Chapter 6 CAP --- Computer Aided Philately [PREV] [NEXT] [HOME]

This chapter was last modified on [10-12-96 (Tue) at 07:48:15] . Please send all bug reports, additions etc. to the Editor, Gert Bultman.

Section 6.1 Intro

This chapter was last modified on [10-12-96 (Tue) at 07:48:15] . Please send all bug reports, additions etc. to the Editor, Gert Bultman.

The computer can aid you in many ways (otherwise you'd probably not be reading this FAQ). Several applications spring to mind, but the most frequently talked about are making your own album pages, scanning stamp images & maintaining a stamp database.

Section 6.2 PCSG - Philatelic Computing Study Group

Bob de Violini Secretary/Editor, PCSG writes in March 1995: The Philatelic Computing Study Group, Affiliate 212 of the American Philatelic Society, has over 475 computer-using stamp collectors in the USA and 16 other countries around the world. They include Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Belize, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Israel, Switzerland, South Africa, Japan, and China.

Each issue of "The Compulatelist," our quarterly 20-page newsletter published in January, April, July and October, carries a mix of information, reviews and news of interest. It looks at specialized software written specifically for stamp collectors and also presents examples of how general-purpose database, word processing, spreadsheet and graphics programs can be used to design for your particular requirements. Recent issues have included information about online philatelic resources on the Internet, CompuServe, America Online, GEnie and Prodigy.

Dues are $10.00 per year in the U.S.A.; $12.00 to Canadian addresses, and $17.00 for the rest of the world. Checks or postal money orders should be payable in US dollars through a US bank. This amount will bring you the next four issues of "The Compulatelist," sent Air Mail to overseas addresses.

Send me your mailing address via e-mail to <> or through CIS at 71310,2037 for additional information and an application.

Section 6.3 On-line resources

Quick index: tfs - Tiny FileServer, Bjørn Munch, Joseph Luft

Section 6.3.1 FTP sites


also available by email


Usenet Philatelic News Service: Press Releases (Edwin L. Jackson)


Section 6.3.2 File servers


This is the helpfile for tfs (Tiny File Server) run by Gert Bultman (<>).

The fileserver is rather simple (based on a procmail recipe & a shell script). Please use only for the files listed in the INDEX, and be aware that the filenames are case sensitive.

To request a file, send a message with the following subject header

tfs get <filename>

to <>

To get you started, request tfs-INDEX:

tfs get tfs-INDEX

If you don't get a reply, send me a message (marked PERSOONLIJK) and I'll try to help you. If you get an empty message in return, you may have made a spelling mistake.

Please don't forget the first two words: tfs get. Since this is an automated service, the fileserver won't be triggered unless you include them and my personal mailbox gets cluttered with your requests. I truly regret that I do not have the time or the resources to answer all erroneous messages personally.

N.B. If your request does not specifiy a unique filename, tfs will send you a list of all the available files that match this name, using regular expression syntax. You are then able to choose one file from the list in your next request. Please do not confuse regular expressions with wildcards or Unix shell filename globbing. A good Unix manual will explain regexps in full detail.

Some of the currently available files are:

