"If you find something that I will like too, then I'll pay for it", my better half told me whilst handing over a twenty pound note. I was on my way to a nearby Stamp Show and the prospect of this extra indulgement made the trip even more worthwhile!
But what to look for? The most obvious theme would be birds. Or non racing horses. Cats maybe? Churches or cathedrals? Castles?
You see, the task was never going to be easy, and there were not that many dealers to choose from. And of course the stamps had to be hand engraved and recess printed. And I would have to be fairly sure that the engraver was known to me. And all that without a catalogue or reference work at hand...
So I first satisfied myself as far as my own want list was concerned which I deemed to be tricky (South America) but which was surprisingly successful. Then it was time for lunch and a chat with all the familiar faces.
But back to the task in hand. I sat down at a dealer's who seemed to have a good spread of all world stamps and started looking through his books. Lots of interesting stuff, but I figured I either had it or it wouldn't be suitable. Loads of engraved worthy old men portraits on stamps but they didn't really fit the bill.
I came across a nice section of Spain which made me take extra notice. They've done some beautiful castles series which could be just the ticket. But the problem is that a) I've got loads of those and b) while we know the engravers of quite a few I don't think we know them for all stamps. So maybe better not.
Book 8 was the final one and I was beginning to lose faith a bit but then I came across Austria (the dealer's books were not in any order whatsoever), which is always a safe bet when it comes to fantastic quality engravings. And there it was: a set of six stamps issued in 1969 of beautiful sculptures of various saints, and even a Madonna thrown in for good measure. All engraved by Rudolf Toth. Problem solved! I loved them, I knew my better half would love them, and on top of that they only cost me the grand sum of sixty pence!