The Szekula Family of Stamp Dealers

EN / DE

This website is dedicated to the Hungarian born stamp dealers Béla, Géza, Eugen and Frank Sekula. Each one of them ran his own stamp business with emphasis on international stamp trade, most likely driven by money rather than the love of stamps. All four assumed Swiss nationality and were at one time based in Lucerne. Especially Béla’s creative business ideas provoked more than one philatelic scandal during his career. However, the history of philately would arguably be poorer without the Sekula brothers.


Béla Sekula

 
I think it is a nice hobby, it keeps men out of mischief. But I am not interested in stamps.
(Béla Sekula, September 1937).

B/W photo of Béla Szekula at age 40
Béla Szekula at age 40
Newspaper ad
Advertising war stamps
(Schweizerisches Handelsamts-
blatt May 27, 1915)
Béla Sekula (1881—1966) was born on Feb. 9, 1881 in Szeged, Hungary, as the first son of soap boiler Julius (Gyula) Szekula (1850—1932) and Róza Szekula (née Fürst, 1854—1908). According to his own memories, at the age of sixteen he jumped a ship at Fiume believing it was going to Australia, but he landed in Mombasa, Kenya instead. He made his way to Zanzibar and — eventually — Madagascar, where he saw some old French stamps offered for sale. Following a hunch he bought them for 200 francs and sent them to Paris where they sold for 20000 francs — the start of his career as a stamp dealer.
In 1898/99 Béla opened a business in Budapest as wholesale and retail merchant of postage stamps. While expanding his business activities Béla Szekula quickly gained a negative reputation for sending abroad unsolicited approvals, and first warnings against him began circulating in the international philatelic press. Around 1901 he married his first wife, Lujza Bihari (1883—1964). On July 1, 1901, he published the first issue of his new stamp magazine Szekula Briefmarken-Verkehr (1901—1912). The first three issues appeared in Budapest, but issues 4 to 37 came out in Geneva, Switzerland, where he had moved his business in November 1901. Only eight months later, in July 1902, Béla and his wife moved to their new residence, the Villa Philatélie in nearby Chênes-Bougeries. In late 1902 they were joined by Béla’s brother Géza. During Béla’s first stay in Switzerland he continued to provoke warnings against him in philatelic journals, and not only because of his business conduct in general. In 1903 he received a negative echo for extensively advertising certain stamps of Puerto Rico that had been surcharged HABILITADO 17 OCTUBRE 1898 but were never valid for franking, and therefore were generally regarded as fraudulent (needless to say that today these issues are expensive collectibles for specialists). In the same year he also offered the 1902 commemorative stamps of the Dominican Republic, issued on February 25, for sale, in full sets on and off piece … and canceled with fake postmarks of Santo Domingo dated 20 January 1902 — perhaps the earliest truely black spot in his career.
In February 1904 the Szekulas left Switzerland and returned to Hungary, most likely because Lujza had realised that she was pregnant. Back in Budapest Béla began to operate under the name of Internationale Philatelisten, an international society of philatelists he had founded in 1901, by now grown to more than 400 members. In the same year he (unknowingly?) offered some forged Guatemalan stamps as genuine, which is probably the main reason why he was later referred to as a forger. On September 16, 1904, Lujza gave birth to the twin sisters Agnes and Maria in Budapest. On September 23, 1908, Béla’s third daughter Hedwig was born in Vienna, Austria, and on March 30, 1910, Béla’s son Karl Béla was born in Budapest — both outside marriage, the result of a long-term affair with Antónia Heller which lead to Béla’s and Lujza’s divorce. In February 1912 Béla landed his biggest deal so far, the acquisition of the prize-winning Robert Holitscher collection at the price of 840,000 K., roughly USD 4.8 million in today’s (2020) currency. He then sold the collection country by country at a profit of 10%.
In January 1913 Béla (or rather probably the whole family) moved to Switzerland again, this time Lucerne, where he opened the Briefmarken-Grosshandlung (= stamp wholesale business) Béla Szekula. On October 9, 1916 he married Bertha (Berty) Huguenin (1896–1980), and on November 4, 1916 Béla became a naturalized Swiss citizen of Kriens. In the same month the British Foreign Trade Department declared Béla Szekula (incl. his alias Elise Bieri) an undesirable person for firms and persons in the British Empire to deal with and put him on the black list for trading with the enemy. On April 8, 1918, his fourth daughter, the future artist Sonja Sekula was born. In March 1923 he and his relatives were officially granted permission to change the spelling of their last name to Sekula.
Despite the occasional negative press and complaints from end customers, Béla’s business and the number of its employees grew steadily over the next years, and in the stamp trade he was perceived as a reliable, straightforward and fast distributor. In September 1929 Béla renamed his company to Béla Sekula, Cosmophilatelist and started the magazine Cosmophilatelist. One year later, newspapers reporting on the IPOSTA (Internationale Postwertzeichen-Ausstellung = international postage stamp exhibition) held at Berlin in September 1930 referred to him as the world's biggest stamp dealer. In August 1931 he founded the Cosmophilatelist AG Luzern (Cosmophilateliste S.A. Lucerne, Cosmophilatelist Ltd. Lucerne) with himself as sole board member. Two months later Béla removed the affix Cosmophilatelist from the name of his first company changing it back to Béla Sekula.
During these years Béla Sekula also gained reputation as auctioneer with his World Stamp Auctions held between 1927 and 1932 in the noble Schweizerhof hotel in Lucerne. At these auctions, which could last up to two weeks, several collections from well-known philatelists and dealers fell under the hammer. Special mention should be made of material from the world-renowned philatelist Lars Amundsen (June 11—19, 1928), Ludvig Lindberg’s first-class Finland collection (Dec. 7—15, 1928, and Mar. 11—19, 1929), the collection of the Belgian liqueur producer (Elixir d’Anvers) Louis-Xavier de Beukelaer (Sep. 16 — Oct. 5, 1929) and that of Paris-based stamp dealer Joseph Thumin (June 16—19, 1931).
As for the later image of Béla in philatelic circles, it is largely determined by two events that took place in the first half of the 1930s. The first was the affair that developed around Jean Adolphe Michel, the former postmaster in Ethiopia. Michel was sponsor of the Ethiopian 1919 Animals and Rulers issue and owner of the original dies and plates. In accordance with his original contract with the Ethiopian government allowing him to get compensation for his investment by reprinting and selling these stamps ten years after the first edition of 1919, he commissioned Béla Sekula to arrange for the production of a second edition in 1931. When Béla began offering these stamps as originals, he and Michel were furiously attacked by a group of stamp dealers in Bern, who initially regarded the stamps as forgeries, later as unauthorized reprints and finally as philatelic reprints because the stamps had been printed after their validity had expired. Whether this was actually the case is debatable. In any case, these attacks culminated in criminal charges brought against Béla in Bern in 1933, which were dropped after three years of investigation, and a lawsuit against Michel in 1935, which ended in 1936 in favor of the defendant. By that time Béla was already preparing to leave Switzerland, albeit for a different reason.
Photo of Béla Sekula at age 54
Béla Sekula at age 54
Béla Sekula is believed to be the driving force behind the exotic looking stamps of Tannu Tuva issued between 1934 and 1936. Although there is no hard evidence to support this theory he was definitely one of the main promoters and sellers of these issues. In autumn 1934 the German stamp dealers association used Béla’s ads offering magnificent picture stamps as specious grounds to ban his advertisements from all their publications, and he was given to understand that he was not welcome anymore at any of their public events. The ban extended to the other members of the Sekula family including their brother-in-law Max Goldberger, who were now all regarded as Béla’s accessories and vermin of philately. However, the timing of these measures during the Nazi rise in Germany suggest they had little to do with Béla’s business conduct — the World Stamp Auctions had always been well attended by German stamp dealers — but rather with the fact that the Sekula brothers were Jews from their mother’s side.
The attacks against the Sekulas also had financial repercussions. In April 1933, bankruptcy proceedings were instituted against his stamp business (and that of his brother Eugen), but he was able to fend it off with the help of a bank loan. He then founded two more companies as stock corporations: In January 1934, the short-lived Briefmarkenhandels AG Globus (Stamp Trading Corp. Globe), and one month later the Briefmarken-Import und Export AG (Stamp Import and Export Corp.), a name he would eventually adopt for his business in the USA. In March 1935 Béla left the Globus AG, and in April Béla also resigned from the board of Cosmophilatelist AG Lucerne. The latter was taken over shortly thereafter by Béla’s long-time colleague and friend Hermann Wiederhold, who renamed it to Ocean Stamp Ltd. and successfully continued business until 1948. The Globus AG, however, already went bankrupt in June 1939.
On September 23, 1936 the Sekula family moved to New York, where Béla continued his business under Stamp Import & Export Corp. — initially from Hotel White, on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 37th Street. In February or March 1937, his company address changed to Woodstock Tower, 320 East 42nd Street, Manhattan. In June 1938 he finally closed his stamp wholesale in Lucerne, and in July he left the Swiss Briefmarken-Import und Export AG, which was liquidated in April 1941. On June 26, 1940, Béla Sekula applied for naturalization, and on March 14, 1944 he became a citizen of the United States of America.
Unlike his earlier activities in Europe his time in America seems to have produced no notable scandal. He concentrated on wholesale and big deals with only a handful of customers. His private life, however, was overshadowed by recurrent mental health issues of his daughter Sonja who repeatedly had to undergo treatment. In 1949 Béla sold his stock of 50 million stamps through J. & H. Stolow in New York (with estimated proceeds of $250,000—$300,000). He continued his business, however, now again from a hotel on the corner of 22 East 29th St. and Madison Avenue. Eventually, after almost twenty years in the US, the expenses for Sonja’s many hospital stays became too much and in 1955 he returned to Switzerland with his family, first to Zurich and a short time later to St. Moritz. He resumed business with the foundation of the Philatelie AG, St. Moritz in September 1957, again with him as sole board member, starting with stamps worth Fr. 19200 acquired from Berty Sekula-Huguenin (Béla and his wife had separate property). In April 1958 Béla moved back to Zurich managing the business from his new home address at Steinwiesstr. 18, while the registered business address stayed in St. Moritz. On April 25, 1963, the Sekula couple was struck by a personal tragedy when Sonja committed suicide in her studio. Béla himself died on July 20, 1966 in a hospital in Zurich at the age of 85 — after spending 68 years of his life as a stamp dealer. His ashes are buried in a family grave in St. Moritz next to his wife Berty and his daughter Sonja.
Béla S(z)ekula is mostly remembered for the philatelic scandals he was involved in, but reducing him to his misdemeanors doesn’t really do justice to the colorful character he was.


