The Complete Collection

The Complete Collection
With Walter Owen

Some 20 years ago when I had been collecting stamps for a while, I decided that I wanted a collection that was COMPLETE.

Not knowing where to start, I thought that Stanley Gibbons AlI World Catalogue would help. (In those days it was in one volume) Browsing through it, I tried to find a country that was either small enough or new enough to have had limited issues. There was no cornplete country that appealed to me that was within my limited means to collect, So I took a closer look at my own home country Great Britain. Obviously a complete country collection was impossible, but one reign offered possibilities.

King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne to be with the woman he loved, so the listing for his reign was 1936 ½d green, 1d red, l½d brown, 2½d blue. Four stamps and I would have a COMPLETE collection. It was easy too

- I found them within a week and they cost me 1/3d — about 15p (Figure 1).

Some months later, as I was checking the catalogue for something completely different, I noticed a listing for Edward VIII under ‘Morocco Agencies". A quick scrutiny revealed that there was not only one listing, but four:

I For use In the International Zone, Overprinted TANGIER and using British currency;

2. International Zone, Overprinted MOROCCO AGENCIES using British currency:

3. overprinted MOROCCO AGENCIES and also surcharged in Spanish currency;

4. overprinted MOROCCO AGENCIES and also surcharged in French currency.

These issues totalled 11 stamps, thus making my collection only a quarter complete. Being somewhat more specialised, these stamps took a little more finding, but within six months, I had them all and was once more COMPLETE! (Figure 2).

Clickfor detail

A satisfied feeling stayed with me until I borrowed Stanley Gibbons British Commonwealth Catalogue from the library to check some QEll issues. Before I took it back, I turned to the Edward VIII section of Great Britain to gloat over my collection. SHOCK! Another entry had snuck in, hiding behind a letter 'a' 459a — booklet pane. Four stamps plus two printed labels (Figure 3).

BOOKLET!! My brain was in a turmoil, as by this time, I had become more involved with stamps and realised just what this meant. If the stamps had been issued in booklets then there were likely to be inverted watermarks as well as booklet panes. Life was becoming complicated.

Some months after this, my wife and I went to a philatelic exhibition which had dealers in attendance and at one stand I noticed an album with a slip attached, reading "King Edward VIII". Naturally, I had to look, and what a can of worms that opened!

The album comprised about 50 pages, filled with not just stamps, but booklet panes, inverted watermarks, control and cylinder blocks, perforation types and several of the "Pearl beside crown" variety. The first page bore the heading "one of the few known examples of a Double Impression" above a single stamp. There was so much material that I had never seen before that I knew I had to have that collection. The problem was that I could not really afford it, in fact, I didn't have that much money with me anyway. Three times I went back to look and finally a solution was found. I had a collection of my own of a Pacific country with me and after some negotiations the dealer accepted my collection and a small cash payment and we brought home Edward VIII.

We both spent hours looking at that album and my eyes were really opened. In 1977 a Specialised Stamp Catalogue was produced by Stanley Gibbons covering the four Kings. Edward VII to George VI, which of course included Edward VIII. I bought a copy, and eyes that had been opened now bulged. Even with the new additions, I was still missing so much! The actual stamp issues took over three pages and included such items as ‘Specimen" and "Cancelled" overprints and also coils which were dispensed from machines. Booklets formed a collection of their own with one 6d booklet, a 2/- booklet with 32 different editions, a 3/- one which had 13 editions and a 5/- with two editions.

Many years have passed since l first bought those four insignificant little stamps, many dealer's lists and auction catalogues have been searched for additions and gradually a reasonable collection has been formed. I was delighted when my entry won Silver at a National Exhibition.

I still have my wants list, which is getting slightly shorter, but the items I am missing are hard to find. I only have one coil leader (the ½d value) and would like more. I would like more booklets but they are pricey and I cannot afford them too often.

Thursday, April 26,1984 was a black day for me — on that day Christie's Robson Lowe offered items from the National Postal Museum Archives for auction. Unique single stamps and pieces for sale, but what chance does the ordinary collector stand with the lowest price for Edward VIII being £76 (about $150) for a single stamp and other items ranging through the hundreds of pounds to £750 (about$l500). I have a copy of the catalogue and I know that is the only place I will see that type of material in this house. However, the collector triumphed, and I am still searching for my missing items, even though it is so hard to find in this country and most have to be bought from overseas, involving exchange rates and bank commissions. I am still enjoying what I have but know now that I will never have



First published in Stamp News, November 1993.
Copyright Ears Leisurewrite.

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