MEASUREMENTS: 9 inches x 13 1/2 inches THE KING AS PHILATELIST: STAMPS IN HIS MAJESTY’S GREAT COLLECTION Stamp-collecting has been one of the King’s hobbies since boyhood. In early manhood His Majesty decided to restrict his collections to the stamps Of the British Empire. In the course of the years,
these collections have been developed with loving care on indefinite historical and scientific lines. The royal collection now extends over some two hundred albums, and contains not only most of the actual stamp varieties ever issued in the Empire, including the rarities, but also many unusual items, throwing light upon the origin and growth of the system of prepaying postage by means of stamps. It is this historical matter, as much as the many superb examples of the stamps, that makes the royal stamp collection the most fascinating ever formed.
A few of these special items, many of which are not to be found in other collections, are shown here. Most of them represent important stages in the inception and evolution of our stamps, but they can only give a slight indication of the Empire-wide scope covered in the great range of albums. The King has the original pencil design in the outline for the historic envelope by William Mulready, R.A. This was sold at a , London auction on April 28, 1864 when it was stated by the auctioneer that this was the only sketch of the design made by the artist.
A note in the royal collection says that from statements made by Mr. Mulready to his friends, it would appear that the original idea for the design was given to him by Queen Victoria and was carried out by the artist in accordance with her Majesty’s suggestions.
AVAILABLE HERE These are rough water-colour sketches, marked 1d. and 2d. respectively, of the first postage stamps, the lower value in black and the other in blue. They were formerly in the possession of Sir Rowland Hill, introducer of the penny postage, and were sent by him in 1840 to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir F.T. Baring, to show him how the stamps would look. Many trial engravings and proofs were made before our first stamps came into being. Here is seen (left) a stamp with the Queen’s head, but with a background which was rejected in favour of one in the form shown on the right, but without the head. This enlargement of the stamp shown at the left centre, without the lettering, shows the beautiful engraving of the Queen’s profile and the effective design. One of the choicest blocks of rare stamps in the royal collection is an unsevered group of five of the second 2d. stamp of Mauritius, inscribed “Post Paid” The first stamp in the block is the very rare error reading “Penoe” for “Pence”. The Mauritius portion of the royal collection includes both the historic rarities called the “Post Office” stamps. The 1d. red is here seen used, and is still on the original letter on which it was posted in Mauritius in 1847. This stamp was formerly in the collection of the late Earl of Kintore. A proof from a small experimental plate, made in 1841. of twelve of the “Two Pence”, having white lines above and below, but no letters in the lower corners. When King Edward VII came to the throne, his son took a great interest in the new stamps that had to be prepared for his reign. The royal collection has many interesting examples of the essays or suggested designs submitted by contractors to the authorities. Chief among the King Edward VII items are the two original photographic proofs of the accepted stamp, actually approved and initialled by King Edward. On the proof approved for the frame surround, a note indicates that the head is leaning too far forward. The other proof shows the rejected frame design, but gives the correct pose for the head. At the time of King Edward’s death in 1910, a new 2d. stamp was ready for issue, but its circulation was not proceeded with, and practically the whole edition was destroyed. This page from King George’s collection shows an unused pair of this stamp from the corner of a sheet, and also one used on a letter addressed to the then Prince of Wales on May 5, the day before he became King. This is the only used copy known of this stamp, which has, therefore, an extraordinary rarity value.