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January 2020


Money cannot buy wisdom


One of the more fascinating aspects of the famed British Guiana 1856 1¢ Magenta stamp is the reverse side, which shows the personal owner marks of several of its famous (and infamous) owners.  Few stamps have so many owner marks.  Few stamps COST this much!

The new owner of the ~$A14 million British Guiana stamp decided recently to flamboyantly add his initials to the reverse of it.  Nothing really unusual about that, as many past owners have done that just that - see photo nearby and index of those markings.

Current owner, Nu Yoiker, Stuart Weitzman does not collect stamps.  But he does sell expensive women’s shoes.  So his brainstorm was not just to initial the back of the stamp at far left with “SW”, but to add a large stylised woman’s Stiletto shoe under his SW initials. Brilliant stuff.


Just so subtle, Mr. Weitzman.


Having apparently far more money than sense, Weitzman appears to have executed this vandalism using heavy pressure, with a sharp HB pencil.  See photo nearby.  I have little doubt the next time this stamp is scanned, the heavy graffiti will show on the face of this very thin paper.  Very clever.

We are all but temporary custodians of any stamp we own, and this kind of dopey stuff is infuriating - to me anyway.  Sure, he can slice it all into little pieces if he really wishes, but he is purely an investor who bought it for bragging rights to his buddies it seems, so cutting it up might harm his “investment.” 

Anyway, what is done is done, and hopefully when Weitzman tires of it, someone with a bit more common sense will own it, and not repeat the same wanton madness.  The different markings you see on reverse are outlined in this list - mostly very discreet - 

1. Two strikes of Count Philipp von Ferrary's famous "trefoil" owner's mark. One impression is very faint, at lower left. It sold for then $US32,500 in 1922
2. A large faint "H" of new owner, American Billionaire Arthur Hind at top - said to have burnt a second copy sold to him. "It is now STILL unique".
3. A small "FK" of Finbar Kenny, the manager at Macy's Stamp Department, who brokered the sale by Hind's widow to Fred Small for $US45,000 in 1940.
4. Large, ornate 17 pointed star of Anna Hind, placed OVER her 30 year older husband's "AH" cloverleaf, who had largely cut her out of his will.
5. A small discreet shooting star lower right, added by Australian born Gallipoli hero, Frederick Small, who owned it under total secrecy from 1940-1970.
6. A pencilled "IW" by Irwin Weinberg, head of a group of investors who bought it 1970 for $US280,000 at Sielgels, and later sold it to du Pont via Siegel Auction.
7. A large pencilled "J E d P", initials of the late John E. DuPont who bought it for $US935,000 in 1980, and died in prison. His heirs sold it in 2014.
8. Vandal scrawl added 2019 of "SW" and a vertical stiletto squiggle in pencil or metallic ink pen, by NY shoe seller, Stuart Weitzman who paid $US9.48m.


Looks better in Mono than Colour!


This poor old stamp, damaged and repaired, has been exposed to so much light over its long history, it is now faded beyond recognition.  A blurry pinkish little smudge basically.  The black and white photo nearby is what is looks like under an infra-red filter, and it is one of the few mega rare stamps to look FAR better in mono than colour! 


WIN a $A1,254 18K Gold and Silver Pen!


I was talking today with Ian Pitt, the Managing Director of Renniks/Lighthouse, who recently became Australian agents for this prestige and century old brand of bespoke German made specialty pens. 

This one shown nearby is THE very top of the line item, in the extensive OTTO HUTT craftsman pen series as you can see on their website.  Based in Pforzheim, Germany - in the Black Forest, OTTO HUTT has been a leader in quality pens for a Century.

I bought a few sets of these for stock, as many of my clients will like such a cool and functional piece at this time of year, (the Australia Post allocation totally sold out at $1,254 as you can see!) and added them as an introductory special at $A250 off. 

Anyway, Ian Pitt was interested in doing something BIG promotional over the Christmas/New Year break, to bring this superb range of famous German Pens he was now the agent for, to the wider attention of a global audience.

