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Postage Stamp Book Worth a Look
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
December 23, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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As a youngster, in the late 1940s and early 1950s (before my paper route introduced me to coin collecting), I was fascinated by the engraving on the postage stamps on Christmas card envelopes that arrived at our house. No doubt this led to my later appreciation for the BEP engraving on currency, which was also on a larger format and easier to examine.

I suspect that many of you also were interested in postage stamps at one time or another. This leads me to recommend a book I recently enjoyed, A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps, by Chris West. It is an interesting insight into British history from the Victorian Penny Black era to the present time. West examines British postal history, economics, inventions, literature, World Wars I and II, along with evolving British culture and politics. We also get a British view of U.S. involvement in these events. It is thought provoking and informative.

Amusingly, I recognized a stamp/coin connection in the book between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II in the wry wit of a Victorian commenting on the Penny Black with a short poem reported in the book: “You may kiss our fair Queen, or her picture, that’s clear/Or the gummy medallion will never adhere/You will not kiss her hand, you will readily find/But actually kiss little Vickey’s behind.” A Canadian wag in a much later generation has described the polar bear on the Canadian “Toonie” as the queen’s bare behind.

I am also just back from the 58th annual Michigan State Numismatic Society convention held for the second time at the Macomb Community College Sports Arena in Warren, Mich. This Thanksgiving weekend event is right up there with Lion’s football and the big Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit happenings.

There are pluses and minuses for the Warren location. A number of out-of-state dealers find the long distance from the airport and the lack of an adjoining hotel to be quite inconvenient. Dealers in attendance, however, found a great crowd of 300 or so at the ribbon cutting. The Friday attendance was pegged at almost 1,200 with similar attendance Saturday. Sunday was the rather usual slower paced day.

This was in the teeth of a recession in the Detroit area, which is still in evidence despite the automobile industry resurgence. Leon Thornton, a Missouri currency dealer, told me he thought the city of Warren’s advertising the show on its water bills was an absolute stroke of genius, as it advertised the show to non-collectors, who might bring things to the show to sell and otherwise would never have learned of the show’s existence. Leon said he had a nice show, buying notes and selling a nice assortment of world currency he had in his inventory.

I also found the comfortable-to-walk-on composition flooring to be a great alternative to the normal convention arena concrete flooring. Yet another positive was the affordable nature of the concession stands. Run by young college food service students, I found the food tasty and inexpensive.

Spirits were high in general and a number of informative educational presentations were well received on Saturday. Particularly interesting was Bret Irek’s excellent program on collecting Canadian coins and currency. Bret illustrated his talk with numerous Canadian items from his collection. With Canada being directly south of downtown Detroit, there is always a nice supply of Canadian numismatics at the MSNS show.

Over the years I have also found the show to have a lot of currency on display as well. In fact, Bill Herzog, a long-time contributor to Michigan National Bank Note data, was the big exhibit winner with his “Michigan Upper Peninsula Town Notes” display, which took first place in the paper money class and won the Best In Show award, along with recognition as the best display by a Michigan Paper Money Collectors club member. Thus, Bill won several gold coins as well as a trip to the ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The awards breakfast was a pleasant affair, and I enjoyed my meal with some Canadian friends, including Paul Johnson and his family. Paul is the executive director of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association as well as a long-time MSNS member. In all, there were 30 different exhibitors with more than 100 cases on display. Bret Irek, chief judge, and Frank Passic, exhibit chair, put a lot of work into the exhibits and they certainly deserve a heaping measure of gratitude for their enhancement of the show.

Among my other pleasures at the show was adding a $50 Fiji Queen Elizabeth II note to my Queen Elizabeth note collection. That completed my portraits for a mini set I was pursuing of all the Queen Elizabeth II portraits on each of the six Oceana region countries. This has greatly expanded my knowledge of geography and I recommend this as a side benefit of collecting world currency.

I also had a chance to visit with a number of dealer and collector friends in the Michigan area, including Keith and Sue Bauman of TNA associates, based in Franklin, Mich. I always enjoy their table, which includes friendly insults from Keith as well as Sue’s beguiling artwork on U.S. currency themes. I also visited with Joe and Ann Peruski of Monroe Currency and Coins. During this visit, Joe and I enjoyed educating a young collector and his mother on the availability of Bank Note Reporter as an educational publication as well giving them tips on a few Internet sites they might want to check out.

In general, sales seemed brisk and dealers I talked with were mostly pleased with the show. If you haven’t visited a state show in your area, give it some consideration. You’ll find upcoming shows listed in the back of this publication.

One show you might consider, if you live in the Midwest, is the Ontario Numismatic Association show in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit. It is slated for April 4-6, 2014 at the Saint Clair Center.

My next travels will take me to the big Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 8-12. I’m looking forward to the Heritage auction and the huge population of dealers I can mine in search of paper treasures. I’ll be at the Krause table and look forward to meeting you there. I might also add that the latest copy (32nd ed.) of Krause Publications’ Standard Catalog of U.S. Paper Money is now out. If you can’t find our book at your local bookstore, take a look at, where you’ll find it along with a great selection of other currency and coin publications. I won’t return home until about the middle of January, but after that I’ll be happy to review your questions and comments at

More Coin Collecting Resources:

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• Get the 2012 Coin of the Year – limited quantities remain!

• Build an impressive collection with Coin Collecting 101.

• IT’S HERE! Order the 2014 North American Coins & Prices.


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