This Dealer Collects
Portugal and Czechoslovakia
Wise men have told me that stamp dealers should not collect stamps. I say “Rubbish”! A stamp dealer who doesn’t collect cannot place himself on the other side of the counter and know instinctively what his customers are looking for. By sharing experiences, we know why Showgard mounts fit better than Crystal, why Harco blank pages are cheaper and of little discernible quality than Elbe, and that for purely personal reasons, I prefer clear mounts over black. Actually using the products speaks better than just selling it.
Dealers that don’t collect miss the enjoyment of collecting. You enjoy it; I enjoy it. It is like working at Disney World and not going on the rides. I treasure my collections like you do yours.
Another protection against temptation is to collect something that relatively few collectors desire. I think Czechoslovakia is beautiful; you may not. I honeymooned in the Azores of Portugal so I collect Portugal. I collected China before it became popular, so now I don’t.
This is how I pursued Portugal and Czechoslovakia. I had always liked the Czecho engravings. (Czechoslovakia Sc.# 1908A). Other than the first issues, all Czecho are engraved and beautifully designed, small works of art. Even the regular issues seldom have long runs of the same portrait or scene. And other than the 1918 semi-postal issues, there are very few forgeries to worry about. Yet the country does have pockets of specialized material to pursue. Simply collecting to fill black spaces, without doing first day covers, proofs and cancellations, doesn’t appeal. Going beyond the basic stamp and understanding the culture and history is more like it. But not too much; I collect for pleasure with little research as per Czecho for now.
I prefer Scott albums because they follow the Scott catalogue and bear Scott numbers. The pages never change with age and their austere pages counter-balance the sometimes gaudy designs. Fortunately Scott issues a Czechoslovakia album, which I acquired. Rather than do with 2 large binders, I always get the skinny 1 inch binders, so I had 4 binders to start which are now 5. Certainly I’ll go to 8 or 10 in a few months. The 1 inch binders fit into my safety deposit box easily when I’m traveling and the 4 inch binders when filled are fairly heavy and bulky. Each to their own.
I use the clear Showgard mounts, instead of black, because I’m not a terribly careful mount cutter. I find that they don’t cut straight (product defect or me?) which is not apparent on the page with clear mounts. With black mounts, imprecise cutting sticks out.
Buying the mounts for as many stamps as Czechoslovakia has cost me my stamp budget for several weeks as most Czecho stamps are oversized so mounts are costlier than U.S. stamps. I’ve never begrudged buying Scott products or Showgard mounts because, even though they are more expensive than some other brands, it’s a one-time cost and will be with me as long as I own the collection. You can never be too careful with your collection, and since the supplies protect the stamps from damage, certainly it’s a wise purchase.
I have other reasons for collecting Portugal, of course. I honeymooned off of Portugal, so I have pleasant first-hand experiences. I studied history reflecting Portugal’s achievements and their stamps speak well of the past. Their stamps are beautifully designed, reflecting the culture. I appreciate the fact that there are few unnecessary souvenir sheets and a handful of high face value regular issues. Because Portugal has never been as popular as Germany, it is not found in dealer stock as easily, so is more of a hunt. The pre-World War issues are far more complicated than Scott indicates, and I like that too. Forgeries abound in the 19th century issues so I take care to purchase only from recognized sources. To grasp the many subtleties of Portuguese Philately, I belong to the International Society of Portuguese Philatelists (IPPS) which issues an excellent magazine and has an outstanding expertisation service. I’ve taken the German Michel catalogue for Portugal and Czechoslovakia and had each section bound into a hard-bound catalogue so I need not carry two bulky catalogues for referencing only those few issues that interest me.
There’s no wrong way to collect. I do what pleases me which is the best rationale for collecting.
This has been reprinted from Global Stamp News – February 1991 – Issue #4