Philipp Ferrary was one of the greatest stamp collectors of all ages. His collection was the largest in the world, and included all known at the time philatelic rarities. So far no one could gather a bigger collection, than Philipp Ferrary. He was called "the King of postage stamps".
He began collecting stamps at age ten - in 1859, following the advice of his mother, one of the richest and most famous women in Europe. After her death in 1888, he became a heir to the multimillion-dollar state, which promoted the development of his hobby. At the beginning he was buying stamps in Paris and Brussels from the local merchants. In 1878 he purchased for the sum of fifteen thousand dollars one of the world's largest collections of postage stamps - a collection of Australian Governor, Sir Daniel Cooper. In the same year he bought a stamp collection dedicated to Japan (from Edward Denny Bacon) and a few rare stamps of British Guiana from the English trader Thomas Ridpath. Among these stamps there was first detected the two-cent stamp (a circular copy), for which Ferrary payed about a hundred dollars. Then Ferrary became the owner of the rarest stamp in the world - the famous one-cent British Guiana, issued in 1856. He paid for it six hundred dollars to Ridpath.
In 1881 he bought two stamps of Mauritius issued in 1847 with the inscription "Post Office" (from Jean Baptiste Moensa) for one thousand one hundred dollars.
In 1882, Ferrari has acquired the entire collection of Frederick Philbrick for forty five thousand dollars. This collection in those days was considered the best in Great Britain and also contained two stamps of Mauritius Post Office, issued in 1847.
In 1893, Ferrary purchased part of the collection of Arthur de Rothschild for twenty eight thousand dollars. This collection also contained several stamps of Mauritius issued in 1847 with the inscription Post Office. Ferrari was buying stamps from many traders, among them were: Stanley Gibbons, Alfred Smith, Charles Phillips. Soon traders from all over the world were looking for the rare stamps to send them to Ferrari, who never argued about the price.
In 1894 he became the owner of a unique Swedish stamp with a color error, issued in 1857. He paid two thousand dollars for this stamp.
In 1916 he went for vacation to the southern Switzerland, taking with him a few albums of stamps, but when he wanted to return back - he found out that the French government refused to let him into the country. The reason for this actions of a French government were the pro-German sympathies of Ferrari, as well as his place of birth (Austria), his Swiss citizenship and, finally, his frequent anti-French remarks. Ferrari's love for the German culture was as well known as his bad attitude for anything, that was French (though it did not relate to people - he had many friends among French).
Ferrary was forced to leave a significant part of the collection in his principal residence in Paris.
He bequeathed his collection to the German Postal Museum. He ordered that his collection could take part in exhibitions not earlier than after three years after his death, under the name of "a collection of Arnold", it had to be separated from the other collections to the different exhibition room. He also wanted his collection to be periodically replenished, the funds for this purpose he left to the administration of the Museum.
Ferrary died of a heart attack in May 20, 1917, in a taxi on his way back to the hotel from the fruitless trip for the rare Swiss stamp. He was buried under the name of Philip Arnold.
However, the fate of his collection was formed not as he expected. After the death of Ferrary, France requisitioned the property, he left in Paris as the enemy's property. Arthur Hind had offered to the French Government eight hundred thousand dollars for Ferrari's stamp collection, Stanley Gibbons company - exactly one million dollars. Both of these proposals were rejected.
The famous collection of Philippe Ferrari was sold in Paris and Zurich in 1921-25 years at rather rigid and unfavorable conditions for the buyers. Description of lots was poor, there was not given any guarantee for the authenticity or the condition of stamps. The entire collection was presented in the form of 8058 large lots, some of which contained more than ten thousand stamps. Complaints from the unhappy customers were not accepted. Nevertheless, the amount received from the sale of the collection was more than twenty three million French francs. Among the buyers of stamps from the Philipp Ferrary's collection there were many well-known philatelists of the time, including Liechtenstein, Baek, Hind, Allen, Caspari, Harmer, Burrus and Crocker.