He thought that "Stamp News" and would help achieve that, and offered me a boxed set of the absolute Top Of The Range of the product line to give away right here!  So, with thanks to the wonderful generosity of Ian and Renniks, here we go.  A fun thing for readers to take a few guesses at, over the long Festive break.




Could be yours totally FREE - $A1,254 retail!


You can enter 10 times, or a 100 times, or 1000 times etc - all totally FREE.  No matter what country you live in.  All details on HOW you could win this superb gift boxed pen valued at $A1,254 retail price, are at

All German made fountain pen, top end quality.  In a stunning Design award-winning Italian made gift/storage box, with slide out drawers, with polishing cloth, and Deluxe leather carry case, extra ink cartridges, and ink converter etc.  A hand numbered and timeless pen, for those who like the VERY finest things in life.

VERY expensive 18 carat solid GOLD nib.  This exact same pen was advertised in the current Australia Post Philatelic “Impressions” Deluxe catalogue, page 41, for $A1,254, which is the RRP and it totally sold out fast as you can see - see - full details of this pen on that link.  Good luck!


Mention stamps in your WILL.

  Over HALF of all Australians die intestate.  That is, they die without leaving a valid, legal Will.  Not my guess, but hard facts reported recently by News Limited.  Victoria (who has the most stamp collectors!) is the worst offender - 54% of them do NOT have a Will.  See -  Truly weird, and VERY sad, but true.  

I have no doubt similar figures apply to British and American and NZ readers etc.  Naturally, none of us wishes to pass away unexpectedly - but we are ALL mortal, and accidents happen every day.  Sudden illness, car accidents, or many other relevant issues.  Ask yourself, do YOU have a will, and if so, WHEN did you make it - it may well be invalid.

Less than 50% of Australians prepare a legal Will, often in the mistaken belief that all their worldly goods and chattels will automatically go to where THEY wanted them to go.  Without a Will, the Government may levy imposts, and the Government agency of Public Trustee also often decides on the final distribution, and disposal of the assets. 

With the common situation that prevails today, where many folks have re-married and re-partnered over their life, and often have children from both lives, even an OLD Will may not be valid at all, if new partners are on the scene. They generally get clear legal precedence. 

As usual the only winners are the Lawyers, who often chew up near all the assets in fees and legal disputes and hearings etc.  These cases can become Legal Picnics, and drag on for years, pitting many family members against each other, ALL because the deceased was cavalier about THEIR WILL.


 Even an OLD Will may be invalid.

  All this bitter wrangling often rips the family apart, and ALL resulting from the laziness of the deceased in not making a clear and legal Will.  Or in the case of an OLD Will, you not updating it to reflect the changing circumstance of your later life, can be VERY bad news.  We have all read media reports of such disputes, and it often destroys families.

For instance, you may wish your stamps or coins or notes to be sold direct to dealer "X" - and you may have made that 100% clear to your spouse for decades.  NO WAY will the Public Trustee do that automatically, if you have no Will - all stamps then generally go straight to a Public Auction.  Often not even to a stamp auction!

If your family gets only HALF as much nett after the rafts of fees and taxes, than dealer "X" would have paid in cash on the spot - too bad for you.  Your spouse or family gets NO say whatever on this, in most cases.  If the Public Trustee gets involved, they direct all stamps go to auction UNLESS you have very clearly stated otherwise in your Will. 

Even accepting that many adults do not make any kind of Will, I’m darn sure that 90% of those who DO have Wills, and are connected with stamps (even when dealers) do NOT make any specific written arrangements in there, as to the disposal path of their stamps upon death.  Be honest - think about your own situation - how do YOU score here??!!

Sometimes, a family member is also keen on philately, and the stamps are passed on to that person, which is a very sensible and preferred option.  Clearly if that person eventually dies without a Will, the same situation exists, and the scene plays out all over again.


How do YOU score here?

  The reality is that, given our aging demographic, countless thousands of Australian stamp collectors die every year, leaving absolutely NO guidance to their non-collecting families as to their specific wishes, re the most preferred disposal of their stamp and coin collection.

