Reminiscences - Part XII

by Michael Rogers
The following appeared in Michael Rogers' regular column in
The American Stamp Dealer & Collector Magazine -September 2011 Issue




Come May 1966, I sure was a happy camper. Somehow my older brother Toby volunteered to chaperone me to the biggest stamp show I’d ever been to, SIPEX in Washington D.C., the Sixth International Philatelic Exhibition. As a 17 year old growing up in New York City, there was no way that I could have imagined that just a few years later, I’d be a stamp dealer, every collector’s fantasy!

Making sure I wouldn’t miss a thing, I purchased the show program. I walked the floor, gaining my bearings, planning where to spend hard earned money from mowing lawns. Buying Japan’s 1934 airmail souvenir sheet was my goal. That several were offered meant scrutinizing prices and quality.

About mid day, I happened upon an icon—Jacques Minkus. There he was, tending the "Woodward & Lothrop" booth, one of his franchises. Greeting collectors, affable, European style charm, a kind smile. A self made man who immigrated to the U.S. and created a line of albums and catalogues using a whole new numbering system. He placed stamp and coin shops on a franchise basis in department stores across the U.S., creating tens of thousands of collectors. Small build and the same generation, just like my grandpa.

Thus I felt drawn to Minkus.

When I asked him for his autograph, he was genuinely perplexed: "You’re asking a stamp dealer for his autograph?" We exchanged pleasantries as I explained. I said anyone who came into this country and excelled was a role-model, like my grandfather and him. I felt a rush that I could come to the show and meet one of philately’s giants.

These days I look forward to attending the stamp shows in which my company, Kelleher & Rogers holds booths. Before the doors open for collectors, dealers are setting up, making sure everything is just perfect. Think of us as teenagers, getting ready for the prom. First impressions.

No dealer will tell you that sales alone are the only reason for participation at a stamp show. Show the flag. Buy, sell, trade. Meet budding collectors.

I’m effusive, a hugger, easy to know. I relish shows for they give me the chance to see colleagues in person. Say hello, commiserate, catch up on family goings-on. Being able to touch base with friends is a blessing. Greeting collectors at my booth. Making friends.

I think of a stamp show as a village square: there’s the butcher, the baker, the cabinet-maker. Along those lines, each booth has its own character: exceptionally fine U.S., revenues, first day covers, or U.S. plate blocks organized by plate number. Collect foreign? Depends on the dealer: new issues to rarities.

A couple of my favorite shows take place in New York City at the New Yorker Hotel, in April and October, in conjunction with the ASDA. Centrally located, near train and bus lines in Manhattan, and in a first class hotel, the show is most comfortable for collectors and dealers.

My company has a double booth in each as we handle China and Asia, and that’s red hot.

Great dealers hold booths at this show who have formidable inventories. Tops in the Revenue field are Eric Jackson and Richard Friedberg. I’m amazed at Al Tohn’s "Coverman" enormous postal history stock. Recently, I purchased a nifty China railroad advertising cover from Stanley Piller. James Lee showed me some U.S. airmail small die proofs. Mark Eastzer of Markest always has a great smile—and a fast check. I think of Marilyn Nowak (hand colored FDCs) as "golden" because that’s her personality: warm, sweet, caring. My Katie (and I!) think the world of James McCusker!

If you’re thinking of adding to a worldwide collection, I fill wantlists at Bill & Ann Leavengood’s Lebanon Stamps, Ross Wiessmann and The Excelsior Collection. For Israel and Vatican, I go to George at Garel.

Even if you don’t intend to buy, you can view. If you know you’re not going to buy, be polite and don’t take up a seat (dealers pay for their booths by selling inventory. Folks who sit for hours who obviously have no intention of buying are called "sightseers"). Don’t hesitate to ask a question.
    Who knows? Maybe you'll chat with an icon.


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