StampNews.com would like to share information about almost unknown but one of the most successful stamp dealers making business at eBay. His name is Joe Cortese, known online as NobleSpirit. He is eBay's go-to guy for anyone who is looking to sell a stamp collection. He has a staff of about 20 people, and he’s expanding.
In an unassuming mill building on the Suncook River in Pittsfield, Joe Cortese is in the middle of more than 400 simultaneous business transactions with buyers from around the world.
He said he's made nearly 150,000 sales since 1998, first from the barn on his property and now from this newly remodeled three-floor space just off Main Street. But many in town – other than the UPS guy and the post office – don't even know his business exists.
On the bottom floor, there's room for 18 different photographers, who attach sometimes hundreds of photos with each auction to give buyers confidence that they're getting high-quality, thorough collections.
"That's our unique competitive advantage", Cortese said. "We take something, starting at a penny, which could be worth at least $3,000, but we're taking enough photos so that the market can see what it is. We allow the market to arrive at what it believes the market value to be".
In Cortese's opinion, philately is more than just a hobby, stamp collecting is a form of investment. He said the eBay market has so many collectors willing to buy that, if you have the goods, you can sell $1 million a month or more.
"You've got people now that don't know the first thing about stamps and they're buying $1 million stamps, $10 million stamps, because they're building portfolios", he said.
Cortese began collecting stamps at age of 8 years. His collection later was sold for quite a large sum of money allowing a young collector to become a real stamp dealer.
Besides the photographers, there are also a couple of shippers – 65 percent of business is international – and a team of fact-checkers, who ensure the lots that are sent in for sale are what they purport to be. They compare minuscule details of each stamp against catalogs that point out the slight differences between different editions and note common forgeries. There's also an IT guy, who designed software that streamlines the eBay posting process and gives the auctions a unified look.
Cortese said it's this dedication that led eBay to point would-be stamp sellers to him.
"They do that because we're not just a casual business, because we've invested in infrastructure. There isn't anybody who sells stamps on eBay whose business looks like this", he said.