There’s a new post on the way shortly, but let me put the reviews and rants aside for a moment and tell you about my weekend. It was exciting, but in a way that only my people will understand. (Philatelists are much like those who like fishing: we LOVE telling you all about our big catch.)
So I’d I popped into a local club auction to check out a set of commemorative covers. One of those not-strictly-what-I-collect-but-maybe-I-could-have-it-around kinda deals. In the end, I decided I didn’t need them. Game over for me. I began to mosey through the rest of the viewing tables on my way out.
And that’s when I spied them.
Three large, plastic zip-lock bags, jammed tight with fat, messy white envelopes. I was intrigued.
I’ve mentioned before my love of modern UK stamps, and how I don’t waste my money buying them fresh. My plan has always been to wait for some old philatelist to die, and then buy a whole, ready-made collection compiled with someone else’s time and cash.
Well, as I rummaged through these envelopes, my plan became slightly unstitched. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Year Packs issued by the Royal Mail, each featuring a year’s worth of what the Brits call Special Issues (ie not Queen’s heads, just all the interesting stuff). 1977 through 2000, still in the envelopes in which they’d been posted. The stamps were untouched by human hands since the Queen herself dispatched them! (I assume she mucks in, it’s her Mail.)
And the starting price was low. You’d almost say… too low.
This is now currently the state of my dining table:
Behold the breathtaking jewels of Aladdin’s cave!
The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value for these packs is about £900 (about $1,130 US). Retail about £450 (about $565 US). I paid the Aussie dollar equivalent of… £73.50 ($92). Gotta love a club auction.
Thank you, mysterious lady who stashed these for 32 years and never got around to opening them. You’ve set me up for a wonderful few winter weekends. Personally, I hope you’re not dead. Maybe you just read Marie Kondo and you’re decluttering.
And if anyone out there is wondering how they’re going to sell their collection of mint unhinged British special issues with the years 1977-2000 missing… get in touch. I think we could be good for each other. x
Like any collector, I love to hear about your lucky finds too! Comment here, or come say hello over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
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I have I think just one “big fish” story. I am about 23 stamps away from completing my Ireland collection mint and used.
I am undermined in this by two factors…one is keeping up with new issues and the second is buying stuff that doesnt really help…….world kiloware and obtaining commercially used mail from all the countries of the world.
My theory has always been that collecting Ireland drives me insane and collecting the world in a juvenile way keeps me sane. So I am a well balanced person. Half sane and half insane.
Increasingly I believe that the traditional album of mint and used Ireland is not enough. I dont rate First Day Covers as genuine …a philatelic souvenir and the bubble of 1970s has burst but commercially used covers showing stamps in the way that they are supposed to be used tell a story and add context and depth.
A few years ago at a local stamp fair, I came across a dealer selling hundreds of these covers at 50p a pop. I bought quite a few. (I am now only missing five of these issued from 1929 thru 1960) at national rate. The higher value airmail rates are of course all out of the country.
Anyway about five of these were commercial covers showing the 1934 stamp for the 50th Anniversary of the Gaelic Athletic Assn. It was a single stamp issue.
The choosing of just one to go in an album makes me feel like a curator of a museum collection. What you see in a museum is just the tip of the iceberg so I change the display every few months. Looking thru these GAA covers….I noticed a handwritten note on the back…….”do you like the new stamp?”
So checking the postmark…….this is the long awaited “big fish landed story” ……it was first day of issue. And looking at a dealers catalogue…..£250.
Now two points. Selling to a dealer would not get me £250 but its certainly worth around £150.
I did actually point this good fortune out to the guy who sold the cover to me and he was happy for me. Its part of the game.
The second point?
Oh yes….I just said that FDCs were philatelic souvenrs and the bottom had dropped out of that market due to 1970s exploitatation…they are NOT genuine “postal history”.
But initially at least FDCs were not produced for a “market”. They were in early days “accidental discoveries”.
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I share your love of commercial covers, John, and your disdain for contrived FDCs (but respect for the accidental ones). Sounds like that was a good get! I LOVE your insane/sane theory! It perfectly encapsulates my approach too (only, I didn’t realise it until you said so)! I’m constantly trying to develop a few potential exhibition-level collections, study catalogues for flaws in the material I’ve accumulated, sell off the excess online… and yet, there’s something so very zen about the simple pleasure of arranging a page full of pretty, if worthless, stamps.
I never thought of myself as a Zen Master but I bought some kiloware for £50 (please read as euros as I cant work out how do do the euro thing) from my favourite nuns last month.
So far I have added 1,260 stamps. By the time I finish, I will have maybe 1,500.
Obviously a lot of duplication, especially as I bought about £30 in October last year and ended up with 2,000 plus new stamps.
So far in this lot, the 1, 260 comes from 117 countries and some surprises.
I have an obsession about no duplicates in my collection so if I have 516 France in an album and just added 105, it is really hard to be absolutely certain that I am not adding duplicates.
As an aside until a few years ago I assumed that stamps from say Australian Antarctic Territory or Christmas Island were actually posted there.
Maybe 20 years ago at work (I always got the mail in our busy Inland Revenue office) I got a letter which I assumed had been sent by a person doing research at the Antarctic………I thought wow this is a find.
But in the October 2018 and June 2019 kiloware there is a surprising amount of AAT and Christmas Island stamps. But a few months ago a local collector/dealer told me that they are valid in Australia.
I have to say that I enjoy new stamps more than older issues. I have not yet sorted recent Australia and I find it difficult with the wildlife, fauna etc….but I enjoy the unsorted stamps that I can look at and say “I am certain that I dont have it” like Australia winning the Ashes is in the new mix and some classic Aussie cars and Philip Island race track and there is a stamp featuring a family watching TV. …”the way we were”. Thats the kinda stamps I like from the world.
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WOW! Congratulations! That really is an impressive story!
You mention the “mystery lady”. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but wonder about the previous owners of lots I’ve acquired. I have more than one stockbook or album with a name … and sometimes an address – of the stamp collector who in the past obviously placed the stamps on the pages or in the sleeves.
Oh and how I wish I could “pop” into a local club auction. The nearest club is about a 3-hour drive away. Honestly, other than on-line acquaintances I am the only stamp collector personally I know. Ebay seems to be my only source for Stamp Lots.
But hey! Good for You. It’s nice to see that there are still some satisfying deals to be had. Good Luck on your next one!
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Thanks Phil! I know, I’m very lucky to have a local club. These envelopes still had the addressee’s name on them, so thanks to the wonders of Google I found out the owner was an English lady who had wound up in Australia and apparently grew quite a lovely garden. I’m looking forward to digging amongst her weeds.