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United Nations 10th and 75th Anniversaries

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Saturday, October 24th is the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This is not about the United Nations. What I want to do here is share my personal experiences with the United Nations’ 10th Anniversary stamp issue in 1955.

I started collecting stamps when I was about 8. In 1955 when I was 13 I had started going to the United Nations building to buy U.N. stamps for my collection. Somehow I got the bright idea to sell a complete collection of United Nations mint stamps to coincide with the issuance of a 10th Anniversary set of stamps along with its first ever souvenir sheet (pictured), and placed a small ad in a stamp newspaper. The stamps had a face value of $4.25 which I could purchase for that price at the U.N. Building’s postal administration, so I would make $ .75 less the postage to mail it to my customers.

I received about 20 orders which I felt great about. As soon as school ended on October 24th when the new stamps and souvenir sheet was issued I went to the U.N. building to buy what I needed. When I got there, I was told they sold out. The souvenir sheet and none were available. Now, picture a 13-year-old kid whose “dream” was shattered. I was devastated and probably made the postal clerk repeat it at least a dozen times until it sunk in that I wasn’t going to get any of those sheets. Everything else was readily available.

I waited a few days to make sure the souvenir sheets were really not available and returned the orders I received.

About a month later I went to my first stamp show which was held at an Armory on 33rd Street and Park Avenue. It was a feast for a young stamp collector with over 100 stamp dealers in 10’ x 10’ booths selling all manner of stamps. Being a kid many dealers shrugged me off, but some treated me well.

I told one of them my story about the sold-out souvenir sheet and they told me, confidentially, that the U.N. reprinted the sheet and will put them on sale the following Sunday at 8:00 am with one to a customer. I went there with my parents and brother [we all got up super early that day], and we waited on line three times each and got 12 sheets. They went home and I remained and I kept going back in line and ended up with 10 more. Later that night, my father suggested that I write to my customers and tell them that if they sent me the original $5.00 I would send them the collection they ordered including the coveted souvenir sheet, which I did and they all did.

I mimeographed a price list offering to sell all future United Nations stamps as issued and sent that with the orders I filled. I asked for a $3.00 deposit that I would use to deduct the charges for what I sent them, and will let them know when it needed replenishment. Most signed up and now I had a business.

That is my recollection of the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations which started with a big disappointment, some luck, some grit, my parent’s support and the launch of business at age 13 which continued for many years thereafter.

Thanks for letting me share this.

By the way, I started this business with no need for inventory and with cash in advance from the customers. Not such a bad model.

If you have any business or financial issues you want to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.

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