As many of you know, I have had a penchant for tracking prices realized for RPO covers sold in venues easily available to me for many years. The "RPO Pricing Project" grew out of my personal notion that scarcity of a specific type of marking used on a particular RPO line is of very little importance, even though this differs from the rarity evaluations begun by Charley Towle some years ago and carried on in MPOS.

My personal collecting habits focus much more on the relative scarcity of a particular line. Thus, even though some covers on the Pitts & Chi RPO may bear markings that are considered Rarity 2 in the MPOS catalog, it is an extremely common marking when considered as a whole, and I treat the line as a rarity 1 in my thinking, even though I grew up on the Pitts & Chi and sorted mail for 13 RPOs a day in my home town. I know that a "Seattle & Seattle" marking, in general, is fairly common and don't believe it should be a rarity 5 in the catalog. But I don't write the catalog, I just collect things my own way.

Where specific Towle/Macdonald catalog numbers are known for a marking, however, in the lists I keep and which are being posted here, I try to reflect the actual catalog rarity factor from the catalog. However, where a specific catalog number isn't known, I apply the lowest rarity factor for the line's markings. Where catalog numbers are not shown, I do not make serious attempts to find out which actual catalog number is applicable to the lot; I simply leave that field, or any others which aren't known blank. Rarity factors, given the above, are listed in brackets, e.g { 3}. If a marking is unlisted in the catalog, I evaluate it myself and that is shown as {u5} for example. Years are shown where known, general ranges are shown with a "c" after the year, so 1885c would mean "in the 1885 era."

Realizing that I cannot do it all in the time available, I do not focus much on punctuation in the lists of markings. I don't try to reflect exactly every nuance of a postmark. I also don't normally list the very common markings such as NY & Chi, SF S Jose & LA or the like. When they do sell, they pretty much prove that they are common and of small value to most collectors unless there is something else besides the postmark that makes the cover special.

The listings here should give an idea of the prices being realized on Ebay. As someone who worked in the professional Stamp Auction field for a number of years, I consider Ebay to be a very efficient market and one that has brought a new breadth of exposure to our hobby and many other specialties.

If you don't like the way I have done this, want to see more of it, want to see other venues listed or have other ideas, then please volunteer some of your time and efforts to keep the project going! Happy collecting!

Rick Kunz
April, 2004