Bidding in Our Auctions
Dear Friends and Associates,
I am delighted to welcome you to our 7th auction, this being our first in the format of a 'Buy or Bid' sale, where lots may be bid-on or purchased outright; there are over 1300 attractive lots on offer. The sale features items in every one of our areas of specialty, and is probably the largest (and best) selection of Judaic, Holyland and Israeli collectibles for sale anywhere at this time. Featured subjects include ancient & modern coins; Jewish tokens & medals; Jewish, Mandate & Israeli militaria; World War II collaborationist and Holocaust-related militaria; loose & affixed stamps of the Holyland, Egypt and the JNF; postal history of all periods and across all themes and subjects from the Holyland, Mandate, Israel, the Palestinian Authority & near east, as well as worldwide wartime (WWI / WWII) civilian and military mail (from 'horseshoe' and pre-'horseshoe route' mail to post-Third Reich 'uberroller' & displaced persons mail), specialized mail of the Arab-Israeli conflict & 'postkrieg', hijack/terror mail + American Civil War Confederate States of America philately - a new subject area for us (students of Israeli & Interim postal history - unusual routes, special rates & key dates - will recognize many similar characteristics to their CSA counterpart); plus Judaica, Israeliana, Arabiana, banknotes and other areas of interest. There are many unique and 'discovery' items in this sale, and many fascinating objects both old and contemporary worth your attention. We've worked hard to improve the sale's navigability, functionality and ease of use.
A few highlights:
- a nice Bar Kokhba revolt AE (base metal) small bronze attributed to Year 3 (134-5 CE)
- a rare Romanian Choral Temple 50 Bani "Hazkarat Neshamot" donation token by the Jewish Romanian engraver Moise Carniol Fiul, c. 1912
- an Italian "Jewish Communities Act" blackened bronze medal commemorating Mussolini & King Victor Emmanuel III, by the Jewish medallist Arrigo Minerbi, 1930
- the "Judaea Restituta" silver medal (1946) by Arrigo Minerbi, commissioned by Yehuda Arazi (head of covert 'Mossad le Aliya Bet' in Italy) as a token of appreciation to Italians who assisted in the effort to smuggle Jews into Palestine, particularly after the 'La Spezia Affair'
- a medallion of the Second National Conference of Russian Zionists in Minsk, 1902, inscribed to Akiva Arieh Weiss | Lodz Representative - the founding father of Tel Aviv
- a rare Israeli Army General Staff ("Matkal") member breast pin, circa. 1948-50
- a rare Israeli Air Force B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber sweetheart pin (with 6-pointed Stars of David), of the 69th "Patishim" ('Hammer') Squadron, circa. 1948-58
- never before seen metal Jewish pilot's wings, probably of a foreign volunteer of the 'Machal' in the Israeli War of Independence, c.1948-49
- extremely rare officer's cap badge/patch emblem of Gen. Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army's (ROA) Air Force, circa. 1944
- Mandate Jerusalem II overprint on rare sepia 1m (Ba 38) with 14:14 perforation, used
- Mandate Jerusalem II overprint on purple 5 Piastre, 14:14 perforated (Ba 43) with sloping final "E" in PALESTINE, used - rare combination
- Doar Ivri pale cobalt 20mil left corner marginal tabblock of 7x with blank adjusted tab below printed tab (uncatalogued) - mint never hinged & with original gum
- Doar Ivri 1000 mil left corner tabbed stamp with gutters, with rare 10:10 perforation (Ba 9f) & double vertical perforation in field at left (this uncatalogued) - mint never hinged & with original gum
- an unusual 1946 Mandate printed matter cover in Arabic from Mishmar HaEmek to Kantara - tied by Mandate & British franks; possibly sent as military mail by a member of the British forces conducting "Operation Agatha" (Black Sabbath), following the Zionist operation "Night of the Bridges"
- Express airmail cover from Haifa to The Hague, posted 5 May 1940, 5 days before the German invasion of Holland; probably delayed in transit via Italy (which also entered the war on 10 May) - and DELIVERED in December
- two-way correspondence via the Red Cross between Haifa & Nazi-occupied Tarnow in Poland, on the eve of the extermination of that town's Jews, 1942
- a true 1st day Israel cover posted on 15 May 1948, with interim & Mandate postal marks - predating the use of the Israeli trilingual postmarks of 16 May
- covers bearing some of the rarest of the country's postmarks: Holyland Jericho in blue, Aioun Cara & Rischon L'Zion; Mandate JSM Lydda TPO, Jerusalem Lydda TPO, Kfar Yedidya, Talavera Barracks, besieged Jewish Quarter 2nd 'Wall', Naharya 2nd slogan; Israeli 1st & 2nd Jerusalem machine cancels of 1949, metal datelined trilingual Jerusalem1 of 15 July 1948 + innumerable undocumented errors and postmark varieties
- a discovery item: Italian airmail to Israel carried on the 1950 TWA flight forced to land in Egypt, where the mail was seized, censored & returned - and resent; the only non-US cover now known to have been returned from the seized mail shipment
- 1970 'Coronado' flight "terror mail"/"crash mail" cover from Germany-Israel flight which crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb - recovered, specially stamped with instructional marking & delivered
- Pilot-signed "hijack mail" cover from Britain to Australia, from the November 1974 BA870 flight hijacked en route - specially stamped with instructional marking & delivered + signed by the pilot
- a Confederate States Navy cover from the "Ram Virginia" (the famed ironclad CSN Merrimack/Virginia), posted at the special drop rate - a week before the ship was scuttled (1862)
