Home Classic stamps The History of Stamp Collecting Part 28 – Pierre Mahé

The History of Stamp Collecting Part 28 – Pierre Mahé


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 28.

Among the leading journals from the early years of philately, apart from ‘The Stamp Collector’s Magazine’, ‘Le Timbre Poste’ and ‘Das Magazin für Briefmarken Sammler’, was the French magazine ‘Le Timbrophile’. The publisher was Pierre Mahé, a Parisian stamp dealer.

Pierre Mahé was born in 1833 and was an active character with good business and leadership skills. He was the manager of a large bookstore in Paris. In 1862 he began, with the knowledge of the bookstore’s directors, to trade in stamps in the shop. This was agreed on condition that he would never ask for a salary increase again!

Apparently that straitjacket was a bit too tight for him, because in 1863 he opened his own shop on the Rue de Varenne, which he ran with his wife and later also his son. He then published a ‘Guide Manuel de Timbres-Poste’, a catalogue that has been supplemented and reprinted several times. Together with Edard de Laplante and Arthur Maury (see Part 6), he quickly became one of the most important traders in Paris.

From 1864 he published the magazine ‘Le Timbrophile’ which further strengthened his position as a trader. Especially because the magazine was larger in composition and better edited than the competing ‘Le Collectionneur de Timbres-Poste’ by Arthur Maury. Mahé was able to secure good employees including the famous Dr. Jacques Legrand, inventor of the postage stamp perforation gauge.

Mahé could be described somewhat flatteringly as a ‘tough little guy’. He was often upset with colleagues. Especially with Moens (See Part 16), where no love was lost with each other.

In addition to ‘Le Timbrophile’, Mahé dealt with ‘La Gazette des Timbres’ and ‘Le Questionneur Timbrophilique’. He wrote many articles himself, mostly under the pseudonyms Argus and Pharès. Because of his service to philatelic literature, he was awarded the Lindenberg medal in 1905. Pierre Mahé died on 2 February 1913.

For years he was philatelic secretary to Count Philippe Ferrary and in that capacity he traded some of the greatest rarities in the world.

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  1. my father started me off when I was 5; when I was 17 I started to work, and I changed the collection from used to mint. I still have them, but collecting is expensive, and I don’t have the money to do so…

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