| Name (case sensistive!)           | Description                           |
| tfs-INDEX                         | This file                             |
|                                   |                                       |
| tfs-HELP                          | A (very brief) help file              |
|                                   |                                       |
| faq/ASCII/ch01.txt                | separate chapter of the ASCII FAQ.    |
| faq/ASCII/ch02.txt                | (All separate chapters can be indi-   |
|           ........                | vidually retrieved: ch01.faq thru     |
| faq/ASCII/ch26.txt                | ch26.faq.                             |
|                                   |                                       |
| faq/PS/                    | separate chapter of Postscript FAQ.   |
| faq/PS/                    | (All separate chapters can be indi-   |
|        .......                    | vidually retrieved: thru      |
| faq/PS/                    |                              |
|                                   |                                       |
| faq/ASCII/ch...txt                | Returns a list of all available ch.   |
| faq/PS/                    | ditto for the POSTSCRIPT version.     |
|                                   |                                       |
| TopicalLists/ByPerson             | Topical interests of STAMPS list      |
|                                   | subscribers, listed alphabetically    |
|                                   | complete with e-mail addresses.       |
|                                   |                                       |
| TopicalLists/ByCountry            | As above, but sorted by countries     |
|                                   | collected.                            |
|                                   |                                       |
| TopicalLists/ByTopic              | Ditto, sorted by topical interest.    |
|                                   |                                       |
| stamp-spotting.tex                | Document by Sean Irvine, helping you  |
|              | to identify foreign scripts and       |
|          | overprints.                           |
|                                   |                                       |
| WordList/Colours                  | Multilingual wordlist (languages:     |
|                                   | English/US English, German, Dutch,    |
|                                   | French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese,  |
|                                   | Norwegian                             |
|                                   |                                       |
| Wordlist/Colors                   | same file :-)                         |
|                                   |                                       |
| Wordlist/colors.uue               | Colournames in PARADOX database       |
|                                   | format (better than ASCII version)    |
|                                   |                                       |
| Issues/Netherlands/nl.1993        | Dutch 1993 stamp program.             |
| Issues/Netherlands/nl.1994        | Dutch 1994 stamp program.             |
|                                   |                                       |
| Issues/USA/1993                   | Lists compiled by people on the       |
| Issues/USA/1992                   | STAMPS lists. Some also available     |
| Issues/USA/1994                   | from the LISTSERV.                    |
| Issues/Switzerland/1993           |                                       |
| Issues/Australia/1990             |                                       |
| Issues/Australia/letterrate       |                                       |
| Issues/Canada/1992                |                                       |
| Issues/Canada/1993                |                                       |
| Issues/Denmark/1993               |                                       |
| Issues/Estonia/1991-1993          |                                       |
| Issues/Sweden/1992                |                                       |
|                                   |                                       |
| News/rcs.DD-MM-YY                 | The rec.collecting.stamps digests     |
|                                   | for a particular day. Only the last   |
|                                   | four weeks or so are kept available.  |
|                                   | Example News/rcs.25-05-94             |
|                                   | US users, please note the European    |
|                                   | date style.                           |
|                                   |                                       |
| News/rcc.DD-MM-YY                 | The rec.collecting.coins digests.     |
|                                   | (see above)                           |
|                                   |                                       |

The LISTSERV also has some files, and will let you retrieve the logs from the list (see Ch. 2).

David Wyatt writes: I am developing an all-time list of the stamp issuing entities, which I could email to interested individuals. It currently stands at 2,141 entries.

Section 6.3.3 Gophers

The University of Munich gopher in Germany provides a gopher-service for the complete set of new German postal codes.

The United Nations gopher has a menu with the current exchange rates for approx. 200 countries.

If you have no access to a gopher server, you can use the public gopher ( and choose the menu item "All gophers" and search for "United Nations" or, alternatively, you can use the gopher-by-email server and send the following message (with subject header get all to <>

Name=UN Exchange rates

Information about the American Philatelic Research Library, the American Philatelic Society, and the Penn State Philately Series.

Section 6.3.4 Reading Usenet News


Send a request to tfs (see earlier section) with the following subject header:


Where DD-MM-YY should be replaced by the date you are interested in. US users, please note the European date style. N.B. Always use two digits: News/rcs.25-05-94

Only the last four weeks or so are kept available.

Richard Soppe writes in 1994: If you don't or can't use the tfs-server, you can try the gopher-by-email to read some of the newsgroups. To use the gopher, send an e-mail to: with the subject "get all", and the following message in the body.

You will receive 2 or 3 messages in a few seconds, with the last 100 titels of the usenet-contributions. To read a particular message, copy the whole e-mail, and put an X in front of the usenet titel of your interest. You should receive the file within a minute.

Section 6.3.5 WWW

Thanks to Joseph Luft, Jan Korrubel and Edwin L. Jackson.

For increased legibility and www-ness of the FAQ, the actual http links will no longer be shown directly. If your viewer does not have view source capabilities, you can retrieve the ASCII or Postscript versions from the usual sources.

Section General & Pages that list a list of sites

Jill Lampi

Joseph Luft

Section Images

Section Postal authorities

USPS(United States Postal Service)

US postal rates, zipcodes, 1995 stamp program, images etc. A section with a reprint of USPS's "History of the U.S. Postal Service: 1775-1993", with photos.

