Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Stamp Collecting Habits of King George V

UK's Telegraph reports, "From May 7 to July 25 the British Postal Museum and Archive, in collaboration with the Royal Philatelic Collection, is putting on an exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London of stamps and postal memorabilia from the reign of George V. This is because May 6 is the centenary of the King’s accession to the throne, and, as you may be aware, he was Britain’s most famous stamp collector."

According to reporter Simon Heffer,"Men of George V’s generation (he was born in 1865) took up philately for at least one of two reasons: either they used them as an aid to geography, collecting especially Crown Agents’ stamps from what was then our vast Empire and its colonies, and to assist an understanding of the extent of British power; or they collected because they had a desire to have a small private art collection housed in an album. It would be easy to imagine that the King pursued the hobby (to which, in later life, he would devote three afternoons a week) because it was a practical means of keeping track of his territorial possessions around the globe. In fact, the anecdotal record suggests he had a keen eye for design and took a close and at times rather technical interest in it."

Simon goes on to pen,"It is certainly true that he would keep track of auctions of rarities and use his private money to spend what were then astronomical sums on stamps to fill gaps in the Royal Collection: which, as a result, is probably the best in the world. In 1904 he paid £1,450 for the Mauritian 2d blue, then a record price for a stamp. The next day a courtier, having read about the sale in a newspaper, asked the then Prince of Wales whether he had seen that 'some damned fool has paid £1,400 for a stamp'. 'Yes,' the Prince replied. 'It was this damned fool.' Were one to go at auction today, it would probably realise at least £750,000."

Shown above, rough sketch for a King George V memorial stamp that was never issued.

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