When did you start collecting and why?
When I was 8 years old I started a kid’s worldwide stamp collection accumulating stamps at Stamp Collecting Corner each Saturday with my $1.00 a week allowance. By high school I had stopped collecting and did not take up collecting again until after New York University Graduate School of business. After graduate school, probably around 1971, while in Jamaica, I went to the post office to buy stamps for my postcards home. I started using the stamps and decided they were so interesting, the next day I went back to the post office to buy examples of all the stamps available. Back home, I decided to start collecting stamps again as an adult collector; I wanted to study history through stamp collecting.
What was your first collection?
In 1971 I decided to start collecting British West Indies stamps and postal history. I joined the British Empire Study Group, which met at the Collectors Club of New York. At that time, my interest for philatelic auctions awakened. I went to a stamp auction for the first time with a view to buy a British West Indian collection; I won a Grenada lot, which became my first adult collection.
Have you always collected the same subject or many different? Why?
After Grenada, I started Sarawak as I wanted to try plating, and some of the early stamps were lithographed and inexpensive. I did start collecting, but never tried to plate the stamps; instead I branched out to North Borneo, Labuan and Brunei stamps and postal history. In the mid 1970’s, I wanted to try something challenging, and chose all the Princely Indian States except Cochin and Travancore. Then, I decided to expand my collecting interests to Europe and South America. I started collections of Bulgaria, Paraguay, Romania and the first US revenue stamps. All the philatelic collections except the Princely Indian States and first US revenue collections have been disposed of and most of my time and money are mainly devoted to my Princely Indian State collections.
Do you exhibit your collections? Have you won any prizes?
I have exhibited North Borneo postal history, the Princely Indian State of Nawanagar and the two cent US Revenue stamps. They all won medals from vermeil to gold. My traditional Grenada exhibit was shown at a national US show in 1979, where I met my future wife, Patricia Stilwell. At the awards banquet we both received large silver medals for our exhibits. Two years later, owing to Pat’s tutoring, I won the Grand Award. The traditional Grenada exhibit eventually won the APS Champion of Champions competition in 1996, three large golds at FIP international exhibits, and was shown in the championship class at the Korean FIP show in 2002. It was auctioned in 2003.
My Princely Indian State of Barwani exhibit has consistently earned gold medals and other awards at international FIP and non-FIP shows. My additions to the exhibit allowed the Gibbons catalogue listing to add stamps and update the first Barwani stamps as issued in 1917. I have also exhibited two one frame exhibits of the first issues of Hyderabad and Jaipur, both of which earned gold medals–the highest medal awarded in the US at the time. My major exhibit is the Princely Indian State of Soruth, which won a Grand Award at a US national show and has been earning gold medals at FIP exhibits.
What is the most important item added to one of your collections? Where did you find it?
The Princely Indian State of Soruth cover is a favorite item. It is the discovery copy of Soruth’s first stamp, a tête-bêche pair of black water color ink handstamped on grey laid paper on a native cover, circa 1867. The tête-bêche variety was added to the Gibbons catalogue in 2013 when I discovered the stamp. I found this cover in my collection while preparing my Soruth exhibit for the first time! I probably acquired the cover many years ago and had no idea the stamps were tête-bêche. One of the reasons I exhibit is that it forces you to closely study your material.
Why do you like collecting today?
I spend much of my retirement working on my Princely Indian State collections and accumulating for future study the first revenue issues of the US, Scott R 1 to R 102. These are the two philatelic collections I have. Even though both collections are mainly traditional collections I still enjoy the historical aspects of the two collecting fields and the search for new information about the two subjects. Searching for new varieties or interesting usages is the excitement I get from my collections.