A Remarkable Coincidence

Image result for travelStamp Dealers travel quite a bit for business and as a young man I did my share. One evening some thirty years ago I was visiting some clients in upstate Pennsylvania to purchase their stamps. It was getting late and as usual I was getting lost. I decided to look for a hotel and the closest one was a tiny inn in the most north east part of the state- The Inn at Starlight Lake. The Inn was a popular summer and weekend vacation spot for New York City people but during the week in the fall it was quite empty. The rooms were tiny and the Inn was built around the concept that you sat around the fireplace in the evening and met the guests and your hosts. There were no guests other than me and soon my hosts knew that I was a stamp dealer and they said that their next door neighbor was an avid collector (which I thought meant plate blocks and First Day Covers).

 Soon the neighbor and I were sitting and talking. In those days, I collected Noway Locals, stamps that were issued in the late nineteenth century for private post companies that competed with the main Norwegian post office similar to the way US local companies operated in the mid nineteenth century. The night before I had shown my collection at a local club in Philadelphia and had it in the trunk of my car. Now collectors of Norwegian locals are rare in this country which is a good thing because so are Norwegian locals. I had never met another collector before(and since then I have yet to meet another indigenous one). The neighbor, it turned out, collected Norwegian locals too, not just that but we went over to his place and he showed me a collection of hundreds of different with many covers that made my collection look quite juvenile. Over the years I’ve tried to quantify the odds that such a coincidence as meeting him was. Only about one in three hundred adults collect stamps in the United States, say about 100,000 semi serious or serious collectors. Perhaps there are twenty collectors of Norway locals in that group (perhaps, but I doubt it). That two of twenty people out of a nation of (then) 250 million should meet and then talk long enough to find out that they shared this interest in common is simply amazing. Finding needles in haystacks are orders of magnitude easier as despite the difficulty of the search at least you know that you are looking for a needle. The neighbor and I became very good philatelic friends and when he wanted to part with his collection it became part of mine.

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