The Mechanics of the Sale: the sale is a combination of various formats, to suit different tastes. The sale itself is divided into 2 parts, one covering lots that are in various non-philatelic fields (lots 1 - 579), and one covering just stamps, postal history and other areas of philately (lots 580 - 1313). The period between now and the published 'end times' of the two parts of sale functions as a 'pre-sale' period: during this time lots may be bid on in a standard mail auction manner (bids submitted in writing) or through the online auction program, or be purchased outright. The published opening bid prices are the minimum bid prices, and the buyout prices are mostly set 50% above the opening bid levels (traditionally "best" bids, which win a lot even before an auction's end are set to 3x the opening bid price). These "buy it now" prices are dynamic: they will rise by 5-10% for every bid received on a lot once the current bid level passes the midway point between the starting bid price and the original buyout price. This is not intended to take advantage of interest in a lot but rather to avoid discouraging bidders from continuing to bid on an item of interest. As of now, at the end of the pre-sale period for Part 1 of the sale (non-philatelic items), available lots will be offered for sale in a timed live sale on our page at Bidspirit.com; Part 2 (philately) will run as a mail auction until the published end date and time, with 5 minute time-extensions if bids are received in the last minute of the sale (or time extension).
Navigation & Functionality: although this sale in being displayed on other sites, each with its own software and functionality, here on our home-site these are some of the features available to users:
- the ability to mark lots for ongoing observation (a "wishlist" function): users who mark lots will receive one email update on the status of bids for that lot (eg. if a bid is received). If the user logs in and views the lot, he will be able to receive another email update (when and if relevant), and so on. This time/login limitation is intended to prevent sending too many messages to users.
- users who place bids can tick a box on the general lot display screens (near the "search" field) to "view lots I bid on", and this will show only the lots that the user placed bids on. This display shows which lots the user is/is not the leading bidder on and what his maximum bid is. Bidders can raise their bids at any time, and bids which are the leading bids will not be raised visibly, but rather the recorded maximum limit will be raised behind the scenes. Only the bidder sees his own maximum bid/s.
- users who opt to purchase a lot outright are given 30 minutes to complete the transaction: during this time the item is not available to the public but will become so if not purchased during the 30 minute period. Thereafter the user will not be able to retry purchasing it (unless he contacts us first), and this is to prevent potential abuse of the sequestering of the item from other bidders or buyers. This purchase option is limited to 'instant' payment methods, so the payment clears immediately, the object becomes officially 'sold', and can be shipped right away.
- Lot menus: there are 3 different ways of viewing the lot display on our site:
b) further down on the page, on the left column (on in Hebrew and Arabic, on the right), there will be a collapsible list of "Categories": this functions both as a menu in its own right and also as a filter for items displayed from the main menu (above) or from search results. Users can open or toggle these filters and see what subject assignments are assigned to displayed lots - and select them in order to refine that display, or select these filters in their own right to yield a display of all the items associated with that filter.
c) we also have a series of index pages by country, locale and special characteristics (not exactly "themes" as in philately, but similar). Alongside the listing of the names and subjects are links to the details of the associated lots. Although users could potentially find many of these lots using the search field, the purpose here was both to clue users to subjects they may not have thought of before and to display articles which don't use the subject in their description text (eg. the search engine would not therefore find those lots). This is particularly useful for the philatelic items, which can be divided and subdivided any number of ways. These subject assignments are tricky to do and rely heavily on how we interpret an object's association with that subject: for example, mail that should have been taxed but wasn't is assigned to "taxed mail" here because in any case this would be of interest to a collector of taxed mail - but otherwise, using the main menu described above, the object would not necessarily have been assigned to a "taxed mail" primary or even secondary category.
The "special characteristics" are pre-set classifications to help identify special qualities of the lots displayed (eg. "non-Israeli articles with Hebrew writing" or "objects with Biblical references", or in the area of philately, some 30+ segmentations such as "censored mail" or "Railway post", "mail from besieged locales", "small locales", "censored mail" etc.). Here for instance, although the philately has special "postmarks" categories in the main menu of the sale, some items were too important to assign to these categories: one way to locate any special postmarks or postal markings is to select the "Philately - significant cachets & postal markings" characteristic and this will zero-in on any lots which share this attribute.
