CANADIAN CIRCUIT SYSTEM
A Users Guide to the Canadian Circuit System
By Roger Fontaine
(published in The Posthorn, May 1999 and Nov 1999)
The Canadian circuit system has been up and running for over 3 years now. Many of our members in Canada have taken advantage of it, and have enjoyed both good sales and the thrills of a find. Circuit books are basically filled up by collectors like you - people who want to take full advantage of their membership entitlements - and books are ordered by collectors like you who wish to fill in a blank spot in an album, or who want to see what's new and available. The circuit book system can and will provide you with a good variety of choices and options. I have put together some tips for you to better take advantage of this system. These outline benefits and pitfalls that users sometimes run into.
As Canadian members, you have received updated lists of circuit books on hand and available. The list shows a Book #, the country or countries contained in the book, and if the stamps are Mint, Used, or both. If it says Mint/Used, then the majority of the stamps are mind and vice versa with the Used/Mint. It's an easy order by number system.
You can also order by request. One member in B.C., having seen all of the Finnish books on hand, keeps an open order for any new books on Finland. The advantage here is that he often ends up getting first pick at anything new. Quite a few members from across Canada request to see all of the books. Express Post gets them five books at a time. I vary the shipment by whatever I have on hand or by what was specifically requested. Another member, also from B.C., has requested a shipment of books at two or three month intervals. One person from Ontario brought in 22 books at one shot! These were shared with fellow collectors at a local club. The point is...just ask! I keep individual files of all my clients and an active request list. If you want used stamps only, or if you want recent or modern, just say so. Someone asked for Finnish postal stationery, and I had some. Someone else wanted some specific Swedish back of the book; I put him in touch with another member who had some.
To our new members, who may have indicated on their application that they were interested in the circuit system, please contact me directly once you receive your membership. I do not send out stamps automatically, as I do not necessarily know what you want or when you want them. A short note by mail does the trick. Don't send any money up front. We'll settle later.
Response time can vary. I may not have a specific request on hand. Murphy's law is alive and well here. I often get your request for a book the day after I mailed it to someone else. Round trips by mail usually take two weeks to a month. With Express Post, you get your package two or three days after I mail it. Look over the stamps for a week, then send the book back. Please keep in mind that others may be waiting for the book you have in hand. I can also send one or two books at a time (depending on their value) via regular mail, so you can save on postage costs.
We are not insured. You are responsible for the stamp books while they are in your possession. Never leave them unattended, be it in your car or at a stamp club. I use Express Post because it is the safest method, allowing me to trace the parcel. It also allows for some insurance if the package is lost by Canada Post. But once the books are in your mailbox, treat them as your own.
The bottom line is: write me! Any reasonable request will be considered. My goal is to try and accommodate all members.
If you want to sell, price it low. Half to a third of catalog seems to do very well. Better items can sell at higher prices, but anything at or above catalog is a tough sell. I find that many collectors (myself included) will pick up a few extra stamps, whether they need them or not, if the price is right.
Try to use a hinge that removes easily and that won't rip the stamp. Your stamps won't fall out; on the rare occasions they do, collectors will remount them for you. I keep books circulating for two years or until the book is 2/3 to 3/4 sold. If you want to sell a lot of low value stamps, mount them in sets or batches in glassines and use the book pages to your advantage. I also carry sixteen page books specifically made for covers; they can be used for lot sales as well. If you want to write in comments or details on the book pages, go ahead - it's your sales tool.
You don't have to completely fill the book if you run out of material. You can also split a book between complementary countries: Finland and Åland, or Denmark and Greenland, for example. Members who mount circuit books often ask what I need. If it's Scandinavian and you want to sell it, go for it!
Covers can be hot - as in the case of the Finnish covers that sold in a day. Specialty items are popular. Many of our members are specialists, so sales of good, rare, and expensive specialty material is not a problem.
For security, I photocopy all pages of a book before sending it out on the circuit. I do randomly check incoming books against these copies, but have never had a problem. I don't know of any other hobby where honest and trust between members is so easy to come by.
We, as a circuit system, are not insured. The cost of insurance is prohibitive and the number of books on hand and the volume of sales does not yet justify the costs involved. You may want to consider self-insurance. As manager of this stamp circuit, I have the assistance of SCC Chapter 24 (Winnipeg). If you need help in mounting your stamps, or have the remains of a collection that you would like sold, contact me or Glenn Hansen. Sales or book mounting arrangements can be made.
In closing, I wish to thank those members that contribute to and use the circuit system. It's always a great joy to receive your letters and packets. I often make a point of phoning home at noon to see what I received in today's mail. The circuit system has exceeded everyone's expectations, with sales of over $1000 two years in a row. Right now, 31 out of 37 books are out and around Canada, from St. John to Vancouver. It's an ever growing opportunity for our members ... so drop me a line, and surprise yourself!
9 Rochester Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 3V6