Section Organized by topic

Finnish stamps Matti Teittinen

Section Collector's Home Pages

Section Commercial Offerings

Section 6.3.6 BBS's


Postal Service Bulletin Board Update

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service launched a Rapid Information Bulletin Board System (RIBBS) as one part of its growing involvement in the information highway. RIBBS offers a variety of interactive services, including the latest postal news, Federal Register notices, conferences between mailers and postal specialists, online applications and information request forms, and publications that are available for immediate download. It also carries the full text of the Postal Service's monthly "memo to mailers" newsletter, speeches of the Postmaster General, and other information about the Postal Service.

According to the Postal Service, RIBBS is currently growing at the rate of about 75 new users per week. And, it's no wonder why--anyone with a computer, modem, and any standard communication program (such as Kermit, ZTerm, Procomm, or Qmodem Pro) can access RIBBS. It's easy to log in and navigate through the bulletin board, and you have up to an hour of free use each time you log in.

To connect to RIBBS through your system, dial 1-800-262-9541. It can handle speeds as high as 14.4K, data bits 8, parity none, stop bits 1, terminal emulation ANSI. If you're a first-time user (or haven't logged in in the past six months), you'll be asked for your name, address, and phone number. After that, you're in! For more information (although you shouldn't need anything else in the way of instructions) call 1-800-238-3150.

Section Stampline BBS

               StampLine BBS Update: Fourth Quarter 1994

On Saturday, October 1, 1994, at the stroke of midnight, StampLine BBS officially went live and on the air. Conceived as the beginnings of of a platform for all things philatelic, StampLine was created, designed and produced by syndicated stamp columnist David V. Tilton. While StampLine's beginnings have been modest, growth has been steady and encouraging. Here is a report for the fourth quarter of 1994--the first three months since StampLine went on the air.

STATISTICS 4Q-94 ------------------ ------- Active Lines 2 Active Accounts 104 Calls 396 Mail/Messages 4354

USER DEMOGRAPHICS ------------------ U.S. States 27 Other Nations 3 Brazil, Canada, Singapore


On November 21, 1994, StampLine made contact with the Internet and started daily mailruns for e-mail and selected Usenet news groups. This capability gives StampLine users the ability to configure their own Internet address through StampLine. The rec.collecting.stamps Usenet news group is available on StampLine and is updated at least once each 24 hours and sometimes more often as the need arises. Selected posts from r.c.s are also copied to various of the more than 500 public forums on StampLine according to subject. StampLine users responding to the r.c.s news group posts have their replies transmitted back across the Internet to be merged with the news group traffic worldwide.


Many individuals have e-mailed, written and faxed to request direct and full Internet access to StampLine. This is a do-able project and is scheduled for late 1995, funds permiting. In the meantime, software is in place to activate an Archive Server for StampLine that will allow files to be accessed by anyone on the Internet sending simple e-mail requests to StampLine. This should be up and running in the spring of this year and more information about the Archive Server will be posted as it becomes available. News of StampLine has been distributed during 4Q-94 to the philatelic community via all of the following known channels: *Linn's Stamp News *Stamp Collector *Stamp Wholesaler *Usenet news group rec.collecting.stamps *Stamps mail list ( *Prodigy *CompuServe During 1Q-95, a number of other channels will be utilized to broaden StampLine's user base.


If you have already called StampLine and signed on as a user, you are invited to call back from time to time and to start or contribute to the discussions in the public forums, upload/download files to the library of files, network with other stampers and watch StampLine grow and mature. When calling back, remember that your USER-ID is your name, exactly as you keyed it in originally. Your password is whatever you set it up as, but don't confuse your password with your Internet handle, which you may have configured when you originally called in. IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE logging back on again, call, fax, write or e-mail and we will assist you to get back on.

New users are welcomed to call and sign on StampLine. It is a free BBS and will continue to be so for the near future.

StampLine BBS 14,400 bps +1 (813) 656-1436 2,400 bps +1 (813) 656-1681

Voice: +1 (813) 656-0225 Fax: +1 (813) 656-5177 E-mail:

Post Office Box 3516 North Fort Myers, Florida 33918-3516 USA

Thanks to all who have participated so far.

