R.I.P. Tony Buckingham (Benham Covers UK etc)

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PennyBlack1840
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R.I.P. Tony Buckingham (Benham Covers UK etc)

Post by PennyBlack1840 »

For those who may have known him, Tony Buckingham, founder and owner of Buckingham Covers passed away yesterday. For those who may not know him, he was a member here under the handle 'Buckinghamcovers' and he had a thread which was much enjoyed and read entitled 'Story of a Stamp Dealer' towards the end of last year.

In the GB stamp trade Tony was well known for starting the Benham cover business, which he successfully grew and sold to Stanley Gibbons. he later created Buckingham Covers (formerly Internet Stamps), which is still fully operational today. His widow Cath and daughter Ellie still work there.

Tony was a very positive force for the hobby and will be sadly missed.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Global Administrator »

R.I.P. Tony ... yes a great guy I'd known for 35 years.

As Peter mentions above, Tony recently added some wonderful insights into his business career here, when he knew he was ill - and they can serve as a Tony Buckingham Stamp Biography of sorts for posterity -

Glen

https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=67441

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Brummie »

That is so sad, I for one enjoyed his Story From a Stamp Dealer as I'm sure many did.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Philexx »

That's really sad :(

RIP Tony Buckingham
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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by phrag99 »

Another good 'un goes to the great stamp shop in the sky.

RIP, Tony. You will be sorely missed.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Belti »

It's really sad to read this news today. I didn't know Tony personally but I really enjoyed reading his thread "Story From a Stamp Dealer".

RIP Tony :(
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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by hutch »

I can only be sad that another of our mainstays has passed away. So much knowledge is gone from our "database".

R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Condolences to his family and friends.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by fromdownunder »

It is always sad to lose a well liked member here. Goodbye Tony.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by DarrenK »

Didn't know Tony but enjoyed his stories.

Condolences to his family and friends.
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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by norvic »

I met Tony a few times and we 'crossed swords' at Royal Mail Trade Briefings a couple of times - we were approaching the subject of new issues from polar extremes!

We knew he was ill, and sorry to lose another stalwart and character from the business. Commiserations to family and friends.
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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by JonEboy »

I never met Tony but can say that he is indirectly responsible for the four cases of FDC's that sit in my office. Without him I doubt I'd have taken much interest in FDC's.

RIP Tony

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by JKA »

RIP :(

I have enjoyed reading his stories.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by BigSaint »

Another "stampies" album closed.

I did not know Tony but enjoyed reading the thread on his life.

Very sad, condolences to family & friends.

RIP Tony.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Spartacus »

I agree, he wrote some amazing stories.

He will be missed.

R.I.P. Tony Buckingham.
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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by goof »

So sorry to hear this news, his FDC inspired a whole era of collectors, his story is truly fascinating.

RIP Tony

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Rod Perry »

Tony visited my store in Melbourne in the 1990s, and a fellow Pom staff member spent several hours digging out every GB FDC he could find.

There were plenty, never looked at by an expert during the decades we had accumulated them.

Tony lapped it up, spent hours, and spent money!

Perhaps a month later, in a chat section of one of his publications, as I recall, he paid tribute to our staff member who, according to Tony, had been so helpful.

That sought of thing doesn't happen often: that staff member appeared a foot taller for the rest of that week.

My condolences to Tony's family and friends.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by jaywalker »

I have been collecting (Australian) Benham covers for a while, but never met Tony. His recent postings provided a wonderful back story to the covers in my collection - which were already highly regarded, being vastly superior in quality to other covers produced in the period.

RIP, and condolences to family and friends.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by David Smitham »

Very sad to learn of Tony's death. If only it had been Donald Trump instead!

Tony was a stalwart of the stamp trade for decades, and injected new dimensions into our hobby or business depending upon one's viewpoint. Well done Tony for that.

Yes, I did meet him on a few occasions - a real nice guy.

Sorry to lose such a character in the stamp trade.

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by BuckinghamCovers »

Thank-You for all your kind comments. I have shared this thread with staff.

Thank-you all once again.

Jake (Buckingham Covers)

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Re: R.I.P. Tony Buckingham

Post by Global Administrator »

Hugh Jefferies the SG Catalogue Editor passed this tribute on today -

= = = = =

Tony Buckingham 1945-2016

The stamp world lost one of its great characters and the cover world its undisputed King, with the passing on 12 May of Tony Buckingham, the founder of the two pre-eminent names in cover collecting in the UK; Benham and Buckingham Covers.

Tony’s stamp dealing instincts can be traced back to his schooldays, when he used the proceeds of his sales to fund his own collection, but like many others of his age, in the end the stamps had to go in order to fund another even greater interest – girls! – or in Tony’s case one particular girl, who was, in due course to become his wife and business partner for almost 50 years, Cath.

Cath and Tony were both training to become teachers, and when Tony made the mistake of including his interest in stamps in his CV at one school to which he applied for a job, straight out of training college, he was told that part of his new post would involve running the school stamp club. One aspect of this would be to organise first day covers for commemorative stamp issues and Tony decided he could do better than those then available and with a fellow cricketer (cricket being the third great passion of his life) he set up Benham Covers – and the rest was history!

