Half a century of stamp dealing and collecting
Actually, my philatelic history goes back a lot more than that – 120 years to be precise.
Laurie Franks, the well known Christchurch dealer, back in 1980 asked me if I was connected to a “Charles White” of Dunedin, as he had seen the name while he was researching the history of the NZ Stamp Trade. Yes, he was my grandfather, but I was not aware he had been a stamp dealer in the 1880’s and 1890’s.
He sold out to the local major NZ dealer, Wilcox Smith, in 1889, for a sum “in three figures!” – obviously a lot of money back then. He evidently started again after the turn of the Century, as was dealing in 1914 and later.
For my collection, I’m always interested in any envelopes addressed to Charles White, or to White & Robinson, Dunedin.
My father, a prominent architect, also was very interested in stamps, particularly from a design perspective.
In 1932 he submitted designs for a Post Office competition for a proposed airmail set and although the issue never eventuated, I was able to utilise his designs in a set of 3 CALS I produced for DSC’s 50th
My own dealing began as a teenager – all children collected stamps in the 1950’s and 1960’s, hence the large number of kiddy’s collections now coming onto the market. Outside the wheeling and dealing that went on in school stamp clubs, I used to import topical stamps, that I would sell on cards through the local shops.
I had also built up a serious NZ collection as a teenager, as all my allowance was put into stamps. This was helped by the lucky find that everyone hopes for. I found a block of 20 5d 1960 Pictorials, with the yellow colour missing, at the local post office. I sold these for 500 Pounds to an Auckland dealer – around $15,000 in today’s money. A huge amount for a 15 year old. Much of this went into scarcer stamps, when they were a fraction of their prices today. This collection was sold to buy my first house only 15 years later – not by being clever, but a case of being in the right place at the right time – and buying quality instead of quantity.
I did continue with two serious collections for many years. NZ Exhibitions, which received several Gold Medals, together with a Grand Award, and also NZ Revenues, a field that still continues to fascinate, even though my collection was disposed of a number of years back. I still have a lot of fun with stamp collecting, in that I help other people build their collections.
I do still have another collection though – Military Dinky Toys – (For the uninitiated, these are Diecast Models from 1930’s to 1970’s) Once a collector, always a collector.
In 1968, while I was at University, a dealer opened a shop in Broadway – Dunedin hadn’t had an active dealer for many years. Unfortunately, for personal reasons, he had to close after a month to go back to Christchurch. Two other local collectors, Keith McDonald and Max Hedrick, asked me to join them in a partnership to buy him out – for the princely sum of $75 each! And so, Dunedin Stamp Centre was born.
A year later I shifted to the City Hotel Building, to a tiny shop in the main street, and in 1973 I moved to my present first floor premises in Hanover Street, which gave me far more room for a showroom , office space, and work rooms. By this time, although completing my degree (a BA in History and Anthropology), I had decided to take up full time dealing, having bought out the two partners.
By 1980 I was employing full time staff, and began to advertise overseas, particularly in the Australian stamp magazines., with great success. When the major Ausipex Melbourne exhibition came around in 1984, we were one of the most widely known NZ dealers there…and we had a prime site. We had a fantastic show, and hit budget even before the show opened.
During the Asian stamp boom of the 1990’s, we had booths at many of the major shows….Hong Kong in 1994, 1997 and 2001, and Singapore in 1997. In addition to the terrific sales, they were wonderful experiences, with several hundred thousand people attending each one we were at. They were of all ages, and they were having fun collecting stamps.
From the turn of the Millennium, the business has continued supplying NZ stamps to collectors and dealers, both local and overseas. The Internet and Email have replaced regular mail and the noisy fax. This has allowed quicker, and more efficient, processing of orders.
In 2018, after 50 years, I made some lifestyle changes, including going back to operating solo. Difficult decision, as I have been very fortunate in that I have had a series of fantastic staff over the years.
90% of my business is mail order, but I want to continue to offer a “shop” for locals and visitors to come and browse, and bring material in for sale. For this reason I have Wednesdays as my “Open” day, but if this does not suit, a very limited number of appointments are available on most other days of the week. Email, or phone me on (03) 4776128 for an appointment, and I will try to oblige.
During my career I have been a keen member and supporter of the NZ Stamp Dealers’ Association, joining at their inaugural meeting in 1969, and being on the executive continuously since 1972, including three terms as president. I was one of four current members awarded 50 year memberships at last year’s AGM.
I am also a member of the Australasian Stamp Dealers Assn., and a number of collectors’ organisations, including the Dunedin Philatelic Society (as past President), and Royal Philatelic Society of NZ (Vice-president 1991-1997).
I was also recently awarded the NZ Philatelic Federation Award for Service.
50 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY