Siegel hires Epting, Sullivan, Baumgardner in pursuit of ‘totally new collector experience’

Sep 5, 2023, 12 PM
Charles Epting (center), Alison Sullivan (right) and Alyssa Baumgardner (left) joined Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in early September. The trio comes on board as Siegel seeks to create a “totally new collector experience.”

By Charles Snee

On Sept. 4, Labor Day, Scott Trepel, president of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City, announced in an email to clients the addition of three new members to the Siegel staff: Charles Epting, Alison Sullivan and Alyssa Baumgardner.

All three come from another storied philatelic auction firm, H.R. Harmer, also based in New York City.

The hiring of the trio, which was effective immediately, was done “with great enthusiasm for the future of Siegel Auction Galleries,” Trepel said in the email statement.

“Their names should be familiar to many of our clients in the stamp world,” Trepel said. “Each has played a role in promoting the hobby and bringing important collections to market.”

Epting joins Siegel as vice president.

“[I]n addition to working on traditional auctions, Charles will help direct our effort to expand online auctions using our new BidBaller platform,” Trepel said.

BidBaller is Siegel’s new online auction portal that clients use exclusively to bid in Siegel sales.

Sullivan is a philatelic assistant and a member of Siegel’s financial administration team.

“Alison will work closely with [vice president, financial] Samantha [Aragon] in financial administration to maintain the high level of accuracy and reliability clients have come to expect,” Trepel said.

Sullivan will also work closely with Siegel’s philatelic team to review consignments and produce catalogs and online listings, according to Trepel.

Baumgardner will focus on sale administration and marketing in her new role.

According to Trepel, she will “use her considerable skills and creativity to spearhead the Siegel firm’s marketing and outreach to enhance visibility of our consignors’ prized material and to attract new blood to the market.”

Baumgardner will work alongside the philatelic team to discover sales, consignments and items that can be promoted online, Trepel said.

In an Aug. 11 email, Epting announced that Aug. 31 would be his last day with H.R. Harmer.

“Joining me in this amicable departure are my colleagues Alison Sullivan and Alyssa Baumgardner, who have helped me immeasurably in my mission to provide collectors with an auction house that honors philately’s past while pioneering a bright and exciting future,” Epting said.

According to Epting, H.R. Harmer held more than 55 auctions during his tenure, which began in April 2016. Epting’s accomplishments included bringing to market the vast Erivan collection of United States and Confederate States stamps and postal history.

“Although this is the end of our time with H.R. Harmer, it is by no means the end of our time in philately,” Epting said.

In response to questions from Linn’s Stamp News, Trepel said he was not in contact with Epting prior to the Aug. 11 announcement.

“There was no offer until after they announced their departure at the time of the Cleveland show [Great American Stamp Show],” Trepel explained. “Charles let me know they were available immediately after that.”

The trio’s decision to leave H.R. Harmer was precipitated by what Trepel called “internal discussions” with the leadership of the Global Philatelic Network, which includes H.R. Harmer, Heinrich Kohler in Germany, Corinphila in Switzerland, Corinphila Veilingen in the Netherlands, and John Bull in Hong Kong.

Trepel, who is 61, told Linn’s his decision to hire Epting, Sullivan and Baumgardner was not based on any succession plan.

“All of us at Siegel, including the new members, have roles to play in our plans to build the traditional business and develop internet-based consignments and sales,” Trepel said.

Trepel concluded his Labor Day email with a bold look toward the future, stating that his 13-member team at Siegel is “going to move philately beyond the traditional ‘stamp show’ and ‘paper catalog’ paradigm into a totally new collector experience.”

After 43 years evolving and innovating in the auction business, Trepel told Linn’s he has no plans to stop doing so.

“When we achieve our objectives, Siegel and BidBaller will be the two names collectors around the world think of when it comes to buying and selling, and enjoying their collecting experience,” he said.

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