Sunday, August 10, 2008

How Tough Can It Be to Be King?

Author Simon Garfield (The Error World: An Affair With Stamps) asks in the book section of the Wall Street Journal, "How tough can it be to be king?"

He then goes on to say, "If we take the example of Britain's George V, the answer may be: not very. During his reign (1910-36), George was known to spend about four hours a day with his stamp collection. On royal tours, his lackeys let receiving heads of state know that if they wanted to present the monarch with a gift, George would gladly forgo the usual engraved salver in favor of a rare philatelic specimen from Antigua or the Cape of Good Hope.

In February 1908, when he was still the Duke of York, George wrote to a friend regarding the purchase of some stamps from Barbados: "Remember, I wish to have the best collection, and not one of the best collections in Britain,"
according to Garfield.

As part of his review of Helen Morgan's Blue Mauritius (Overlook, 320 pages, $29.95), Garfield points out, "By the end of the 19th century the pastime had spread around the world -- and the Blue Mauritius was already much coveted. George V's stamp, which remains in the British royal collection, is "considered the finest known example," according to a note in the "Blue Mauritius" appendix, which gives a brief description of who bought and sold each stamp and for how much money. But by the appendix stage the reader knows that Ms. Morgan's book is actually dealing with not one type of Mauritius stamp but two -- and with one of the most romantic stories in the whole of philately."

Shown above, a pair of 1847 Mauritius stamps on cover which sold for a record $4 million in 1993.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM