Massive stamp auction starts in Sandton

2015-06-10 15:13
Some of the stamps on show. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

Some of the stamps on show. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

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Johannesburg - Efforts to stamp out philately have clearly failed, as evidenced by the silver-haired group who gathered in Sandton on Wednesday for what the auctioneer said was South Africa’s largest stamp auction.

“It’s South Africa’s largest stamp auction, it’s from various people. It’s not one collection,” said an employee of Stephan Welz & Co, who referred all queries to auctioneer Savo Tufegdzic, who at that moment was too busy to talk, getting ready to face his audience of about 30, armed with his gavel.

No one in the audience appeared younger than 40. There were only two women.

“More than R5m,” the woman said, her eyes widening behind her glasses, when asked how much the collection was worth.

By 12:15, just over an hour after the auction had started, Tufegdzic had ploughed through 103 lots of 1 425. There were people bidding over the internet as well.

The auction would be held over two days. Each lot contained several boxes filled with albums or envelopes crammed with stamps from all continents. They were stacked on tables in a room next to the auction floor.

‘I’m addicted’

In the audience was Andre van den Berg, who, in the lift to the auction room, had already been gushing about his love for stamps, showing pictures on his cellphone to anyone nearby.

“When I sit with my magnifying glass and my stamps, I’m in a totally different world,” the wiry man with the camouflage cap grinned from behind his glasses.

“I don’t even hear what my wife says. All I hear is yak yak yak yak yak. She’s addicted to Facebook, I’m addicted to stamps.”

He said his love for philately started with his grandfather, a collector.  

“I just went on from there. The love for stamps never went away. There’s history in stamps,” he said.

“I go to flea markets. I buy albums. My house looks like a museum. My world turns around stamps, check here,” he effused, scrolling through pages of stamp photos on his cellphone.

Action too taxing for some

When he first went on eBay to sell them, he made R170 000 in his first week, selling 12 stamps. He estimated his collection of “hundreds of thousands of stamps” was worth R2.7m. He said they were insured.

The highlight of the first hour was a “high value Commonwealth collection in 364 page stockbooks” that was sold without any haggling to bid 585 for R900 000.

According to the catalogue it contained stamps with the mugs of Queen Victoria all the way to Queen Elizabeth II, with strength in Edward VII, King George V and King George VI.

Lot 53, a South Africa collection, was sold for R300 000. Most of the other lots sold for less than R10 000. The auction was clearly too taxing for some, as by 12:30 the audience had shrivelled to about 15.

“Any advance on R4 100?” Tufegdzic asked about lot 152, a “Union Selection of Commemorative on Stockcards in Blocks of 4”. There was a stodgy silence.

“Moving on to lot number 153,” he continued.

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