Millenary Postal Cards — 1896

Unused Hungarian 2K and 5K Crown of St. Stephen postal cards issued at the time of the Hungarian Millenary Exhibition 1896, with two different SZEKULA BÉLA / Budapest hand stamps on image side.

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Scan provided by David Rossall.
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Postal Card — March 3, 1898

Sent on March 3, 1898, from Budapest, Hungary, to Wojnilow, Galicia (=Voinyliv), Austria-Hungary (today Ukraine).

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postal Card — April 3, 1898

Sent on April 3, 1898, from Budapest, Hungary, to Cöpenick (today part of Berlin), Germany. Arrived on April 4, 1898.

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Postal Card — November 1, 1898

Sent on November 1, 1898, from Budapest, Hungary, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States.

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Cover — April 5, 1900

Sent on April 5, 1900, from Budapest, Hungary, to Trenton, New Jersey, United States.

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Cover — December 1901

Sent in December 1901 from Cuba to Budapest, Hungary.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postcard — January 20, 1902

Sent on January 20, 1902, from Villa Nova d’Ourém (=Ourém), Portugal, to Geneva, Switzerland. Arrived on January 25, 1902.

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Cover — February 5, 1902

Registered mail sent on February 5, 1902, from Geneva, Switzerland, to Stuttgart, Germany. Arrived on February 6, 1902.

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Postcard — December 27, 1902

Sent on December 27, 1902, from Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, to Hartland, Vermont, United States. Arrived on January 12, 1903.

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Postcard — June 29, 1903

Sent on June 29, 1902 from Chêne-Bougeries to Saint Petersburg, Russia; arrived on July 3 (June 20 in the Julian calendar).

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Cover — August 8, 1903

Registered mail sent on August 8, 1903, from Terijoki (=Selenogorsk), Russia, to “Geneve-Chêne” (Chêne-Bougeries and Chêne-Bourg), Switzerland. Arrived on August 12, 1903.

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Postcard — October 3, 1903

Sent on October 3, 1903, from Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, to Intra, Italy. Arrived on October 3, 1903.

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Postcard — October 9, 1903

Sent on October 9, 1903, from Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, to Turin, Italy. Arrived on October 10, 1903.

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Wrappers — October 1903 – December 1903

Wrappers used for sending out free samples of Béla’s journal Szekula Briefmarken-Verkehr.

Wrapper sent on October 10, 1903 from Geneva to Brilon, Germany.
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Wrapper sent on December 17, 1903 from Geneva to stamp dealer Reinou Kingma in Velp, Netherlands.
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Another wrapper sent on the same day from Geneva to Sinj, Hungary.
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Guatemala Forgery — 1904

Two different printings of the forged 1878 1 peso Indian Woman issue of Guatemala, sold by Béla Szekula as orginals. He later stated that the lot had been offered to him as genuine, and denied being involved in the manufacture of these stamps. There was at least one more dealer, Guisquiere of Brussels, who also offered these forgeries as genuine items.
Today, this forgery seems to be more prevalent than the genuine stamp. It can be identified by the pineapple in the upper right corner of the forgery which has seven thick hairs spread over its top instead of a bun.

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Cover — January 9, 1904

Registered mail sent on January 9, 1904, from Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, to Ferrette, Alsace, Germany (today France).

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Postcard — March 11, 1904

Sent on March 11, 1904, from Budapest, Hungary, to Turin, Italy.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Wrapper — April 21, 1904

Another wrapper used to ship a free sample of Szekula Briefmarken-Verkehr, this time sent on April 21, 1904 from Budapest, Hungary to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

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Cover — May 13, 1904

Registered mail sent on May 13, 1904, from Budapest, Hungary, to Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

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Cover — June 1904

Sent registered in June 1904 from Budapest, Hungary, to Lucerne, Switzerland, collecting payment of 4 Kronen 40 Heller or 4 francs 50 centimes by cash on delivery.

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Scan provided by Max Brack.


Labels — 1904 – 1913

In the early 20th century paper seals became a popular replacement for wax seals. The labels shown below all date from between 1904 and 1913 during Béla’s second stay in Budapest. The stamps featured on the labels are a Hungarian 10f stamp from 1900, a French Indochinese 1c stamp from 1904, and the 2c and 1c stamps from the Liberian 1909 definitive set.

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Wrapper — 1904 – 1913

Magazine band sent sometime (date unreadable) during Béla’s second stay in Budapest, Hungary, to Wels, Austria, and forwarded to Graz.

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Scan provided by David Rossall.


Cover — May 3, 1905

Registered mail sent on May 3, 1905, from Budapest, Hungary, to Polská Ostrava (today part of Ostrava), Austria-Hungary (today Czech Republic). Arrived on May 4, 1905.

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Cover — June 5, 1905

Registered mail sent on June 5, 1905, from Budapest, Hungary, to Kirchhain, Germany. Arrived on June 7, 1905.

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Cover — June 14, 1905

Registered mail sent on June 14, 1905, from Budapest, Hungary, to Basel, Switzerland. Arrived on June 16, 1905.

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Offer — October 1905 – November 1905

The purple letter is the cover letter for a stamp offer, sent out on 10/14/1905.
About six weeks later, on 11/29/1905, the red letter was send to the same customer asking for payment:
Sehr dankbar wäre ich Ihnen, wenn Sie der Ordnung halber eine à-Konto-Zahlung zukommen lassen würden.
Hoffend, daß Sie meinem Wunsche nachkommen, empfehle ich mich Ihnen
Hochachtend
Wiederhold
In English:
I'd be very grateful if you, as a matter of form, would send a payment on account.
Hoping that you will comply with my request I remain respectfully yours
Wiederhold

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Postcard — February 3, 1906

Registered COD sent on February 3, 1906, from Budapest, Hungary, to Regensdorf, Switzerland. Arrived on February 5, 1906.

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Postcard — February 21, 1906

Sent on February 21, 1906, from Budapest, Hungary, to Tzschecheln (=Dębinka), Germany (today Poland). Arrived on February 21, 1906.

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Postcard — June 25, 1906

Sent on June 25, 1906, from Budapest, Hungary, to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Postcard — July 2, 1906

Invoice/receipt sent on July 2, 1906 as registered COD postcard from Christian Sauerland’s General-Anzeiger für Philatelie in Hemer, Germany, to Béla Szekula in Budapest, who refused acceptance. Postcard was returned to sender on July 13, 1906.

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Wrapper — September 1906

Sent in September 1906 from Mexico to Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland, and forwarded to Budapest, Hungary. Arrived on September 14, 1906.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postcard — December 21, 1906

Sent on December 21, 1906, from Budapest, Hungary, to Bloemfontein, South Africa. Arrived on January 16, 1907.

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Wrapper — December 31, 1906

Sent on December 31, 1906, from United Kingdom to Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland, and forwarded to Budapest, Hungary.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postcard — January 10, 1907

Sent on January 10, 1907, from Budapest, Hungary, to Vienna, Austria. Arrived on January 10, 1907.

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Cover — January 31, 1907

Registered mail sent on January 31, 1907, from Santiago, Chile, to Budapest, Hungary. Arrived on March 3, 1907.

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Cover — July 4, 1907

Sent on July 4, 1907, from Manaus, (Capital do) Amazonas, Brazil, to Budapest, Hungary.

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Cover — October 26, 1907

Registered mail sent on October 26, 1907, from Budapest, Hungary, to New York City, United States.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postcard — December 9, 1907

Sent on December 9, 1907, from Budapest, Hungary, to Elende (today part of Bleicherode, Thuringia), Germany. Arrived on December 11, 1907.

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Cover — September 6, 1909

Canceled on September 6, 1909, in Kinshasa, Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and addressed to Béla Szekula in Budapest, Hungary.

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Cover — May 28, 1910

Registered mail sent on May 28, 1910, from Budapest, Hungary, to New York City, United States. Arrived on June 8, 1910.

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Postcard — January 12, 1911

Sent on January 12, 1911, from Budapest, Hungary, to Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany.

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Wrapper — April 1911

Sent in April 1911? from Hungary to Vienna, Austria (Hungarian newspaper stamp cancelled at destination on April 22).

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Cover — November 29, 1911

Sent on November 29, 1911, from Budapest, Hungary, to Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Cover — May 29, 1912

Sent on May 29, 1912, from Budapest, Hungary, to Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

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Cover — June 15, 1912

Registered mail sent on June 15, 1912, within Budapest, Hungary.

