Part 1 – The Social Scene at the Beginning

                      Part I - The Social Scene at the Beginning

© Calvet M. Hahn 2000

How did stamp collecting originally develop and what caused it to grow into one of the world’s major hobbies?  One leading industry spokesman recently claimed:

“In the early days, the appeal of stamps was universally to young people, mostly to boys.  When the first generation of boy collectors grew up…they were uncomfortable continuing a boyish pursuit…They transformed stamp collecting into philately, Greek rooted, full of French phrases, redolent with scholarly trappings…”

Is this really what happened or was the growth of the hobby a logical development of the social conditions of its times?  The first generation that took up the hobby of stamp collecting was part of a drab world where exploration and exotic lands were daily new wonders.  It was an era of general drabness so the small bits of paper that were stamps were colorful and exotic souvenirs of adventure and romance.

How drab was society?  The industrial revolution was in full swing in the 1840s and 1850s, and city after city was filled with industrial smog.  The well-reported London fogs lasted into the 20th century.

In discussion fashion, Oswald Barron F.S.A. noted:

“From 1830 begins a period of singular ugliness.  Tight stays came back again, the skirt swept the pavements, a generation of over-clad matrons seems to have followed a generation of nymphs. The ‘fifties showed even more barbarous devices, and about 1854 came in from France the crinoline, that strange revival of the ancient hoop.  Plaids, checks and bars, bright blues, crude violets and hideous crimsons, were seen in French merinos, Irish poplins and English alpacas.  Women in short jackets, hooped skirts, hideous bonnets and shawls seemed to have banished their youth.  The French empress Eugenie, a leader in European fashion, decreed that white muslin should be the evening mode, and at balls, where the steels and whalebones of the crinoline were impossible, the women swelled their skirts by wearing a dozen or fourteen muslin petticoats at once.  Towards the end of the ‘sixties the crinolines disappeared as suddenly as they came and by 1875 skirts were so tight at the knees that walking upstairs in them was an affair of deliberation.”

Ever since the Regency days of Beau Brummel, black was the color for men.  Bulwer-Lytton in an 1828 work noted that “people must be very distinguished in appearance’ to look well in black.  In the early Victorian era, many men wore long hair, so freely oiled that the ‘anti-macassar’ came in to protect drawing room chair-backs.  English working men went to work in a frayed and greasy morning coat whose cut followed that of the rich Londoner paying a morning call.

It must be remembered that the coal-tar aniline dyes that gave richness to the colors of the ‘gilded age’ were discovered only in 1856. They did not affect the public until a decade or more later.  The Currier & Ives lithographs that became popular in 1835-1840 didn’t move into mass production hand coloring until the 1860s when women colorists earned a penny a print.

In the drab world of the 1840s and 1850s, stamps stood out for their color.  At the same time they represented romance and adventure.  The California gold rush of the late 1840s was followed by one at the far ends of the earth in Australia.  Explorers began to fill in the blanks on continent after continent.

Young readers were absorbing adventure tales ranging from Ellm’s Pirates Own Book (1838) to Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast (1840), Prescott’s History of Mexico (1843), Fremont’s Exploration of the Rockies(1843), Parkman’s Oregon Trail (1849), Perry’s Expedition to Japan (1856), and Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), which was a result of his earlier Journey of a Naturalist (1837-1838) report on the voyage of theBeagle.

Newspapers and journals kept the public attuned to foreign lands with reports of the Opium War in China (1840-1842) and the opening of the treaty ports, the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the opening of Japan in 1854, and the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858.  While the Civil War drowned out foreign new in the United States in the early 1860s, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 closely fit with the news of the opening of the U.S. transcontinental railroad and had a major popular opera (Aida) at its opening.

In literature the public had already developed a taste for the foreign, romantic and exotic by the time stamp collecting came upon the scene offering souvenirs with the same appeals.  The literary movement began a generation earlier with the romantic poets such as Keats, Shelley and Byron, with Coleridge providing a touch of exotica with his Kubla Khan and other popular poems.  Carlyle set a new historical style with his 1837 ‘history by lightning flashes’ French Revolution, romanticizing it.

Contemporaneous with the introduction of adhesives were such literary works appealing to the foreign, romantic and exotic as the following English works. Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome (1842), Tennyson’s romantic Locksley Hall (1842), Robert Browning’s Home Thoughts From Abroad (1845) and his wife’s Sonnets From the Portuguese (1847-1850).  Matthew Arnold’s Sohrab and Restum (1853) was a typical work of the period.

In the United States, Edgar Allan Poe (1808-1849) set new literary traditions by inventing the detective story and creating a tradition of the macabre.  He is considered a seminal influence in the literature of the next century, and he influence one of France’s greatest writers, Baudelaire, who published his Fleurs de Mal in 1857.  Verlaine’s Poemes saturniens of 1855 were less affected, but there was a connection with Rimbaud whose Illuminations came out in 1872.  One of the world’s great exotic works, Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights, was begun in 1852, although not published for many years.

