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The Royal Philatelic Collection is the postage stamp collection of the British Royal Family. It is the most comprehensive collection of items related to the philately of the United Kingdommarker and the British Commonwealth, with many unique pieces.


Some members of the royal family are known to have been collecting stamps by 1864, just under twenty-five years after their introduction in 1840. The first serious collector in the family was Prince Alfred, who sold his collection to his older brother Edward VII, who in turn gave it to his son, later George V.

George V was one of the notable philatelists of his day. In 1893, as the Duke of York, he was elected honorary vice-president of what became the Royal Philatelic Society of London. On his marriage that year, fellow members of the society gave him an album of nearly 1,500 postage stamps as a wedding present.

He expanded the collection with a number of high-priced purchases of rare stamps and covers. His 1904 purchase of the Mauritius two pence blue for £1,450 set a new record for a single stamp.

A courtier asked the prince if he had seen "that some damned fool had paid as much as £1,400 for one stamp". "Yes," George replied. "I was that damned fool!"

George had the collection housed in 328 so-called "Red Albums", each of about 60 pages. Later additions included a set of "Blue Albums" for the reign of George VI and "Green Albums" for those of Elizabeth II's.

The collection was kept at Buckingham Palacemarker until it was moved to St. James's Palacemarker, also in Londonmarker.

Items of the Royal Philatelic Collection have been regularly shown to the public by the Royal Philatelic Society London or are lent to international philatelic exhibitions.

Keepers and curators

Ever since the 1890s, following his uncle's advice, prince George hired a counsellor to manage his collection. Reign after reign and with less philatelist monarchs, the task of these advisors evolved.

John Alexander Tilleard was the first person to manage the collection from the 1890s until his death in 1913, with the title of "Philatelist to the King" when the prince became King George V. Tilleard was followed by Edward Denny Bacon who became "curator" of the collection from 1913 to 1938, when he died just prior to retirement. He started to organize the collection in a comprehensive manner. Bacon was succeeded by John Wilson, then president of Royal Philatelic Society London, with the title of "keeper" and served until 1969. He introduced the coloured albums to keep intact the work of Bacon. He prepared the first loans for exhibitions after World War II.

The last three keepers of the Royal Philatelic Collection were John Marriott (1969-1995), Charles Wyndham Goodwyn (1995-2002), and Michael Sefi since the January 1, 2003. By 2003, six men had taken on this responsibility.

Sources and references

  1. Interview of Michael Sefi, Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection.
  2. Biography on the exposition The Queen's Own website, retrieved 17 August 2007.
  3. Biography on the exposition The Queen's Own website, retrieved 17 August 2007.
  4. News release about Sefi's nomination and the state of the royal collection, Stamp Magazine, January 2003, retrieved 17 August 2007.
  5. Critic of the book The Queen’s Stamps. The Authorized History of the Royal Philatelic Collection by Nicholas Courtney : Larry Rosenblum, "History of Royal Philatelic Collection published",, 24 October 2004, retrieved 17 August 2007.

Books :
  • The book is an history of the collection and the catalogue of the "Red Albums", with colour reproduction of some items.

  • Larry Rosenblum, "In the Spotlight", interview of Michael Sefi, published in The Chronicle, revue of the Great Britain Collectors Club, January 2005 ; reproduced on the GBCC's website, link, 28 May 2005, retrieved 19 August 2007.
  • The UK monthly philatelic magazine Stamp & Coin Mart exclusively features items from the Royal Philatelic Collection in every issue link

External links

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