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Cover — August 24, 1912

Registered mail sent on August 24, 1912, from Budapest, Hungary, to Heidelberg, Germany. Arrived on August 26, 1912.

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Postcard — January 25, 1913

Sent on January 25, 1913, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Cairo, Egypt.

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Double Reply Card — February 11, 1913

Sent on February 11, 1913, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Harderwijk, Netherlands, and forwarded to Assen.

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Postcard — October 3, 1913

Printed matter sent on October 3, 1913, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Cairo, Egypt.

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Cover — December 26, 1913

Sent on December 26, 1913, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, United States.

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Cover — May 1914

Sent in May 1914 from Porto Alegre, Brazil, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived in May 1914.

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Postcard — June 28, 1914

Sent on June 28, 1914, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Esslingen am Neckar, Germany.

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Approval Booklet — 1915

Unused approval booklet ca. 1915.

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front
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front inside

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glassine page No. 1 for mounting stamps

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back inside
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back



Wholesale Price-List — 1915

Front and pages 20 to 23 covering Liberian material.

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Scans provided by Travis Searls.


Cover — March 1915

Sent in March 1915 from Biberach, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — April 5, 1915

Registered mail sent on April 5, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Arrived on April 26, 1915.

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Cover — April 6, 1915

Registered mail sent on April 6, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Valdivia, Chile. Arrived on May 13, 1915.

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Cover — April 7, 1915

Registered mail sent on April 7, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Hannover, Germany. Arrived on April 9, 1915.

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Cover — April 13, 1915

Sent registered on April 13, 1915, by the Belgian Government-in-Exile from Le Havre, France, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — April 19, 1915

Registered mail sent on April 19, 1915, from Essen, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on April 19, 1915.

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Cover — May 6, 1915

Registered mail sent on May 6, 1915, from Böblingen, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on May 8, 1915.

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Postcard — May 25, 1915

Sent on May 25, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to La Tronche, France, and forwarded to Villeurbanne. Arrived on May 29, 1915.

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Postcard — June 9, 1915

Sent on June 9, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Budapest, Hungary.

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Cover — June 22, 1915

Sent on June 22, 1915, from Alland, Austria, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 4, 1915.

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Cover — June 28, 1915

Registered mail sent on June 28, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Valdivia, Chile. Arrived on August 17, 1915.

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Cover — June 30, 1915

Printed matter sent on June 30, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Plain Dealing, Louisiana, United States. Arrived on June 30, 1915.

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Scan provided by Albert Little.


Advertisement Cover — July 10, 1915

Printed matter sent on July 10, 1915 from Lucerne to Rønne, Denmark, advertising Béla Szekula’s Swiss house organ Schweizerischer Briefmarken-Sammler (Dec. 1913 – 1918).

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Postcard — July 10, 1915

Printed matter sent on July 10, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States.

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Postcard — August 5, 1915

Sent on August 5, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Sangerhausen, Germany.

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Cover — August 15, 1915

Registered mail sent on August 15, 1915, from Palermo, Italy, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on August 18, 1915.

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Cover — September 2, 1915

Registered mail sent on September 2, 1915, from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on September 5, 1915.

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Cover — September 7, 1915

Registered mail sent on September 7, 1915, from Berndorf, Austria, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on October 2, 1915.

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Postcard — September 25, 1915

Sent on September 25, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Nordhausen, Germany.

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Postcard — November 11, 1915

Sent on November 11, 1915, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Scheibenberg, Germany.

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Cover — January 7, 1916

Registered mail sent on January 7, 1916, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Detroit, Michigan, United States.

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Advertisement Cover — March 10, 1916

Printed matter sent on March 10, 1916, from Lucerne to Laibach, Austria (today Ljubljana, Slovenia), advertising Béla Szekula’s Swiss house organ Schweizerischer Briefmarken-Sammler (Dec. 1913 – 1918).

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Cover — April 1916

Sent in April 1916 from Rochester, Kent, England, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on April 13, 1916.

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Postcard — May 22, 1916

Sent on May 22, 1916, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa.

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Cover — June 1916

Sent in June 1916 from Stellenbosch, South Africa, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 22, 1916.

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Cover — June 6, 1916

Registered mail sent on June 6, 1916, from Munich, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Postcard — December 5, 1916

Elise Bieri postcard sent as printed matter on December 5, 1916, from Lucerne via England to Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

During WWI France imposed several philatelic war restrictions which severely limited the French stamp trade. Among other things, it was forbidden to circulate all stamps issued by enemies, either used or unused. When Béla Szekula was caught selling stamps of the enemy to some stamp dealers in Paris, the dealers were fined and Béla was blacklisted by the French censors. To circumvent the ban he began using the alias Elise Bieri on his correspondence – it is not clear wether this was a made-up name or the name of an employee. In November 1916, the Foreign Trade Department of the UK followed suit and declared him an undesirable person for firms or persons in the British Empire to deal with.

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Cover — December 30, 1916

This cover with the sender’s address Ármin Szekula / grain exchange / Budapest, presumably a relative of the Szekula brothers still living in Budapest, was likely created on behalf of Béla Szekula. The reason for the special cancellation was the coronation of King Charles IV of Hungary and Croatia on December 30, 1916, after he had already succeeded his great-uncle Franz Joseph I, who had died on November 21, 1916, as Emperor Charles I of Austria.

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Cover — January 20, 1917

Registered mail sent on January 20, 1917, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Halmstad, Sweden.

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Cover — August 17, 1917

Registered mail sent on August 17, 1917, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Willisau. Arrived on August 18, 1917.

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Front of 4-page leaflet advertising Schaubek stamp albums sold by Béla.



Postcard — August 27, 1917

Sent on August 27, 1917, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Charlottenlund, Denmark.

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Cover — September 19, 1917

Registered mail sent on September 19, 1917, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Kalmar, Sweden.

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Double Reply Card — January 28, 1918

Sent on January 28, 1918, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Gorinchem, Netherlands. Arrived on February 1, 1918.

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Cover — January 31, 1918

Registered cover sent on January 31, 1918 from Brussels, German occupied Belgium to Béla Szekula in Lucerne.

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Covers — May 1918 – December 1918

Two covers sent registered to Stockholm, Sweden.

Cover used for a shipment of stamps on approval sent registered on May 22, 1918.
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Cover containing payment reminder sent registered on December 31, 1918.
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Letter asking for payment of the May shipment or return (stamps for registered shipment included) — signed M. Bieri.
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Cover — June 13, 1918

Registered mail sent on June 13, 1918, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to (today part of Malmö), Sweden.

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Private Overprints — April 1919 – December 1919

In April 1919 Béla Szekula was granted a permit by the postal administration to overprint postage stamps with the name of his company, provided they were only used for his company's correspondence and the font size was small enough, not exceeding 2 mm in height. This permit was valid at least until December 20 of that year, the latest cancellation date observed so far.

Béla Szekula / Luzern overprint on the long-running definitive issues featuring Helvetia seated, William Tell’s son and William Tell.
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Sc #135, Mi #105x
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Sc #136, Mi #101x
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Sc #144, Mi #109x
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Sc #151, Mi #137x
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Sc #153, Mi #111 III
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Sc #154, Mi #136x
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Sc #157, Mi #113III
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Sc #167, Mi #118II (10c) & Sc #172, Mi #120 (15c)
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Sc #171, Mi #139x
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Sc #172, Mi #120
Overprint on mountain landscapes.
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Sc #182, Mi #142
Overprinted Swiss Pax Set – issued on August 1, 1919.
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Sc #190, Mi #146
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Sc #191, Mi #147
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Sc #192, Mi #148



Postcards — May 28, 1919 – August 5, 1919

Two Postcards sent on May 28 and on August 5, 1919, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Kristiania (=Oslo), Norway. Both franked with private overprint.

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Postal Card — June 27, 1919

Registered mail sent on June 27, 1919, from Przemyśl, Poland, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 5, 1919.

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Postcard — October 29, 1919

Sent on October 29, 1919, from Lucerne to Blora, Java, Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia). Franked with private overprint.

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Postcard — December 6, 1919

Sent on December 6, 1919, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Pekalongan, Java, Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia), and forwarded to Ungaran. Arrived on January 17, 1920.

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Cover — December 19, 1919

Sent registered on December 19, 1919, from Lucerne to Wülflingen (today part of Winterthur). Franked with private overprint.

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Cover — January 1920

Registered mail sent in January 1920 from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Anklam, Pomerania, Germany. Arrived on January 20, 1920.

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Postcard — March 28, 1921

Sent on March 28, 1921, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — April 7, 1921

Sent on April 7, 1921, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Berlin, Germany.

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Postcard — May 8, 1922

Advertising postcard sent on May 8, 1922 from Lucerne to Stockholm, Sweden, offering Nyassa issues.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Postcard — August 19, 1922

Payment reminder sent on August 19, 1922, from Lucerne to Kristiania (renamed to Oslo in 1925), Norway.

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Cover — 1923

Registered mail sent 1923 from Caracas, Venezuela, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — March 30, 1923

Registered mail sent on March 30, 1923, from Rosario, Argentina, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — May 30, 1923

Registered mail sent on May 30, 1923, from Cairo, Egypt, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on June 6, 1923.

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Cover — June 11, 1923

Registered mail sent on June 11, 1923, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 4, 1923.

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Postcard — June 13, 1923

Payment reminder sent on June 13, 1923, from Lucerne to Kristiania (renamed to Oslo in 1925), Norway.

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Cover — July 30, 1923

Registered mail sent on July 30, 1923, from Rabat, Morocco, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on August 8, 1923.

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Cover — August 3, 1923

Registered mail sent on August 3, 1923, from Lima, Peru, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on September 4, 1923.

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Cover — August 17, 1923

Registered mail sent on August 17, 1923, from Valparaíso, Chile, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on September 10, 1923.

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Double Reply Card — September 1, 1923

Sent on September 1, 1923, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Hamburg, Germany.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Cover — September 14, 1923

Out of necessity, locally produced fee paid stamps (aka local issues) were officially approved during the hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic and were therefore valid for postage. However, some dealers also seized the opportunity and produced their own labels. The fee paid labels used on this cover were privately produced by stamp dealer Walter Behrens, Braunschweig, and went through the postal system for three weeks without objection before their use was prohibited. See also this cover to Eugen Szekula.

Registered and canceled on September 14, 1923, in Braunschweig, Germany, and sent to Béla Sekula in Lucerne, Switzerland. item item


Postcard — 9, 1924

Sent on January 30, 1924, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, United States.

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Scans provided by Albert Little.


Postcard — December 21, 1925

Sent on December 21, 1925, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Glaubitz, Germany.

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Postcards — January 9, 1926 – January 14, 1926

Sent on January 9th and 14th, 1926 respectively, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Ludwigslust, Germany.

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Postcard — May 25, 1926

A postcard sent from Béla Szekula’s office on May 25, 1926, informing the editor of the General Anzeiger für Philatelie that Béla is currently out of town, but will contact him after his return next week to take out new ads.

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Cover — August 8, 1926

Sent on August 8, 1926, from Estremoz, North Africa, Spain, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 9, 1926

Sent on September 9, 1926, within Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 10, 1926

Registered mail sent on September 10, 1926, from Tranqueras, Uruguay, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on October 5, 1926.

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Cover — October 14, 1926

Sent on October 14, 1926, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Milovice, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic). Arrived on October 14, 1926.

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Cover — November 18, 1926

Sent on November 18, 1926, from Tianjin (alt. Tientsin), China, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Cover — December 21, 1926

Registered mail sent on December 21, 1926, from Tripoli, Italian Tripolitania (today part of Libya), to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on December 26, 1926.

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Cover — January 6, 1927

Sent on January 6, 1927, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Arrived on January 6, 1927.

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Scan provided by Albert Little.


Cover — March 1927

Registered mail sent in March 1927 from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on April 18, 1927.

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Cover — March 17, 1927

Sent on March 17, 1927, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to New York City, United States.

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Auction Catalog — May 2, 1927 – May 7, 1927

Front and Liberia lots.
The catalog values of the Liberian lots stated here are truely remarkable. Values are in Yvert Fr, i.e. in French francs. Accounting for inflation the price of 610 FF for the 1921 definitives Yvert #168-79 = Scott #183-94 would be equivalent to about $318 in 2015; for a stamp set that had only been issued six year before!
Liberia.Scott no.Yvert Fr.~1927 USD~2015 USD
1921 1 c. — $ 5 mint (11)183-194610 F$24$318
1 c. — $ 5, ditto official and registered 10 c., 5 mint (33) provis.195-208, O127-O140, F25-F291320.50 F$52$687
1 c. — $ 5, regular and official and registered, complete, mint sets (33)183-194, O113-O126, F20-F241262.70 F$50$657

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Postcard — June 10, 1927

Sent on June 10, 1927, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Schweicheln (today part of Schweicheln-Bermbeck), Germany.

