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Anatoly Karpov writes about his collection

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At the place where I was born (Zlataoust in South Ural), and lived during the first 14 years of my life, all the kids and schoolboys collected pins. As common hobby I started to collect pins also and I still have huge collection of sport, Olympic and chess pins. As boys at that time we were dreaming of becoming pilots or officers and my first stamp happened to be the U.S.S.R. stamp which commemorated 40 years of the Red Army in 1958 showing a pilot, a tank commander, and an infantry officer together.

This was around 1962 but stamps of the U.S.S.R., old Russia or European countries didn’t really grab my attention in the beginning. The real area of interest I got into was the colonies of the British Empire and I still like stamps of these countries up to years 1955 or 1956 (the period of Metallography). They are nicely executed with good designs. I liked stamps of fauna (less so flora) where I could see (unusual for our country) animals like crocodiles, monkeys, snakes, kangaroos or zebras. The geographical aspect of those stamps was even more exciting for me. Small pieces of paper travelled from America or Africa to the heart of Russia. Concerning this the most interesting and ‘rare’ (in my area of Russia) were stamps from Spanish colonies with names that were strange to the Russian ear, such as Rio Muni, Fernando Po, and Guinea Equatoriale.

My first interest was in the thematic area. I started to collect fauna, but later I changed interest. Today I collect as chess and Olympic Games from the first Modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896 to the Amsterdam games of 1928. Chronologically the countries which I'm collect stamps from are more widespread – Old Russia (or Russian Empire), the U.S.S.R., France, Monaco, and the Netherlands.

Belgian strength
The strongest part of my collection is Belgium and Belgian Congo – both of which are most probably the largest existing collections of those countries. When I started my collection of countries I chose one or two countries (here I’m not talking about Russia or U.S.S.R.) with a small number of classic stamps. I’d chosen Belgium because I particularly like the designs and printing of their first stamps – from 1840 to 1869. But later I realised that even a small number of stamps are also charming and interesting so I decided to collect material from Russia, the U.S.S.R., Belgium and for Belgian Congo to collect the whole period (preferably before 1937). I also went for proofs, which I like very much, and somewhat later documents and letters. In the Olympic Games area I collect postal history and also rare stamps like the first Olympic emission of Greece 1896 mint in blocks of four, and some good proofs and covers of the same emission and followings.

I have also a one beautiful colour handmade drawing of 1906, and interesting Olympic collections of 1920 (Antwerpen), 1924 (Paris), 1928 (Amsterdam). In chess I have almost everything including varieties, proofs, imperfed, good covers and cancellations. These include the rarest items such as Cuba 1951, Capablanca imperfed in pair; and San Marino 1965 (inverted rooks) on the Europa issue.

Book projects
I have worked on a book in which I want to present all of the currently known information about chess stamps, chess cancellations, first day covers, varieties, proofs, chess coins and maybe the official gold medals of world champions (individual and team). The same I can say about books on my Belgian collection. It will be in four volumes and will include pre-philately ‘till 1849, Epaulettes, Medallions (1849-1863).

To update my collection I use my knowledge and the advice of my friends in different countries. Corneille Soeteman in Brussels composed and mounted the major part of my Belgian collection. I have contacts with most of the others large auction houses in Europe and in US I have contacts – mostly with Cherrystone Auctions in New York.

I read and understand several European languages and even if I don't speak them easily English helps me all over the world. My stamps are stored in bank safes in different countries. It means I have always access to one or another part of my collection when I'm travelling around the world. For me philately must not be a individual, ‘secret’ hobby. It gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of people internationally, interesting people out of the chess world, and it remains one of the most satisfying.

Source: Coney Stamps