Even if you DO have a valid Will, and even if the Executor is a spouse or family member, is there ONE word in there as to where YOU’D direct your stamps to be sold to?  No - I bet there is not.  Many collectors own stamps worth more than their home, yet make no mention of them whatever in their Wills.

The disinterested family may toss them in skip bins when clearing out the family home for auction. (Happens FAR more often than you imagine!)  Or consign them to an auction like Velvet Collectibles (=Stanley Gibbons Australia) or mossgreen, which of course both went broke, as has been widely reported.

These collapses left vendors with goods that were sold, and often paid for by buyers who then took the goods.  However the OWNERS got zero back, after the Administrators/Liquidator/Lawyer leeches bled the carcass totally dry. with obscene $1000 an hour fees etc.  When the funds run out, these pariahs just move on to the next juicy victim.                             


Mossgreen lessons NOT learned.

  The recent mossgreen collapse saw $ MILLIONS spent on dozens of lawyers and endless high level Court hearings, and Administrator fees, and associated nonsense.  A 1000+ detailed message very gory account of this terrible and greed laden train-wreck is here for those who missed it -

There are still NO legal Trust Fund requirements for Stamp Auctions here, to escrow vendor monies via audited Trust Accounts, as Real Estate agents need do.  They can sell your stamps, use those funds to pay rent, Director Fees, wages, car leases, utility bills, and airfares etc, and sellers can receive not one cent.  It seems we learned absolutely nothing from history here.

Did any of the Directors and Managers from these defunct Auctions above incur even a fine, or were any charged by any authorities with ANYTHING at all - of course not.  Seems like everyone pretty much went back to what they were doing before, and the hapless sellers were as usual, the innocent victims - for many $ millions.

And many forget that the time lag from lodging auction lots, to receiving your payment can be much longer than 6 months - and can indeed be 9 months, often not an ideal or suitable option when an Estate is being wound up.  However if Stamp Auction is your choice, why not specify a specific reputable firm YOU wish to handle your material?


One hour, versus many 1000 of hours.

  Often a collector will spend very many thousands of hours over a lifetime buying, mounting, studying, sorting and enjoying their stamps.  It really does seem odd to me that they can’t bother taking just one hour of this time to briefly outline clear instructions for their eventual disposal, to best effect.                                   

What notes do YOU have on these?

  In view of the above, please give some serious thought to leaving a precise note NOW among your personal papers, or with your Solicitor, or better still in your signed Will.  Simply advise precisely HOW you wish your philatelic and numismatic material disposed of in the event of your death, and to exactly WHOM you would suggest it be sold to, if something happens to you in the future. 

If you are lazy, why not at least tear or print out this page, and leave that with your papers, which at least will serve as a warning to the family not to accept the local second-hand dealer’s insulting low offer at least.  Or see them simply consign to auction, and see up to 70% of the value of that lifetime of collecting gobbled up in buyer/seller fees, insurance and taxes!  Would your spouse or family want that to happen? 

Read my story below, about the PITTANCE a family often gets, when a collector passes away, and stamps are simply sold to a general second-hand dealer, or bric-a-brac store, along with household contents. You could see your family lose $10,000’s if they take that course.  Those general second-hand dealers know NOTHING about stamps, and allow virtually that same amount, when they buy them!                               


You owe this to your FAMILY.

  Either way, you surely owe it to your family to do something pro-active?  Often the dealer from whom you mostly purchased will be precisely aware of the special value of any unusual or specialist or unusual or even unique items you have - as he sold them to you!  That is just common sense.

Send your stamps to auction, and such specialist material may go totally unrecognised, as stamps are lotted there with lightning speed, and only barely glanced at, in many cases.  Flaws and errors and variations the selling dealer is aware of, are not always evident to someone quickly skimming the pages.

I often see lifetime collections lotted up at auction along these lazy type of description lines - “Estate collection in 3 cartons, in about 30 albums of stamps and covers. Lots of interesting looking material among it. Please inspect - might be surprises here. Estimate $400.”  They often sell for LESS than estimate.