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Cover — January 18, 1928

Express mail sent on January 18, 1928, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Basel. Arrived on January 18, 1928.

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Cover — February 10, 1928

Registered mail sent on February 10, 1928, from Náchod, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on February 11, 1928.

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Cover — February 23, 1928

Registered mail sent on February 23, 1928, from Bondowoso, Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia), to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on March 24, 1928.

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Auction Catalog — March 5, 1928 – March 13, 1928

Front and Liberia lots:
Liberia.Scott no.ffr~1928 USD~2015 USD
5451.1914. 2 c. on 25 c. brown, 3 postally used strips of three on piece131360 F$14$192
5452.*2 c. on 25 c., mint block of four131300 F$12$160
5453.5 on 30 c. violet 2 postally used pieces130150 F$6$80
5454.5 on 30 c. brown, 2 postal pieces132150 F$6$80
5455.10 c. on 50 c. green, 3 postal pieces133180 F$7$96
5456.*10 c. on 50 c. green, mint block of four133240 F$9$128
5457.*overprints 2 c. to 10 c. of regular and official stamps, mint ¹129-133, O72-O751140 F$45$607
5458.ditto, used on pieces129-133, O72-O75890 F$35$474
5459.ditto, complete set on registered cover129-133, O72-O75890 F$35$474
5460.1923/24. 3 c. purple and black, neatly canceled block of nine with lower corner margin, one stamp in part albino impression, R.216
¹ should read 2 c. to 20 c., because the Yvert numbers given are those of the complete set, including the official 20 cents overprints.

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Cover — April 4, 1928

Registered mail sent on April 4, 1928, from Lugoj, Romania, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on April 7, 1928.

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Cover — May 28, 1928

Registered mail sent on May 28, 1928, from Cernăuți (=Chernivtsi), Romania (today Ukraine), to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — June 28, 1928

Registered mail sent on June 28, 1928, from Metz, France, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on June 29, 1928.

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Cover — October 9, 1928

Registered mail sent on October 9, 1928, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Barmen, Germany. Arrived on October 10, 1928.

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Cover — November 5, 1928

Registered mail sent on November 5, 1928, from Bildstock, Saar Territory (today part of Friedrichsthal, Saarland), Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on November 6, 1928.

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Cover — July 6, 1929

Registered mail sent on July 6, 1929, from Bandung, Java, Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia), to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on August 3, 1929.

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Cover — July 31, 1929

Registered mail sent on July 31, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Apponaug (today part of Warwick, Rhode Island), United States. Arrived on August 10, 1929.

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Cover — September 2, 1929

Registered mail sent on September 2, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Gera, Germany. Arrived on September 3, 1929.

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Cover — September 13, 1929

Registered mail sent on September 13, 1929, from London, England, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — October 17, 1929

Printed matter sent on October 17, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Ohio, Cincinnati, United States.

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Scan provided by David Rossall.


Cover — October 26, 1929

Registered mail sent on October 26, 1929, from Cadiz, Spain, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on October 29, 1929.

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Cover — November 11, 1929

Registered mail sent on November 11, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Hamburg, Germany. Arrived on November 12, 1929.

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Cover — November 28, 1929

Registered mail sent on November 28, 1929, from Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on December 13, 1929.

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Cover — December 21, 1929

Registered mail sent on December 21, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Gera, Germany. Arrived on December 22, 1929.

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Postcard — December 26, 1929

Sent on December 26, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Southport, England.

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Cover — December 28, 1929

Registered mail sent on December 28, 1929, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Léopoldville (=Kinshasa), Belgian Congo (today Congo-Kinshasa). Arrived on January 18, 1930.

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Cosmophilatelist — 1929 – 1931

In autumn 1929 Béla changed the name of his company from Béla Sekula to Béla Sekula, Cosmophilatelist and started publishing a new trilingual (German, French, English) magazine, the Cosmophilatelist — Organ der Internationalen Philatelisten-Unternehmung „Cosmophilatelist“, Luzern

With a total of eight issues in two volumnes it was rather short-lived:
• Vol. 1, No. 1, Nov./Dec. 1929, 32 pp.
• Vol. 1, No. 2, Dec. 1929/ Jan. 1930, 32 pp.
• Vol. 1, No. 3, Jan./Feb. 1930, 36 pp.
• Vol. 2, No. 4/5, Feb./Mar. 1930, 68 pp.
• Vol. 2, No. 6, 1930, 36 pp.
• Vol. 2, No. 7, ?
• Vol. 2, No. 8, 1931, 36 pp.

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Cover — March 14, 1930

Registered mail sent on March 14, 1930, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Mälarhöjden, Sweden. Arrived on March 17, 1930.

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Postcard — March 29, 1930

Sent on March 29, 1930, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Paris, France.

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Postcard — April 12, 1930

Postcard mailed to Béla Sekula in Lucerne on board the airship Graf Zeppelin (LZ 127) on one of her many flights to Switzerland. Mail drop at Bern on April 12, 1930.

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Cover — June 9, 1930

Sent on June 9, 1930, from Malta to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Postcard — July 3, 1930

Sent on July 3, 1930, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Athus, Belgium.

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Postcard — August 30, 1930

Printed matter sent on August 30, 1930, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Leipzig, Germany.

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Postcard — September 10, 1930

Sent on September 10, 1930, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Celje, Yugoslavia (today Slovenia).

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Advertisement — September 17, 1930

Front and back of the September 17, 1930 issue of Internationaler Postwertzeichen-Markt with Béla announcing his presence at the IPOSTA in Berlin and his next Weltauktion XXI in Lucerne.

