One of my stamp buddies, Dave Johnson of Erie PA, died on Feb 7, 2015 of old age. His organs were too worn out to carry on.
One of the reasons Dave and I were great friends is that our lives were similar in several ways. For example, Dave joined the Western PA Precancel Society (WPPS) in 1948 when he was 17. Dave was a charter member of the club (member #23). When he joined, the club did not have any provisions in their bylaws for junior members under the age of 18. They let him in anyway. Dave went on to help lead the club in many capacities, including Editor of the club newsletter, The Keystoner.
I too joined the WPPS at age 17 in March 1983. I didnít turn 18 until April 1983. I too went on to be editor of The Keystoner.
One of the things Dave liked to collect was box cancels. Some box cancels can easily be confused as a precancel. This was one of those sideline collections for fun that didnít have a lot of value in it. Dave had two albums of PA box cancels and another two albums of box cancels from the other 49 states. I donít think Dave ever paid more than a few dollars for any one item. Most items in there came from dealer mixtures that Dave would sort through and buy them for pennies each.
Before Dave died, he gave me his collection of box cancels. He knew that I would maintain it and not let his work fall by the wayside.
At a recent meeting of the local stamp club, the Philatelic Society of Pittsburgh, one of the members handed me an ancient looking album that was rather ragged. He asked me as a dealer if there was anything of value in there.
I opened the album and my heart nearly stopped. I could not believe what I was seeing. No, it was not an Inverted Jenny or a Scott #85A.
All of the stamps were cut square with the cancellation remaining. All of the stamps were common and inexpensive, mostly from the 1910 to 1930 era. Most dealers would have turned their noses up at this album as a hodge-podge of nothing. To me, the album was worth a million bucks.
You guessed it. There were pages and pages of box cancels, hundreds of them! Dave always told me that the box cancels without the zip code are the hardest to find. This album was full of them. These box cancels all came before 1963 when zip codes went into use.
I offered a fair price for the collection and bought it. I was like a kid in a penny candy store.
If Dave were still alive today, I would have given the collection to him. Dave would have been in all his glory going through that collection. It would have made his day merging this album of material with his own collection. Iím sure of that.
I took the collection home. It now proudly occupies a spot next to Daveís box cancel collection that he gave to me. Boy did that new collection bring back a flood of good memories of my collecting buddy who is now enjoying the big stamp club in the sky.
Rest in peace, Dave. I wish you were here to share this collection with you. I can almost see the smile on your face now.