Reminiscences - Part V

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




You never know what’s coming in the door of a stamp shop. I had a front window that piqued the interest of even a non-collector, inviting the curious into a living room setting. The window displayed documents and maps, which illuminated stamps and postal history. Stamp collecting kits sold at a discount introduced beginners of all ages to collecting.

Took a while to get the shop going so I would buy just about anything that came my way, figuring I’d find a home down the pike. My theory was if someone saved it, someone else would like it and pay money. About the only time I’d pass on anything was when we couldn’t agree on price. Two reasonable people can disagree and part amicably. Not a problem. Mid 1978, when I didn’t have much of a stock, I bought 1,200 lbs of metered mail from a lady. Complete envelopes they were. When I opened up the first box, my heart quickened because the top meter was the very rare Jacksonville, Florida, flying eagle. As was the next, and the next, and the next! Darned near everything was the same so the population of the very rare item went from a handful to a gazillion.

Problem is, meters aren’t all that popular in relation to stamps. Still I thought it was pretty neat. It just wasn’t worth what it could have been worth. So I bought the lot, did a bill of sale and paid by check.

Done deal? Not quite!

I started selling a #10 box of metered  envelopes at $1 per pound. Thankfully,

I’d only sold a couple of boxes before I asked myself why anyone would hold onto all these envelopes. Then it occurred to me that maybe I should look inside and you know what? I realized the envelopes were someone’s containers for sorting.

So I looked inside every envelope. Gosh knows I had the time. Some had goodies like 19th century U.S. I found a crumpled used No. 11 block of 16—later on I sold this very rare piece, though damaged, for $250. Others contained worldwide or British. Adding my figures, I determined that had I been aware of the contents, I would have offered her $3,000 more.

I returned to the bill of sale so I could pop her the $3,000 check and do the right thing. She’d just scrawled her name and phone number. So I called her and explained that if I’d done a competent appraisal of her material, I would have offered her more money. “Please give me your address and I’ll send you your check.” Hey, my Mama raised me right.

Well, she was so surprised that she thought it was a trick! “Nope I’ve got a check for you, because it’s the right thing to do.” We went back and forth, so I went to plan B; “Come in and pick it up” I said.

Well, she wouldn’t do that either! So I remarked that if I didn’t see her in a week, I’d make a $3,000 donation to the American Cancer Society.

So the gal comes in right when I had six or seven customers and she blasts me for inconveniencing her. I was mortified.

A few years later she phoned to say her granddad had passed and did I want to buy the stamp collection? She’d thought it over, and realized I was trying to do right by her. Grandpa lived near downtown Orlando in a white wooden framed three story home. He’d been ill for some time so unable to convey his wishes to the family on how to best dispose of his collections.

Each floor was themed according to the material for his collectibles. His especially large stamp collection, fine art and wonderful library were housed on the first floor, so I reckoned this to be the “paper” theme. A substantial coin collection joined antique mechanical banks and beautiful clocks on the second floor. I thought of this as the “metal” floor. But the greatest treasure of all was on the third floor, a wondrous array of collectible glass! All posed to catch the sun’s rays, to tell a story as the day progressed. Tiffany and more. Dazzling!

The stamp collection was marvelous. British Commonwealth virtually complete 1938-68, mint, Lightly Hinged, a smashing Mexico collection, Confederate patriotics, certainly U.S. material to die for.

My only regret was that I had never met the Grandpa to realize what an interesting man he must have been.

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