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Animals and Rulers Issue of Ethiopia — 1931

The controversial 1931 reprints of the Ethiopian Animals and Rulers issue of 1919 (Scott #120–134; Michel #64–78) were printed with plates created from the original master dies by the printing firm Aberegg-Steiner & Cie., founded 1923 in Bern, and with respect to the Ethiopian stamps legitimate successor to the liquidated Balmer & Schwitter AG (BUSAG) which had been responsible for the first printing. The person in charge of both printings, William Ernst Aberegg, made every effort to make the second printing look the same as the first one. As a result, colors, paper and perforation are so similar that the only reliable distinguishing feature of mint stamps is the gum. The gum of both editions is glossy, but the first printing has completely smooth gum, while the gum of the reprints is cracked (to prevent the stamps from coiling up), also more yellowish and typically darker.
Please note that the 1919 copies of the ⅛ guerche, 1 guerche, and 2 guerches stamps shown below are atypical examples, most likely color changelings. The color differences between the two editions of these values are usually much less pronounced.

Original issue and reprint side by side:

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Postcard — January 6, 1931

Sent on January 6, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Oudjda, Morocco. Arrived on January 13, 1931.

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Cover — March 18, 1931

Registered mail sent on March 18, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Mulhouse, Alsace, France.

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Cover — April 5, 1931

Registered mail sent on April 5, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Santiago, Chile. Arrived on May 23, 1931.

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Cover — May 18, 1931

Registered COD airmail sent on May 18, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Berchtesgaden, Germany. Arrived on May 19, 1931.

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Cover — June 17, 1931

Registered mail sent on June 17, 1931, from Cafundó, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 8, 1931.

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Cover — June 19, 1931

Registered mail sent on June 19, 1931, from Červený Kostelec, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on June 21, 1931.

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Cover — July 30, 1931

Printed matter sent on July 30, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

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Cover — September 5, 1931

Sent on September 5, 1931, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Arrived on September 5, 1931.

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Auction Catalog — September 18, 1931 – September 26, 1931

Front, Liberia lots and mailing envelope.
A comparison of 1931 Yvert and 1930 Scott catalog values for a few selected issues (1914 and 1921) can be found here.

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Cover — November 19, 1931

Sent on November 19, 1931 with a special airmail flight from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia via England to Cosmophilatelist in Lucerne.

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Cover — February 10, 1932

Sent on February 10, 1932, from Brno, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — February 22, 1932

Sent on February 22, 1932, from Bern, Switzerland, to Lucerne.

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Cover — March 7, 1932

Registered airmail sent on March 7, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Buffalo, New York, United States. Arrived on March 7, 1932.

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Cover — March 9, 1932

Registered mail sent on March 9, 1932, from Tampico, Mexico, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on March 23, 1932.

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Cover — May 17, 1932

Printed matter sent on May 17, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

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Cover — May 18, 1932

Registered mail sent on May 18, 1932, from Souk el Tleta, Morocco, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on May 22, 1932.

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Cover — June 14, 1932

Registered mail sent on June 14, 1932, from Buffalo, New York, United States, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on June 22, 1932.

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Cover — June 16, 1932

Printed matter sent on June 16, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Santiago, Chile.

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Postcard — July 7, 1932

Sent on July 7, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Swedish: Helsingfors (=Helsinki), Finland.

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Postcard — July 30, 1932

Sent on July 30, 1932, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Lucerne.

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Cover — August 11, 1932

Sent on August 11, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Hannover, Germany. Arrived on August 11, 1932.

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Cover — August 25, 1932

Printed matter sent on August 25, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Reichenbach im Vogtland, Saxony, Germany.

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Cover — September 7, 1932

Registered letter sent on September 7, 1932 via airmail to Zschopau, Germany. Scarce franking with Scott C15 / Michel 245x / Pro Aero 13.

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Cover — October 21, 1932

Sent on October 21, 1932, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Komárno, Czechoslovakia (today Slovakia).

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Scan provided by David Rossall.


Cover — November 26, 1932

Registered mail sent on November 26, 1932, from Reșița, Romania, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on November 29, 1932.

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Cover — January 20, 1933

Registered mail sent on January 20, 1933, from Cuenca, Ecuador, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on February 16, 1933.

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Cover — February 10, 1933

Registered mail sent on February 10, 1933, from New York City, United States, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on February 25, 1933.

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Cover — February 11, 1933

Printed matter sent on February 11, 1933, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Écija, Spain.

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Postcard — September 18, 1933

Sent on September 18, 1933, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Mapperley, Nottingham, England.

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Postcard — October 14, 1933

Sent on October 14, 1933, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Dinant, Belgium.

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Cover — January 23, 1934

Registered mail sent on January 23, 1934, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Fürth, Bavaria, Germany. Arrived on January 25, 1934.

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Cover — February 2, 1934

Sent on February 2, 1934, from Bucharest, Romania, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — March 10, 1934

Registered airmail sent on March 10, 1934, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to New York City, United States. Arrived on March 23, 1934.

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Cover — April 7, 1934

Registered mail sent on April 7, 1934, from Newtown, Trinidad and Tobago, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on April 23, 1934.

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Cover — August 29, 1934

Registered mail sent on August 29, 1934, from Kortrijk, Belgium, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on August 30, 1934.

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Cover — April 15, 1935

Sent on April 15, 1935, from Barcelona, Spain, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — May 3, 1935

Sent on May 3, 1935, from Cologne, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — May 22, 1935

Registered mail sent on May 22, 1935, from Alexandria, Egypt, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on May 28, 1935.

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Cover — September 14, 1935

Sent on September 14, 1935, from Baghdad, Iraq, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — October 23, 1935

Registered mail sent on October 23, 1935, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to La Flèche, Sarthe, France. Arrived on October 24, 1935.

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Cover — February 10, 1936

Registered mail sent on February 10, 1936, from Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on February 13, 1936.

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Cover — August 19, 1936

Registered mail sent on August 19, 1936, from Berlin, Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on August 21, 1936.

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Cover — February 1937

Registered mail sent in February 1937 from Barcelona, Spain, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on February 8, 1937.