With warmest regards, David V. Tilton StampLine Sysop

Section 6.3.7 Commercial services

Section 6.3.8 Other

Online Libraries

APRL, library of the APS, will soon have an online computer catalog system available for member use in searching for magazine and book reference material.

Section 6.4 Making your own album pages

Michael Rys writes: is offering some FileMaker Pro layouts as 'stampware'. He also has some self designed Lindner Blanko pages for early Swiss se-tenants. Contact him for more information.

Paul A. Nelson writes: Regarding the use of laser-printed pages. It's very important to have any printed areas placed far away from the stamps which will be mounted on the page. The plasticizer in the toner will often migrate to materials in contact with it. If pages are kept in plastic sleeves, it's IMPERATIVE that these sleeves have NO PLASTICIZER in them. Witness what happens when a photocopy is put in contact with a vinyl notebook--the plasticizers from the materials merge and the two stick together. And, of course, the use of archival-quality paper with the proper pH is an imperative.

Wolfgang Richter writes: On my MS-DOS computer, I simply use an old version MS-Word (actually any word processor would probably do). It comes with line drawing capabilities. I have a 24-pin dot matrix printer, so do not have any problem in printing on thicker paper or outsized paper (should I choose to do so). To ensure the nicest quality of output, I do everything (including the lines) in bold. The trick is to set up a single file with a combination of boxes. Then to produce new pages, just copy and paste the boxes you want from the file and add text where desired. At first I also typed the Scott catalog number in the middle of each square, but have found this too time consuming. I use a Scott catalog as a basis for knowing what arrangement of boxes to produce on a page. I wish Scott would indicate stamp sizes so that I will not have to guess on occasion.

Dan Lester writes:

>   Are you  sure your laser  printer dye and  paper are not  eating away
>your stamps?

Laser printers will take almost any kind of paper, including acid free paper. Indeed if the album pages are printed on acidic, cheap paper, there could be a problem. If they are printed on acid-free paper, there should be no problem.

Laser toner is basically pure carbon particles. There may be a bit of some sort of plasticizer in it. The risk should be minimal, but could probably stand a bit more investigation. Of course if the stamps are in mounts, that should cover any contamination problem. And I bet that these days most folks use mounts, at least for better stamps.

William D. Schieber writes: As concerns designing album pages by computer, it may be feasible to use one of several PC-based packages, preferably windows-based (or on a Mac if one has one). I have been experimenting with a package called PerForm Designer by Delrina, but there are a host of others available. The main problem here is not the design of the album page, but the printing of it. Most of the graphics packages require output to be directed to a laser printer (although some support impact printers). I have not yet figured out how to deal with the problem of printing on heavy card stock, on the oversized pages that are characteristic of a nicely laid-out stamp collection. I will be very curious as to how others on the list respond to this query.

Rolf Nordhagen writes: Re. the discussion on albums. I make my own by using the Lindner system. They make heavy paper pages where they fasten a plastic envelope along one side, so that you can slide a preprinted, thin paper underneath. (Their own preprinted albums come with the paper page printed). The envelopes (or pages with envelopes) come in a great variety of lay-outs, from 8 or 7 strips per page to various combinations, up to accommodating whole sheets (within the page bounds). Its not cheap, but the result is satisfactory.

The page layout I prepare by Mac Draw. I find this very easy, I duplicate, copy, drag and paste, and can have built in rulers for the most common sizes of stamps for a given country, and for the various page layouts. The heavy, black borders I use come out well on a laser printer. And I add explanatory text etc. as I need. And if my knowledge of a series improve, I can rearrange. (This arrangement is very handy for my Machin collection, where I follow my own ideas which sometimes have to be revised thoroughly!)

Martti Tolvanen writes:

Rolf Nordhagen writes:
>    The page  layout I  prepare by Mac  Draw.  I find  this very  easy, I
> duplicate, copy,  drag and paste, and  can have built in  rulers for the
> most common  sizes of stamps  for a given  country, and for  the various
> page layouts.  The heavy,  black borders I use come out  well on a laser
> printer.   And I  add  explanatory text  etc.   as I  need.   And if  my
> knowledge of a series improve, I can rearrange.

Are you sure your laser printer dye and paper are not eating away your stamps?