The very first Benham cover, featuring a wood-cut illustration by Cath’s father, was for the 1967 Christmas issue and for the next two years Tony and Cath would buy each new issue on the stroke of midnight on the day of issue and spend the early hours applying the stamps to the covers and delivering them to the post office of choice, and then rushing back to be in front of their respective classrooms for the day ahead.

In 1969 they were able to set up a trade account with the Philatelic Bureau and although this gave them longer to stick the stamps on the covers, it was clearly difficult to maintain the growing business alongside their teaching careers and in 1970 they decided to run the business on a wholesale basis, selling to other dealers.

It was at this time that they had a stroke of luck; while making up 1970 Churches covers they realised that one sheet of the 3d. value had the gold Queen’s head omitted and were happy to sell the majority of them for £5 each. (Today the stamp is listed as SG 904a and catalogued at £250 each – but the few covers they had made up before they discovered the error can fetch even more).

Still keen to advance his teaching career, in 1972 Tony took up the deputy headmastership of a school in Hythe, Kent. They were already attending regional stamp fairs to dispose of excess stock and, once established in Hythe, opened a stall in the local Saturday market and thus began the return to the retail business. In 1975 he finally retired from teaching in order to devote all his attentions to the Benham business, opening a stamp shop in Hythe and later the Folkestone Stamp Shop.

In 1978 Benhams took over fellow cover producers, Pilgrim Philatelics, and with it their stand at Stampex. The business was transferred from the family home to offices in Hythe High Street, they took their first ‘International’ stand in 1978 at Amphilex in Amsterdam and in the same year launched the Benham Official Cover Series, giving added value to commemorative first day covers. The first was in association with BP for the 1978 Energy Resources issue, with covers being flown to a North Sea oilrig, while the Christmas issue of that year was carried by mailcoach in Cambridge. Both brought massive publicity for the company and for cover collecting in general. It was in 1980 that the first ‘Benham Silk’ covers were prepared, for the Birds issue.

Benhams continued to go from strength to strength during the 1980s and ’90s, with the doldrums which affected most of the rest of the trade in the early ’80s not seeming to extend to cover collecting, especially Benham, now the recognised leader in the market, benefitting as of did, from Tony’s bright ideas and Cath’s award-winning design skills.

Awards indeed seem to be coming in thick and fast, with Benhams picking up Kent small business of the year, followed in 1995 by Kent Company of the Year, while Tony received one of the inaugural Royal Mail, Rowland Hill awards for ‘Contribution to Philately’.

But all was not always as it appeared and frustration that others did not share his business ethic while being quite happy to share his stock, led Tony and Cath to sell the company to Flying Flowers in 1995 and retire altogether from the business two years later, with the intent of relaxing, enjoying travel and writing.

The pull of covers was too great however and Tony and Cath were back at the Stamp Show 2000 at Earls Court and the following year Buckingham Covers were set up as part of the Internet Stamp Group, which also included the Folkestone Stamp Shop.

The new company thrived on the more imaginative Royal Mail issuing policy of the new century, non-traditional issuing subjects, bringing in new customers and Tony’s imaginative take to the covers he was producing continuing to bring massive publicity to the hobby – not to mention the benefits it brought to company turnover.

When Tony’s final illness was diagnosed in early 2014 he remained positive, working hard to ensure the future of the company, while continuing to devote his declining energies to stock acquisition via the Internet and producing his words of wisdom in every issue of Cover Lover, the house magazine, often signing off as ‘Puffing Billy’.

Tony was a man with boundless energy and a great sense of humour – and though the first deserted him in his last years, it was always clear that the other hadn’t. He was incredibly generous, helping others in the trade where and when he could and cared enormously about the welfare of his staff, which they repaid with their loyalty and led to him being awarded Employer of the Year in the 2008 local business awards.

But Tony did not only run a successful business – or even a successful series of businesses. By conservative estimates he raised over £1 million for charity through his various signed first day cover series. He served on the Council of the PTS (Philatelic Traders Society) and edited Collect First Day Covers for 20 years. He wrote extensively in the philatelic press, most notably in the Philatelic Exporter, where he would regularly recount the trials and tribulations that went on behind the various covers he produced and offering typically trenchant observations on current activities in the philatelic world. His articles always made entertaining reading, but you couldn’t help feeling that there must be less stressful ways of making a living!

Tony recently published the first part of his autobiography up to the time he ‘turned professional’, under the title The Gravedigger’s Apprentice, available on electronic device, and this has just been followed by two murder mysteries.

Looking back, it is difficult to imagine how one man could have achieved so much, but we are certain that Tony would have been the first to point out that he could not have done it all without the help and support of his family and his colleagues and we would like to close by thinking of them; his wife and business partner, Cath, daughter and son-in-law, Ellie and Tom, and granddaughters, Caitlin and Amy, not to mention everyone at Buckingham Covers – we can only imagine how much you will miss him – because we all miss him too!

Hugh Jefferies

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