Use your personal stamp contacts

  Often your wife or husband will have met or spoken to your most usual suppliers, by phone or in person, which makes the process a lot easier and far more comfortable after a bereavement.  A lot easier than dealing with a totally unknown person or Auction firm, selected from the local Yellow Pages, or whatever. 

Over my 40+ years as a dealer, I am privileged and honoured to have had stamp material specified to be sold direct to me in HUNDREDS of cases, via Wills and/or via specific directions left to family members prior to their passing.  Makes life so much simpler for all parties then.

I often have spoken to and/or met the wife and/or family over the period of our dealing relationship, and thus this process is much easier, and far more comfortable and amenable, and smooth for the family, than dealing with total strangers.  Just common sense really. 

An informed collector who chose to deal with a dealer, from a free choice of 100s of stamp dealers, as they felt he supplied nice material at fair prices, with friendly service, is often the obvious source a family is most likely, and most comfortable, in offering those stamps back to - in the event of the collector passing away.

A short simple sentence like this is all you need in your Will to save your family from worrying about disposal of your collection. "I direct that all my stamps and all my related philatelic possessions, be disposed of directly to xxxxxxx, a well-established stamp dealer, that I know and trust."  

I have always had a very personal and folksy touch to my business.  Sure I make a buck from stamp dealing, but I make a lot of friendships too, which is a lovely sideline to this most personal of businesses.  I know many clients extremely well.  I share with them many stories about their stamps, their holidays, their families, and even their football teams etc.  

I have been fortunate to have been invited to stay with clients in their homes on 5 different continents when I am travelling.  I've often met their spouses and families, and/or spoken to them on the phone.  You will seldom get that personal interaction with a large auction house!  

Reminding ourselves of our mortality is never a cheerful experience, which is why more than HALF of us have no legal Will, but pure common sense dictates this MUST be addressed.  I do hope some readers take steps to ensure their philatelic pride and joy does NOT end up in the local bric-a-brac shop for a “‘song” in the event of their passing.                         


Simply not worth the huge risk.

  Why not make avoiding this exact situation for your family your No #1 ‘Must Do’ New Year Resolution??  You can of course prepare your own Will, but this is not a great idea as the smallest wording errors, or omissions, then may make it legally invalid.  Simply not worth the risk in my view.

There are plenty of instant Will Kits on sale at bookstores globally etc.  As a personal comment I would advise you instead go visit a Solicitor experienced in Wills.  I paid only a few $100 for mine to be drawn up, which is reasonably complex - and that was the best money I spent all year.  What value do YOU place on peace of mind?


True story - worth reading …… 

  To ensure readers dwell on this topic a little longer, let me relate a totally true story.  I received a phone call from a second-hand furniture ‘bric-a-brac’ type store owner I know.  This was to advise a bulky stamp collection had been purchased within a complete ‘household effects’ type of deal.

This accumulation ‘owed’ the store owner $1,000 and “did I want to take it off his hands??”  Knowing how low this chap purchased most things, I was immediately interested, and visited that afternoon. The stamps were jumbled up in 7 large cartons.

Untidily arranged in albums, stockbooks, packets, tins etc - exactly as removed from the deceased collector’s ‘stamp den’.  I looked quickly through the first two albums (Great Britain), and the asking figure of $1,000 was very easily surpassed wholesale, with nearly 7 cartons to go.

Watch out for Mister Bric-A-Brac!

  I told ‘Mr. Bric-A-Brac’ there was certainly some interesting material here, and casually checked he was asking $1,000 for the lot, not for each carton.  He just smiled, and said something like - if I knew what HE had paid for it all, I’d probably be embarrassed to hand over as much as $1,000!

Among professional dealers, the asking price is either agreed to, or dickered down somewhat.  If Kevin Morgan or Rod Perry etc offers me something for $500 nett, I am never going to say - “sorry, but you are WAY too low on that Kevin - I’ll offer you $5,000 for it.”.   And vice-versa! 

