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Philatelic Collections: The Tapling Collection

Our Foundation Collection was formed by the wealthy Victorian businessman, Thomas Keay Tapling, MP, it was bequeathed on his early death at the age of 35 in 1891. The Collection was arranged in the style Tapling favoured, by the Philatelic Collections first curator, Edward (later Sir Edward) Bacon, (probably the greatest philatelist of all time), between 1892 and 1899. The Collection is unrivalled in that it is the only major one, formed during the nineteenth century, which is still intact and contains almost all issues of postage stamps and postal stationery, as well as most of the rarities issued up to 1890.

Thomas Keay Tapling

Thomas Keay Tapling

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It took on immediate significance, as a prime source for the early standard handbooks published by the Philatelic Society London (from 1906 The Royal Philatelic Society London). It has thus influenced the organisation of the standard catalogues and in turn the methodology of subsequent philatelists.

Antigua: 1863-67 1d. vermilion strip of three, the first and second stamp imperforate vertically, the third stamp imperforate vertically at left, used.

Antigua: 1863-67 1d. vermilion strip of three, the first and second stamp imperforate vertically, the third stamp imperforate vertically at left, used.

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Arranged on 4,500 sheets, it was first put on full exhibition in 1903, in display cabinets with 1138 vertical slides, which kept the sheets in the dark when not being viewed. This system of display was developed by the Philatelic Collections and subsequently copied by most of the world’s Postal Museums.

Austria - Newspaper Stamp: 1851-56 Mercury type II 6 kreuzer red unused.

Austria - Newspaper Stamp: 1851-56 Mercury type II 6 kreuzer red unused.

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The Tapling Collection is strong in unused examples, with excellent ranges of shades and printings and includes numerous multiples, essays and proofs as well as some covers. It maintains its remarkable original colours, because of its careful exhibition and, as with all of the philatelic collections, is subject to a complete ban on harmful photocopying.

Canada: 1851 Queen Victoria 12d. black unused marginal pair, one of five pairs known.

Canada: 1851 Queen Victoria 12d. black unused marginal pair, one of five pairs known.

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The rarities include: Gold Coast: 1883 (May) 1d on 4d magenta, unique; Great Britain: 1858-79 1d red, plate 77, one of a few known; Hawaii: 1851-52 2 cents to 13 cents (both types), the "Missionaries": India: 1854 4 annas blue and pale red, error head inverted, two copies used on cover, unique; Mauritius: 1847 1d red used on cover and 2d blue, the "Post Office" issue; Spain: 1851 2 reales, error of colour, one of three known; Switzerland: Zurich: 1843 4 rappen, the unique unsevered horizontal strip of five, Uruguay: 1858 120 centavos blue and 180 centavos green, in tête beche pairs, two of five known: Western Australian: 1854-55 4d blue, error frame inverted.

Ceylon: 1857-59 4d. dull rose, a rejoined strip of four used.

Ceylon: 1857-59 4d. dull rose, a rejoined strip of four used.

An extensive collection of Postal Stationery, including the E.D. Bacon Collection of Post Cards, may be seen by appointment.

Great Britain: 1840 1d. black plate XI block of six unused.

Great Britain: 1840 1d. black plate XI block of six unused.

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The Collection remains a major source for research and pleasure and countries M to Z are on Exhibition, the remainder are available to researchers by appointment.

Hawaii: 1851-52 'Missionary' 2c blue used. For more images of Hawaiian Missionaries from the Tapling Collection go to Philatelic Rarities.

Hawaii: 1851-52 'Missionary' 2c blue used. For more images of Hawaiian Missionaries from the Tapling Collection go to Philatelic Rarities.

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India: 1854-55 4 annas blue and red, two examples with error 'head inverted' (they were applied to this envelope upside-down) used on letter to Venice. Unique thus.

India: 1854-55 4 annas blue and red, two examples with error 'head inverted' (they were applied to this envelope upside-down) used on letter to Venice. Unique thus.

Mauritius: 1847 'Post Office' 2d. unused. One of four known.

Mauritius: 1847 'Post Office' 2d. unused. One of four known.

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New South Wales: 1850 (August) 'Sydney View' plate I re-engraved, 1d. carmine on bluish paper, a unique unused block of nine.

New South Wales: 1850 (August) 'Sydney View' plate I re-engraved, 1d. carmine on bluish paper, a unique unused block of nine.

Sarawak: 1887 envelope with combination franking of Sarawak 1871 3c. used together with Straits Settlements 1883-91 2c. rose, and British Post Office in Siam 1882-85 4c. brown (2), addressed to France

Sarawak: 1887 envelope with combination franking of Sarawak 1871 3c. used together with Straits Settlements 1883-91 2c. rose, and British Post Office in Siam 1882-85 4c. brown (2), addressed to France and subsequently redirected to Jersey.

Spain: 1851 2 reales blue error of colour used (cancellation lightened by chemical means). One of three known examples.

Spain: 1851 2 reales blue error of colour used (cancellation lightened by chemical means). One of three known examples.

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Switzerland: 1854 Zurich 4 rappen, a unique unsevered strip of five unused.

Switzerland: 1854 Zurich 4 rappen, a unique unsevered strip of five unused.

Australian States - Tasmania: 1853 'Courier' 1d. blue, a unique block of four unused

Australian States - Tasmania: 1853 'Courier' 1d. blue, a unique block of four unused

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Victoria: 1852 'Half Length' 2d. engraved die-proof in blue-black, the only recorded first state proof.

Victoria: 1852 'Half Length' 2d. engraved die-proof in blue-black, the only recorded first state proof.

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Western Australia: 1854 4d. blue error frame inverted, used. One of fourteen recorded examples.

Western Australia: 1854 4d. blue error frame inverted, used. One of fourteen recorded examples.

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Contact

Philatelic Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7635
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7780

E-mail: philatelic@bl.uk