The Fan: I Buy Cheapo Penny Black Stamps; Wenger Buys Very Thin, Cheapo Kids

By Davies, Hunter | New Statesman (1996), March 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

The Fan: I Buy Cheapo Penny Black Stamps; Wenger Buys Very Thin, Cheapo Kids


Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)


About 20 years ago, I became a born-again stamp collector. By born again, I mean I collected them as a boy, then forgot about them for decades. I was so busy with other things. Such as living. This is typical of many stamp collectors.

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What sparked me off again was giving up playing weekend football. I just could not bear to see the lads playing without me. I thought, what shall I do now? Is there a hobby which isn't going to knacker my poor old knees any more?

For about ten years, I collected GB stamps, including a special collection of Wembley 1924-25 stamps. I also collected US Columbus stamps and GB covers for the postmarks, mainly 19th-century Cumbrian. Oh, lots of daft things. Too many, really. That's what born-agains do. Rush at things.

Today, I collect stamps on one theme only--football. The earliest football stamp, as you've asked (ie, a stamp connected with football), was issued by Uruguay in 1924 to celebrate their footie victory in the 1924 Olympics. It doesn't actually show a footballer. The earliest of these came out from Bulgaria in 1931.

One of the things I used to collect was penny blacks. These are not as expensive as you might think, as 68 million were printed. I specialised in cheapo blacks with thins (meaning the paper had got thin over the years) and poor margins (meaning no margins, and a good black should have four white margins). I paid no more than [pounds sterling]20 each, as opposed to [pounds sterling]200 for a decent black in good nick. I collected them for their letters (oh, I'm too tired to explain what that means). To me, the condition didn't really matter much. It was having them that mattered.

When I came to sell, I lost money on every one. Now, if I had been a sensible collector, splashed out and gone for tried and proven quality, I would have bought one half-decent black at [pounds sterling]200 instead of ten tatty ones at [pounds sterling]20. I would then have doubled my money over ten years.

Are you getting my drift. Are you with me. Or ahead. Yes, friends, isn't that just like football?

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