Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blog Update: One Year of 1898 Revenues

 1898 Revenues is one year old today - the first post for
this blog was on March 28, 2009

One year ago this blog started out posting railroad cancels on 2 cent documentary battleships.  There have been many railroad posts in the interim, but there have been forays into all types of cancels and unused stamps as well.  This blog/website is a work in progress and a philatelic experiment:  part exhibit, part recruting and sales tool for the hobby, and part diversion therapy for me.  Initially I was not sure how far this blog could go, maybe several months?  But as the months have progressed I realize that even with the material that I own that I can do this blog for years and not run out of possiblities for posts.   I look forward to months and years of public exploration of these revenue stamps and their cancels.  Today I want to review some of the changes and readership of this site, as well as make a few observations about the hobby.

Changing Styles:  Six months ago this site had a black background.  I thought it made the stamps standout.  But it looked sort of goth.  So I changed the site to a white background for a couple of months.  That seemed sort of dull.  But now this site is yellow with a Spanish-American War battle painting in its title.  My wife likes this scheme.  It will stay for awhile.

Observation on Computers and Stamp Collecting:  Over the past few weeks this site has explored transfer errors for the first time.  As I've corresponded with a veteran collector during this time I've been advised to avoid "fly-specking", and that my usual blog subjects are more interesting.  I do agree with that advice, and you won't see too much on double-transfers and the like on this site, even if battleships are rife with these errors.  But the subject led me to think a bit about technology and the habits and practices of collectors.  This blog has come together because of my reasonably large cancel collection and the power of internet, especially the research capability of the Google search engine.  I can enter an unknown company name from a cancel fragment and usually confirm a company's name and much about its business using Google and the information available on the web.  And I live in east Africa!  If this was 30 years ago and I had my collection with me here in Kenya I would have had few available resources to research the cancels that appear on 1898s.  And as a collector staring at a pile of stamps I might have been inclined to spend time fly-specking and looking for small signs of transfer errors on my stamps. 

But I don't spend any time looking for fly-specks.  Instead I can research history, which I very much enjoy.  But the same technology I use to produce this site, especially my high resolution scanner that can scan up to 1200 dots per inch, is perfect for producing extremely fine closeups of potential transfer errors for examination without a magnifying glass.   Some of the same tools I use for my cancel work are also great fly-specker's tools.  Times change and few people look for transfer errors anymore.  But I find very few if anybody doing their collecting online these days.  By this I mean folks that use the web to enhance their collecting experience, beyond making purchases.  I hope this blog might be an inspiration for some.  This process has really made my collection come alive for me.

Invitation to comment:  Hello!  Anybody out there?  I know I'm not completely alone.  Gentleman and member of the ARA David Thompson has confirmed that for me lately.  But I don't hear from many ARA sorts, whether by email or by comments.  In the next few months I plan to make greater efforts to publicize the existence of this site, and this should increase my hit rate and 1898 collector contact rate. 


1898 Revenues Stats Sheet:
As I did six months ago, I ran some web searches this past week using Google.  Entering the search string listed below into Google, this blog ranked as follows:

1898 Revenues                           #1
Battleship Revenues                    #2
2 Cent Documentary                   #13
1898 Series Revenues                 #1
US Revenue Stamps                   #76
Revenue Cancels                         #28
Proprietary Cancels                     #1
Documentary Cancels                  #1

Translation:  These numbers mean that if you used Google to search the term "documentary cancels" last week, the site 1898 Revenues was at the top of the list of sites, and the term "revenue cancels" was the 28th site on the list produced by Google. 

The site uses a counter to record numbers of page views.  This blog is not a popular site in the grand scheme of things.  Over the past month there have been an average of 40 page views per day, though the average figure has been climbing steadily each month since the counter was first installed over six months ago.  I've never expected this site to be a page view magnet.  After all, the subject is revenue stamps, and only the 1898 series, hardly a subject for a best seller.    But there are some interesting stats that can be pulled from these page view numbers. 

6 months ago this blog didn't even show up in the top 100 for US Revenue Stamps on Google.  This stat has improved, mostly since I blogged about the Castenholz' Christopher West reprint that draws a fair number of hits.

Using internet-speak this site is reasonable "sticky".  Many who come to this site tend to stay.  The below pie-chart illustrates this:

Visit Length

Of the last 500 page views:
73 were by visitors that spent less than 5 seconds on the site (green pie slice)
6 were by visitors that spend from 5 secs to 30 secs on the site (blue pie slice) 
32 were by visitors that spent from 30 secs to 5 mins on the site (lt brown pie slice)
15 were by visitors that spent from 5 mins to 20 mins on the site (yellow brown pie slice)
1 visitor spent from 20 mins to an hour at the site (red pie slice) 
11 visitors spent longer than an hour at the site (yellow pie slice)

The majority of visitors, 73 or 52.9% of the last 500 visitors, spent less than 5 seconds at the site.  This is an interesting category of visitor.  Many are drive bys that quickly realize they are in the wrong place.  But some are site rippers that show up to copy the site as an automated process.  This seems to happen when I post about a big corporation.  For example, hours after I posted the McKesson cancels in the past couple of weeks an automated site ripper paid a visit that was tagged to a McKesson server.  These visits never show up as lasting very long.  I guess they copy what they want so that the humans responsible can later review the comments on a blog like this to make sure we aren't doing anyting that might offend them.

Most interestingly for me is that 8% of my visitors have stayed longer than an hour in total.  A further 10% have stayed between 5 and 20 minutes.  These people tend to come to the site and browse for awhile, and so if you are one of those, welcome and thank you. 

Upcoming:  Over the course of the next six months this site will continue to focus on cancels by date and will begin to examine proprietary printed cancels.  I will review the work of Clarence Chapelle and Morton Joyce and feature companies that issued the cancels.  The Joyce lists will provide organization, and stamps I possess from that list will be posted.  I will then ask for those that have stamps on these lists I don't have to send me images of those stamps, and I will post those images.  See you in the next year!

BTW:  Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I currently live in Kenya in East Africa.  Today I am in Amboselli National Park with a view of Mount Kilimanjaro out my back window.  There were elephants everywhere on the drive into the park.  Fabulous!

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