In short my experience is HORRIBLE when you collect Gandhi related philatelic material which does not go with Gandhi's way of thinking and living !
As some of you know how I got back again in to my childhood hobby after 20 years. I was looking for worldwide stamps and album for my kids and I saw Gandhiji stamp from USA so as a respect to him I bought it and did more research and I was amazed with material available on Gandhiji and I started collecting back.!! Before this I have no idea about Gandhiji stamps issued by other countries than INDIA.
While doing research on internet I found one of the best website "Lick Service to the Mahatma" hosted by one of the famous Gandhi collector Mr. Rajan which gave me indepth about what kind of material is available. His website is http://www.topicalphilately.com/Gandhi/ . If you read and understand his topical exhibit on Gandhi's Life than you don't need any other material to start and become expert. I am very thankful to Mr. Rajan for making this available to whole world and which indicates he is the true follower of Gandhi.
I got information from another Gandhi collector Nikhil Mundra website http://www.gandhistamps.com/. His website as lot of details about countries issued stamps on Gandhi and also his exhibit will also give you ideas about collection and what you need to collect.
Also I got idea about indepth topical 1948 Gandhi issue from Maulik Thakkar from one frame online exhibit. This exhibit taught me how to do research about special topic. You can see his online exhibit by clicking this link http://www.japhila.cz/hof/0465/index0465a.htm Maulik is also owner of this blog and he allowed me to share this blog with him.
I started buying only stamps from http://www.stampexindia.com/ which is a very good seller so I bought about 25-30 cheap stamps(25-200 Indian ruppes) from him. Then I started looking on ebay as some of the stamps in his store were expensive so I thought let me buy it if is cheaper from Americian and European dealer but that was not the case as some Asian dealers and Asian origin people also wants to buy that and resell this to new collector at high price. But some how I bought it at expensive price but I also learned lessons and how to avoid this kind of stuff.
Slowly slowly my interest was more than ever so I started collecting FDC and I bought FDC from USA and UK. And slowly slowly I collected almost all FDC including the expensive Cameroun 1968. You will find more details in this blog How this particular FDC from Cameroun is expensive.!!
After this I started collecting sheets, used covers, maxi card and imperf stamp.
On ebay and delcampe there are lot of thugs who are doing very bad business practice. Some of the famous collectors (reseller/dealer) from UK is making this hobby very expensive in order to make some money. Following is what they do.
1) They have more than 50+ account on ebay and try to sell his stuff and bid on it and make it expensive. They have accounts from UK, USA, INDIA, Australia, Isarel, France, Netherlands and other countries. Also they work with other dealer to increase the price. So BEWARE of this kind of dealers. It will be very very hard to avoid them.!!
2) Also they increase price on others seller item for their gain. In order to sell their stuff at higher price they will start bidding on other auction and make it impossible for collector to buy. Following is example on delcampe item # 5487660
Khel10ka bidded on this item with multiple id and increase the price and eventually he did not allowed me to buy it and on next day he offered me same FDC for 190 euros!! I declined his offer right away. After 2-3 days original seller contacted me and told me about that non-paying, non-replying buyer and we negiogate the price for 121 euros.
Also same thing happen to following Cameroun FDC. In this case buyer "6300" opened new account and try to outbid the real buyer (ganges1948) and in that way he increase the price of this FDC so his value increases. Same FDC is selling on ebay for 30-35K rupees on ebay India.
Now let's talk about dealers from Asia. This are the dealers who increase price of the item and they don't allow new collector to buy cheap from delcampe and ebay. I stop buying from Asian dealer even if I don't have it. I can leave without having that items in my collection.!! Only buy from Asian dealer if it really cheap and justify the price.
Also there are some dealer from UK(even base in India/USA) you need to avoid too other wise you are screwed and your Gandhi collection will be NIGHTMARE.
Don't think that buying from Belgium or Germany or Netherlands or China is safe(not cheated) as some of the asian dealer/collectors have contacts their and they mutually help each other.
You have to be very very careful to buy Gandhi realted material. If your read my following recommedation than very less chance that you might get in to bad dealing.
