It was 1975 and I had joined the team of Robson Lowe International to assist with their auctions. I still maintained my independent dealing business aside and was to leave “RL” 11 months later, but the auction experience was enormously rewarding, especially that first “Rarities” auction.
Robson Lowe had associated at that time with Christie’s International who had offices and auctions in Geneva which permitted me to influence Robbie himself to try a stamp auction in Geneva (where I was living) for the first time moving down from Basle where he had established a partnership with Paul von Gunten. I believe this must have been the first stamp auction in Geneva. In fact it was a series of four catalogue sales from May 1 to 2, 1975 including:
- NEAR EAST with Michael Sacher’s collection Foreign Post Offices in the Levant and the Ledger collection of Jordan
- HAWAII with 5 missionaries and much more introduced by Raymond Weill
- PAPAL STATES “Augustea” collection introduced by Renato Mondolfo
- RARITIES with some of the world’s great philatelic rarities
This series of auctions presented me not only with the great opportunity to see and handle many fantastic pieces but to confront face to face several of the world’s greatest stamp collectors and dealers.
It was my first meeting with Joseph Hackmey.
I have no hesitation to confirm that he must rank as one of the world’s greatest philatelists. Of all those famous personalities I met those days, he has the unique distinction of being the only one still living today; not just living but still actively building his incomparable collections.
Here are some of great pieces from the Rarities auction :
LOT 32 Mauritius
ONE PENNY DEEP ORANGE  used with intermediate TWO PENCE DEEP BLUE , BOTH SUPERB and cancelled “3” on a splendid entire from Souillac to Port Louis dated 18th December 1855. B.P.A. Certificate (1963). Ex-Burrus.
I had the honour to host Robbie himself at my home.
I had also the great pleasure to welcome some of those personalities to my home on the evening of May 1st :
Anke Slottke, the brilliant trilingual auctioneer together with Adriano Landini, the well known RL agent of Milan and Giorgio Khouzam Sr. who built a great collection of Egypt
Two great Italian dealers, Renato Mondolfo of Rome and Agostino Zanetti of Milan
Enrique Martin de Bustamante of Madrid who came to buy Latin America rarities
Robbie probably telling me another story!
Other great collectors, though not present but represented through their agents also participated like Erivan Haub, Giuseppe Barcella, Hiroyuki Kanai to drop some of the big names.
Raymond Weill joined the party later, unfortunately we had put away the camera (there were no iphones!). Raymond arranged for everyone to go to the famous Divonne Casino where most of us probably lost the rest of our available money. Thank goodness the Rarities Auction took place beforehand!
It was an incredible two days.
The David Feldman Company went on to its first Swiss auction in 1976 and soon to establish itself as a world leader for the selling of “Rarities” with a barrage of “Rarities of the World” auctions up to the present day. David Feldman has sold more million dollar items than any company in the history of philately. The instigation of its illustrious records with Rarities began with that notable May 1st event forty-five years ago.