O.J. Simpson stamp is now available for collecting, at a price


January 04, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

Exploiters of tragedy, tabloid TV types and other free-market hucksters are squeezing some fast coin out of the O. J. Simpson sensation, so why shouldn't a local boy get a piece of the action? Scott Tilson, president of the Owings Mills-based International Collectors Society, sealed a deal with Guyana for surplus sheets of O. J. Simpson stamps originally issued by the South American republic in 1993, and now he's selling them for $9.95 (plus $3 postage and handling). Is this a great country?

The Simpson stamp, depicting O. J. in happier days running with a football, is part of a set of nine stamps honoring international sports stars. "One of our customers, a collector in Puerto Rico, knew of the stamp and told us about it four months ago," says Tilson who, at 32, claims more than 130,000 subscribers to his mail-order business on Red Run Boulevard. "We contacted Guyana postal authorities and obtained the entire remaining inventory. . . . I'm not sure they actually knew what they had. Most people knew of this issue as the 'Pele Issue' because [the Brazilian soccer legend] was the most famous of the athletes in the set. . . . So I just played along, not mentioning that I was really after the O. J. stamps."

Is this the real thing?

"This is an authentic stamp," says Tilson, who is offering a certificate of authenticity with each set he sells. "You can ask a collector. It's issued by Guyana." Tilson believes this is the only stamp ever issued anywhere in honor of O. J. And probably the last.

House with a past

This year, make a resolution to visit at least one of the many TC historic landmarks here in the Greater Patapsco Drainage Basin. Make a pilgrimage to the old Pep Boys on Joppa Road (the one that still has Manny, Moe and Jack on the roof), the courtroom where Agnew pleaded nolo problemo, C-Mart in Bel Air or the famous Will Alter House in Fells Point. Never heard of the Will Alter House? Don't feel bad. I only learned of it during a holiday affair at which a large pork roast was served. (The pork really has nothing to do with this story, but it was the most remarkable part of the party.) Once upon a time, a house was for sale at 1710 Lancaster St. There was a sign in its window: "For Sale Will Alter House." Somehow -- my hunch is it started in a saloon, probably the Whistling Oyster -- people got to calling it the Will Alter House, as if an early father of the city had lived there. "We're going to apply for ranking as a national historic landmark," says the house's owner, Peggy McNamara, who installed a brass marker by her front door. "Will Alter was the first fixup man in East Baltimore." And we understand he was a close personal friend of Bob Long, who lived around the corner, and Charlie Carroll, for whom Will did some plaster work. Check it out.

Grab your skates

George Johnson -- somebody wants to throw you a party. You're the man who wanted to go ice skating at Rash Field on Christmas Day, which happened to be your 65th birthday, but couldn't because the rink was closed. Sun reporter Elaine Tassy and photographer Mark Bugnaski found you, glum as a kid who didn't find any toys under the tree, walking along Calvert Street, skates straddling your shoulder. Cheer up, George. Baltimore on Ice, the group that supervises the rink, wants to treat you and your family to a little party on ice. So call me (332-6166) and we'll make arrangements. . . . Look for Willard Scott, that lovable balloon of a man from NBC's Today show, giving his weather forecasts live from Rash Field Friday morning. If you're following along at home, that means you'll find Willard on Channel 11.

Sorry, dear

The other day, a husband and wife were sitting in their car on Calvert Street, waiting at an unusually long red light. The driver behind them got impatient. So he leaned on the horn and honked -- long and loud and clear. Up front, the husband made an obscene gesture toward the honker. Then he turned around to get a better look. It was his father-in-law.

No way to start a year

Rubberneckers on Interstate 83 yesterday morning couldn't help but notice the mess: a white Camaro with a crunched front end, stuck in the left lane, up against the divider, glass everywhere; two cops trying to start the thing. Then we saw a young woman, the Camaro's owner, sitting in a police car, wrapped in her black coat. And she was crying -- just enough to leave tracks on her morning makeup. Busting your car up first thing in a new workweek in a new year can make you cry, all right.

Joey vs. the uptown club

Joey Amalfitano, my official food taster, and his girlfriend, Maxine, went to Harborplace Monday to try the Nickel City Grill. "The sun bounced off the water and not too many tourists were around," Joey says. "I went for what they called a grilled salmon club with lettuce, tomato, alfalfa sprouts and a special sauce on sun-dried tomato bread. Maxine opted for the grilled flounder sandwich. I was broken-hearted, especially since it cost me $8.95. First, you think a club sandwich is a double-decker, right? Not at the Nickel City. This only had two slices of bread instead of three. And the bread was so dry. The salmon was big-time puny. They must have served the sprouts with tweezers and the sauce with a thimble. Maxine was none too happy either. Tell those guys to get with it, willya?"

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