When did you start collecting and why?

I was born 1941 in Sweden and I started collecting when I was 5 years old. At first, I was more interested in maps and cartography. My attraction to stamps came naturally, almost at the same time. When I was 12 years old, I remember buying the very thick Scott world catalogue in 1953 for 20 dollars. A HUGE amount for a schoolboy of that age but what a treasure to have. The seller, a stationery and book shop owner very kindly let me pay whatever small amount I had on a monthly basis. It was the beginning of a long love story between me and Philately! Why? Because it took me a long time to pay the seller!
As a little boy I was collecting stamps from all over the world. Then at the beginning of my twenties I formed my first real collection, which was dedicated to Swedish booklets. I kept it for a few years.

Have you always collected the same subject or many different ones? Why?

As a travel lover – I have visited more than 160 countries and lived many years in Asia, Africa and South America as – among others – a delegate for the International Red Cross and then UNICEF. I got fascinated by the countries’ stamps and started to collect China, Ethiopia, Liberia, Egypt, etc., that I later sold. I had gradually learned that it is much more rewarding to concentrate in one or two areas and I am only focusing today on North Yemen and, of course, Persia; my baby!
I started my Persia Postal History collection in 1978, when I was living in Iran, but my first Persian cover I bought was in an old-fashioned stamp shop in Colombo, Ceylon! During my years in Iran I became totally absorbed by the subject and spent many hours every day visiting the bazaar to find covers and to meet collectors, in particular with the world-famous collector and “father of Persian philately”, Dr Mohammed Dadkhah. When I returned to Sweden after living abroad, I started to collect The Yemen, where I lived as well. However, it was difficult to find good material issued before 1940 and became a real challenge to find nice pieces to complete my collection. Like Persia, it is quite a virgin country philatelically! Still a lot to do there.

Do you exhibit your collections? Have you won any prizes?

II love to exhibit, and I am showing my five current collections all over the World, at national, European and international levels. My first exhibition was in Sweden, at a national show in 1985, where my Persia Postal History exhibit got a Gold Medal. Today I have four different exhibits of Persia and one of North Yemen. They have achieved the following results:
1. Persia Postal History: FIP LG, three times, and is now in the Champion Class
2. Persia and Russia Interpostal Relations: LG at the FEPA Exhibition, Salon de Paris 2012
3. Persia Postal Stationery 1876-1925: FIP LG, 
Romania 2008
4. Indian-Persian Postal Relations, Collaborations and Rivalry in the Gulf, FIP LG in INDIA 2011
5. The Postal History of Yemen 1873-1930’s, FIP LV, Brazil 2018

When is your next exhibition and which collection are you going to show?

The “Persian and Russian Interpostal Relations” collection exhibit got a FEPA LG and 96 points which I was very pleased with at the Salon de Paris, 2012. It is my dream to reach FIP LG of course also on this exhibit one day. Next time it will be shown is at London 2020.

What is the most important item added to one of your collections? Where did you find it?

One of my favourite items (illustrated below), which is in my “Persian and Russian Interpostal Relations” collection, is a cover sent from Tabriz to Austria in 1878 bearing a 1st issue Lion. This is the only Lion cover to abroad that is not only double weight 5+5ch but also registered, 10ch, all shown in a SINGLE franking = 1 Kran (20 chahis = 1 Kran). This is one of the real jewels of all Lion covers! A great rarity! I bought it in Moscow a few years ago at an exhibition.

Why do you like collecting today?

Even after these many years, I still love spending my free time looking at my collections and making research.

Björn Sohrne, FRPSL, Member of a number of stamp societies worldwide. He co-authered the digital “Illustrated Postmarks of Iran, 1876-1925” together with Farzin Mossavar-Rahmani, RPSL.