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.
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 due to his prison sentence, 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 in 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.
Georges Sekula died at age 90 in Lausanne on October 23, 2006.
The youngest brother Rodolphe moved to Bern where he not only made a living as a merchant, but later also committed to local politics as a social demorat.
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.
Scan provided by Max Brack.
Cover — December 19, 1938
Sent on December 19, 1938, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Gaillac, France.
Postcard — April 4, 1939
Sent on April 4, 1939, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Calcuta, India.
Postcard — May 2, 1939
Sent on May 2, 1939, from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States.