Home History History of Stamp Collecting Part 35 – England in 1866

History of Stamp Collecting Part 35 – England in 1866


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 35, England in 1866.

One of the most important philatelic events in England in 1866 was the appearance of a new magazine, “The Philatelist” on December 1, 1866. From 1862 to 1866, no fewer than 24 philatelic magazines had appeared in England. Yet this new magazine had a special feature article stating that the brothers Henry and Alfred Smith from Bath had decided to break up after years of working together on the “Stamp Collector’s Magazine”. The article did not state why.

The store he had with his brother in Bath was located at number 13 George Street. (click here: bath_shop for a current view). There is a plaque on the right-hand side of the building, see the enlargement below.

Henry Stafford Smith decided to leave Bath and settle in Brighton. There he began publishing “The Philatelist”. He had, of course, already gained considerable experience and moreover knew none other than Dr. Viner (see History of Stamp Collecting Part 14) who was recruited as an editor.

Charles William Viner

Furthermore, Adelaide Lucy Fenton, an avid philatelist, was an important employee. Among other duties, she wrote articles under the pseudonyms “Fentonia” and “Camoëns”. Adelaide Fenton was the first major female collector and philatelic author. She studied stamps a lot and owned an extensive library of philately-related material.

Her library was auctioned by Ventom, Bull and Cooper in 1900, a Mr. Hadlow representing the London Philatelic Society making the winning bid of 32 Pounds. Among the items was a complete set of ‘The Stamp Collector’s Magazine’ with notes from Miss Fenton, letters from Mount Brown (for more see Part 10), Edward Pemberton (see Part 13) and others. This was a lot of money at the time, but Miss Fenton and Pemberton were already legendary figures in the world of philately.

The “Philatelist” magazine also gave away free stamps and imitations, which were also included in the sale. The magazine existed until 1876, after which it was converted to the “Philatelic Quarterly”

Henry Stafford Smith’s business flourished in Brighton, but in the end it was taken over by Stanley Gibbons. Henry died on February 23, 1903.

Another important trend in 1866 was the decrease in the craze for collecting essays. Such a torrent of essays had entered the market that many collectors gave up as they could not tell the forest from the trees. Only a small number persisted, so that the number of essays issued fell sharply in the following years.

Dutch dealers also appeared in The Philatelst’s advertisements. Among others, Roodhuyzen from Amsterdam, Dressel from Amsterdam, de Reus from Haarlem and George Satori in Rotterdam. Apparently even then places with a good stamp trade! Peculiarly, in addition to stamps they also offered cigars and sticks of vanilla!

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