Friday, July 11, 2008

More on "They Collected the World"

I posted a variation of the following a couple of days ago on the Virtual Stamp Club message board:

A poster had asked why there were so many more albums visible in a photograph of the two collectors than the eleven Internationals they had completed. There is some information on this in an article by Stan Cornyn that appeared in Linn's Stamp News in early 1978 (sorry I don't have the exact citation). The original seven International volumes in 1971 were expanded to eleven after the collectors added interleaving. I assume they did this with the subsequent volumes that were published between 1971 and 1977. The rest of the holdings, as another poster thought, were comprised of duplicates or stamps that weren't in the albums. For example, they had several complete plate reconstructions of the Great Britain #33 penny red. More numerous, were complete sets of stamps that were represented in the Internationals as short sets. They would add the remaining stamps on extra pages. According to the Linn's article, in the first year they filled two closets with "amateur collections bought at auction."

Here a a couple of other quotes from the Linn's article that shed life on this project:

The two collectors split their duties. Cornyn maintained the collection and provided the financing. Geller compiled statistics and maintaining the wantlists. Both were "responsible for the hardest part: placating our wives and hiding the amounts of money being spent."

In the first year, the collectors "came closest to pure, amateur collecting. [Sorting through and identifying] those great ranges of nickel stamps that are incredibly hard to locate: ...China overprints, Argentine officials, India States..."

They found that the Iron Curtain countries were the easiest to complete. The only difficult series was the Romania 1952 surcharges.

"The toughest set to acquire was Spanish Sahara 36-50."

Interestingly, some then recent issues were problematic (Paraguay 704-07 and Central African Republic 126-8).

One problem that I wouldn't have guessed was spaces in the albums for sets that were announced but never issued (e.g., "the Jamaican Human Rights set that was shown in our album, but withdrawn in favor of Jamaica 271-73.")

In spite of all of the barriers, they kept true to there original goal of filling every blank space in all of the albums.

I especially like the last paragraph: "Would we recommend that others follow our path and collect the whole world? 'Absolutely,' Geller offers. 'For all the problems--and the International Volume 1 is really a bit of a mess--it's been the most fun I've had since my honeymoon.'"

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