This brings me to the point of this article.  After lugging home the 7 cartons and breaking it down into lots for my Rarity Page internet ads, it became quickly apparent a collector with whom I’d dealt extensively by mail, for well over a decade, had formed the collection.

Quite a few stamps and sets were still in stockcards and glassines with my name printed on them. Had I been called in by the man’s family and asked to price the Estate, I can honestly say that the cash price offered would have been many, many, many times more than I paid the smiling ‘bric-a-brac man’, and yet I’d still have made a nice profit, instead of a simply obscene profit.


             The family lost about $25,000.

  The family lost around $25,000, purely and simply because that collector didn’t nominate in his Will that myself, or indeed one of his many other dealer contacts, be called in to quote on, or advise upon the wisest dispersion of the stamp collection.

This scenario is not unique - EVERY large dealer anywhere in the world can tell you similar stories of buying material ‘for a song’ via similar channels, when they in fact have supplied a good part of it themselves, at their normal retail prices.

 Honest: I spend nothing much on stamps!

  In my long experience, 95% of collectors are MALE, and they very often advise their families, and the wife in particular, that stamps are a very low cost pastime, with little or no “real” money ever being spent on them, and they do it all just for fun.

These same clients quietly spend $1000’s a year with me, and goodness knows what with other dealers and auctions.  The number of orders I ship Registered Mail to business addresses, and get paid by business credit cards for this precise reason, would astound many (female) readers!

I’m just as often paid in ‘cash’ via Money Order, or bank transfer using cash, for the same reasons.  One chap buys only by me, as his credit card charge shows up only as “Glen Stephens” and no other wording, and he tells his wife these are accountant and book-keeping and audit fees etc, that are all business related! 

The buyers go to great pains to ensure the ‘good lady’ doesn’t realise that each month a $250 CTO 5/- Sydney Harbour Bridge, or a 2015 Year album, set of 1994 P.N.G. overprints, or a “Penny Black” etc, is being quietly purchased.  I’m certain EVERY large dealer and Auction house in the world will have clients doing precisely the same thing.

This is WHY absurdly low ‘bric-a-brac Man’ offers are so frequently accepted by widows and families. ”George DID say he never spent any money on them, so I suppose $300 is a fair enough offer” scenario.  For a lifetime they have heard George stress: ‘the stamps are of little value’, or - ‘I only collect the cheap ones, for the fun of it’ etc.


Season’s Greetings To All!

  The stamp business for me has gone totally BALLISTIC this year. The weak $A has seen a vast surge in orders from overseas, USA especially, and particularly for better pieces in the 3 and 4 figure plus range, that I mostly deal in.  Other dealer colleagues report the same kind of story and pattern this year.

Super low (or negative!) interest rates globally, often nervous and overvalued share markets, and even more nervous real estate markets in many countries, has seen a good deal of savvy money switching into better stamps.  Which often rise 5% or more a year - and that rise is mostly Tax Free, for private collecto


Christmas Day on the beach in Swakopmund.


Margo and I spent last Christmas Day at a sunny family BRAAI (BBQ!) in coastal Swakopmund in Namibia (once German South West Africa) a very pretty old town. Days later we climbed the massive red sand “Dune 45” in Sossusvlei at sunrise, and we had a fun NYE in Windhoek. 

Climbing up that massive sand dune we photo’d nearby, is harder than it looks - seemed about a mile long, and you sink to your kneees in the super fine sand with each step.  We’d slept the night before on the hard ground in a tent, so the old bones were not enjoying the 5am workout!

All via the usual whirl of endless flights, and a week visit to Ethiopia (truly fascinating place), China, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbawbe. Flying back we had 44 hours in planes and airports and no hotel beds!  Heaps of pix here of the adventures for anyone interested - 

We also visited the vast Etosha and Chobe Game Parks in Namibia and Botswana.  Saw 400 Elephants one afternoon in Chobe, and “The Big 6”, and all kinds of other animals and birds. I’ve been to Africa very many times, but seeing 400 Elephants is always exciting to anyone! 

