The April issue of Stamp & Coin Mart comes with a free copy of the PTS Member Directory, your comprehensive guide to the UK stamp trade, listing over 400 PTS approved dealers. In anticipation of the publication, PTS Chairman and member of the Stamp & Coin Mart Advisory Board, Rick Warren, explains the background of the trade organisation and why thousands of collectors around the world trust the familiar PTS logo.
‘The letters PTS stand for (the) “Philatelic Traders’ Society” – with a frequently misplaced apostrophe. Formed in 1929, with many 100s of members, it is by far the UK’s biggest and one of, if not the biggest in the world. Yet, as a society for stamp dealers, paid for by stamp dealers and run by stamp dealers, does that make it completely biased in favour of stamp dealers?
‘To answer that rather leading question, you have to consider the nature of the stamps-as-collectables market. Dealers and collectors are as inextricably linked, as are the water molecules in the rivers, the clouds and the oceans. Both regularly buy from and sell to the other – quite a different business model to manufacturing, or even a corner shop, where the commerce is almost entirely one way, top to bottom. Certainly stamp dealers aim to make a living by selling to collectors; yet just ten minutes spent in the refreshment area at Stampex listening to the chatter, will convince you that philatelic chicanery is by no means a one-way street.
To put it another way, the cash value of your collection relies on dealers making markets, whilst those dealers will only make markets when they have customers to sell to. In this respect, the PTS is there for everyone; la cosa nostra in its very literal sense (and nothing sinistra about it!).
‘The instantly recognisable PTS Shield logo (a trademarked sign) has been used continuously since those early days. Only members of the PTS may display the logo in their adverts, or on their websites. Dealers wishing to join the PTS have to satisfy the society that they are who they say they are, have had a satisfactory trading track record for two years or more, and/or provide two
stamp trade referees, bank records and other information – a far higher bar to jump over than set by most societies or online auctioneers. Once accepted, members are required to abide by a strict Code of Ethics. You can feel secure in the knowledge that a dealer displaying the PTS logo has been comprehensively checked out – and continues to be so.
‘For collectors, the PTS website is open to all and free to use. It’s a public service, no need to register, no need to think of yet another password. Use it to search for PTS dealers in your area, or stocking your speciality. Our many members are also listed in detail in the new PTS Directory, to be
published by Stamp & Coin Mart next month.
The comprehensive guide to the PTS is a valuable reference tool and lists members by region, speciality, and name, giving you all the information you need to find the right dealer for you. Come and meet members face-to-face at Stampex (Business Design Centre, Islington) twice a year in February and September. Make use of our highly regarded flat-fee certification service for GB
stamps, and our internet-based Red Call urgent fraud and theft warnings. And if you should ever find yourself in dispute with one of our members – and can’t resolve the matter between you – then the PTS offers a free and impartial arbitration service. ‘You are safe with the PTS.’