A quest to find the giant of Donald Trump philately
Delivering the Mail by Allen Abel
[Editor’s note: The Donald J. Trump Philatelic Catalog mentioned in this story was reviewed in the June 12 issue of Linn’s Stamp News.]
The search for the giant of Donald J. Trump philately — if there is one — begins with a Floridian named Edward Krohn, who has published a catalog of postal items related to the 45th president of the United States.
That 203-page volume, a successor to numerous other presidential-themed compendia, includes color photographs of hundreds of Trump-related issues from nations that span the globe from Antigua and Djibouti to Tanzania and Tuvalu.
“Mr. Trump traveled and met with various world leaders, both friendly and adversarial,” Krohn writes in the introduction to his opus. “He was even so bold as to touch his toe across the line marking the demarcation line separating North and South Korea. Many countries issued postage stamps honoring him.”
A Linn’s correspondent caught up with Krohn in Gainesville, Fla., by telephone.
“Who is the giant of Trump philately?” Krohn was asked.
“I might be!” he gleefully responded.
Linn’s then asked Krohn how many postally used Trump stamps from Eritrea or Madagascar he has.
“None,” he admitted.
Krohn estimates that “probably two hundred people in America” possess any of the Trump-related issues that are depicted in his catalog. But those most likely are mint examples acquired from dealers in the United States and Europe who create and sell such items. Some are listed in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue; some are not.
One handsome (and unlisted) souvenir sheet from the Central African Republic features Larry King and Jimmy Fallon on the stamp and Lady Gaga, Eddie Murphy and Trump in the selvage.
It was available for purchase at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in New York City seven years ago. Krohn said he and a friend bought several sheets, thus establishing his claim to the throne of Trump philately.
There are other candidates who can lay claim to the throne.
Mike Strother of Lexington, Ky., is a former editor of the SOSSI Journal, the official publication of the Scouts on Stamps Society International. He collects materials related to Gerald R. Ford, who was an Eagle Scout and the nation’s 38th president. However, Strother also has accumulated a few Trump-related inauguration and impeachment covers.
“There were quite a few people who were unhappy with his election,” Strother told Linn’s, referring to Trump, not Ford, who never was elected to the White House at all.
(Ford was vice president when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.)
“Most of the time, inauguration covers are always positive, but in Trump’s case it was fifty-fifty,” Strother said.
On the Stamp Collecting Forum online chat board, Linn’s appeal for someone — anyone — to come forward as a Trump specialist garnered results that ran closer to 80 percent negative.
“I would rate collector interest in this topic as close to zero, maybe less,” opined one respondent.
“Most of them have water based gum so you can spit on both sides,” replied another.
“I would collect TRUMP stamps so I could start my winter fire with them,” said another.
Ian Billings, a British stamp dealer, looked into the future and replied in a more positive manner, saying, “For those very reasons a topical collection on Trump could be very worthwhile.”
Then there is a 2-riyal Donald Trump stamp from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Scott 1460). Issued in 2017 to mark the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the stamp features head-and-shoulder photos of both Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The stamp is valued at only $1.50 mint or used in the Scott catalog.
David Jessich of Austin, Texas, owns several blocks of the Saudi Arabia stamp. He is not an aficionado of Chad, Marshall Islands, Grenada Grenadines and various other countries that have issued multitudes of stamps with Trump on them.
“I’m just shocked with places like Yemen issuing stamps with Old Masters like Rembrandt,” he declared. “What does Yemen have to do with Dutch painters?”
Jessich, who was born in Saudi Arabia, spent his career working in the oil industry there before retiring in the Texas capital.
“I actually received my copy through the new-issue department of Saudi Post in February, 2018,” he said in a telephone interview with Linn’s. “Then I made a separate trip there for a reunion in March 2019 and I bought a couple more blocks because I thought it might be an important stamp.”
Jessich said that he will seek out more examples of Saudi Arabia Scott 1460 on his next trip and use them to mail letters to himself. These could well secure his status as a (or the) reigning giant of Trump philately.
“President Trump is the only U.S. president and I think the only [foreign] head of state to actually be honored on a Saudi stamp,” Jessich asserted.
“A lot of countries honored President Kennedy,” he continued. “You might think that Saudi Arabia might have honored President George Bush Sr. with a stamp after he saved [them] from Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.”
“You might think [Saudi Arabia] would have a stamp for FDR after he was instrumental in [supporting] the country,” Jessich said. “But they didn’t. Trump is the only one.”
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