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, likely driven by their business acumen rather than a particular preference for philately. All four assumed Swiss nationality and were based in Lucerne side by side for years. Especially Béla’s business ideas provoked more than one scandal during his career. However, the history of philately would arguably be poorer without the Sekula brothers.

Frank Sekula

 
B/W photo of Frank Sekula in his office in White Plains
Frank Sekula in his office in White Plains
(Frasek Stamp News No. 1, 1937)
Magazine ad
Ad placed in
Popular Mechanics November 1978
Frank Sekula (1901–1972) was born as Franz Szekula in Budapest on March 24, 1901. On October 17, 1917 and still a minor he became a naturalized Swiss citizen of Udligenswil together with his father Julius. As the youngest in the family he was also the last to enter the stamp trade, but when he did he was ready to explore new territory. In February 1921, he left Switzerland for the United States. In August he was a guest at the 36th annual convention of the American Philatelic Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he presented himself as an international stamp dealer from Geneva. During this time he was probably in close contact with Béla, who also spent extended stays in the USA in 1921. In late 1921, he and Béla joined the membership of New York’s renowned Collectors Club, and in early 1922 Frank already ran his own wholesale stamp business in New York City. At first situated in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, he moved to a more appropriate business address at Nassau Street 97 towards the end of the year. At the same time, and as the first in the family, he also changed the spelling of his last name to Sekula. In the fall of 1924 he expanded his business with a retail division at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street under the name Times Square Stamp Company and under the supervision of the experienced philatelist Mrs. B. Thomas (the exact address subsequently changed from 151–157 West to 147–157 West 42nd Street and finally (in 1927) to 1480 Broadway, but remained in the same building complex in Times Square). By 1925 (probably before) Frank had also become a member of the American Stamp Dealers’ Association. In June 1926, he submitted his first declaration of intention to become a US citizen. However, travelling back and forth between the USA and Switzerland he kept close ties with his family in Lucerne. It is not clear why he ultimately decided to sell his business and return to Switzerland for a more permanent stay — the Times Square Stamp Company, later known as the Times Square Stamp and Coin Company, Inc., continued to be active under new ownership into the 1950s – but in all likelihood Béla, now at the height of his career in Lucerne and busy organizing stamp auctions, made him an offer too good to refuse. In January 1929, Frank joined the management of Béla’s stamp wholesale company as a manager with signatory rights (Prokura). In his function as chief clerk he supervised the controversial reprinting of the Ethiopian 1919 Animals and Rulers issue in Bern on behalf of his brother — the only time Frank’s name ever became loosely connected to a scandal. On April 10, 1930 he married Claudia De Renard in London, and on November 26 of the same year their son Frank Jr. was born. In April 1933, he founded the Frasek AG in Lucerne. Sole board member was initially Claudia Sekula, housewife from Udligenswil, replaced by her husband in August of the following year. In April 1935, Frank’s company relocated to Lugano, but just as with Eugens’s Atlas Stamp this would only prove to be an interim solution. In January 1937, he moved the headquarters of Frasek to 47 Martine Avenue, White Plains, New York. A trade note in the Chicago Tribune hinted at the future size of the company: The Frasek company, long known as one of the larger stamp dealers of the world, has moved its headquarters from Lugano, Switzerland, to White Plains, N. Y. At present the company employs a staff of almost fifty men and women and will require perhaps triple that number when it completes the shipment of its stock from Switzerland. One year later, Frank closed the office in Lugano, leaving Europe for good.

In the years to come, Frasek Company became a household name in the mail-order business. Frasek’s newspaper ads for cheap approvals were everywhere, and Frank Sekula was reportedly the first stamp dealer to also place radio commercials.

Over the years Frank showed an increasing preference for using his full double-barrelled surname Sekula De Renard until about 1958 when he and his wife began to abbreviate Sekula to S. or even omit it entirely. Frank Derenard, as he is listed on the U.S. Social Security Death Index, died at his home in White Plains on September 29, 1972, at the age of 71. In September 1978, after more than four extremely successful decades in the stamp business, Frasek Company was sold to Australia’s Seven Seas Stamp Company. The Frasek Company continued to operate in White Plains under the familiar name for two more years until it was finally dissolved in late December 1980 — making it the longest-running business undertaking of any of the Sekula brothers.



