Monday, May 10, 2010
If you're at all familiar with the world of the iPhone, iPod Touch or the new iPad, you know how many different "apps" there are for these products. There are so many in fact that the commercial assures us "there's an app for that" no matter what your interests are.
However, is that true for stamp collectors? I decided recently to see what was available for stamp collectors through the iTunes store. I found two applications. One is a stamp collecting dictionary called "Stamp Collecting Terminology" which sells for $0.99 and the other, a virtual catalog called "stampDatabase" which is free. What I really wanted was the ability to have a stamp catalog at my fingertips at stamp shows or the office or other places where I'd like to be able to reference the value of a stamp but would not have access to my catalogs. Given that, I downloaded "stampDatabase".
What I found right away is that the "bones" of the application is all that is free. If you want to flesh out those bones with an actual catalog, you have to pay $5.99 for each one you want. Still, $5.99 for a good stamp catalog is not bad so I paid to download the Canada catalog (there's one available for the USA as well).
First the positive. The catalog provides nice images of the stamps as well as values listed by condition. Here are a couple of screen shots for Canada Scott #56:
On the down side, locating a specific stamp is not as easy as it should be in my opinion. When opening the app you have the ability to choose from a menu like this:
However, if you want to find a specific stamp within a range, the only option you have, other than scrolling through until you find it, is to put the catalog number in the search field at the top. In the case of Scott #56, this returns not only #56 but #560, 561, etc.
Not a huge deal but it would be neater it seems if there were a way to go to a specific stamp directly. The biggest drawback for me, however, is the stamp values. For Canada, there do not seem to be any values populated for Airmail, Postage Due, or any of the other BOB stamps. There's not even a value in all cases for the regular issues. For the values that are there, I've not been able to determine their source. The information provided by the developer on iTunes or at their website doesn't tell you the source and I've not been able to match their values to any of the catalogs I reference for Canada, at least for the few stamps I've checked. The values don't seem to correspond to Scott (2008), Unitrade (2010) or Brookman (2007).
As I mentioned, this is a big drawback. The whole purpose in having a portable catalog it seems is to be able to check a stamp when away from home to see its value. For example if I'm looking at purchasing a stamp at a show. If I can't rely on the values in the application, all I really have is a reference guide which marries images to Scott numbers. Though this may be helpful in some cases ("What is Canada Scott #400?") I don't see much practical use for it.
All in all, I'm glad I only spent $5.99 for this tool. What experience do you have with stamp collecting technology? What have you used that works or doesn't work? What would you like to see that doesn't currently exist?
I welcome your thoughts!