The emergence of Ebay has been nothing short of an international phenomena. It's actually one of the few internet companies to survive the internet bubble implosion that wiped out billions of dollars and cast out thousands of tekkies into the unemployment lines of the 90's.
In a nutshell: How Ebay survived
Ebay permits anyone with a computer, digital camera and a product to place it online and potentially sell it in days, hours or minutes. The product can be new or a used item you found around the house, garage or attic. Some people actually go to yardsales and buy for pennies on the dollar and sell for dollars via auction. You can auction your item to the highest bidder via the auction process or outright sell it at a fixed higher price.
Impact on the stamping community
Ebay's influence on the stamping community is enormous; at any given day nearly 20,000 stamp-related auctions take place, making stamping the most active of any of its numerous detailed non-stamp categories. The Internet in general and Ebay in specific are directly responsible for resurrecting a worldwide hobby once perceived on the decline in America. It unites stamping communites, dealers, clubs, and organizations like nothing in the history of stamp collecting. Not all change is bad. Not all progress is at the expense of something else.
Advantages beginner collectors receive from Ebay
Virtually the same as the advanced collector. The specialization of sub-categories easily permits the beginner collector to zero in on the exact item they require be it, a stockbook, stamp album, stamp tongs, magnifier glass, stamp hinges, stamp mounts, etc. In many instances it might be less expensive to buy from an auction site (Ebay or one of the above listed) than from a stamp store or hobby shop. This is not guaranteed if you have the time and opportunity for comparison shopping between the (inter) Net and a (stamp) Store--definitely do so. Another great advantage is the advent of Paypal, a separate service (but now owned by Ebay) which enables you to pay the auction costs via credit credit or checking account quickly and safely. Paypal offers guaranteed money back if fraud occurs or item damaged or never shipped
By Accident and Design
The sub-categories for stamps on Ebay are the most extensive on any auction site on the Internet by virtual of it being the oldest and biggest. This feature is not only useful for beginning collectors in purchasing items but also in learning what entities produced stamps, what continent, language, etc. By accident and design the item arrangement serves as an educational resource as well as the descriptions many dealers/sellers decide to include with the auction. You can cut and paste this information on word doc and save it for your files. It comes in handy later for identification and cataloging.
Purchasing Stamps and Stamp Supplies
For the beginner collector who hasn't decided on a certain country or countries, theme, topic, etc. purchasing stamps on Ebay is very easy if you keep these tips in mind.
Buy in Lots (200, 500 or 1000) By purchasing in this manner you get a wide selection to study and help you decide what you want to collect. Or maybe you want to collect them all.
Postage and Handling: Handling charges are rare, but postage is another matter. It varies geographically depending on where the dealer lives and where you live. Note where the dealer resides from, if is in a foreign country you have to decide if the auction is worth your time (could take couple of weeks to receive it) to the extra cost of international postage. The cool advantage is often these dealers include their country's stamps on the envelope for you to cut, soak and save. U.S. dealers on the other hand can sometimes offer postage higher than necessary as a way to increase their profits. It really shouldn't cost any more than $3 to $4 for postage for a lot of 500 stamps. There are many auctions taking place so choose wisely by price of stamps, price of postage and geographical location (if time is of the essence.)
Stockbooks and Stamp Albums
Unlike the minor weight of stamps, hinges and mounts, stockbooks and stamp albums are heavier items and shipping charges can be nearly a third of the cost (for albums) and nearly a half (for stockbooks) of the item being shipped. Which is one of the reasons why I recommend people comparison shop if they have a stamp store in their community. You might save some serious postage. If the Internet is your only recourse then you should compare between auctions at Ebay and/or between Ebay competitors.
***NOTE: For the purposes of full disclosure, I am not a dealer nor have I ever sold anything on Ebay, but I have bought plenty for my personal stamp collection and therefore can easily testify to the experiences spelled out in this article. While we do not endorse any product or service (since we are not paid nor accept advertising) this site in good conscience will strongly recommend something of good value to its readers but not without also naming alternatives and competitors. The following are main competitors to the auction service Ebay---feel free to use them instead of or in conjunction with the subject of this blog article.
http://www.wigix.com/ http://www.ubid.com/ http://www.bidz.com/ http://www.auction.com/ http://www.webidz.com/
Amazon and Overstock also have their own auction platforms.