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.


Gabor Sekula

 
Newspaper ad
Capitol Stamp ad (Le Rhône December 1941)

Rodolphe Sekula advertisement
Rodolphe Sekula ad
(Der Schweizer Arbeiter Sep. 1944)
Georges Sekula advertisement
Georges Sekula ad
(Journal d’Yverdon Feb. 1944)

Tibor Sekula advertisement
Tibor Sekula ad
(Freiburger Nachrichten
October 1946)
All four of Géza Sekula’s sons – Tibor-Laszlo (born March 18, 1911 in Budapest), Gabor Stephan (born September 13, 1913 in Lucerne), György (=Georges) Andor (born in Lucerne on March 1, 1916), and Rodolphe Miklos (born in Lucerne on August 24, 1917) – once dabbled in selling stamps, but only one of them made a career as a full-time stamp dealer which lasted for several years.
In April 1937, when it became apparent that Géza Sekula would be forced to give up his business, his two oldest sons Tibor and Gabor founded the Capitol Briefmarken AG (Capitol Stamps Ltd.) (Capitol Timbres-postes S.A.) at their father's address Werchlaubengasse 2, taking over stamps worth Fr. 5000 from unspecified sellers in exchange for corporate stock of the same value. Sole board member was Tibor Sekula. Only half a year later the company moved to Lausanne, Rue du Grand-Chêne 6, now operating as Capitol Timbres-postes S.A. (Capitol Stamps Ltd.) with Tibor as director and Gabor as authorized signatory. In March 1940 the brothers swapped their positions, and four months later Tibor left the company.
In light of the following events it is likely that the brothers had very different views on how to conduct business. Left to his own devices, Gabor began to rely more and more on fraud. He made a habit of claiming that unwanted stamps sent back to him via regular mail, i.e. non-registered, had never arrived, while keeping the stamps and the money to finance his personal needs. Stamps he offered at excessive prices were often worthless or forgeries. He also received stamp collections with the mandate to sell them; once this was done, he kept the money to himself. Of course, his actions did not go unnoticed and led to a series of complaints to the Swiss Association of Philatelists, the Vaud Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federal Post Department, and representatives of Switzerland abroad. By 1949, he was known to police for various offences such as fraud, falsification of documents, embezzlement etc. His clientele had dwindled and the company’s debts had mounted to Fr 100,000. On May 2, 1949, the Court at Lausanne instituted bankruptcy proceedings against Capitol Stamps Ltd. Somehow he was able to keep afloat for a while, but eventually he also went personally bankrupt with debts of Fr 45,000. He left Switzerland and fled to Tangier, where he was arrested and extradited. In March 1954, he was sentenced for fraud, attempted fraud and for breach of trust to one year in prison, less 234 days of pre-trial detention, and to a fine of one thousand francs; the prison sentence was suspended for a probation period of five years. In the same year, Gabor left Lausanne for Zurich where he began working for a major company, organizing the sale of home appliances. After some initial success he had to leave due to his sales tactics involving gangs of dubious door-to-door salesmen. On April 26, 1956 he founded his own company for selling white goods, the MASEK AG (MAchines SEKula Inc.). He even managed to persuade his brother Georges to join the company as a board member. It didn't help – falling back into old habits, his business was fraudulent from the start. After little more than a year, in August 1957, MASEK went bankrupt, under circumstances that would lead to Gabor’s second conviction. In 1962, the then 48 year old was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, a fine of 400 SFr. and four years of loss of honor. After serving his prison sentence (including the previous one because he had violated his probation) he returned to Lausanne. Apparently he was able to stay out of trouble for the few years he had left. Gabor Sekula died in May 1971 at the age of only 58.

There is little evidence as to Tibor’s activities immediately after he left Capitol Stamps, but in 1946 he suddenly showed up in Geneva selling stamps again – on a much smaller scale and probably not as a full-time stamp dealer. However, like Gabor he eventually switched to another line of trade, but without getting in conflict with the law: From 1960 to 1972 Tibor was the owner of the furniture shop T.-L. Sekula in Geneva.
For the two younger brothers Georges and Rodolphe buying and selling stamps was probably never more than a side business. Georges stayed in Lausanne, and after several years of selling all kinds of goods he finally settled with what would also become his passion: cash registers. In 1998, when he retired, a local newspaper celebrated the "king of cash registers" and his collection of classic models. The youngest brother Rodolphe moved to Bern where he not only made a living as a merchant, but he also committed to local politics. In 1966 he became a communal councillor of Münchenbuchsee. Rodolphe died on September 5, 2004.


Postcard — May 31, 1938

Sent on May 31, 1938, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to New York City, United States.

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Scan provided by Max Brack.


Cover — December 19, 1938

Sent on December 19, 1938, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Gaillac, France.

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Postcard — April 4, 1939

Sent on April 4, 1939, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Calcuta, India.

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Postcard — May 2, 1939

Sent on May 2, 1939, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States.

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REM
Der Bund
December 2, 1939
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La Revue
December 6, 1940
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La Revue du dimanche
January 26, 1941


Cover — March 17, 1941

Sent on March 17, 1941, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Payerne.

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REM
La Revue
April 10, 1941
REM
Tribune de Lausanne
November 30, 1941
REM
Feuille d'Avis de Lausanne
July 10, 1942
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Der Bund
November 13, 1942
REM
Der Bund
November 14, 1942


Postcard — December 15, 1942

Sent on December 15, 1942, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Aarhus, Denmark.

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REM
La Revue
July 22, 1943


Cover — May 6, 1944

Registered mail sent on May 6, 1944, from Karhumäki, occupied by the Finnish army during WW2 (=Medvezhyegorsk), Russia, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Scan provided by Max Brack.


Cover — March 3, 1945

Sent on March 3, 1945, from Basel, Switzerland, to Bern. Arrived on March 3, 1945.

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REM
Le Nouvelliste
December 20, 1945


Postcard — March 5, 1947

Sent on March 5, 1947, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Athens, Greece.

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Scans provided by David Rossall.


Cover — March 25, 1947

Registered mail sent on March 25, 1947, from Prague, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 20, 1947

Sent on September 20, 1947, from Náchod, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 29, 1947

Registered mail sent on September 29, 1947, from Pamplona, Spain, to Lausanne, Switzerland. Arrived on October 3, 1947.

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Postcard — October 31, 1947

Sent on October 31, 1947, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Georgetown, British Guiana (today Guyana).

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Postcard — 1948 ?

Advertising postcard sent on August 7, 1948 or 1949 from Lausanne to Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

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Cover — February 7, 1948

Registered mail sent on February 7, 1948, from Prague, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — March 13, 1948

Sent on March 13, 1948, from Budapest, Hungary, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — April 4, 1948

Sent on April 4, 1948, from Sliema, Malta, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — May 15, 1948

Registered mail sent on May 15, 1948, from Prague, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — August 30, 1948

Registered mail sent on August 30, 1948, from Prague, Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — October 1948

Sent in October 1948 from Ozora, Hungary, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — October 5, 1948

Sent on October 5, 1948, from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — December 1948

Registered mail sent in December 1948 from Zbraslav nad Vltavou (today part of Prague), Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic), to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — February 15, 1949

Sent on February 15, 1949, from La Coruña, Spain, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — February 15, 1949

Registered mail sent on February 15, 1949, from Melilla, Spain, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Cover — September 6, 1954

Sent on September 6, 1954, from Le Mans, France, to Lausanne, Switzerland.

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