The Original Collectors Series: Chicago, IL

I’ve always been a collector and a trader. It started when I was four, growing up on the border between Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia; a family of anti-communists in the middle of the Eastern Bloc. My grandfather started it all by giving me some old money and a pocket watch that was 150 years old. From there, I became interested in stamps, collecting them to fill the the 1978 Lodz book that my dad gave to me, which is in the sale. My family encouraged me to study and learn where objects came from; I always had a knack for history.

We came to America when I was 14, and my collecting continued. I was a math and engineering major in college and I loved hanging out with people from all over the world. We’d trade currency – rupees, koronas, Swedish dollars — that’s where a lot of the money in the sale came from. If a bill is uncirculated, I won’t touch it, so it doesn’t lose any value. I keep the rare pieces — like the $1,000 bill here — preserved in cases at home. That one? I got it by trading a fur coat.

I also collect precious stones, I love how they sparkle. The meteorite in the sale is very rare. It was found in 1908 in Russia and I put it on a black silver chain to wear with a matching ring. If I see something beautiful, it gives me pleasure; like looking inside of an emerald. I enjoy it; it’s certainly better than engineering.

The Original Collectors Series: Chicago, IL
The Original Collectors Series: Chicago, IL
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The Original Collectors Series: Chicago, IL

What’s your favorite piece of jewelry in the sale?

The 7ct brown diamond ring, which I bought at an auction. It’s so incredible; unique!

Tell us about the stamps:

I love my stamps, and there’s such a range here. For example, the Queen Elizabeth II Machin series of stamps often have a misprint which changes their value: if she has one head, it’s not unusual, but with two heads, it becomes more expensive, and with three: oh boy!

Did you ever play the Galaga arcade game?

My Galaga! I kept it in the garage and loved to play; it has 160 preprogrammed games. Once my ex-girlfriend hit the jackpot, but there weren’t enough quarters in the machine to pay it out so every time we turned it on it would ring: “Jackpot! Jackpot! Jackpot!”

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