Friday, June 29, 2012

CIA, Collections and Stamps

Many times over the years I’ve bought a vintage item and wondered about the original owner of the item.  Like the embroidered pillowcases I bought not too long ago.  They were perfectly starched and were wrapped up as if they had been a part of a young bride’s hope chest.   I can assure you that I tried not to think about the previous owner of the chamber pot I purchased many years ago.  The pot is beautiful …but some things I don’t want to know! 

Back to thinking about owners.  Recently I attended a silent auction and while looking at all the items being sold, one item caught my eye.   After looking more closely and reading the description I discovered a stamp collection was being auctioned off but no one had bid.  So I did, and I won.
Forty years of French stamps.
After taking the book home I just couldn’t stop wondering about the collector.  So I did some investigating and here is what I found out.

The collector began collecting at the age of 6.  Her father was an importer/exporter in New York so international mail was always arriving in his office.  She took advantage of it and amassed a large collection of stamps.
At one point the collector decided to give away her lifetime collection of stamps and stopped collecting. 

But then forty years ago she started again but this time she focused on collecting stamps from specific countries for the purpose of using them in art projects and history studies. She has an extensive collection of African stamps focused on French West Africa.
My auction purchase represents one third of the collector’s holdings of French stamps from the past few decades. 
 If this weren’t interesting enough, I went on to discover that the collector is a former U.S. Government intelligence officer (CIA).

She was so kind to offer to send me beautiful papers for mounting but for now I love being able to look through the book to see the beautiful items individually.


  1. How fun to have some history on that lovely collection, Cheryl! Love those Monet stamps! And about the CIA...I was eating several years ago at a little restaurant in Buford when the husband proudly told me that his wife made all the soups and had learned to cook at the CIA. The CIA teaches people to cook??? Duh...of course he meant the Culinary Institute of America! lol lol Happy weekend!...hugs...Debbie

  2. Such an unusual and elegant purchase at the silent auction! The stamps are beautiful, tiny works of art.

  3. Cheryl, if I'd been at the auction you would have had a bit of competition. ;-) I've bought and saved stamps though the years, especially French and other foreign stamps. This is an interesting story. Glad this collection found an appreciative home.

  4. Your "new" stamp collection is so interesting. I like thinking about who owned old things, too, and like you, I'd rather not think about the chamber pot. My grandmother left a large box of old stamps she'd collected for years. I really should do something with them instead of leaving them in plastic ziplock bags. Your French ones are so much more interesting. Hope you're staying cool. We hit 107 yesterday.

  5. What an enjoyable auction purchase . . . was thie history tucked away inside the book? Mini art . . . Now in your hands . . .

  6. Cheryl you found a real treasure! I of course am in love with all things 'French' and these stamps are amazing. Love that you found out of the history of the collector. Hugs, Linda

  7. I'm glad you were able to discover something about your purchase. What an interesting collection of stamps. Those Monet ones are so very pretty.

  8. Very cool. I used to have a stamp collection when I was a kid, I wonder where it got off to.

  9. Those stamps are beautiful and I love that you found out the history of the collector. Hope you are having a good summer.


  10. This is such an interesting back story on this stamp collection! You were fortunate to be able to interview the prior owner to learn more about them, Cheryl.
    I also enjoy collecting stamps and have many "first day covers" in my collection, including one that went up on the space shuttle Challenger. I wonder what my children will do with them one day when I am gone?

  11. Beautiful and so happy that you added this to your collection. It seems to have landed in just the right spot.....
    and that you found the time to investigate the history.

  12. What a neat collection. How fun to know the background.

    - The Tablescaper