Stamps are renowned for featuring the great and the good. But history tells us that a fair number of those self-same great and good have doubled up as collectors.
“Beatling” through youth
Take John Lennon as an example. Before he found fame and fortune as a Beatle, like many a child in the Fifties he spent his youth gathering a whole host of stamps from far-off countries which, at that point, he had no idea he’d visit as a member of the most revered rock ‘n’ roll outfit ever to walk the earth.
Perhaps the major difference between Lennon and most other collectors was that he would readily defile some of the stamps in his ownership, drawing beards and moustaches on significant figures from down the years – he was a somewhat artistic individual after all.
Moving on to music very much of the Seventies and Eighties, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury was also a childhood stamp collector. His father had an interest in philately and Freddie indulged in collecting between the ages of nine and twelve before music became the main focus of his attention. Many of Freddie’s stamps are from his family’s native Zanzibar.
From comedy to sport
Between writing and performing in some of cinema’s most remarkable silent films, Charlie Chaplin was also a famed stamp lover. Later in life, his image would adorn stamps across the globe in countries where his comedy was so loved.
Politicians also get in on the act. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been a collector since his youth. How delighted he must have been when, in 2004, he received a series of stamps commemorating the Entente Cordiale, handed to him by the Queen during a stay at Windsor Castle.In sport, Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova collected stamps when she was a child. Whether she shrieked and wailed every time she put one in her album is unknown.
Most famous of them all
Of course, perhaps the most notable of all famed collectors are those who have appeared on more stamps than perhaps anybody else – the royals.
The Royal Philatelic Collection is one of the most extensive in the world, dating back to Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred developing an interest in the mid-late 19th century. The collection now lies in the hands of the Queen, although whether she can ever be found licking a hinge and sticking the latest issue from the Royal Mail in a sizeable album is open to question.