Thirteen Tons of Stamps
Thirteen Tons of Stamps ... also called "How We Bought 3 Barns Full!"
by David Medeiros
Back in 1986 I had been in the stamp business full time for about seven years. I was a partner in Weeda Stamps, an old-fashioned stamp store in downtown Vancouver, Canada.
One day, a man came into the store and asked if we bought stamps, because he had "a lot of stamps for sale". I answered "Of course we do; let's have a look". Out on the street was the man's parked Cadillac; he opened the trunk, revealing many large plastic bags crammed with fairly modern Canadian stamps on paper, also known as kiloware. An offer was made, which was accepted.
The next week the man came back with another trunkful and weeks followed weeks with the same events unfolding.
One week he finally said, "This isn't really working for me". I asked, "Why not?" "You don’t understand; I have a LOT of stamps," the man replied.
It turned out that the man's father had been the type of person who not only didn't sleep much, but was constantly busy with his stamps. After many, many years of accumulating, the father passed away and the son was now disposing of the stamps stored in three barns.
We arranged an appointment to meet at the barns which were located 45 minutes out in the countryside of beautiful British Columbia. We spent the day evaluating the hoard and closing a deal. It took two trips in the largest U-Haul available before all 13 tons of kiloware and stamps in bundles were safely delivered to the store. I was able to bond with my father-in-law Alex as we made the trip in what was to us a very large truck. Getting to the back alley of the store downtown was interesting, especially when Alex scraped a telephone pole with the truck…oops! Thank goodness we had 1,400 square feet of storage and a basement besides for all the boxes of stamps!
How does one market that amount of Canadian stamps?
We made topical packets for sale in the tourist trade with the bundles; we also made packages of 100 different up to 500 different Canada stamps for both the store and the tourist trade. Well, not really “we”! I had just married Francesca, who had moved from San Francisco and was working in the store, but didn’t know anything about stamps at the time. She made the packages and then happily drove all over BC to all the tourist places she wanted to visit: Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Aquarium, Hell’s Gate Air Tram, Capilano Suspension Bridge. She even got them on the BC Ferries and a huge contract for Vancouver’s Expo ’86.
Francesca also bagged up stamps on paper to sell by various weights in the store; these we started trading with a kiloware dealer in Great Britain who would send us kiloware from Greenland, Germany, Kenya, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Singapore, Iceland etc. Back in the “good old days” stamp dealers used to get these stamps on paper from missionaries… thus the term “mission mix”. The postage that we used to send the parcels to Great Britain was "free" because we both agreed to use high value modern commemorative stamps that were worth as much used as mint. When we sent the next lot to Great Britain, we would send his cancelled GB postage back and he would do the same with our Canadian postage. All in all these mixtures were a very popular addition to our retail operation!
After we had bought the bulk of the stamps the seller showed us an old dresser that contained a wonderful lot of Canadian Semi-Official airmails, thousands of Nazi propaganda cards and more. All of this from a man who had what seemed to be a few bags of stamps on paper…
David Medeiros and his wife Francesca Lund now operate their stamp business, Quality Stamps, from Venice, Florida. Francesca no longer has to make stamp packets and has become quite knowledgeable about stamps! David is still living his dream, working with stamps. You can visit their website BuyingQualityStamps.com.