Cover — March 20, 1923

Printed matter sent on March 20, 1923, from Charlottenburg (today part of Berlin), Germany, to New York City, United States.

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Le Timbre-poste
June 1923


Cover — September 18, 1923

During the hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic it became increasingly difficult for the Imperial Printing Office in Berlin to produce new postage stamps to keep up with the frequent rate changes. Consequently, out of necessity, locally produced fee paid stamps (aka local issues) were officially approved and were therefore valid for postage. However, some dealers also seized the opportunity and produced their own labels. The brothers Sekula collaborated with these dealers in creating philatelic collectibles by serving them as recipients of the travelled covers.

The cover below was mailed registered on September 18, 1923, from Brunswick, Germany, and reached New York City on October 3, 1923. It shows correct franking of M200,000.- for international letter up to 20 g plus M75,000.- for registration. The fee paid labels were privately produced by stamp dealer Walter Behrens, Brunswick, Germany, and went through the postal system for about two weeks without objection. See also the same cover to Béla Szekula in Lucerne.
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Collectors Club Philatelist
October 1923


Cover — 1924 (ca.)

Uprated 15 cts postal stationery envelope with indicium overprinted TAXE RÉDUITE à 0f10 sent around 1923–1924 from Paris, France, to Frank Sekula in New York City, USA.

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Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News
February 25, 1924


Postcard — August 30, 1924

Sent on August 30, 1924 by Eugen Sekula to Frank Sekula in New York City, USA. The postcard was carried on the transatlantic delivery flight of the airship ZR-3, built by the Zeppelin company as war reparation, from Friedrichshafen to the US Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

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Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News
September 29, 1924
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Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News
December 15, 1924
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Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York)
September 22, 1925


Cover — December 1, 1926

Sent on December 1, 1926, from Cairo, Egypt, to New York City, United States.

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Vanity Fair
November 1927


Cover — October 14, 1933

Registered mail sent on October 14, 1933, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Helsinki, Finland. Arrived on October 17, 1933.

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Cover — November 10, 1933

Registered mail sent on November 10, 1933, from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Lucerne, Switzerland. Arrived on November 14, 1933.

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Cover — March 3, 1934

Sent on March 3, 1934, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to Bensenville, Illinois, United States.

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Cover — April 21, 1934

Sent on April 21, 1934, from Chicago, Illinois, United States, to Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 8, 1934

Registered mail sent on September 8, 1934, from Lucerne, Switzerland, to New York City, United States. Arrived on September 15, 1934.

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Cover — December 31, 1934

Registered mail sent on December 31, 1934, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Morristown, New Jersey, United States. Arrived on December 31, 1934.

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Cover — March 9, 1935

Registered mail sent on March 9, 1935, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Sacramento, California, United States. Arrived on March 25, 1935.

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Cover — April 12, 1935

Printed matter sent on April 12, 1935, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, United States.

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Cover — May 9, 1935

Registered mail sent on May 9, 1935, from Lugano, Switzerland, to New York City, United States. Arrived on May 17, 1935.

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Cover — December 12, 1935

Registered mail sent on December 12, 1935, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Port Washington, New York, United States. Arrived on December 12, 1935.

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Cover — December 30, 1935

Registered mail sent on December 30, 1935, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, and forwarded to Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

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Cover — February 18, 1936

Registered mail sent on February 18, 1936, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, United States. Arrived on March 3, 1936.

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Cover — April 21, 1936

Registered mail sent on April 21, 1936, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Arrived on May 5, 1936.

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Covers — September 1936 – December 1936

Three covers sent between September and December 1936 from Lugano to Neatherdown (Heatherdown?), Alberta, Canada.

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Cover — November 14, 1936

Registered mail sent on November 14, 1936, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Clinton, Connecticut, United States. Arrived on November 24, 1936.

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Cover — November 30, 1936

Registered mail sent on November 30, 1936, from Lugano, Switzerland, to Cambridge, England.

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FRASEK Stamp News — 1937

Issue No. 1, and the envelope it was shipped in.

