Home History The History of Stamp Collecting Part 31 – Philately instead of Timbrology

The History of Stamp Collecting Part 31 – Philately instead of Timbrology


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 31. Georges Herpin (see photo) introduced the term ‘philately’.

So far in this series we have described and mentioned some of the most important traders of the 19th Century. We haven’t talked much yet about collectors who have made an important philatelic contribution, as collectors depended on the first traders and compilers of catalogues for their information and purchases.  Collecting was not that easy in the beginning but by the mid-sixties of the 19th Century more specialist literature gradually appeared and these publications contained more in-depth information and helped increase collectors’ knowledge.

The ‘Post Office Mauritius’ was discovered and described by Georges Herpin.

In ‘Le Timbrophile’ Dr. Jacques Legrand wrote an article about various watermarks; this was the first article to distinguish differences.

In 1865, the ‘Société Philatelique’ was established in France with the aim of compiling a good catalogue of all stamps and written essays that had been published to date. It was founded in January 1865 in the house of Mr. Bécourt in Paris, during a meeting of the main Parisian collectors. It was noted that Herpin proposed to use the word philately instead of timbrology. It is derived from the Greek language and means exemption from payment. Generally, stamp collecting was seen by the founders as a still largely unexplored science full of challenges.

In the September 1865 issue of ‘Le Timbrophile’ Dr Magnus (pseudonym of Dr. Legrand) apologises that the secretary of the ‘Société Philatelique’ has not yet published the regulations. He writes that the reason for this lies in the fact that too few members were present at the August and September meetings. Shortly thereafter, no more was heard about the club that must have disbanded because of lack of interest.

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