Birdlife Charity

Collectibles for Conservation

One of the most rewarding things I've found working for BirdLife, is when our supporters approach me, not only with a direct financial contribution but also to offer their specialist business skills and knowledge.  

The ever-growing community of Species-Champions supporting the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme has become a particularly rich source of innovators, many conceiving extremely novel ways to help us generate new conservation revenue.

In this March 2014 edition of World Birdwatch, we are pleased to announce the latest initiative of this kind—Collectibles for Conservation—which we are delighted to launch in association with leading international philatelic dealers, Cover Story.

Ever since the first British Penny Black and Two Penny Blues were issued in 1840 there has been an immense public interest in international postal ephemera. The huge variety of attractive stamps, letters and picture postcards that have been issued, written and delivered, connecting people in every corner of the world soon became objects of fascination, value and desire. An entire industry subsequently grew up around servicing amateur and professional collectors keen to acquire these often beautiful and sometimes rare postal items.

Alongside the legendary Penny Black, the rather rarer and more valuable Two Penny Blues were the first adhesive postage stamps to be issued when they came into circulation in May, 1840. The fine pair at the head of this article are currently valued at £500.

However, over time fashions change and many lovingly compiled and much-treasured collections have now been passed down to younger generations - many of whom are less interested in their parents' and grandparent's acquisitive pastimes. When this happens, collectibles and collections are often stored carefully away and, while not forgotten entirely, usually remain hidden, deep in a cupboard or drawer, without seeing the light for many years on end.

We hope that through BirdLife's new Collectibles for Conservation initiative some of these items might now be brought back into the light and donated to us to turn into much-needed conservation revenue.

Do you have any collectibles that you'd like to offer to us to turn into conservation action?  If so, we are waiting for your call.

Our expert partner in this venture-Cover Story-was founded by BirdLife Species Champion, Daniel Mirecki in 1996 and specialises in philatelic items from stamp collections through to postal history (old letters with postmarks and/or stamp interest) and picture postcards. Daniel and his colleagues at Cover Story have offered to act entirely free of commission and utilise their extensive network of industry contacts to help us realise the best value from any collectibles that are donated to the scheme.

In addition to postal items, Collectibles for Conservation will also embrace old photographs, ephemera, coins, banknotes and medals. Cover Story has developed relationships with experts in these items too and has also negotiated zero commission with selected sympathetic leading auction houses to maximise the conservation revenue that might be obtained for us.

Our intention is that the majority of collectibles that are donated will be sold through auction with proceeds coming directly to Birdlife. All items can be sent directly to Birdlife International's offices in Cambridge or to Cover Story's offices in London and each will be receipted.

For higher value properties, contributors will be advised of their likely realisations wherever possible prior to auction. In cases where donated collectibles are of smaller value, we will need to group them together in order for them to be acceptable for auction.

Please send any collectibles you wish to donate to BirdLife c/o Collectibles for Conservation, BirdLife International, Welbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge, CB3 ONA or c/o Collectibles for Conservation, Cover Story Ltd, 7a Redcliffe Place, London SW10 9DB.

If you want to check whether any collectible items you own might be of interest and value before sending them to us as a donation, please contact either Jim Lawrence (01223 279 857) at BirdLife or, for specialised advice and valuations; Daniel Mirecki at Cover Story. (0207 7950133 / 0208 4464422).


Jim Lawrence

BirdLife Global Programme  

Development Manager