The online user-interface allows visitors to select segmentations and refine the results using the displayed additional segmentations relevant to the displayed results.
That said, as this very logic-intensive and exhausting work covers over 1300 lots, it's inevitable that there will be some oversights and mistakes. Even with 5 weeks of work invested in this approach, it's assured ahead of time that visitors will spot mistakes and for this I apologize. If the basis for this approach now serves as a foundation for the future, the display and cross-references for the next sales will be smoother and more precise.
- The Search Engine: this appears just below the collapsible area of our main auction pages. When used, the search field becomes focused on the results of its last search, for additional searches within those results. In order to start a search from scratch, please "clear" the results first and then use the search field for a new fresh search. Likewise, when using any of the menus or filters to display items, the search field will be focused on searching only through those displayed results: in order to run a fresh new search please "Clear all Search Parameters" first.
Hardcopy catalogues: as the cataloguing work for the sale continued up to the last minute, there wasn't time to prepare hardcopies for mass distribution. We have a core of good customers who are sent hardcopies but for the general public these will be available "on demand" for a fee as the high cost of small-run productions and the [express mail] postage make limited productions uneconomical. We will have pdf and virtual (ebook) catalogues available - and these are really the basis of the hardcopy version.
At the End of the Sale: once the sale is over it will take a few days to issue official "winner" notifications. Please bear with us, as the more broadly the sale is displayed and the more people participate, the more complex the process of collating all the bids from various sources and actioning special requests. The winner notification email contains a link to our automated checkout on the site - and this process generates the invoice. Please check your "spam" folder for the mail (from "historama-auctions") if it doesn't reach your inbox within 2-3 days of the sale's end. Unsold lots will be available for direct purchase after the sale - but may be displayed at a higher price than the opening bid levels for the sale: we do this to discourage fence-sitting during the sale; the opening bid prices are competitively set in order to encourage bidding. Here I should emphasize that the opening bid prices are not a reflection of our evaluation of a lot’s worth: where possible I have added an estimated value at the end of a product description, but a low starting price should not be construed as a lack of understanding of a lot’s worth.
We’re in the process of moving premises and expanding - still; a move that’s taken a little more time than planned, with several false starts along the way - but we're closing in on an office in Har Nof, something that will immeasurably improve the nightlife of this Haredi/National Religious neighborhood. Against a backdrop of receiving materials, cataloguing and executing this sale with its various improvements, the sheer effort cannot be understated, and our availability over the last few months as well as the planned schedule for this sale were impacted by these factors – something I hope we’ve now overcome with the launch of this sale. A supreme effort was made to launch the sale prior to the December holidays - a roaring success. Here I’m (again) recalling Dirk Bogarde’s delicious character-assassinating portrayal of Gen. Frederick Browning (“A Bridge too Far”):
Figure 1: Best Laid Plans
“…Actually the plan’s really very simple: we’re going to fly 35,000 men 300 miles and drop them behind enemy lines…” [cue snigger of discomfort]
Credits & Acknowledgements: everyone here has been instrumental to helping us get to where we are - Dr. Craig C. Howard ("Theory of Knowledge", Suncoast), Bob Caplan (a life-saver; seller manxcat22 on eBay who runs this superb store: https://www.ebay.com/str/israelstampland), Daryl Kibble & our co-pilot Patrick Kohl (aka the "French connection") of st42.fr, the magician behind all the technical stuff (which nowadays is pretty much 'everything'). Moving along with the air-crew metaphor, other members of the team are Rimma Kehr (German), Isaac Pradel (French), Samah Moddather (Arabic); my wife is the ‘ground control’. We’ve been blessed with good ‘shlichim’ (emissaries) whose insights, advice and assistance have been invaluable: Ira Rezak, Herbert Kreindler, Ed Kroft, Jon Aitcheson (RPSL), Sid Morgenstin (Negev-Holyland stamps), Josef Wallach, Graham Mark (Civil Censorship Study Group), Joseph (Dubi) Stier, Don Chafetz (SIP), Mel Wacks (AINA), Bill Rosenblum (whose superb mail-order business inspired us to do likewise - what else will you do with a history major and an MBA in marketing??), Jean-Paul Danon (cfpi-asso.net), David Ben-Ami Endres, Robert Schwartz, Joseph Sohn, Batya Eisen – among others. Any success we have in philately is due entirely to sound guidance and advice I received from Yacov Tsachor (TelAvivStamps) at the start of the journey.
I wish everyone a pleasant and eye-opening browse, and good luck with their bids.
Alex Ben-Arieh, administrator