Sadness on the Auction Floor

Bill Evans was a already an avid collector when he started coming to our auctions some thirty years ago. He was of Hungarian descent and gravitated towards Hungarian philately. He became particularly interested in a specialized area of Hungarian philately called Hungarian Occupations – hundreds of different stamps issued in the aftermath of WW I for various areas that obtained temporary sovereignty due to the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These are very complex issues with many rarities and many forgeries and Evans had the fire and intellect to make a good go of this area.

As luck would have it in the late 1980s we were selling the Hungarian Occupation section of the reference collection of Herbert Bloch. Bloch, who I have written about before, died in 1987 and was one of the top world wide experts(he had studied with professionals in an unbroken line from the very first philatelic experts). His reference collection contained tens of thousands of stamps and was the basis of his expertising business. The Hungarian Occupations section which we were offering as one lot had thousands of stamps showing genuine and forgeries and was the work of years of expertising. Most of the stamps were reference copies, either forgeries or defective genuine stamps for comparison. Evans, to put in mildly, was pumped. He was a collector of above average means but not rich. The lot had an estimate of $2000 and Evans put together a war chest of ten times that amount. This lot was to be the basis of the rest of his philatelic life. You have guessed the rest-the lot opened at $1200 and a collector with more money than brains and appreciation bought the lot for $27,500- really pocket change for him but more than Evans could afford, though Evans had bid as high as he could. And Evans, right there on the auction floor, just broke down and began sobbing as if he had lost what was most dear to him. After a few minutes he got up and left. I don’t know if he still collects stamps but we never saw him again.

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