Ok.. we're at the "water cooler" and it's time to blow off steam.
I am a large buyer of stamps, well known in my area. I won't say much about this, but know it plays in this story. Well, a couple of days ago, a guy from out of the blue called me and asked if I was the stamp guy, referred to him by all the local auction guys. (I buy stamps at local auctions, when they come available. My accumulation is beyond insane... mostly described as a sickness.) I told him I was.
What happens next... stuff of legends and thought I would share with you. The guy who called me is retired, but a known buyer of antiques and unusual items. Well, a funeral home called him to "clean out a home" of a lady that died, as it was full of antiques, including glassware, which is highly collectable here. Actually, the house had many collectibles, including coins, lamps, figurines, etc. However, in one room, sealed off from the rest of the house, behind locked doors, is one of the largest accumulation of stamps one could ever imagine.
Apparently, this lady, had inherited a couple of stamp stores or was a very large buyer at auction, or maybe her long past husband was... no one knows. As she grew older, all she talked about was her "stamp collection," incessantly, but none of the neighbors knew what she was talking about. They were confused as to why she always talked about it and just wrote it off to senility.
You have to be a stamp addict to understand what was going on. In this sealed off room is one of the largest and most valuable stamp collections I have ever seen. The funeral director, handling the remains of this lady was ordered by the court to "clean her house" and this same funeral director sold everything in the house to this antique collector - if he cleaned the house as well... everything except the stamps in the sealed off room.
When the courts heard about this "massive and valuable collection, they ordered the antique collector to "take possession of the accumulation and put it in storage until something can be determined."
You see, this woman has no heirs of any sort... thus her estate becomes property of the state. Absolutely no one in this town has a clue about stamps.. no more than you would about pre-columbian native-american artifacts. So, now the courts must decide what to do with this collection, like give the proceeds to charity or to sell and put into the local general budget.
Now I come into the picture. I show up at the storage facility to see the stamps, and in storage is 100s of albums, stockbooks, and boxes and boxes of glassines. Postage alone is in the tens of thousands of dollars, and there are postage lots from most every country in the world, sorted and unstored. (Ready for this... including mint Roos, KGVI, mint NZ pictorials, BOXES OF MINT CHINA, HONG KONG AND INDIA - and mint US going back to 1913, much Washington-Franklin issues - POSTAGE mind you.) Lots of classics, lots of approval type material, lots of everything... everything.
After looking at 5%, I just closed the last stockbook I had open and said, "let's talk." Since I am know for giving appraisals and estimates for estates, lawyers, and the courts, this guy wanted me to write a letter to the court with recommendations.
The first thing I told him was that it had to be removed from storage and immediately put into a weather-controlled environment... immediately, if not sooner. Leaving it in storage, to the elements and humidity, is a crime against philately. This is like using the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence to practice origami.
We are working on getting this collection/accumulation to a weather controlled environment, but you know how the courts work... slower than molasses in a dripping contest. They ain't got no dog in this fight, so why care?
Upon leaving, I told the custodian that it is inconceivable that this lady didn't plan better... which is why she always talked about it.. she just didn't know what to do. Later she was put into a nursing home, and no one at the nursing home understood what she meant by "her stamp collection." They just all wrote it off to senility and prattle.
Well, the collection is still sitting there, in the storage unit... complete Vatican to somewhere in the 90s, complete this, complete that, sheets of this, sheets of that... just sitting there waiting for someone to do something, mainly the courts.
On the way home, I told the person riding with me, that I could not believe that such a collection was not .. how do you say it?... not planned for. Poor lady. Then the person riding with me gave me an incredulous look and said, "what? you have 20 times that much, and more far more valuable. Your collection is stuffed away in 400 banker boxes. You have never been married and have no children. If you accidentally died tomorrow, how would you be any different?"
That was 36 hours ago... i haven't slept since.