Philip von Ferrary’s postage stamp collection
Philip von Ferrary’s postage stamp collection was “probably the most complete worldwide collection that ever existed, or is likely to exist.”Philip von Ferrary
Philip Ferrari de La Renotière (1850-1917) was the Duke of Galleria from 1871 and a famous philatelist. He was better known as Philip von Ferrary.
Described as “a giant and pioneer of stamp collecting”, Ferrary collected from childhood.
After the death of his father, he inherited a title and a large fortune which he used to assemble perhaps the greatest stamp collection of all time.
In 1880, Ferrary made his first major purchase, acquiring the substantial collection of Judge Philbrick for £8,000. This included most of the collection of Sir Daniel Cooper, the first president of the London Philatelic Society.
Ferrary bought many private collections wholesale but also selectively purchased from them. Stanley Gibbons stated he spent an average of £3-4,000 per year on his collection, an enormous sum in the 19th century.
Ferrary often paid for stamps immediately and in gold; he occasionally fell victim to fraudsters, leading to the nickname ‘ferrarities' for forgeries.
He collected stamps from across the globe, acquiring as many examples of rarities as he could. Ferrary was particularly interested in singles rather than blocks or covers.
Famously, when presented with an 80 cent Modena Provisional Government stamp on a complete cover, he ripped the stamp off.
Many of the pieces in Ferrary’s collection were simply legendary. He owned at least seven of the 1847 Mauritius “Post Office” Stamps which were the first British Commonwealth stamps outside Britain itself.
Very few were issued - they were quickly replaced by the more common 'Post Paid' variety.
The collection included the only unused copy of the 1851 Two Cent Hawaiian Missionary stamp, which were the first stamps used, in limited numbers, on the Pacific island, mostly by missionaries.
Ferrary also had a particular fondness for the 1850 three pfennige Red Saxony.
The collection also included the British Guiana 1c magenta. In 1856, the stamp was created as a temporary measure in the then British colony after a shipment of stamps failed to arrive.
The pink octagonal stamp was bought for just under a $1,000,000 in 1980 and is thought to be the only one of its kind remaining in the world.
Arguably, the highlight of Ferrary’s collection was the 1855 Treskilling Yellow, a three skilling stamp from Sweden printed in yellow rather than the usual turquoise.
This was apparently due to confusion with the printing process for the eight skilling stamp, which was supposed to be that colour.
Only one has ever been proved to exist and it is now regarded as the most valuable stamp in the world, selling in 1996 for a staggering $2,300,000.
Ferrary bequeathed his collection to the Postmuseum in Berlin, along with funds for maintenance.
However, soon after his death, it was confiscated by the French government to be sold for war reparations. In 14 separate sales, the collection realised between 25 and 30 million francs.
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