In the late 1970s a fascinating series of articles written by Mr. K. Kouwenberg about the history of Stamp Collecting, appeared in the Dutch magazine Philatelie. This series has been the source of inspiration for PostBeeld owner Rob Smit to rewrite the history of stamp collecting in instalments. This is Part 34.
Stamp collecting is often considered to be a man’s thing, but that’s not totally true. PostBeeld has a good number of female customers but, admittedly, many more male. That was no different in the 1860s. Certainly not on the traders’ side, but there were some exceptions. One of them was Madame E. Nicolas in Paris.
In the July 1865 issue of the “Stamp Collector’s Magazine”, an advertisement states that Eugene Nicolas, of 37 Rue Taitbout in Paris, has published a stamp catalogue. This Eugene Nicolas was the owner of a small book store near the Rue la Fayette in Paris, but he was not the boss. That was Madame Nicolas a small, lively lady with a lot of commercial spirit who certainly wore the trousers in the relationship. Monsieur helped in the store, Madame controlled the business, also with regard to trading stamps. She did it so well that she and her husband could quietly spend their last days of life on their own estate in Normandy. It was well deserved!
Madame Nicolas had, among other things, concluded an agreement with Moens (for more about J.B. Moens see Parts 15 & 16). He agreed to send a letter every month with news and curiosities and, of course, an accompanying bill.
Well-known collectors such as Donatis, Herpin (see Parts 27 & 31), de Saulcy, Regnard and others were attracted to them like flies to sugar.
A 15 centimes Reunion stamp, purchased by Moens ten years earlier for 5 francs was sold for 50 francs to Madame Nicolas, but the aforementioned well-known collectors were happy to pay 100 francs for such an item.
Madame Nicolas was known to be a stubborn and proud businesswoman. Once she needed some stamps of which Pierre Mahé (for more see Part 28) had a good stock. If she had obtained the stamps from Mahé, she would have received a substantial discount. However, she found this below her position, so she had to pay the full amount.
The aforementioned catalogue was compiled by E. Regnard, secretary of the “Société Philatélique de France”, a well-known collector and publicist.
Rue Taitbout, Paris
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