So a week ago I received an email from Lyman Helmsley, a fellow revenue collector who specializes in revenue stamped paper (RN numbers): “Denny has a box of stuff for you but does not have your number. Please call him.”
The irony is that I’ve probably sent Denny Peoples a dozen business cards and letterheads in advance of shows over the last 5 years… all with my phone number on them, and he always returns the cards to me at the shows, “These cost money, you should save them for someone else.”
Denny is one of the last of the classic show dealers… no email, doesn’t use the Internet… doesn’t even own a computer. I think he believes that they will steal your soul, in the same way that primitive cultures perceive cameras. Based upon the way social media has been going over the last 4 months, he could very well be right.
So I gave Denny a buzz. He has built up a fair amount of material with no venue to sell it, with all the shows being canceled. Normally I would have seen him around Memorial Day at COMPEX, but it was unfortunately canceled. We arranged a visit for yesterday, as I’m going into the hospital in 2 weeks for surgery and will be out of commission for a while. We both live fairly isolated lives in fairly low-density population areas, so the risk of COVID-19 transmission was low (no, I’m not about to sit and examine stamps and covers for several hours with a mask on).
I set off at 7AM. It’s approximately a 2-hour drive from my place to Denny’s house. While the weather predictions as of the day before hadn’t indicated major amounts of rain, apparently something had changed, as it rained nonstop… so much for a pleasant drive.
Denny’s house is exactly what I would have expected, with vintage advertising and ephemera decorating all of the rooms. We shot the sh*t for several hours while I went through all his material. He also showed me some lovely material that wasn’t in my collecting area, but if money were no object, I could see myself going down a rabbit hole with, just because of the beauty of vintage engravings, printing methods, color combinations, and subject matter… especially advertising ephemera of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Just beautiful… Denny always manages to find the most unusual and engaging material.
We talked about my plans to retire in 2021; he thinks I should become a show dealer, whereas my plans are more to expand my sales presence online.
Much of it will depend on my physical condition, and to be honest the notion of schlepping material all over hell’s half acre isn’t overly appealing, especially as I personally thing that in-person stamp shows were on the wane even before COVID-19, and this only accelerates their demise. I think many collectors have discovered the allure of online buying, or increased their existing online buying habits, as a result of the social distancing requirements.
Don’t get me wrong, I love attending in-person stamp shows, but I don’t know that I would want to make it my livelihood. I don’t think stamp shows will die out entirely, but I think there will be consolidation, with fewer local shows.
At any rate, I digress… Denny had put aside a big box of 1st-3rd issue documents for me, but was all common usages from what I could tell (without flyspecking), and just based upon quantity, it would have exhausted my entire budget for the visit, and I wanted to focus on individual pieces or more focused lots. It would have made great low-end resale inventory, but I already have a fair amount of that sort of material already, so I passed.
I didn’t find anything earth-shattering, but some nice aesthetic pieces and scarce on-document usages.
The items I picked up (sorry, no pictures yet):
- A nice album page lot of 1st-3rd issue material where the focus of the collector was handst cancels. Nothing scarce, just good clean material that will sell well online when broken down.
- A lovely 1870 Detroit receipt from the A.W. Copland Steam Bakery, with a great vignette.
- An ornately engraved 1900 sight draft from the Dwinnell Wright Co. in Chicago, importers of coffee and spice, with multiple handstamp cancels and processing marks.
- An 1864 statement from the Auditor General’s Office in Lansing, Michigan, certifying that for payment of delinquent taxes of $6.01, the payor was entitled to the deed to the property in question, with a bold strike of a blue circular “A. ANNEKE, AUDITOR GEN” handstamp cancel, thus attributing the cancel to Emil Anneke, Auditor General for the State of Michigan. Very attractive little notehead-sized document.
- An 1867 stock memo from Vermilye & Co. that has an interesting and colorful selection of 1st issue revenue stamps affixed: 20c Inland Exhcnage, 4c Inland Exchange, 3c Foreign Exchange, and 1c Express.
- An attractive 1900 draft from the London & Brazilian Bank, Ltd., Rio de Janeiro, presented to the branch in New York, with a 2c battleship tied by handstamp cancel. Blued paper.
- An ornately engraved 1847 (pre-revenue period) small-format (6×9 roughly) stock certificate from the Western Railroad Corporation, with attractive red printed seal.
- An 1875 check with R151 affixed, with a bold ROSS COUNTY NATIONAL BANK handstamp cancel.
- An 1899 American Express Co. receipt, with 1c Battleship documentary affixed, with printed AM EX. CO. cancel. Not scarce, just clean and attractive.
- Interesting 1900 check from The Old National Bank of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with an adhesive strip of paper labeled NO PROTEST laid over top of the revenue stamp, and then both strip and stamp tied with a large-format magenta handstamp cancel.
- A 1901 vertical format bond premium receipt from the American Surety Company of New York, executed in Quincy, Illinois, for a bond premium, with handwritten note and 3-cent battleship revenue affixed on the reverse.
- Two insurance policies with revenue stamps paying fractional cent tax rates, one from 1899 and the other from 1915.
- An RB33 or RB45 (quarter-cent proprietary stamp) affixed to a Lovine Perfume envelope.
- A very crisp and clean example of Scott #65 used illegally as a revenue stamp on an 1865 handwritten affadavit, tied with embossed court seal.
- A pair of documents both with 1c propietary stamps used illegally. I’d been after Denny for the last 3 shows where I saw them, as IMO he had them priced far too high, as the proprietary/playing card usages as documentaries are more nominal illegalities than postage stamps used as revenues, and thus don’t command the same market prices. We argued and faught and kicked and screamed, but finally came to an agreement.
- A matching notehead and statement from F. K. Daggett & Co., seller of trunks, valises, and travelling bags, in Boston, with the latter featuring an R15c tied with nice bold oval TRUNK MANUFACTURERS handstamp cancel.
- An 1863 check from Stateler & Arrington, Bankers, in Virginia City, Nevada Territory, with an affixed R5b (imperf vertically).
- An 1866 check on the account of the Gould & Curry Mining Co., Virginia, Nevada, drawn on the Bank of California, featuring a handstamp-tied R5b (horizontally imperf). Normally, this date would be far too late of a date for a genuine part perf usage, but this is another example of the Late-Date California Imperfs/Part Perfs. Nice to find one still on document.
And lastly, these two documents were quite nice to find, as they are IMO scarce usages:
A January 1868 bill of foreign exchange from the firm of Augustin Arosa, with a solo usage of the $1.60 Foreign Exchange (R79c) correctly paying the $0.05/$100 rate on $3200. While R79c is the most commonly found of the “oddball” denominations (R77c, R79c, R80c) still on document, this is the first solo usage I have seen in person. An added bonus is that the stamp is flawless, perfectly centered with perfs clear of frame on all 4 sides, unusual unto itself.
A May 1868 bill of foreign exchange from the firm of George P. Bell, with a 1st issue $2 Conveyance, $1 Inland Exchange, 10c Inland Exchange, and… $1.90 Foreign Exchange! All tied with handstamps. This is the first $1.90 Foreign Exchange (R80c) I have seen on document in person. IMO, the least common of R77c, R79c, and R80c to find on document.
The only downside was the drive home. Literally 20 minutes before I set off, it started raining heavily… but then once I hit the interstate, the floodgates literally opened. For a solid 45 minutes it was 40mph with 4-way flashers on (normally driving 75-80 mph along this stretch), with many people pulling off the shoulder to wait it out. White-knuckle driving… very stressful.
But not a bad haul for a day trip. It was great to see Denny again; I always enjoy seeing him and talking at shows.