Reminiscences - Part IV

by Michael Rogers
The following appeared in Michael Rogers' regular column in
The American Stamp Dealer & Collector Magazine - November-December 2010 Issue




I had a plan. Just as I’d acquired the fabulous Bateman China accumulation in 1982 (which would transform me into a China dealer), I sure needed that jump-start of superior knowledge. There I was surrounded by 28 massive cartons of the specialized material rarely encountered, intertwined with modern new issues and postal history. It was unsettling to say the least and I knew my own limitations

J. Millard Williams was the premier China dealer of the day. Author, editor and publisher of numerous articles and handbooks with a spotless reputation, Jake was much admired. Audacious as it seems now, I considered a partnership, marrying his acumen with my inventory. The New York ASDA show was fast approaching and I knew he’d be there. My plan had an outline, but I had not worked out the details.


No sooner had I said that I’d purchased Bateman, but then Jake got all red faced and annoyed with me. “Grrrrr” went the tiger! I was mystified as to the cause of such a reaction. Not for 19 years did I receive an explanation until Jake was sitting in my living room, having concluded the paperwork on the sale of his personal China collection to my company.

It was a misunderstanding. Given that Art Bateman was the China Stamp Society’s sales director, and Jake the #1 dealer at the time, he thought he’d get an opportunity to bid. He didn’t realize family friends solicited bids. Local dealer, national dealer, me. For whatever reason, the friends didn’t reach out for a China specialist. Bateman had a whole lot besides China/Asia.

So here Jake and I were, chatting away, friends finally. He’s incredibly knowledgeable, and I’m proud to know him.
Returning to Winter Park after the ASDA show, I leased office space one building over for the China/Asia company I envisioned. An immensely talented fellow from Jacksonville named Willy Dow, who could write up postal history, came my way. Willy would commute back and forth, a few days with me, then take Amtrak to his beautiful red-haired wife, Ursulla.

Steven Frumkin came to visit, representing George Alevizos’ Public Auction. Later on, I met George. If you can locate George’s November 8-10, 1983, public auction, I’ll point out which of the really nice postal history lots came from me. I remember assuring George that I’d never hold my own auctions as I’m too shy.…Well! I got over that!
Winter Park is a suburb of Orlando, in the north central area of Florida. As a most attractive area to retire to, it was a blessing finding qualified philatelists to work with me. Joseph Sousa, formally the executive director of the old Society of Philatelic Americans (SPA), Bob Womack, an early staffer at the Philatelic Foundation, William McP. Jones, expert on Cuba, were my mentors. I quickly picked up the habit of saying “we” instead of “I” because the staff then, as now, carried me. Awesome!

Miming “Pat” Herst, I deconstructed a 1912 Chinese tobacco tax stamp, replacing inscriptions with my name across the top in an arc and “Chinese Philately” across the bottom, to serve as my logo. I imprinted T-shirts for give-aways, anything to spread the word.

Pricelists accompanied by monographs followed. As with the stamp shop, they were frequent and to the point. China, Offices in China, Treaty Ports, First Flights, PRC, Ryukyu Islands, etc. At the stamp shop, we had developed a U.S. pricelist of almost every stamp mint and used that we carried from 1893 to date, a handy 32-page list issued biannually, given out free.

So at the China company we envisioned listing almost every stamp mint and used. First numbered by Scott, later Ma catalogue numbers were added. I’d worked as a teenager in NYC filling orders on stockcards, carefully noting in pencil fulfillment. I wanted that old-time experience again.

Opportunities beckoned. The PRC government had set up bookstores in key U.S. cities after President Nixon’s visit to China. They had a stamp department! When the bookstores were closed, the inventory found its way to my company. Imagine everything in post office condition. Large quantities including 12 Mei Lan Fang S/S (Scott 628) which at the time retailed for $150 VFNH each. 

During 1984-5 I was buying in Hong Kong damaged examples of PRC’s 1968 “Whole China is Red” (Scott 999A), all postally used, at prices ranging from $150-$250 each. I believe I handled 11 or 12 of them. Netted a $100 profit each selling them damaged.

We didn’t have the wealth of English language information about Chinese philately in those days. I kept on finding material not listed in Scott like varieties, unusual cancellations and postal history. I didn’t want to guess the correct value. So Joe Cartafalsa and I began writing mail sales in mid-1984.

A remarkable coincidence occurred, Joe Sousa retired for health reasons and James Kerr signed on. Jim had served together with Joe during the Korean War. Jim was a world renowned expert in Korean Philately. He wrote “Korean Kingdom and Empire Philatelic Catalog and Handbook.” His contacts brought excellent material to Winter Park. Jim Kerr and I became as inseparable as father and son.

Click to go to the next page of Michael Rogers' Reminiscences



Index to site

Album Pages Appraisals Articles Auctions Bidding Hints Books Buylists Consignments
Contact Information Downloading Pricelists Email Us Estate Planning
History Home | Jobs Links Literature Logo | Mail Sales Organizations What's New