Monday, October 18, 2010

Philip Ferrari de La Renotière - Herzog von Gallièra in Genua


Philip Ferrari de La Renotière, Herzog von Gallièra in Genua, (January 11, 1850 - May 20, 1917) was a legendary stamp collector, assembling probably the most complete worldwide collection that ever existed, or is likely to exist. Amongst his extremely rare stamps were the unique Tre Skilling Yellow of Sweden and the 1856 one-cent "Black on Magenta" of British Guiana.

Ferrary started collecting in his youth, then inherited a great fortune, which he dedicated to the purchase of rare stamps and coins. His collection is believed to be the greatest ever assembled, and it may never be equalled. Amongst his extremely rare stamps were the unique Tre Skilling Yellow of Sweden and the 1856 one-cent "Black on Magenta" of British Guiana. He also owned the only unused copy of the Two Cent Hawaii Missionary of 1851,for which its owner, Gaston Leroux, had been murdered by a fellow collector. Another piece owned by Ferrary was the only known cover featuring both values of the first Mauritius_"Post_Office" stamps, which has been called "the greatest item in all philately".
One-cent "Black on Magenta" of British Guiana, 1856

He purchased many important old collections, including that of Judge Frederick A. Philbrick (1835-1910) for £7,000, Sir Daniel Cooper's for £3,000, W. B. Thornhill's Australians, etc., and was a large buyer in the leading capitals of Europe for a great many years. Stanley Gibbons said his expenditure with that firm alone averaged from £3,000 to £4,000 a year.

He employed Pierre Mahé, a leading Paris stamp dealer, as a consultant or curator to examine and keep order in his collection from 1874 until Mahé died in 1913. Also, he had two secretaries, who were paid large salaries: one to look after the postage stamps and the other the post cards, envelopes, and newspaper wrappers. Ferrary had his own stamp room furnished with numerous fan cabinets.

Although he lived in Paris, Ferrary travelled frequently, meeting with dealers along the way, and often paying them in gold on the spot.He was impulsive in his buying and seemed to be indifferent to price, so dealers and counterfeiters took advantage of him. Exceptionally dangerous forgeries gained the nickname, "Ferrarities".
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