What is the The Royal Philatelic Collection?
The Royal Philatelic Collection, kept at St James’s Palace, is considered to be the world’s most complete compendium of postage stamps of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
The Royal Philatelic Collection started with one 6d stamp in 1856. The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and his younger brother Prince Alfred, later Duke of Edinburgh was given panes of the stamps before they were issued.
Alfred became a keen collector assembling a small collection. He acted as Honorary President of what is currently the Royal Philatelic Society London from 1890 until his death in 1900. Alfred sold his collection before he died to his older brother, who then gave it to his son, The Duke of York.
The Duke of York also a keen collector was elected Honorary Life Vice-President of the Royal Philatelic Society in 1893. Upon his marriage, the Society presented him with an album of close to 1500 stamps from over 100 members of the Society.
The Duke of York became Executive President of the Society in 1896 and held that position until he became King in 1910.
Queen Mary gave her husband numerous official and semi-official presentations to help bolster the collection. The Duke’s personal purchases although made up the bulk of the collection. In 1906, The Duke decided to exclusively collect stamps from Great Britain and The Empire.
Currently King George V’s collection is held in 328 red albums, each album contains 60 pages. I will let you do the math to figure out this one!
Upon the death of George V, Edward VIII toyed with the notion of selling his father’s collection. Luckily, he chose not to.
After Edward VIII’s abdication, King George VI inherited his father’s collection. Not fully versed on collecting as his father, The King did take an interest in collecting and carried on expanding the Collection. George VI’s collection is mounted in blue albums and boxes.
Since the stamps are extremely delicate, the Royal Philatelic Collection is not on public display. There are times in which a sampling of the collection has been on display by permission of Her Majesty, who is Patron of the Royal Philatelic Society London.
Every year the Society exhibits an opening display showcasing items from the collection. This started after World War I by King George V. The meeting unfortunately is only open to Members and Fellows of the Society.
In the past although, parts of the Collection have been displayed at exhibitions in the UK and stamp shows throughout the globe.
The Queen herself has amassed a substantial amount of stamps during her reign. Her Majesty’s collection is kept in green albums and boxes, though most of her collection has not been mounted.
Although there is not a specific number of what comprises the Collection, it has been noted the Collection contains items somewhere in the tens of thousands. With the quantity and rarity of a majority of Collection a value has never been publicly noted.
If you would like to know more about the Collection, “The Royal Philatelic Collection: An Inside View” presented by Michael Sefi, Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection is an interesting lecture covering a nice array of pieces from the Collection:
Photo Credits: karen horton and Archives New Zealand via photopin cc
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