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Chicago Tribune
January 24, 1937


Cover — February 9, 1937

Registered mail sent on February 9, 1937, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Newport, Monmouthshire, England (today Wales).

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Cover — April 13, 1937

Registered mail sent on April 13, 1937, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Newport, Monmouthshire, England (today Wales).

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Cover — October 30, 1937

Sent on October 30, 1937, from Guatemala to White Plains, New York, United States.

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Cover — January 10, 1938

Sent on January 10, 1938, from Panama to White Plains, New York, United States.

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Cover — February 25, 1938

Sent on February 25, 1938, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Elton, Bury, Lancashire, England.

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Cover — April 6, 1938

Registered mail sent on April 6, 1938, from Colombo, Ceylon (today Sri Lanka), to White Plains, New York, United States.

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Cover — May 10, 1938

Sent on May 10, 1938, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Willisau, Switzerland.

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Cover — June 18, 1938

Registered mail sent on June 18, 1938, from Prestea, Gold Coast (today Ghana), to White Plains, New York, United States. Arrived on July 16, 1938.

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Cover — December 3, 1938

Registered mail sent on December 3, 1938, from Kalkfeld, South West Africa (today Namibia), to White Plains, New York, United States. Arrived on December 31, 1938.

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Cover — March 1, 1939

Registered mail sent on March 1, 1939, from Aden Colony (today part of Yemen) to White Plains, New York, United States. Arrived on March 21, 1939.

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Offer — May 1, 1939

Cover letter and reply envelope accompanying a stamp lot sent to a customer.

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FDC — August 15, 1939


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The San Francisco Examiner
February 4, 1940


Cover — November 14, 1940

Sent on November 14, 1940, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arrived on November 14, 1940.

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Cover — August 11, 1941

Sent on August 11, 1941, from White Plains, New York, United Kingdom, to Melbourne, Australia. Arrived on September 11, 1941.

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Cover — February 3, 1945

Canceled on February 3, 1945, with special Polish Navy Post Office postmark and addressed to Frasek Co., White Plains, New York.

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Cover — April 28, 1947

Printed matter sent on April 28, 1947, from Chiavari, Italy, to White Plains, New York, United States.

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Cover — July 7, 1947

Registered airmail sent on July 7, 1947, from Keetmanshoop, South West Africa (today Namibia), to White Plains, New York, United States. Arrived on July 16, 1947.

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Cover — October 21, 1947

Sent on October 21, 1947, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Monroe, Wisconsin.

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Cover — December 7, 1950

Sent on December 7, 1950, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Newark, Delaware.

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Covers — November 23, 1953 – December 14, 1954

Sent on November 23, 1953, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Vienna, Austria. Arrived on November 23, 1953.

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Chicago Tribune
April 11, 1954


Cover — May 11, 1956

Sent on May 11, 1956, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Arrived on May 11, 1956.

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Scan found online.


Promotional Material — 1957


Frasek booklet No. 90 (PDF) with priced sales items, promotional information, a small article on mounting stamps and a Stamp Locator.
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Front
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Back
Single-sided flyer (16¾″ × 11″).
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Information form to be filled out by a buyer.
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Invoice April 28, 1957.
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Front
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Back

Scans provided by Ed Pieklo.


Postal Card — January 1959

Sent in January 1959 from White Plains, New York, United States, to Blenheim, Ontario, Canada.

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Hartford Courant
March 8, 1959


Cover — May 8, 1961

Sent on May 8, 1961, from White Plains, New York, United States, to Portchester, Fareham, Hampshire, England.

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Catalog — 1962

Product catalog of the Frasek Company 1962 (PDF).

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Front
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Back



FDC — February 10, 1962

Not traveled.

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Cover — May 25, 1964

Sent on May 25, 1964, from White Plains, New York, United States, to New York City. Arrived on May 25, 1964.

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Russia Collection — 1968

Frasek’s main business was offering cheap approvals like this collection of 1968 Russian issues.

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Cover — May 4, 1968

Airmail sent on May 4, 1968, from Prague, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to White Plains, New York, United States.

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FDC — September 9, 1969


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Newsday (Suffolk Edition, Melville, New York)
September 17, 1978