Michael Rys writes:

Martti Tolvanen said:
> Are you  sure your laser  printer dye and  paper are not  eating away
> your stamps?

Well, he said that he uses Lindner Blanko pages. There, the stamps are kept in plasticizer-free plastic mounts (kind of a page attached to a page, not like the Hawitt mounts), so there is no way for them to touch the inserted paper or even the print. No, if there would be some danger in terms of fumes or particles sneaking around and penetrating the plastic mounts, that would worry me more...

Barry Moss writes:

>    My concern is: would the toner or the ink be dangerous to the stamps?
> Sometimes  the toner  does not  fix well,  and printer  ink often  leave
> stains on common papers.  What do you think?
> Pedro Sanchez (

I haven't been too concerned up to this point about the toner fixing. This is usually a problem with textured pages and the Lighthouse blank pages are very smooth. I suppose that I should be careful to brush off the pages after printing to insure that any loose toner is removed. Perhaps flexing the pages a few times first (to simulate normal album wear) would help. I am placing the stamps in hingeless mounts so this should add additional protection.

Pedro Luis writes: My concern is: would the toner or the ink be dangerous to the stamps? Sometimes the toner does not fix well, and printer ink often leave stains on common papers. What do you think?

Dave Gomberg writes: Heavy album pages: An HP LJ printer will track a 70 pound sheet (that's fairly thick and stiff) for one-sided printing. Past that you are on your own. Dave

Barry Moss writes:

>    As concerns designing album pages by  computer, it may be feasible to
> use one of several PC-based  packages, preferably windows-based (or on a
> Mac if  one has one).  I  have been experimenting with  a package called
> PerForm Designer by  Delrina, but there are a host  of others available.
> The main  problem here  is not  the design  of the  album page,  but the
> printing of  it.  Most  of the  graphics packages  require output  to be
> directed to a laser printer  (although some support impact printers).  I
> have not  yet figured out  how to deal with  the problem of  printing on
> heavy card  stock, on the oversized  pages that are characteristic  of a
> nicely laid-out  stamp collection.   I will  be very  curious as  to how
> others on the list respond to this query.

I am getting ready to make up a supplement for my Lighthouse Canada album and have been facing this same problem. However, while the pages are too large to fit in my laser printer, the area that I need to design is only 8.5" x 11". So I'm going to do my design on regular letter sized paper (using Quark Express on my Mac) and then photocopy the output onto the larger album pages (my office has a photocopier which takes legal sized pages). To avoid wasting expensive album pages, I'm going to make up some dummy pages with plain paper to get the positioning correct before copying onto the real thing.

Ivo Steyn writes: About using the computer to create your own album pages : I would agree that printing on heavy card stock (with a laser printer) is a problem. Since I'm not willing to switch to thinner paper, there are two solutions which I've seen applied in practice.

The first is two have your PC print the text in nice boxes, preferably with a heavy frame, then cut these out and paste them onto the album page of your choice (I've had a printer print me album pages of my preferred size and colour, with a frame around the entire page). A lot of work, and hardly ideal, but I've been useing this system now for several years. The second solution is what a friend of mine does : he prints his text on a blank (paper) page, then photocopies this onto the album page, the theory (an practice) being that photocopiers are better able to cope with heavy card stock than laser printers...

Section 6.5 Stamp databases

Public domain databases available from are:

                            Public Domain Databases                             
| name            | ftp site             | directory                           |
|     |      | /pub/msdos/database                 |
|    |      | /pub/msdos/database                 |
|      |      | /pub/msdos/windows3                 |
Personally (g.w.bultman) I can recommend Paradox (NOT public domain!), a very versatile and user-friendly database package for MS-DOS. Using a general purpose database will allow you more freedom in structuring your own database, although you may have to invest more time in setting the it up.

Commercial databases:

Check Linn's and other magazines for advertisements.

David Walker writes: I was browsing on using the anon ftp facility and found several programs for collectors. These are shareware and can be obtained from there free of charge, all you need is facilities to get them from your host to your pc.

Obviously all the programs are in msdos. One is in the windows3 directory and is called, the other two are in the databases directory and are called and is a fairly simple windows/visual basic system which is only in version one, and therefore the author is probably willing to listen to sensible requests for upgrades. and are general pc dos programs which have fields called catalog number, description etc. but are not stamp collector specific.

