Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Bill Gross Got Started Collecting Stamps

Bill Gross (shown here) was interviewed by Keren Blankfeld of about how he became a stamp collector.

Gross told her, "My mom started [collecting] in the late 1930s . . . in anticipation of her three kids going to college . . . and bought . . . newly issued commemoratives, [paying] $3 for a sheet of 100. . . . She . . . hid them away . . . for 20 years or so, and by the time I was 17 . . . she presented them to me like . . . magic beans and said take these into San Francisco and sell them and whatever you get is going to pay for your college education."

He went on to say, "They must have weighed a hundred pounds. There were hundreds of them. So I hopped the train [to] San Francisco. . . . I took them with high hopes to . . . four [stamp dealers], and none offered me more than what my mother had paid . . . 20 years ago. . . . I knew that wouldn't pay for my college education. . . . The magic beans weren't worth anything. The look on my mother's face was total depression. Fortunately I got a scholarship to Duke. Otherwise, I was going to junior college. . ."

In an effort to prove that his mother's intentions were good (if not her philatelic expertise), he began studying stamps to learn which ones were good investments and which ones were not.

With some help and advice from Charles Shreve, he became the third person (after Robert Zoellner in the 1990s and Benjamin K Miller pre-1925) to form a complete collection of 19th century United States postage stamps according to Wikipedia.

To read the entire Forbes article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM