. When the material is located, as it often is, the thief is apprehended and the material returned to its rightful owner - all without cost to anyone. The ASDA is as quick to act upon the complaint of a collector as it is for a member and all complaints, however trivial, are carefully investigated and the trouble corrected. Still another evidence of the unity of the great family of philatelists!