1) Buy from following ebay seller from Europe and North America without worry.
hajunga (64000+), instampco (14000+), qv500(13000+), fil_mag(11000+),bereson(32000+), pnjstamps(16000+), coversandpostcards(38000+), stampko(19000+), rlingen(26000+). In short if you buy from dealer with 10000+ feedback no chance of cheating at all.
If you don't want to read following is OK as my #1 point covers everything.
Only buy from 5000+ feedback on ebay or delcampe. Higher the feedback they are very good seller. Reason for this is that this fake seller have multiple ids and they can't reach 5000 easily. Also you will get excellent quality of stamps/covers. NEVER buy from new seller with 10-500 feedback(I am really sorry for new seller or genuine seller with less feedback). Also there are some seller who has around 800-1500 feedback and avoid those and you have to know who they are.
2) DON'T BUY FROM EBAY Asia(India, Singapore etc) as ebay's listing fee and shop(store) fee is cheaper seller are usually putting item for higher price as they don't have to worry about fees like in USA or UK.
Same issue on DELCAMPE site as there is no listing fees some Asian dealer are taking benefit of this and listing their item at enormus high price. Declampe is good site but Asian dealer made this buying experience horrible.
In this way they fix the pricing of Gandhi philatelic material.
Again only buy from this ebay sites if they are priced reasonable and if you think seller is really genuine.
3) Don't try to buy it multiple items from one seller to save shipping. This is were you will also get cheated as this thugs try to increase price of the items.
4) Don't buy it Fixed price or BUY IT NOW item if it is expensive as this dealer try to increase it price after buying from Europen seller for cheap. And they try to make you fool as same item might be selling for lower price than that FIXED price and you will buy it.
I bought Cuba FDC for 10$ at Fixed price from dealer and later I bought same FDC for 50 cents.!!
5) Don't buy if auction price is starting is higher than 10$. Reason for this that seller is fixing the price than open market.
If auction is starting at less price than make sure shill(fake) bidding is not going in that auction. It's hard to know whether there is fake bidding going on but you can tell if seller has less # of feedback and shill bidder will stop bidding it after it reach certain level. Also in general there will be 4-8 bids but if it is shill bidding going on than # of bids will increases. Also the geninue buyer will wait to see what's going on and depending on situation they will bid on that.
Keep in mind that great collector ( like Rajan, Maulik, Nikhil and others) don't need all items or FDC. They might be looking for some very special so they will never even look at this regular items. .They will not waste there time in bidding or not waste their money on that kind of items so if you see more # of bids on certain items than there are chances of shill bidding. Only greedy dealers will try to buy or sell items to newbie collector at higher price. I have been through this.!!
6) NEVER buy 2nd chance offer from seller. Because seller might be bidding on that item to increase the price. If you want to buy than negiogate the price and usually 30-40% lesser than sold price. I only bought once in 2nd offer on my costly purchase of Cameroun FDC as I know the bidder was FAKE( in real life he is a big collector and reseller and unregister dealer). I also negiogate the price from 190 euros to 121 euros. I recently saw that this kind of 2nd offer happens in PANAMA Gandhi stamp which is also inflated price.
There is always shill bidding in 1948 gandhi issue with 10Rs. stamps, Panama 1970 gandhi stmap, FDC with 3 low value 1948 and ofcourse FDC with 4 1948 gandhi stamp so beware of it.
7) Also avoid buying from UK listing (Except 5000+ seller) because you cannot see who is bidding items as ebay don't provide the even short ebay id so all things bidders are hidden. It is hard to find who is bidding and lot of misuse of this privacy option.
8) FDC/Max card after 1995 are needs to checked before you bid on it as there are lot of FDC from Nevis, Macadonia, St. Vincent etc. Also the stamps from Nevis, St. Vincent and others with Obama, Diana, Indra Gandhi etc needs to be checked before you buy as they are just printed by some greedy dealers and sold by greedy dealers.
9) Most important thing is to study the sellers as well as buyer and you will know how to collect GANDHI collection.
I hope this will help to all collectors. Let me know if any questions or concerns about this. If you want to add anything than let me know or put comments on this.
Thanks again reading this blog.
Think as hobby not as investment.!!
Again thanks for reading and please share your thoughts in the comments section