Then flew to Victoria Falls, and went over one morning and had breakfast literally in the Zambesi River on Livingstone Island in Zambia, and later literally hung right over the edge of Victoria Falls, risking death in the fast moving Zambezi waters!  Getting way too old for this stuff.  25 years back it did not seem so scary!


 Getting too old for this caper as well!


We travelled an awful lot during this year as usual, domestically and overseas - keeping many airlines solvent!  One real highlight was flying to the absolutely gorgeous, remote Pacific Island Atoll of Aitutaki.  One of the visual gems of the Pacific for sure.

We spend this Christmas in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay Of Bengal, flying in via China and Chennai via a convoluted string of flights.  We later travel across India, later ending up in Nepal for New Year’s Eve, and back home via Thailand and Chengdu China again.


Thank You to all readers.


“Thank You” to all readers globally, for the many phone calls and letters and emails with comments - both for AND against what has been written here, over the past year!  All input is greatly appreciated and taken on board.  It has been a most interesting one, and an exciting year for the entire stamp world.      

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, to one and all, and to all you and yours.  Be safe, have a great time among your family and friends, and then get stuck into the STAMPS - and enjoy the long holiday break!   We are all part of THE most amazing Hobby.  See you all in 2020.  Glen






"KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"  as I type incessantly -  I cannot over-stress the importance of having a solid library.  Often the very FIRST thing you look up, often pays for that book forever!  A number of wonderful reference books have appeared in recent times.  In many cases within Australia under the new parcel rules, buying 2 or 3 books costs the EXACT same shipping as ONE does, so do give it some thought!   Within NSW, 10 books costs about the same shipping as 1 book etc!  (Superb VFU, valuable franking used on ALL parcels as always.)  ALL in stock now - click on each link for FULL details of each book.  Hint for these as GIFTS!  Buy FIVE or more, and deduct 10% OFF THE LOT!  Glen


“Postmarks of SA and Northern Territory” - THREE massive Volumes for only $A199 (Stock 583HW)

HUGE James Bendon "UPU Specimen Stamps 1878-1961" 534 page Hardbound $A170 (Stock 892LR)

Stanley Gibbons current AUSTRALIA AND STATES & PACIFICS - Near 400 pages $A85 (Stock 736EQ)

Hugh Freeman huge  “Barred Numeral Cancellations Of Victoria”  Now Full COLOUR!  $A195 (Stock 274BN)

Hugh Freeman Numeral Cancellations of New South Wales" Huge hard cover $A185 (Stock 736LE)

Hugh Freeman’s debut “NSW NUMERAL CANCELS” epic work on CD ROM just $A40! (Stock code 637KT)

Geoff Kellow the superb hardcover 'Stamps Of Victoria' Ret $165:BIG DISCOUNT - $A120! (Stock 842FQ)

Superb 2018 ACSC  "Australia Postal Stationery"  Catalogue - huge 484 pages colour $A240 (Stock 782DV)

ACSC New full colour catalogues for KGVI and QE2 – the BOTH huge A4 books $230 (Stock 892JC)

The Arthur Gray "KGV Reign" Collection, Superb hard bound leather Catalogue just $A65 (Stock 368WF)
"Plating Papua Lakatois" Book, 563 x A4 pages, RRP $110 - DISCOUNTED to just $A60! (Stock 432HA)

500 page ACSC New “Australia KGV Reign” catalogue in Full Colour - just  $A170 (Stock 382KX)

Stanley Gibbons superb "2020 British Commonwealth Cat" - 770 pages hardbound - $A180 (Stock 483HQ)

Stanley Gibbons colour GB "CONCISE" Cat - 500 pages – NOW REDUCED $A20 to just $A65  (Stock 483KA)

HUGE  Seven Seas Stamps "Australasian Stamp Cat."   *NO* dealers have stock! $A125 (Stock 792TQ)




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Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for 35+ years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association. (ASDA - New York) Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society
 (PTS London) and many other philatelic bodies.

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