September 25, 2005
The fact that news of this probably has never reached you attests to what an impossibly distant and godforsaken place Bouvet Island is. Only a few dozen humans have ever left their footprints on it, and it's a safe bet most of them would happily have passed on the honor.
Posted by James Zellmer at September 25, 2005 9:35 AM
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But there is a small and obsessive group of people scheming, plotting, cajoling and ultimately trying to buy their way there. They are known as country collectors, and they spend their lifetimes journeying to the farthest and most obscure reaches of the globe, from Abkhazia to Umm Al Qaiwain, filling their passports with rare and exotic stamps. Bouvet Island is to them what Everest is to peak baggers, what the British Guiana 1c magenta is to philatelists, what the Apple Tree Girl 141X is to collectors of Hummel figurines.
Only a tiny handful of country collectors -- precisely eight by one estimate, "not quite 20" by another -- have ever managed to cross Bouvet off their lists. The most recent is a 40-year-old dot-com millionaire from San Francisco, Charles Veley, and he believes this, along with all his other peregrinations, qualifies him as the most well-traveled person in the history of the world.