My Proudest Moment in Philately, Bill Ruh.
One of the great things about stamp collecting, if you are open to it, is that there can always be something new to learn. And, it might happen with the next stamp or cover you look at. There could be value and the chance of a new discovery right there in plain sight, if you have a feeling for it combined with enough knowledge of your collecting area.
In an area like postal history, every "real cover" (not philatelic or contrived) is different, and sometimes seemingly small differences can make one of them very special. My friend Arthur Hecker always said that after you became more knowledgeable about your collecting area over time, if you saw something that you had never seen before and did not fully understand, but it seemed "real", you should always buy it if it was possible. Most of the time you would find out what it was later as you learned more, discovering what made it unusual or special, and fitting it into or expanding the area that you collected. You’d be very glad that you did not let it pass you by!
I can remember when I first started collecting covers, and every franking combination and usage seemed new to me, seeing some covers mailed from Danzig that I have never seen again in 40 years. That they seemed very expensive then, but would have seemed rather cheap now, doesn't matter that much. I did not then have the experience and knowledge to know that they were special, or why, but luckily I at least had the intuition and feeling to notice and remember them. I am very glad that I still sometimes have that "touch", to notice and buy good things, which Art Hecker always had, and I take advantage of it whenever I can.
Thirty years ago at a BALPEX stamp show I bought a Danzig cover with postage due stamps and an "Aus dem Briefkasten" (Out of the Letterbox) marking which I did not understand and thought that I had never seen before. My finding the illustrated cover at BALPEX is part of my proudest moment in philately, and that story is below.
The "Germany Philatelic Society" held its' annual convention at that 1980 BALPEX stamp show in Maryland. I was a new member of the American "GPS", and this was the first convention I had gone to. It was also by far the furthest I had yet traveled to a stamp show.
At the start of the show I covered all of the dealers, and the best thing I found was the 1922 Danzig cover with the postage dues and a "mysterious" marking. At that time Danzig covers were almost all that I collected, and that meant covering all the dealers could be done very quickly. Too quickly, actually, and, like millions of other people, I wish I had known then what I know now. I would then have had the time and the knowledge to find many more great covers from many other areas when it seemed like there were very many more covers available from many more stamp dealers. Now it seems like there are many less covers available, most all of which seem to be fairly common types, and they are available from far fewer dealers. I wonder if most people tend to feel this way about one subject or another? Does everybody think that a "golden age" or a "semi-golden age" was in their past? >>
Danzig Report Nr. 149 - 2010, page 12.
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