At one of our socials, L.W.A. member and ambassador Bonnie asked me if I'd heard of "the Stamp King of Chicago". I probably looked at her like a starving man looks at a meal. "No, but tell me everything!" She had read about him in a newspaper article, but hadn't been to investigate. I made a note in my mental file to look up this fantastical-sounding monarch when I next had the chance to undertake an adventure.
There's not a lot of information online about the Stamp King. A search mainly turns up Yelp and location listings, but there isn't a website for the King specifically. Armed with the address and my trusty CTA pass, I ventured forth on a sunny Saturday last month to find him.
After hopping off the Blue Line to O'Hare at the Harlem stop, I squinted in the sunlight on the intersection of Harlem and Higgins. I managed to spot the painted sign reading "Stamps/Coins" behind the lightpole at the service station and knew I was on the right track. The store front was unassuming and a carefully printed sign annoucing "Stamp King" hung in the window. I rang the buzzer to gain entrance and entered into the cool interior of the store.
If you've never been in a stamp store, you might be a little overwhelmed, but I am a veteran and I was comforted by the shelves and shelves of books and boxes and bins. The only thing that surprised me was the activity. There were people here other than me! One woman sat sorting stamps while a couple was going through a drum of mixed stamps in the front. There was also a gentleman with an expertly groomed white mustache busy at a table.
I began by looking through the sets of mixed foreign postage. I was hunting for some things for our next R.S.V.P. set. It wasn't long before the mustacioed man asked if he could help me with anything. He was, indeed, Charles Berg, the Stamp King of Chicago.
And what a help to me he was! In addition to letting me look through all of his uncancelled postage that he was selling for an spectacularily reasonable price, he gave me some impromptu lessons on the proper use of stamp mounts, the flourescent tagging of stamps and the works of Michael Thompson and Michael Hernandez de Luna. I spent a very pleasurable afternoon at the store and hope to return soon, once I run out of stamps again. It would be too tempting if I went all the time.
I highly recommend going to see the King if you're anywhere near Chicago. Heck, if you have a long layover at O'Hare Airport, the store is only a couple of stops away via the Blue Line. The store is open Monday - Saturday from 11AM to 5PM. There is parking available behind the store for those of vehicular means. Please let him know that the Letter Writers Alliance sent you!
STAMP KING - 7139 W Higgins Avenue - Chicago - IL - 60656
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