While philately – or the practice of collecting stamps – has roots dating back to the mid-1850s, it remains an incredibly popular hobby today. In fact, there are even quite a few famous figures throughout history who have collected stamps.
John Lennon and Freddie Mercury were dedicated philatelists (their albums are currently on display at the National Postal Museum and British Postal Museum & Archive, respectively), as is Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones. Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been collecting stamps since she was a young girl and Stuart Weitzman, shoe designer and one-time owner of the world’s most expensive stamp, also has an impressive stamp collection.
But which collections have been the most notable throughout the ages? We look at the top collectors who have boasted the most impressive stamp collections throughout the ages.
1. Philipp von Ferrary
French-Austrian aristocrat Philipp von Ferrary stamp collection assembled at the beginning of the 20th century is considered to be one of the most complete stamp collections to have ever existed. The collection included a number of rare stamps, including the famous British Guiana 1c Magenta, The Canada 12d Penny Black and the United States Hawaiian Missionary Issue. After the First World War, Ferrary, who was an Austrian citizen, had his collection broken up and sold by the French government to pay for war reparations.
[Read our blog: 10 most valuable stamps in the world]
2. The Tapling Collection at the British Museum
Thomas Tapling’s estate donated The Tapling Collection of postage stamps to the British Museum in 1891. Today, the Tapling Collection lives in the Philatelic Collections of the British Library. Some of the rare stamps in this collection include Gold Coast: 1883 (May) 1d on 4d magenta, Great Britain: 1858-79 1d red, plate 77 and Hawaii: 1851-52 2 cents to 13 cents (both types). The probate value of the collection was estimated to be worth the equivalent of £24M in 2011.
[Read our blog: Three reasons to collect stamps]
3. King George V
At one time, King George V – who also became President of the Royal Philatelic Society – owned one of the most valuable stamp collections in the world. His collection was passed on to Queen Elizabeth II, who still looks after a collection of British and Commonwealth first-day covers which she started in 1952.
4. U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The 32nd President of the United States was a well-known stamp collector and designed more than 200 postage stamps during his term in office. His stamps are highly sought after, and while the sale of his collection after his death estimated was valued at more than $80,000, it’s widely believed the entire collection went for many times that figure at auction.
5. Anatoly Karpov
Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov has amassed an impressive stamp collection over the years. This collection includes rate stamps from Belgium and the Belgian Congo that are estimated to be worth $15 million.
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