Putting a stamp on Las Vegas

Some people map out a career course and follow it the rest of their lives. Some people find their passion along the way. And some people find their niche in the world of work through serendipity.

Ruth Hilliard, owner of Charleston Stamps, falls into the latter category, but dealing in collectible postage stamps has become her passion.

Hilliard, who worked at the former Showboat casino as a waitress for several years, agreed to open a store for stamp collectors because her late husband, then a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police Department, wanted to become a stamp dealer.

Charleston Stamps faced several competitors when it opened on West Charleston Street 24 years ago.

Hilliard now believes she operates the only store for stamp collectors in the Las Vegas area.

The store is located behind a convenience store in a strip shopping center, sandwiched between a comic book shop and an insurance agency.

Her shop is cluttered with displays of stamps, stamps in clear plastic holders, files of stamps, stacks of stamps, posters of stamps and boxes of stamps from around the world.

Stamp collectors stop by her store to buy, sell, get appraisals and chat. The Southern Nevada Stamp Club uses her store as its mailing address.

Question: Do you like running a shop for stamp collectors?

Answer: I love it. I guess it was my fate and meant to be. Here I am 24 years later. I really didn’t know much about stamps and stamp collecting when I started.

Question: How did you end up in Las Vegas running a stamp shop?

Answer: I moved here in the mid-’60s, originally from Oregon with my husband.

Question: What did you do here?

Answer: I worked 15 years as a waitress for the Showboat, which is no longer there.

Question: How did you become the owner and operator of the stamp shop?

Answer: My husband, Robert Hilliard, and I opened the stamp shop in September 1984. There were probably three or four other stamp stores. I’m the only one now.

He was the collector, and he always wanted to have a mom and pop shop. We got divorced in ’86, and I bought it.

Question: How do you get stamps to sell?

Answer: I buy (stamps) strictly from people who walk through the door and want to sell them. Generally, it’s people who have inherited stamp collections and are not interested in collecting.

Question: What’s the biggest collection you’ve purchased?

Answer: Probably the biggest collection I bought was several years ago. I think it was 26 boxes of U.S. and worldwide stamps.

Question: What kinds of stamps do you reject?

Answer: If the stamp is scarce but not popular to collectors, then I would be hesitant to buy. Certain countries are more popular than others.

The U.S. is more popular, because, of course, we’re in the United States. China, Hong Kong, Great Britain are popular countries.

Question: How about stamps from African countries?

Answer: Typically they have less value, because what some of these countries do is pump out stamps by the gallon as a source of revenue. So they’re not scarce.

Question: You also conduct a bidding system for stamps.

Answer: It’s basically like a silent auction. You have to bid on the item. It’s a four-to-six-week exposure to the public. I charge a fee of $10 for bidders, and you get a bidder’s number. Twenty percent (of the sales price) goes to the store from the sellers.

Some people are surprised they are going to get what they get (from the auctions), and some people are disappointed.

Some items come from collectors. A lot of collectors have duplicates, or maybe they don’t want to concentrate on a particular country anymore.

Question: How do you organize your inventory of stamps?

Answer: Everything is put in stock by country and by number. They are called Scott numbers.

Question: What sorts of people collect stamps?

Answer: A wide range of people are collectors. We don’t have enough young people collecting. They have so many distractions today.

Question: What kinds of stamps do people collect?

Answer: You can collect however you want to. One country or two or three. Or topics — ships, animals, birds, flowers, airplanes.I’ve got one guy, all he collects are ships. I guess he was a design engineer for ships or ship engines.

People like sports. They like the Olympics. They like space.

You can collect (U.S.) series of stamps in series, such as Legends of Hollywood, Black Heritage, Distinguished Americans, Prominent Americans, Great Americans.

Some people collect strictly used stamps. Some people collect only mint stamps.

Question: Could you collect only Nevada-related stamps?

Answer: Yes. They printed stamps of Boulder (Hoover) Dam, the 100th anniversary of Nevada statehood in 1964, the 100th anniversary of Nevada’s first settlement in 1951.

If they wanted to get into Nevada postal history, postcards, they could do that. Some people collect cancellation marks, and some concentrate on dead post offices (that have been closed). The value comes in how long these post offices were actually open.

The Nevada post office in Acoma in Lincoln County was open from 1905 to 1907. There was one called Los Vegas instead of Las Vegas. It’s extremely rare.

Question: Could you give me examples of an expensive stamp?

Answer: An 1893 Columbian, $5 stamp. It costs $14,500 for a single mint in very fine condition. I haven’t sold that one.

I am offering to sell for a customer a set of three plate blocks of 1930 Graf Zeppelins. (A plate block has four or more attached stamps with the plate number in the margin. Graf Zeppelin stamps show the inflated airships built by German businessman Count Graf von Zeppelin, whose most famous airship, the Hindenburg, burned in 1937.)

There are three different denominations and six to each plate. The set goes for $21,000. I keep a (photocopy) of the stamps in the store, rather than the stamps.

Question: Are you a stamp collector?

