…as the Broadway tune goes.
COMPEX was this weekend up in Arlington Heights. As with most shows up in the Chicagoland area, rather then dealing with the fustercluck of traffic and construction the day of the show, I made the 3-hour drive the afternoon before and stayed at a hotel about 10 minutes away from the show… infinitely preferable to stressing about possibly being late due to unforeseen circumstances en route.
In short: I despise Chicagoland traffic. I would go insane if I had to deal with that on a commuting basis. I don’t see how people do it day in and day out. Driving back Friday evening was absolutely miserable. It took me 1.5 hours longer than the drive up… Friday evening of a Holiday weekend amidst the mass exodus from Chicagoland. For one 45-minute stretch, I don’t think my speed ever went above 10 miles an hour.
Joy. Bliss. Rapture.
Friday morning I got to the show about an hour before the show opened (Hey, I’m used to getting up at 5:00AM, so there’s only so long one can putz around a hotel room). The facility is under new ownership, and for the first time, they (not the club hosting the show) insisted that everyone sign in at the entrance for security reasons. The problem I had with the process is that they wanted not only name, but also home address and phone number, which I found incredibly intrusive. Even the club people manning the front desk thought it unreasonable. I jotted down my PO Box as my address, but I wasn’t about to leave my phone number on a sheet that either anyone walking by could read, or that I had no idea where it would end up. I suppose I could have put down a random phone number or 555-1212, but I opted to just leave it blank.
I chatted with a couple of the dealers in the lobby, as well as a young man who brought an inherited collection to sell. Some very interesting EFOs, which apparently was the collector’s specialty, as well as several volumes of world cinderellas, proofs, etc. Not my area, but very interesting to look at.
By 10:00AM there were about 30 people waiting in line to get in… and in we went!
My first stop was an old standby, Frank Bachenheimer. It was there that I got some sad (for me) news. COMPEX was the last show he’s doing in this part of the country. Later this year he and his wife are moving to Florida full-time and he will only be doing Florida shows. I certainly can’t begrudge him not wanting to deal with the “show dealer life” on the road now that he’s in his late 70s. Frank was the first show dealer I ever purchased revenue stamps from. It’s only been 7 years since I started going to stamp shows, but it feels longer than that. I can’t count the number of hours cumulatively that I’ve spent at his table, if not looking at stamps, just chatting and trading sarcastic/cynical humourous comments and barbs. He’s got a great sense of humour, and I’ll miss it.
Overall, the show was kinda weak from a revenue acquisition perspective. I found a few cancels, cherrypicked a few silk papers and double transfers, but that was about it… until the last 20 minutes. It was then that I found the two best items that made the trip worthwhile. Darned good thing too… had I been forced to endure that journey back after having come away (comparatively) empty, I would have been cursing a blue streak for 4 straight hours.
Anyhow, on to the acquisitions. This isn’t everything, but it’s the best of what I picked up.
First, some interesting ultramarine-related items.
An R54ce that exhibits changeling/environmentally-altered characteristics. The very top and bottom of the stamp show the normal ultramarine shade, but the majority of the stamp shows a more vibrant and magenta-focused hue.
An R54ce that I believe is the Scott-listed but unpriced “Powder blue” shade. Fairly distinctive.
A horizontal pair of R34ce in a very bright and vibrant shade of ultramarine. Several years ago I had an R34 plating study that I cherrypicked and then flipped, which also contained some very unusual shades of ultramarine like this. This particularly bright shade of ultramarine isn’t (in my experience) found on the other ultramarine 1st issue revenue stamps.
Piggybacking on this last item, here is a horizontal pair of the normal R34c, with the right stamp showing a double transfer at bottom. It’s not the Scott-listed “complete double transfer”, but interesting nonetheless.
Here’s one for my “doodle” manuscript collection, someone made George angry. It’s done in different ink from the cancel, so likely was done after the fact rather than at the time of cancellation.
I don’t do a whole lot with the later reds and greens, but here’s one that I just thought was aesthetically interesting. Someone took the time to stamp the single-line “CANCELLED” handstamp in a diamond shape.
Here’s a nice little cherrypick: an R115 with double transfer at top.
And lastly, the two best items of the show.
The first item was from a dealer that historically has never had any U.S. revenue material. As an afterthought on my way out, I asked just in case. Lo and behold, he had several boxes full of U.S. revenues. He apparently had purchased a revenue collection since I last saw him in November (which is why you should always ask dealers who don’t normally carry what you are interested in; you never know when they might pick something up).
Now granted, much of the material was in marginal condition, and all of the major 1st issue imperfs and part perfs were bogus; sadaly far too often the case when dealers who don’t know much about revenues carry them. Either they were taken by the person who sold them the material, or they are clueless or unethical in their identification.
R189 is a fairly pricey stamp, cataloging $575 used. It has a great appearance with a nice socked on the nose handstamp. What I noticed, that the dealer did not, was that it actually has a cut cancel, but one that is only really visible from the back of the stamp. That brings the catalog value down to $140, which makes it much more affordable.
The cancel is from the “Northern Securities Co.”, a railroad trust that had just been incorporated less than a month before this stamp was canceled. The company was plagued by scandal and ultimately ended up being sued by the government and dissolved in 1904.
The final item, and the best one, I effectively got by accident. Upon leaving the dealer above and making my way to the exit, I spotted a fellow revenue collector at the table of a dealer I had visited earlier in the show, who normally has a lot of material for me, but didn’t this time… or so I thought. So as we were chatting, he said “so did you see the sewing machine perf?” at which point I did a Scooby-Doo-esque “Eeurgh???” The dealer said “Yeah, the sewing machine perf!” and pointed to a book of miscellany I hadn’t looked through.
So I start flipping through book, get to the end, and say “what sewing machine perf???” The dealer pulls the book, opens it to a page, and says “Right there!” There was a reason I hadn’t seen it. When someone says “sewing machine perf”, I think either R19a, the 2nd issue revenues, or RB3. This was none of these…
Upon close examination, it isn’t a sewing machine perf at all, but rather what appears to be a private roulette! The first I’ve seen. It’s on a document fragment with a red “SDH” oval handstamp cancel (Samuel Dexter Hastings, treasurer of Wisconsin) tying it to the piece. You can see the rouletting on all four sides of the stamp, with several vertical rows at left running through the stamp. The rouletting does not extend onto the document, so was presumably not done after the fact.
Apparently there is at least one other example of R5a that has been privately rouletted, although the rouletting style is different:
I think I might send mine into the PF and then see if I can get the private rouletting added to Scott. All of the seewing machine perfs were done privately and those are listed, so why not?
A wonderfully unique item that made the show.