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