R. Mayer (1928-2007)
R. Mayer, a noted philanthropist and world-class collector of art, coins,
currency and stamps, died in
14 of complications following heart surgery. He was 79 years old.
He had served on the
Board of Trustees of the Philatelic Foundation and was a member and generous
contributor to the Collectors Club of New York as well as many other
philatelic organizations and specialist societies.
and his wife have endowed the New World Department of the
Museum. While Mr. Mayer's contributions to the arts are more widely
recognized than his philatelic accomplishments, the two are very directly
described in the foreword of his recent book, The United States Five Cent
Stamp of 1856, how their interest in pre-Columbian art began: "In the
middle sixties, my wife Jan and I were invited by a friend in Costa Rica, who
was a part-time stamp dealer and the American Consul, to spend several weeks
driving around Costa Rica. We visited many of the towns I was familiar with
from observing the cancels and postmarks on covers I had acquired. This
itself fully when we began to build an important collection of Costa Rican
Pre-Columbian art which has been donated to the
. It is now
considered to be the largest study collection of Costa Rican Pre-Columbian art
extant outside of
Costa Rica. The seed
was the stamp collection."
Ohio, and raised
Texas, Mr. Mayer
subsequently graduated from Yale in 1950. Helped by his father, Mr. Mayer's
stamp collecting activities began at age six with a worldwide stamp
collection. Parts of the collection had to be jettisoned along the way but the
Costa Rican portion was set aside as the country for his continued focus and
collecting. It became the brightest star in a constellation of great
began the Exeter Drilling Company in 1953 and when it sold in 1980 it held the
distinction of being the largest privately owned drilling company in the
States. I 1982 he founded Captiva Corporation as an oil and gas resources
company. These business successes allowed Mr. Mayer to indulge his passions
for collecting, skiing, hunting, deep-sea diving, and fine wine.
many philatelic collections over the years, including the
stamp of 1856, Colorado Territory Postal History, Steam Panama Markings and
several "small" country collections from the various colonial empires (Nova Scotia,
collections have all been shown publicly, often receiving the highest awards.
Some, after reaching a state where little could be added, have been sold after
being preserved in book form or as internet presentations (http://www.frmfoundation.org/).
Mayer's traditional collection of
postal history was recently exhibited at Washington 2006 where it was awarded
a large gold medal. During the show Mr. and Mrs. Mayer hosted an elegant, but
small, dinner party for a few close collector and dealer friends as well as
for several collectors who had come from
to view the collection. Although the gathering brought a smile to Mr.
Mayer's face, the full breadth of his beaming smile was reserved for those
same collectors when they gathered in front of his
collection to discuss the nuances of the material. Mr. Mayer's holdings of
certainly the largest ever amassed and at the time of his death he was working
on a book project to share his material, and his life-long studies, with the
who were fortunate enough to have spent time with Mr. Mayer, however briefly,
the experience was unforgettable. A true renaissance man who had vast
knowledge in many areas, he was able to communicate his ideas, thoughts and
visions concisely and with ease. His passion for collecting was contagious. It
didn't matter if he was relating a recent find, plucked from a stockbook of
inexpensive stamps, or a philatelic treasure, he enjoyed the hunt as well as
the discussion equally.
lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent to the
Collectors Club, 22 East 35th St, New York, NY 10016.
Frajola (February 22, 2007)