US Stamps

U.S. mixture dealer George Bon charges on at age 90

Jan 24, 2024, 12 PM
George Bon of Texas, age 90, has been around stamps for more than 80 years. A longtime classified advertiser in Linn’s Stamp News, Bon sells 1-pound assortments of United States stamps for $45.

Delivering the Mail by Allen Abel

In the fullness of his 90 years on this planet, George Bon of Mission, Texas, has accumulated, by his own reckoning, five wives, eight ladies’ wig shops, 35 automobiles and half a million United States postage stamps. He stopped counting his stamps after reaching that robust number.

To visit Bon on a warm winter morning at his unfinished mansion 10 miles north of the Mexican border is to enter a carnival of reminiscences, meanderings and curious claims, none of which have been sent out for expertizing.

For example, there are the opossums that he said have taken up residence in his attic.

“I feed ‘em cat food,” he said.

There is also the U.S. 24¢ George Washington stamp that he said he recently “pulled out of a packet and it is a $20,000 stamp!”

This purported treasure is stored, along with dozens of other singularities of uncertain value and provenance, in an old wooden Aurelia Biltmore cigar box.

“The color is the item that makes it a rare stamp,” Bon wrote on the cellophane envelope that holds this supposed gem. “It could be worth thousands of dollars,” he said.

The stamp might be the steel blue variety of the 24¢ Washington of 1862 (Scott 70b). Or it might be a changeling that is worth less than the cigar box.

Bon (his surname is Croatian) is a longtime Linn’s Stamp News classified advertiser who specializes in low-priced packets of U.S. stamps, on and off paper, scooped from a voluminous stock that he caches in a pair of Coleman beverage coolers in his hallway.

On his stamp room table one day in December were a half-dozen envelopes from customers as distant as Seattle, Wash.; Colorado; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Each letter contained a check for an ounce or two of Bon’s bottomless kiloware.

Bon spends part of his day filling orders. “Everybody wants it yesterday,” he said.

He spends the rest of his time watching reruns of The Lone Ranger and tending to his dog, Jasmine. Wife number five, he said, lives in her own residence a few towns away.

“I outlived three of them,” he said of his previous spouses. “They die on me.”

“I have well over half a million United States stamps,” Bon boasted, “but I don’t have all of them. I’ve got hundreds and hundreds that I sell for 25¢.”

“I sell a pound of stamps — a full pound of stamps off paper — for $45,” Bon said. “How much cheaper can you get?”

“I would never cheat a fellow stamp collector,” he said.

Bon is a native of Detroit who survived rheumatic fever as a child and who has spent the past four decades in the perpetual sunshine and roaring traffic of the Rio Grande Valley.

He said that he is a U.S. Army veteran and an electrical engineer by training.

Those eight wig shops were up in Houston; he doesn’t own them anymore.

Bon also had a leather factory in Mexico and a construction company, as well as a lucrative business manufacturing plantation shutters on woodworking equipment that still shares his garage with a sizable Mercedes-Benz. It has not been an uneventful life for Bon.

He said that he has been “playing around stamps, off and on” for more than 80 years.

“There’s three things you’ve got to do,” he declared. “Eat right. Exercise a little bit. And keep your mind active. Stamp collecting will do that.”

“You’re always learning,” Bon said. “Even after 80 years, I probably know one percent of what there is to know. You never lose it. I’m still buying packets and going through them.”

“There’s gems in there,” he said, “but you’ve got to find them. There is always something to look forward to. Even at 90.”

“I’m 90 years old, I drive a Mercedes, I got a 5,500 square foot house,” Bon said. “What more do I need?”

“If you don’t make it by 90,” he said, “when are you going to make it?”

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