News, Views, Facts, Puzzles and More
Stephen T Taylor
When I started dealing in USA material full-time in January 2000, there was a philatelic auction in London which had a couple of USA “box lots” with short descriptions and low estimates (£200/£300 each) One was full of “duck stamps” which I wasn’t very interested in and didn’t place a very high bid on but the other box was full of covers and folded letters, exactly what I needed for stock – very disorganized with a few auction catalogues at the bottom of the box including Harmers New York 12 Jun 1990 “The Hessel Autograph collection of Presidents, Statesmen & Signers”.
I always carefully view large lots as there’s no telling what’s lurking inside and might have been missed by their describers. This particular lot had numerous common covers worth £10 to £50 each but two caught my eye: one was franked “Free G. Washington” and the other “Free B Franklin”! Both were ex-Hessel and listed in the auction catalogue that came with the lot. Fortunately, no one else spotted these and I bought the box at their opening bid, a fraction of my top bid.
As I didn’t yet have any clients who collected Free Franks, I consigned them to a US auction house where the pair sold for USD19,000 in May 2000.
As David Phillips taught me when I lived in Miami in the 1990s, always read every letter and look carefully at every marking.
There I have said it, we are going to put 2020 to one side and be better, kinder, stronger and sell more stamps in 2021. So, what have we learnt, or what do I think I have learnt, and can I get this down on paper before I forget it all.