I bet you don’t know the man who invented stamp collecting…

The man who invented stamp collecting

I must say that I do like an autobiography, I will put my hand up and say that I don’t really read anything else, recently these have mostly been music based but am always on the lookout for something different and while in a charity shop in Tunbridge Wells I came across the collected works of Joseph Mitchell, a reporter at the New Yorker magazine from the late 1930s.

I will get to the stamp collecting connection shortly, but first a little about Mitchell. He spent his days meeting the interesting characters of New York and writing their stories up for the magazine. This continued till 1964 when his last piece was published and though he went into work nearly every day for the next 31 years he did not submit any further articles. This does take a little while to sink in, and the story is that no one questioned this as they believed the next great piece could come along at any point.

So what caught my eye, well, it is one of the characters he met, a certain Charlie Eugene Cassell who ran ‘Captain Charley’s Private Museum for Intelligent People’ in a basement on 59th Street and claimed to have invented stamp collecting. From what is written there was a fine line between hoarding, a junk shop and museum, which Captain Charley seems to have been crossed many times.

The Captain had an interesting logic to why he invented stamp collecting when asked ‘if you doubt my statement, disprove it. Try to disprove me, I’ll make a monkey and out of you. When you think of all the things I’ve done, people ought to respect me more’n they do. A man don’t pay me my due respect, I knock his slats in’.

I am still reading the book and have found some interesting articles on Mitchell on the web, but have found very little more about Cassell, and of course would love to see a picture of him, or the museum or even better his stamp collection.

So if any of you can add to this article please contact us and we promise not to ‘knock your slats in’!

I really look forward to hearing from you.

All the Best,




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