Answer: I would be in trouble if I collected stamps. I would probably want to keep them all.

Question: Do you have a lot of friends who are customers?

Answer: I’ve got a lot of regulars. We’ve become friends. I know some by their bidding numbers.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.

Holiday Parade Lights Up Downtown Summerlin
Holiday parade lights up Downtown Summerlin every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22.
Nevada's solar industry on the rebound
In 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a new tariff structure that reduced net energy metering buyback rates and increased fix fees for residential solar customers.
Apartment complexes selling fast in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ apartment vacancy rate is among the smallest in the country, and rents are climbing faster than the national average. (LVRJ)
Aristocrat Opens $45M Campus In Summerlin
Aristocrat Technologies Chairman Ian Blackburne discusses the company's growth. (LVRJ)
Sunrise Hospital celebrates 60 years
Sunrise Hospital opened its doors to patients on Dec. 15, 1958. Employees of more than 35 years celebrated at a luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Jessie Bekker/ Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Maya Cinemas to open soon in North Las Vegas
Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of Maya Cinemas, talks about the newest location in North Las Vegas, set to open Jan. 10. The aim of the theatre chain is to serve latino-centric, underserved communities.
Holiday shopping and returns make this the busiest time of year for UPS
The UPS Las Vegas South facility is the company's busiest pre-load operation in the country, and it's even busier this time of year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times
The mall, attached to Primm Valley Resort, opened in 1998. Back then, it was a “textbook, perfect outlet-center location." But now, Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times. Las Vegas Boulevard has endless shopping spots. And there are other outlet malls that don’t require a hefty drive to the state line. Its mortgage-holder foreclosed on the mall in late September.
Miltary auction at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
Humvees, ammo cans, construction equipment, field gear and more is on the auction block Friday and Saturday at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. About 10,000 items in all are for sale in what GovPlanet bills as the largest auction of its kind.
Las Vegas residents discuss avoiding holiday scams
Las Vegas residents discuss their donation habits and how they avoid giving money to scam charities during the holiday season. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory ahead of economic impact expectations
The Tesla Gigafactory’s economic impact on Nevada has exceeded projections, bringing in more than 7,000 jobs. In 2014, Nevada agreed to give the automotive and energy company $1.3 billion in tax abatements. In return, Tesla promised to meet certain requirements in areas like employment and capital investment. As of June, Tesla has brought in a total of $6.05 billion in capital investment, surpassing the $4.95 billion projection. The original contract gave the company until 2024 to make $3.5 billion in capital investments in Nevada. Derek Armstrong, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Land sales near the Las Vegas Raiders stadium
Land around the Las Vegas stadium site has been selling for high prices. A few months before the stadium’s groundbreaking, Global Trust Group acquired a 2.5-acre parcel just north of the stadium site. The property sold for $7.25 million, or $2.9 million an acre. Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group acquired a 2-acre industrial site just west of the stadium site in late November. The property sold for $6.5 million, or $3.15 million per acre. That's roughly 12 times the average price of land in the valley this year as tracked by Colliers International.
T-Mobile Tech Experience Truck parks in Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena
The Tech Experience Truck is a state-of-the-art showroom on wheels, with demonstrations that put connected drones, smart cities, augmented/virtual reality and smart tracking. The exhibit shows new wireless technology – including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents to keep them from teetering off into homelessness. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vrgas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Crowds camp out for Chick-fil-A opening
Dozens of customers camped out 24 hours ahead of the 6 a.m. Thursday opening of the new Chick-fil-A on Rainbow Blvd.
Cheapest listings for sale in Las Vegas
Listed for $39,990, 585 S. Royal Crest Circle, Unit #9 is one of the cheapest homes currently listed for sale in Las Vegas. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Terry Miller discusses Convention Center
Project Manager Terry Miller explains the phases of Convention Center construction.
Zappos treats their team members on Cyber Monday
Zappos rolls out a variety of food, drinks and special activities for all team members at their downtown Las Vegas headquarters for Cyber Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Team Hybrid at the 2019-Model Motor Trend International Auto Show
Among the companies showing off the 2019 model cars, Team Hybrid shows off its modified cars. Las Vegas resident David David talks about the team, which is in its ninth year exhibiting at the show, and his show car.
Black Friday Shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal
Black Friday shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfYe
Black Friday shopping in Las Vegas
Black Friday sale shopers express their shopping experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am on Nov. 23. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday - 1am Closing Time
Quiet night.
Black Friday - 12:30am - Best Buy Arroyo Crossing
Sam's Town Holiday Lighting Ceremony
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, Mystic Falls Park opened with its annual tree lighting ceremony, hosted by Boyd Gaming Executive Chairman Bill Boyd. The attraction features a Winter Wonderland theme and holiday-inspired laser light show, available daily Nov. 23 to Jan. 1. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What Is A Smart City?
George Karayannis, vice president of CityNow, Panasonic’s smart-city arm, explains. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Walmart uses virtual reality to train employees
Walmart Academy Facilitator demonstrates the VR training program being used by Walmart stores across the country.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like