None of these programs contain the catalog details so you are always faced with a lot of keying to get basic info in, but on the otherhand it gives a great chance to review your collection if you enter the details and check them as you go through.

Is there any chance of a permament list which we can add programs as we find them and if one or other suits us perhaps we can gang up on the author to get the features we want in the next release !

As it is shareware one should pay for it if one decides to use it on a day to day basis but it is free to try out !

Copyright & Catalogue information

David Lee writes: You must obtain rights from Scott to use their numbering system. Generally, merely acknowledging them is enough; sometimes you have to pay. Whatever, you must request and obtain this permission in writing. Usually it is in their interest to let you use the Scott system as they want it to be used. However, in the commercial world, they reserve the right to charge you depending on whether or not you are using it to make money or for purely philatelic purposes,..i.e. research, writing,..etc.

W Schipper writes: I have a double copyright problem here, or even a triple one. I can of course not give away the dBase portion, but then I haven't actually written an application of any sort that uses dBase in an essentially integrated way, so that my version of dBase has to be included. But in addition I use various numbering systems (including one of my own) for the database, and the commercial ones are usually though not always copyrighted. Moreover, some companies (e.g. Scott) are quite aggressive in protecting their copyright from commercial use.

What I think I can share is the database structure itself (field names, etc), my own numbering system (based on a year plus issue number), and the descriptive notes I have added. I am a little less certain about the catalogue values. I suspect those that come from Scott are copyrighted. In addition any programs I have written to retrieve information from the databases or add information are my own, and these could be distributed as well.

Now the other question, of course, is whether I want to share this information, which I have spent many man-hours putting together. ;-)

Jon Bell writes:

George Bauer asks:
>...I wonder if you  CAN sell or give away  the parts [of a database
application] which
>you personally developed, such as the data file which contains the basic
>information for a particular country.

You can sell or give away any programming or similar customization which you did (such as templates), but I'm sure Scott (say) would frown on it if you distributed a data file which contained their catalog numbers and/or prices. I read in American Philatelist a little while ago that a study group which is developing data files for various countries wanted to use Scott numbers, but Scott refused permission, so they're making up their own numbering system.

Henry Dunsmore writes: I have basic templates for stamp inventories for GB, Ireland, & Australia but they are not complete ie. haven't done much in last 3 year's issues. I would be willing to trade mine for anyone else's inventory lists particularly France, US, Japan.

Mine are in Filemaker Pro for the Macintosh but I can export any format file from there for you ie. ASCII, Tab or Comma Separated, etc.

All inquiries please contact me directly at <>

Nancy Reeves writes: I use U.S. Philatelist Database for inventory and approximate market value information. It is a shareware program (free trial, but if you use it you should register and pay for it). The registration fee is about $30, but don't quote me. The author has a compuserve id and can be reached via internet e-mail. I believe he is also working on a World Wide version of the software. The database features aren't extremely fancy, but it has lots of nice features. (It is MS-DOS compatible.)

I have seen several ads in Linn's for other database software that costs quite a bit more than USPD, but I have no experience with any of them.

If anyone would like me to send you the shareware version, send your postal address to me. Please let me know if you will be sending me a disk to put the software on, or if you prefer to send a couple dollars worth of mint US stamps to cover the cost of a disk and postage to get it to you. (Remember to tell me what size disk and format density.)

William D. Schieber writes: I have seen a number of ads recently for customized software packages from several different sources. They probably bear investigation, however, they do not appear to be inexpensive. For inventory purposes, I have been using Quattro Pro (which is very similar to Lotus 1-2-3) with much success. Since I already had the package for other reasons, and already knew it well, I was not obliged to make an additional investment. The real disadvantage of this method is that one has to input the catalogue values for each stamp or set onself, whereas, I believe that the stamp inventory packages come with pricing information included.

Michael Rys writes: Lindner is offering something in their catalog and I think Michel may have something for MS-DOS. I you need more infos I will try to find it.

Section 6.6 CD-ROMs

Ilkka Havukkala writes in May 1995:

(text deleted) found only one from the net on Chinese stamps, link below. Any more around?

