The Fathers of Philately Inscribed on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
by Brian J. Birch FRPSL

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The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists was established in 1921 by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain to recognise outstanding contributions to the development of philately. At its launch, 43 philatelists were deemed to be "The Fathers of Philately". The oldest had been born 40 years before the issue of the 1d black. The Roll now consists of over 300 signatories, each of whom has been selected on merit.

A century after the last of the "Fathers" died, this book recalls and recounts the reasons for the establishment of the Roll, and its development as the most prestigious honour in philately.

Brian Birch FRPSL

“The Roll, as presented to the 1921 Philatelic Congress of Great Britain was, and is, a heavy and imposing document. It is inscribed on parchment to a design which is a good representation of the graphic design of the period. The side panels of the scroll contain the names of forty three philatelists deemed by the originators of the Roll to be the ‘Fathers of Philately’. It was believed that this token of remembrance of great names from the past would enhance the dignity and philatelic value of the honour being conferred”. A R Butler, 1990 The process by which the Fathers were chosen is not now known since no documentation survives from the founding of the Roll. Nevertheless it is certain that each was selected because they were recognised as having contributed significantly to the establishment and development of philately to the point where it occupied a position whereby even Royalty were willing to acknowledge their adherence to it. By the time the Roll was inaugurated, the achievements and, indeed, even the names, of some of the Fathers of Philately were already receding into the mists of time. The oldest of the Fathers was born forty years before the penny black was issued and some sixty years before stamp collecting became an established hobby. Three of them died in 1919, the year in which the Roll was first mooted, albeit under the guise of The Order of Philatelic Merit A century after the last of the Fathers of Philately died, the opportunity has been taken to recall and recount the reasons why they were so honoured by the creators of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

Brian’s interest in stamps was sparked at the age of 9. Eventually, family life and increased commitments at work lead to the stamps being laid aside for extended periods of time. Following some training in information science at the British Library, Brian transferred his interest to the literature of philately and the stamp collection was abandoned. Brian chose to specialise in philatelic bibliography and the history of philately, its literature and its adherents. This change in direction lead him to begin a number of bibliographies which expanded to a greater extent than expected and became substantial books. Although he spent a great deal of time in compiling some of these over the past 30 or so years, it was evident that their scope was such that they would never be finished and so could never be conventionally published. Accordingly, some 7,500 pages of philatelic data have been placed on the Royal Philatelic Society London’s Global Philatelic Library web site and are updated each year

The Fathers of Philately
1 HRH Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1844 ‒ 1900) (Great Britain) .
(Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
2 Gerald Fitzgerald, 5thDuke of Leinster (1851 ‒ 1893) (Great Britain/Ireland)
3 James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847 ‒ 1913) (Great Britain)
4 Henry Ernest Newcomen King Tenison, 8th Earl of Kingston(1848 ‒ 1896) (Great Britain)
5 Baron Arthur de Rothschild (1851 – 1903)(Great Britain/France)
6 Sir William Beilby Avery (1854 – 1908) (Great Britain)
7 Sir Daniel Cooper (1821 ‒ 1902) (Great Britain)
8 Sir David Parkes Masson (1847 – 1915) (Great Britain)
9 James Henry Abbott (1851 – 1914) (Great Britain)
10 François Georges Oscar Berger-Levrault (1826 – 1903) (France)
11 Friedrich Andreas Breitfuss (1851 – 1911) (Russia)
12 Mount Brown (1837 – 1919) (Great Britain)
13 Maitland James Burnett (1844 – 1918) (Great Britain)
14 Caillebotte Brothers, Gustave (1848 − 1894) and Martial (1853 − 1910). (France)
15 Marcellus Purnell Castle (1849 –1917) (Great Britain)
16 Henry Joseph Crocker (1861 – 1912) (United States)
17 Reverend John Archibald Dunbar-Dunbar (1849 – 1905) (Great Britain)
18 Henry Joseph Duveen (1854 – 1919) (Netherlands/Great Britain/United States)
19 Philipp La Rénotiere von Ferrary (1850 − 1917) (Italy/Austria/Serbia/Switzerland/Germany-Baden)
20 Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (Dr Thebussem) (1828 –1918) (Spain)
21 Douglas Garth (1852 – 1900) (Great Britain)
22 Dr John Edward Gray (1800 – 1875) (Great Britain)
23 Gilbert Harrison (1858 – 1894) (Great Britain)
24 Leslie Leopold Rudolph Hausburg (1872 –1917) (Great Britain)
25 Dr Andrew Houison (1850 – 1912) (Australia)
26 Dr Jacques Amable Legrand (Dr Magnus) (1820 − 1912) (France)
27 Pierre Marie Mahé (1833 − 1913) (France)
28 Arthur Maury (1844-1907) (France)
29 Paul Barthélemy Mirabaud (1848 − 1908) (France)
30 Jean-Baptiste Philippe Constant Moens (1833 ‒ 1908) (Belgium)
31 Edward James Nankivell (1848 ‒ 1909) (Great Britain)
32 Edward Loines Pemberton (1844 − 1878) (Great Britain)
33 Frederick Adolphus Philbrick (1835 − 1910) (Great Britain)
34 José Marcó del Pont (1851 − 1917) (Argentina)
35 Richard Williams Harold Row (1884 − 1919) (Great Britain)
36 Gordon Smith (1856 − 1905) (Great Britain)
37 Thomas Keay Tapling (1855-1891) (Great Britain)
38 John Kerr Tiffany (1842-1897) (United States)
39 John Alexander Tilleard (1850 − 1913) (Great Britain)
40 Dr Charles William Viner (1812 − 1903) (Great Britain)
41 William Amos Scarborough Westoby (1815 − 1899)(Great Britain)
42 Hastings Elwin Wright (1861 − 1897) (Great Britain)
Appendix 1: Exhibition Reports (1881 − 1919)
Listing of Full Names of Persons in the Index
Index of Persons

The Fathers of Philately; Inscribed on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists by Brian J Birch FRPSL. 2019, Royal Philatelic Society London / RDP Trust. 300 pp. ID No. 21609. Reviewed by Frank Walton RDP FRPSL. The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) was first signed in 1920, and today it is recognised as the greatest worldwide philatelic honour that can be bestowed upon a philatelist. However, there were numerous great pioneer collectors who had died before the roll’s inauguration. The founders of the roll were very aware of these earlier collectors and 42 collectors were selected to become “Fathers of Philately” – essentially recognising that they would have been invited to become an RDP if they had still been alive in 1920. Their names are recorded for posterity in the scroll work in the frame of page one of the actual roll. Thanks to a series of publications by Ron Butler, the biographies of the signatories to the roll itself are available to researchers – and this wonderful new publication now details the lives of “The Fathers”. Brian Birch has spent six years on meticulous research into the personal and philatelic lives of those honoured, and this profusely illustrated book now records his work. There are many great stories in the book covering some of the giants of the past, for example my personal favourites Crawford, Cooper, Castle, Ferrary, Maury, Moens, Philbrick, Tapling, Tiffany, Tilleard and Westoby – amongst many others. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book which I highly recommend.

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