Someone asked me what the best collection that I ever handled was. Keep in mind that I, like many dealers, handle mostly ordinary material. I donít handle million dollar collections from famous philatelists.

I have handled a few moderately valuable collections that I bought for several thousands of dollars. The most expensive collection I ever bought ran into five figures. It had some higher quality early US material that was in demand and relatively valuable. Was that the best collection I ever handled? No.

Are you sitting down? Youíll be surprised to know what I think is the best collection I ever handled.

The best collection I ever handled was worth a few hundred dollars. It wasnít from a famous philatelist. It wasnít worth millions. I made a fair profit on it; but I wasnít able to retire into a life of luxury. What made it the best collection then?

This collection was done on homemade album pages. Each page was well put together. Each stamp was carefully mounted. Like most collections, the early and more expensive stamps were mostly used. The later and more common material was mostly mint. Each page was dedicated to a single Scott number. There was a small write up about the stamp: who the person was or what the stamp commemorated. The quantity issued was given along with the First Day of Issue date. Each page contained other material such as the stamp used on cover, a plate block, or some other philatelic ephemera.

This collection was the best because it was this collectorís life work. He poured all of his ideas and energy into building each page. He was so involved into every aspect about that particular stamp issue. It was obvious that he loved stamp collecting and it was his passion.

Donít get me wrong. Iím not faulting those famous philatelists that assemble world class collections worth millions. Some of those collectors are equally passionate about their hobby. I just donít handle those kinds of collections. They are way out of my league.

Iíve mentioned my best friend, Steve Pavlina, in past commentaries. Steve and I were best of friends for almost 20 years before cancer took him away in November 2002. Steve taught me a lot about stamp collecting. Iím fortunate to have been able to acquire much of Steveís collection. I didnít buy it for sale through my business. I bought Steveís collection to help expand my own personal collection.

Steveís collection was also done on homemade pages and included all kids of material. Itís obvious he loved stamp collecting too. His collection holds enormous sentimental value to me. Iíll never sell it no matter what the price. To me, Steveís collection is priceless.

But in other collections Iíve handled in my business, this other collection that was done on homemade pages was the best one to me. To me, collections like this are the best. You can see that the person collected what they enjoyed without thoughts of reaping huge financial rewards in the end. Collections like these arenít usually valuable in monetary terms. But they are valuable in terms of the thought and energy that went into forming them.

I see plenty of collections that are housed in printed stamp albums. Printed albums are fine if that is what you like. But to a dealer like me, many of these collections in printed albums all start to look the same after a while. They all have similar stamps with the usual holes in the pages.

However, a collection on homemade pages ranks the best in my book. These collections are unique and highly interesting, even if they donít hold a lot of monetary value. I like it when I can find a new home for these kinds of collections with new owners who appreciate what they have in front of them. Times like that make being a stamp dealer all the more fun.