Good Morning. This breaking-news edition of Stamp Nook brings a shocking announcement from the competitive world of philatelic exhibiting.
In a fitting follow-up to his wins at the first World Philately Championships in Singapore in 2004, world-champion Czech philatelist Ludvik Pytlicek took two gold medals in Monte Carlo over the weekend, beating out rivals Queen Elizabeth II and hometown-favourite Prince Albert II.
Pytlicek won gold for his collection -- the largest of its kind -- of Czechoslovakian stamps from the country's formative years of 1918-1939. However, his most impressive win was for a unique telegram -- which Pytlicek narrowly won at auction 15 years ago -- announcing the triumphant arrival of the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, to his newly-founded state. This Czech national treasure, which bares a 10-heller scout stamp and was delivered on November 21, 1918 by scout couriers from the southern borders of Bohemia to the National Committee in Prague, handily beat Prince Albert's topical collection of kitty cats, charming as it was.
These wins bring Pytlicek's career total to 20 gold medals, with a collection valued by foreign insurers at over 100 million crowns -- securing him a place in the Philately Hall of Fame upon his death.
But crowds were shocked when, shortly after winning, Pytlicek announced his intention to retire from competitive stamp exhibiting, citing concern for his collection's safety: 'Stamps suffer when displayed, mainly light harms them. Moreover, I fear for them and their transportation is difficult.'
This surprising announcement comes as the ten-year embargo on the exhibition of Czechoslovakia's rarest stamp, the only 1919 Austrian reprint known in existence, expired in September. Pytlicek, who is in possession of the stamp, had promised to exhibit it in Monaco next year, but now the world's ability to view this rarity is uncertain.
The stamp world is abuzz with questions: Will Pytlicek retire before his full potential as a stamp exhibitor is reached, leaving philatelic historians to wonder what might have been? Will this decision jeopardise Pytlicek's chances for a lucrative 3SY endorsement deal, or will it only increase his marketable mystique? Will the power-vacuum created by Pytlicek's bowing out finally give Prince Albert the opportunity to attain the recognition from the stamp-collecting community that he has so desperately desired, allowing him to live up to the philatelic legacy of his father Prince Rainier III, or will the shadow of Pytlicek's undefeatedness loom over His Serene Highness's every win like an accusation of forgery? Stay with Stamp Nook for news in this developing story.
Until then, happy philateling!