In the late 1970s a fascinating series of articles written by Mr. K. Kouwenberg about the history of Stamp Collecting, appeared in the Dutch magazine Philatelie. This series has been the source of inspiration for PostBeeld owner Rob Smit to rewrite the history of stamp collecting in instalments. This is Part 10 – Mount Brown.
In the previous episode I wrote about the first English catalogue, published by Frederick W. Booty in April 1862. Just a month later, another catalogue, compiled by Mount Brown, was published in England.
Despite the fact that the catalogue (in contrast to that of Booty) had no graphics, Brown’s was considered to be better and more complete and became a great sales success. Between May 1862 and March 1864 there were five printings with a total circulation of about 7,500 copies. In the preface Brown cleverly suggested something that was simultaneously a marketing ploy. He stated that every collector should own two copies of the catalogue. Then in both copies, the collector could underscore the stamps he had. One copy should then be used as a reference and the second used when swapping doubles/exchanging stamps or supplementing the collection.
Mount’s collection contain roughly 400 stamps. Yet he could describe some 1,200 stamps in his catalogue. His knowledge was gained through his regular Saturday afternoon contact with other collectors. And it was via these meetings that a short time later the London Philatelic Society was founded. Among others in the group were Dr. Charles Viner and Francis John Stainforth.
It appears that he gleaned much information from the catalogue of JB Moens (Moens was mentioned in earlier articles and more to come later in this series). Brown’s catalogue was quickly plagiarised, by John Kline, writing as A.C. Kline, in 1862, and by W.H. Wright writing as “A Collector” in 1863.
Brown took steps to ensure Kline’s catalogue was hardly available in the UK and that most of Wright’s copies were destroyed. From 1863 additions to Mount Brown’s catalogue appeared in ‘The Stamp Collector’s Magazine’, edited by Dr. Charles Viner.
In addition to the catalogue, Brown also published an album and dealt in stamps.
Around 1870 Mount Brown found that his philatelic activities took up too much of his time. He gave up the business, but remained a collector. Mount Brown lived from 1837 to 1919.
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