Randy Gunning writes in May 1995:

ZCI PowerCD CD-ROMs for DOS, Windows and Macintosh: on page 34 of the July, 1994 #407 catalog.

One of the disks is:

Encyclopedia of Stamps SKU-CDESTA, $23.95

The history and a large color photo of every postage stamp design ever issued by the U.S. Post Office. More that 2,400 multimedia reports! Enjoy a 45 minute dynamic audiovisual presentation on stamps, collecting and stamp histories and view a 7+ hour audiovisual show that displays every stamp with narration. Electronic glossary and index helps you find information quickly.

Surplus Software International
489 North 8th Street
Hood River, OR 97031

Orders - 800-753-7877 or 503-386-1375 Fax 503-386-4227

I have never heard of this company before today, so I know nothing about them, but the call is free.

Section 6.7 Scanning

David Lee writes: When I posted the idea of using scanners as a method of stamp authentication, I mentioned the combination of computers and image enhancement techniques. My thought was not to use images on the computer monitors to visually compare stamps. This type of comparison does not have the detail required. The scanner was suggested as a method to input the `genuine' stamp information into the computer; comparison against a candidate stamp would be done by the computer breaking down the total stamp image bit by bit. The monitor would be for visual display only. With the large amounts of computer memory now available and the image enhancing software being used today, I feel that it could be possible to work something out along these lines.... Any `experts' want to try??

Regarding color comparsion and stamp reproduction. The Federal law prohibits reproduction of U.S. stamps only if the final image is in color and is the same size as the original; otherwise, it's perfectly legal.

There was an excellent color reference published several years ago; R.H. White put together a book of color photographs on U.S. stamps and used computer generated color photographs. These were very expensive color photographs as the technique utilized a computer to generate and compare the negative with the original stamp to match colors before the `picture' was taken.. This produced a color photograph of very high fidelity. The title was Color Encyclopedia of U.S. Stamps and was followed by works on paper and gums of U.S. stamps. It is out of print now; however, at auction, it sells for about $300 a set.

Patrick Lamastus writes: I scanned the U.S. Scott #1 in a very high resolution scanner. And the results were very good; however, the colors varied from computer to computer. I was using a Silicon Graphics computer which is probably one of the best computers for graphics in the market. Even with 24 million colors the image did not have the same color as the original stamp. When we come to the IBM and compatibles we are limited to 256 colors. When it comes to resolution everything will depend on the type of sacnner you are using they can go from 100 dpi (dots per inch) to 800 dpi. I scanned the stamp at 400 dpi and it was very impresive.

A lot of space will be needed. I will assume about 60 kbytes of disk space per image (Size will depend on quality of colors).

Robert R. Wellman writes:

>    I believe one of the greatest  impacts of computers on philately will
> be  assoctaed with  the information  revolution.  Reference  material on
> stamps for  expertization can know  be organized  and found in  a timely
> manner; not  just for  large library with  mainframe computers,  but the
> average collector can organize his reference material and stamps in such
> a way as to be instantly  available.  The possibility of using a scanner
> with  image enhancing  to authenticate  genuine from  counterfeit copies
> might prove feasible using reference material.

This is an excellent idea, and one I would like to hear more about. I have often thought that a `lending library' concept with known, authenticated, stamps, would be a boon to the hobby--a cosmopolitan library with particular holdings from many collectors loaned for a week or two to other collectors so they could check such things as color, markings for plates, varieties, etc. Discriminating the Victorian issues from the the Falklands, even using UV, SG, and the standard SG colour cards, is still a difficult, if not impossible, task. And this is only one of scores of examples where actually having in hand a copy of this color, or that variety, would make identification much easier and certain. Now, nothing replaces the expert or knowledgeable dealers who can determine, almost at a glance, some of the more problematic areas of philately.

Now to the suggestion: I am not familiar enough with scanning devices, but does anyone know if they can scan, copy, and transmit truly enough to allow for identification of difficulty varieties? Color is an especially difficult area, where comparison with a known quantity is almost a necessity. Are our color monitors good enough for such transmissions? can the hardware handle it? Etc.

I would appreciate any information others might have on how well the suggestion of using scanners--perhaps fax as well--would work out in practice.

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