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Tannu Tuva Covers — February 12, 1937 – February 13, 1937

Two philatelic covers sent to Béla’s first address in New York City.
Béla Sekula was the main importer of Tuva stamps to the US. Due to the negative reception by the philatelic press to stamps that were perceived as labels without postal use, Sekula, along with other wholesalers (e.g. UK based stamp dealer Thomas Cliffe), arranged for registered letters to be sent to them as proof of their legitimacy. Later these covers were also attacked, and it was suggested that they had actually been sent from Moscow. However,
  • the majority of these covers have genuine arrival postmarks, which show that
  • the transition time was considerably longer than was normal for registered covers sent from Moscow to the same destinations.
  • Since the USSR was only one of two countries (the other being the Mongolian People’s Republic) that recognized Tannu Tuva as an independent state, it had to serve as an intermediary for international shipments while extending UPU rules to non-UPU member Tuva (UPU Convention 1929: Title 1, Chapter 1, Art. 7). It was of political importance for the Soviet Union to prove that Tannu Tuva was indeed independent. Faking the origin of dispatch would have been counterproductive – if discovered, it only would have confirmed the assessment of the international community of Tannu Tuva being a Russian puppet state. Furthermore, it seems unrealistic that the Soviet postal service in Moscow would have been willing to undermine UPU rules and play along with such a charade by accepting letters bearing stamps of a country officially recognized as sovereign in order to forward them, if already postmarked, or even to provide them with backdated foreign postmarks themselves.
The most likely explanation for these covers is that they were prepared by the Soviet Philatelic Association in Moscow, shipped in bulk to Tuva, and from there they were sent off as genuine postal items.

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Auction scans.


Cover — March 5, 1937

Non-philatelic Tannu Tuva cover sent registered on March 5, 1937, from Kyzyl to Béla Sekula’s second address in New York City.

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Tannu Tuva Cover — March 13, 1937

Philatelic cover sent registered on March 13, 1937, from Kizil, Tannu Tuva, to Paul Vogelsanger, one of Béla Sekula’s officers in Lucerne. Franked with Scott #78, 80, 83, 84, 87, 88 / Michel #83C, 85C, 88C, 89A, 92C, 93C. LUZERN 2 arrival postmark on back dated 31.III.37.

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Cover — July 10, 1937

Registered mail sent on July 10, 1937, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on July 10, 1937.

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Cover — June 22, 1938

Registered mail sent on June 22, 1938, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Lenzburg.

Béla Sekula founded the Globus AG in January 1934 with himself as board member and the Austrian Ludwig Lauber as managing director. After Béla left the company in March 1935, it only survived for four more years. In June 1939 Globus went bankrupt.
 
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Cover — September 21, 1938

Registered airmail sent on September 21, 1938, from Jos, Nigeria, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on October 10, 1938.

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Cover — December 30, 1940

Registered mail sent on December 30, 1940, from Madrid, Spain, to New York City, United States. Arrived on January 30, 1941.

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Cover — June 1942

Sent in June 1942 from Banwell, Somerset, England, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — June 19, 1942

Sent on June 19, 1942, from London, England, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — February 24, 1943

Censored letter sent on February 24, 1943 by Capitol Stamp Ltd. (Case Gare 8318) from Lausanne to Béla Sekula, Stamp Import & Export Corporation, New York City, USA.

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Cover — September 20, 1943

Sent on September 20, 1943, from Ciudad Trujillo (=Santo Domingo), Dominican Republic, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — May 1945

Registered mail sent in May 1945 from Caracas, Venezuela, to New York City, United States. Arrived on May 5, 1945.

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Cover — May 25, 1946

Registered mail sent on May 25, 1946, from Vatican City to New York City, United States. Arrived on July 10, 1946.

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FDC — June 11, 1946

Registered mail sent on June 11, 1946, from Tangier, British PO, Morocco, to New York City, United States. Arrived on July 13, 1946.

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Cover — October 15, 1946

Sent on October 15, 1946, from Barcelona, Spain, to New York City, United States. Arrived on October 24, 1946.

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Cover — April 3, 1947

Airmail sent on April 3, 1947, from Johannesburg, South Africa, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — October 9, 1947

Sent on October 9, 1947, from Barcelona, Spain, to New York City, United States. Arrived on October 17, 1947.

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Cover — February 7, 1948

Sent on February 7, 1948, from Suva, Fiji, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — April 28, 1948

Airmail sent on April 28, 1948, from Trieste, Free Territory of Trieste (today part of Italy), to New York City, United States.

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Cover — March 4, 1949

Sent on March 4, 1949, from Verona, Italy, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — July 31, 1949

Sent on July 31, 1949, from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India, to New York City, United States.

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Auction Catalog — October 1949

In October 1949, Béla’s stock was auctioned off by J. & H. Stolow, New York.

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Cover — December 2, 1949

Registered airmail sent on December 2, 1949, from Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, to New York City, United States. Arrived on December 6, 1949.

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Cover — August 14, 1950

Registered cover sent on August 14, 1950 by Béla Sekula from St. Moritz, Switzerland, to his business address in New York City, USA.

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Cover — November 20, 1950

Airmail sent on November 20, 1950, from Berlin, Germany, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — February 9, 1951

Sent on February 9, 1951, from Budapest, Hungary, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — June 8, 1951

Sent on June 8, 1951, from Paris, France, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — 1952

Printed matter sent 1952 from India to New York City, United States.

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Cover — April 28, 1952

Registered airmail sent on April 28, 1952, from Hamburg, Germany, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — August 28, 1953

Registered airmail sent on August 28, 1953, from Hong Kong, British Empire (today China), to New York City, United States. Arrived on August 31, 1953.

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Cover — June 21, 1954

Registered mail sent on June 21, 1954, from Geneva, Switzerland, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — February 26, 1955

Sent on February 26, 1955, from Vienna, Austria, to New York City, United States.

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Aerogramme — May 20, 1955

Sent on May 20, 1955, from Stockholm, Sweden, to New York City, United States. Arrived New .

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Cover — June 29, 1955

Sent on June 29, 1955, from Copenhagen, Denmark, to New York City, United States.

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Cover — December 8, 1960

Sent on December 8, 1960 from Vienne, France, to Philatelie A.G. at Béla Sekula’s last private address, Steinwiesstr. 18 in Zurich.

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Cover — 1961

Sent 1961 from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Zurich, Switzerland.

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Scan provided by Max Brack.


Cover — June 16, 1963

Registered mail sent on June 16, 1963, from Karlsruhe, Germany, to Zurich, Switzerland.

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Souvenir Sheet — December 30, 1991

Today, Béla S(z)ekula’s legacy seems to be nothing more than a bad reputation. In his home country Hungary, however, he is and always has been regarded as an esteemed figure who played an important role in the birth of organized philately. On December 30, 1991, celebrating 120 years of Hungarian stamps, the Hungarian post issued a Pro Philatelia souvenir sheet featuring Béla Szekula along with three other early philatelists.

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