Reminiscences - Part IX

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



   Let me throw this out to you: as stamp dealers are immersed in philately, how to resist collecting? Now and then I’ll hear that dealers ought not collect, as if the two roles were mutually exclusive. I would say that most every dealer I know collects, whether a narrow area or a wide swath. Think of it as balance: dealers need cashflow and aren’t going to retain the coolest, most valuable pieces for themselves as some might believe.

When I was starting my business, I had neither time nor money for collecting. Now that life is easier, what better hobby?

That I’m a stamp collector makes me a better, more attuned stamp dealer. Because I’ve cut mounts and have my own albums, stayed up all night working on my collection, I know how collectors feel so its more than a business. That I have so much fun comes out in my writings and interactions with other collectors and dealers.

My collections run to something like 115 albums. Those that are country collections go from Andorra to Yemen. I’ve got topicals and cover collections. If it won’t fit on an album page, its not for me. Blank pages mean I can make stamps more meaningful with memorabilia: covers, stickers, artwork. My collections, my rules— :) :)

My initial foray into Ethiopian philately came when I was a college student, exchanging letters with John Moohr of Chicago, the proponent of Ethiopian Philately in the U.S. in the 1970’s-80’s. Matthew Bennett auctioned a major collection in 2000 where I bought heavily so I was off to the races. My extras became the nucleus of the stock for my company. As soon as I published the first pricelist, the president and vice president of the Ethiopia Philatelic Society both sold me their collections, too.

I make my own pages, including stamps, fdc’s, and memorabilia. Right now, I have 22 Ethiopia albums. In 1999, my company auctioned $50,000 of Yemen’s 1926 issue. Our rule has always been to hire an outside advisor when we are handling material which goes beyond our expertise. We checked around and found the charming Alex MacDonald who flew down to analyze this very complicated issue for auction. In doing so, I became fascinated with them, and was able to bid successfully for some of the key pieces. My Yemen collection extends thru the newest issues and runs to 9 albums. A great many Yemeni stamps do not qualify for being listed by Scott or even Michel. Good—who said it should be easy?

One day I had the opportunity to acquire the most beautiful Andorra artistic works! Larger size art sheets of imperforate French Andorra trial color proofs of 10 different color combinations each. These became the centerpiece of a French and Spanish Andorra collection.

I collect Japanese first day covers up until 1954. You wouldn’t know there’s gobs of different cachet makers per each issue, just like in the U.S., until you get into them.

My father was born in London, so I collect Great Britain & the Channel Islands. One of my favorite British issues is the 1965 missing Post Office tower, a striking “lemon” color-omitted error.

Naturally, I have a China collection though its formed unlike any I know of. It’s filled with memories of friends long gone or milestones of years past. ‘Twas only in 2007 that I obtained the Scott 1878-1949 album to hold them all. So, I don’t have an 1878 one candarin mint (No. 1) because its not associated with a special event.

Back in the late 1970’s, I was issuing Zeppelin and Airposts flight cover pricelists. Although China occupied most of my time from 1982 on, I’ve always enjoyed the history and romance of aero-philately. Mini-collections sprouted in my den, until one day I had the chance to purchase a multi volume Scott Worldwide Airpost album. It’s since grown to 18 volumes of stamps and covers. I surely would like to find the 1961 and 1962 supplements.

Most of my albums are Scott though my Vatican City is White Ace. I use clear Showgard mounts because I’m not careful enough to cut a consistent straight line for so many mounts. Using clear mounts—it doesn’t matter how awkward my cutting is.

I maintain a philatelic library of several hundred volumes at home, both for my collections and aiding my articles. Augmenting these resources is an equal number of texts on history and culture. I love the feel of a good book.

For insurance purposes, I scan the entire collection every year and maintain records of major purchases. A CD is positive proof of ownership over an inventory and would aid in recovery over a loss.

Collecting allows me to know an area in greater depth than I would by simply dealing because I’d never have the time to spare for study. And I have a great deal of fun along the way.


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