Many famous people dedicated their free time to the stamp collecting. And indeed, until now it is one of the most respected types of an intelligent hobbies. Maybe because the first postage stamps of most countries depicted a portraits of the great rulers, postage stamp collecting became literally a royal time-spending. Let's talk today about the philatelic passion of a royal figures from the birth country of all postage stamps - the British Empire.
In the house number 41 at the Devonshire Place, London, there is situated the world's oldest association of collectors - Fellow Royal Philatelic Society, London (FRPSL). It was founded in a distant 1869.
In 1906, King Edward VII added the word "royal" to the title. His son, the Duke of York, was known to be a president of the Society before stepping at the British throne under the name of George V (1910), and in 1924 he granted Society the right to represent the royal coat of arms on it's business papers.
It was George V, who made the foundation of the royal collection. George V was known to spend a significant sums of money on this hobby. Until now in England there is known the following story about George V.
For 1450 the legendary stamp of Mauritius issued in 1847 - one of the rarest stamps in the world - was bought by the king. Of course, this purchase was made incognito, George V believed, that he accidentally managed to buy this brand, and he liked to brag about his success. One day, receiving visitors, he told to one of the invited friends, that he knows personally the lucky man, who made a profitable operation, buying at fantastically low price the stamp of Mauritius. After hearing the story of a mysterious man, a friend said that perhaps it was someone very flippant and naive, because only such a man could pay a huge sum of money for a small piece of paper. George V laughed and admitted that this man - was he himself. Since then, the king used to tell this story pretty often. And the legendary stamp finally appeared in the royal collection.
In 1922 at the auction in Paris there was represented a famous Ferrari collection, the mediator of George V lost the battle for the world's only copy of British Guiana, which then became a property of American millionaire Arthur Hind. Immediately the winner - in a truly American style - wanted to give his acquisition to his rival - King George V. But the king's pride did not allow him to accept this gift. At that time the royal collection could be replenished by the unique stamp, and the philatelic fate of the British Guiana could be determined definitively. It is well known that the masterpieces of the royal collection are not for sale. More than half a century of his life George V dedicated to the stamp collecting. It should be noted that the king was a collector of such a class, that he often struck even the experienced professionals with his vast knowledge of a postal history.
For his successor, George VI, the attention to philately was not only a tribute to the tradition, followed by the English monarchs. From the early childhood he was interested in stamps and had his own collection.
Becoming a monarch, George VI added to his "blue" (albums were bound in the blue morocco) collection, also a "red" royal collection - that was stored in the stamp-albums of a red leather. Both of them side by side were kept in the "room of stamps" - a special room at the Buckingham Palace. The king liked to spend long hours here, and no one dared to disturb him when he was leafing through the pages filled with such a unique items, that only one glance at those will make a heart of any stamp collector to tremble. This habit of George VI did not change even during the years of World War II.
In 1947 the royal collection of 350 numbered folios included the sketches of all stamps of the British Empire. Sir John argued that the contents of those folios are precious, because it has no analogues, but right before the war, when in London was staged an exhibition on the 100th anniversary of the "Black Penny", the newspapers published the approximate cost of the royal treasures. According to some sources, it exceeded one million English pounds.
The collection, housed in the Buckingham Palace, was constantly having some additions. It's guardian wanted to ensure that there will did not arise any omissions. As for the rarities, they appeared not only from the past, but also from the present time.
It became an unwritten rule: any stamp, published in the United Kingdom, had to be sent to the monarch. The well-known philatelist, E. Glasgow, in one of his articles, recalls, for example, such a story. In 1948 in London were printed eight St. Vincent stamps to celebrate the silver jubilee of the royal couple's wedding. The whole amount was loaded onto a ship, that was going to the West India, but the ship sank in a storm. In the album of George VI there appeared a truly unique items, since the colors were changed at the re-released stamps.
In 1952, George VI died and was replaced on the throne by his daughter - Elizabeth II. Probably no one have ever seen anywhere else the information on the philatelic preferences of the current monarch of England. But England indeed is a country where traditions are faithfully preserved for many centuries. A Royal Collection has long been a symbol of Britain's stability. This famous collection is regularly participating in the biggest world's fairs. Here is an interesting episode in the "exhibitional" life of the Queen.
In 1976, the collection of Queen Elizabeth II at the exhibition in Copenhagen had received the golden medal. At the same show - "Hafniya-76" - a similar award was received by another British collector - Frank Deakin. Instead of enjoying his success, the golden medalist wrote numerous complaints to the customs service of England. The fact was the alert custom officials demanded to pay the custom fee on a golden award, that had to be imported to the British Isles. The sum of six pounds is certainly not a problem for the veteran collector, but a sense of justice forced Frank Deakin to apply even to his colleague - Queen Elizabeth II. But until now we do not know, if the customs service filed a similar requirements for the Queen of England, the history says nothing about it.