The Story of a Stamp Dealer
THE ROAD TO STAMPEX
It all really began in September 1970, Cath and I visited Philympia and met our namesakes Kath and Keith Buckingham (actually De Vere Buckingham). They ran a firm called Gainsborough Stamps in Newbury, again, a coincidence as my aunt and Grandmother lived there, as had my mother at some time. They were new and hadn’t got a lot of stock, I suggested I lent them mine and a relationship grew.
Every STAMPEX and BPE I provided a great cover stock and on the Saturday or half-term I worked on their stand. Thinking about it, it was a great deal for them. I paid my own expenses, worked free and gave them a decent percentage of my take. I was young, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, very tall and full of charm (well some thought so!)
This lasted until we bought Pilgrim and we had our own stand in 1977. I will never forget that first one, we were both terrified, this was the first division. We woke very early and walked round St James Park before braving the show. I am always grateful to a stamp dealer who spent about £800 early on the first day, which helped us calm our nerves (we were also stamp dealers via our shop).
In those days we were not great with magazines, which meant shows were much busier, and at times we have 30 customers round our small corner stand. Gradually we dropped stamps and made our stand covers only, then booking a second one for our stamp shops.
Luck isn’t always in at the stamp shows though, I remember on one grim dark November night I was going from the cover stand to the stamp stand in the other hall. I trod on a nail and limped in, Brian Uden and co on the stamp stand thought it very funny, until he drew it out and realised how deep it had gone in. I was then rushed off to hospital for checking and tetanus injections!
I mentioned the 1970 International (Philympia) earlier and while going round buying I had two funny experiences. At one enormous stand, ran by Pat O’Connell, there were some very cheap covers. I asked a distinguished older man if I could buy 50 of each (I was happy to pay full price). He went over to Pat obviously to enquire if I could have 50 and could he give me a discount. The reply ‘what cut me bleeding throat’, but he did let me pay the full price.
The second one was at a prestige stand, where to the side there were about 80 penny blacks on cover, at what seemed to me to be a gift price each. I asked why they were so cheap, the answer? They were ‘not the sort of thing we sell OUR customers’! Suffice to say I bought the lot and sol them all trade within a week or so, the shopkeepers were constantly wanting more! Just shows horses for courses.
I really enjoyed the stamp exhibition, meeting our collectors and hearing the latest stamp gossip. Something I’ll always miss.
By Tony Buckingham