Hello, my name is Roger B West and I run Avion Thematics together with my wife Sue.
My philatelic life is quite long and eventful. I started working at Stanley Gibbons in the catalogue department, then a spell of working as a one-man mail order business. I then set up my auction business (Phoenix International). I had two partners during this time but eventually bought them out. I then set up a wholesale business (Es-En Agency) and later incorporated this into Avion Thematics.
As a collector I formed a fine collection of St Helena for which I set up the St Helena Supplement for the West Africa Study Circle where I produced the first ten issues and still make occasional contributions. Apart from numerous articles on St Helena I have produced two handbooks, one on the Perkins Bacon 6d Plate and one on St Helena Forgeries, both having received awards. In 1994 I edited Madame Joseph Forged Postmarks which was published by the Royal and I believe became their fastest selling publication.
I belong to three local Societies and am currently Chairman at Matlock PS. With advancing years I’ve recently resigned from the American Topical Association, The West Africa Study Circle, Indian Ocean Study Group & British West Indies Study Circle. I am currently a member if the Internet Philatelic Dealers Association where I serve as a director for GB and Europe.
So I would like to share with you some memorable moments over 60 years selling stamps: when I had my wholesale business (Es-En Agency) my stock was housed in an old church hall of 5,000 square feet with dozens of bays of Dexion shelving. Just before I vacated the premises I invited my local Philatelic Society to come along and see my ‘Aladdin’s cave’. I gave them free access and for about two hours all I heard was “bloody hell!’
Another memorable moments was during the time I was collecting St Helena, Stanley Gibbons Auctions were offering the I.D. Lampart’s Postal History of St Helena (5/12/86). One of my colleagues wanted to buy several of the star items but to do so he would have to sell his St Helena stamps. Through the help of a sympathetic American dealer I bought the stamps and was given three months to pay. The purchase price was probably three times what I’d spend in an average year so I too had to start selling other parts of my collections. I remember I drew up a large thermometer, rather like you see outside churches when they’re trying to pay for a project. I sold pretty well everything I had (except St Helena) and miraculously met my dead line. It was an amazing rush to take on such a commitment but I was younger then and the reluctance to sell quickly changed to a pleasure.
I cannot forget during our early days of running Avion Thematics, we took a stand at the Gibbons exhibitions which were held at Wembley. Other dealers will no doubt remember seeing me and my stock arriving in an old black London Taxi while my wife Sue made her own way in the car. The Gibbons shows were fabulously well attended and Sue and I often reflect on how we were each serving maybe 6 clients at once and the crowd in front of us were 3 or 4 deep.
Also, during the period when we ran our auction Phoenix International, one of our sales featured a near complete run of British Commonwealth Specimen stamps. Our auctions really were international and most of my bids were postal from clients who couldn’t attend in person. This particular sale only had a modest number of room bidders but did include four auction agents. The ex-owner of the collection witnessed 85% of the lots selling (which was a record for us) but the memorable thing for me was after the last lot was sold, the room all clapped.
And another interesting thing to share, twenty years ago we set up a philatelic competition open to all members of the Derbyshire Societies. An attractive plaque depicting the 1929 Postal Union Congress £1 stamp is awarded to the overall winner. Later this year (May) we will be celebrating our 21st Phoenix Competition.
One thing that make us different from other dealers is that from the days when we did the shows, it became obvious that ‘thematic’ collectors will collect almost anything that depicts their theme and this is particularly so with smaller and more obscure subjects. To this end, I started dealing in match-box labels, Locals, Cinderellas, Forgeries and the like. It was even apparent that Gulf States and the so called ‘illegals’ also have a big following. These items now form a popular part of our stock.
One comment I frequently hear is how our stock is ‘awesome’ and by that, collectors are referring to the inventory that now tops 100,000 items with vast majority being unmounted mint (mnh). Apart from that, I get the satisfaction knowing that the vast majority now have good quality images.
We are very happy selling our items on Stanley Gibbons Marketplace. Because we have so many other things to do, we leave all the setting-up and uploading to my webmaster who tells me the Marketplace system is easier and with fewer rules than several other sites. On the odd occasion when we’ve had a problem, the Stanley Gibbons technical people are on hand to help and anyone who’s ever had such problems will appreciate how nice it is to talk to a real person.
It seems that the good name of Stanley Gibbons and the unrivaled stock of Avion provides the thematic collector with the perfect market place.
View rogerpo99 Marketplace Store at: http://marketplace.stanleygibbons.com/store/rogerpo99
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