In addition to its ties to exploration, adventure and exotica, stamp collecting had strong roots in religious experience as well.  Since gaining independence, America had been swept by waves of religious revivalism to the extent that certain sections of upstate New York were known as the ‘burnt-out district.’  An important element of the revivalism of the 1830s and later was missionary activity, with missionary letters from exotic lands read from the pulpits of churches throughout the land.  These first-hand accounts from exotic lands complemented the literary tradition and supplemented the reports of explorers.

Although French Catholic missions to the South Seas began in 1817 and the Catholic Institute for the Propagation of the gospel was formed at Lyons in 1822, the latter was spending about a million dollars annually on missions by 1852.  The French Sacred Heart missionary activity began in 1855 while the French Society of White Fathers began to focus on Africa in 1868.

Hawaiian missionary activity began in the 1820s; and a direct descendant of one of the first missionaries, Thurston Twigg-Smith, formed the greatest holding of Hawaiian philately known, the Honolulu Advertiser collection. Another well-known philatelic personality, the well-known dealer and auction agent, the late Ezra Cole, was a descendant of one of the most successful Hawaiian missionaries, Titus Coan, who converted more than 20,000 Hawaiians between 1836 and 1839.  In fact, the first Hawaiian stamps are known as ‘missionaries’ because of their predominant use on letters of the early missionaries back to the United States.

The Baptists founded a mission society for India in 1833.  By 1851 there were some 9,100 Protestant converts, with the number doubling each decade until there were 417,000 by 1881.  In 1858 the Christian Vernacular Education Society for India was founded, while in 1866 the Delhi Medical Missionary Society was founded.  In 1867 the Friends (Quakers) founded a Mission Society for Syria and Palestine.

In 1840 the American Board for Foreign Missions was formed at Williams College.  In 1844 the South American missionary Society was formed.  American missionaries were in Burma as early as the 1820s and an American missionary, Dr. Price, brought the Burmese terms to the British forces that resulted in the end of the first Burmese War.  In Thailand, American missionaries such as Bradley were there in the 1830s and wrote back vivid letters about the country.

On another continent it was in 1846 that the principal Methodist African and Colonial Mission Society was organized, while the Central African Mission Society began in 1858, with the Central African Mission of English Universities following in 1860.  A major wave of African missions followed the death of Livingston in 1872.  At the close of the Civil War, Americans, particularly ex-Confederates, became deeply involved in a mapping project for Africa.

The China School Mission Society was created in 1862, while in 1884 the Cambridge University Seven formed a China Mission Society.  In 1886 the American Students Volunteer Mission movement began, continuing the long tradition of mission activity in the United States.

Public interest in the Far East was not so much inspired by missionary reports as t was by business opportunities.  The Empress of China was the first American flag vessel to reach China, arriving at Macao on August 23, 1784, six months out of New York.  Its supercargo, Major Samuel Shaw of Boston, was named the honorary American consul at Canton when he returned there in 1786.  Except for the British, American flag vessels were outstripping everyone in the China trade, but they ran into a problem of paying for goods.  The British used silver, but Americans countered with furs from Oregon.  Later they was the ice trade commemorated philatelically by the ‘ice house 1869 cover.’  Between 1836 and 1850, the Boston ice trade was extended to every large port in South America and the Far East.  When Edward Everett (the other Gettysburg speaker) met the Persian ambassador in London, the ambassador’s first words were of appreciation of Boston ice in Persia.  The trade prospered for a full generation after the Civil War.  Additionally, the American ‘China clippers’ dominated the seas at the time.

Correspondence from major American trading firms not only represented the amassing of New England fortunes, but also represented a source of stamps for collectors.  The Heard correspondence is typical of this interest, with Mr. Heard instructing his agents to use adhesive stamps wherever possible once they became available.  The correspondence runs from the War of 1812 into the post-Civil War era.  Another significant American correspondence was that of the Boston food purveyor S. S. Peirce.  This firm traded around the world for its products, and its letters begin in the 1830s and run into the 20th century, with both stamped and stampless covers reaching the philatelic market.

As has been shown, stamp collecting fit right into the social patterns of society at the time when stamps were first issued.  They became a collectable souvenir of the foreign, romantic and exotic elements that fascinated the min-19th century world.  The major difference between numismatics and philately and the other collecting habits of the period is the fact that both stamps and coins developed an institutional framework and the other hobbies didn’t

Figure 1 Reproduction of the first page of the Berger-Levrault ‘catalog’ of 9/1861.


A New Profession

Beginning in the 1850s, there was enough interest in stamps that various dealers in antiquities, curios or coins saw an opportunity to make a living from catering to stamp collectors. Among the earliest stamp dealers were: Brussels antiquities dealer J. B. Moens (1852), who had become a collector at 15 and a dealer at 19; William S. Lincoln of London, who became a schoolboy collector/dealer (1853); Stanley Gibbons of Plymouth (1856), who as a 16-year-old schoolboy occupied a portion of his father’s pharmacy shop where he could offer stamps; Berger-Levrault of Strasburg, France (1858), a dealer known for having the world’s first price list or catalog; and George Hussey and James Brennan, who started as the first American dealers.  The Bank of New York employed Hussey from 1836 to 1870.  He introduced a ‘Special Message Post’ in 1854 for carrying notices and employed Brennan as one of his runners. In 1859 both became stamp dealers, Hussey being 47 at the time.  By the early 1860s this handful of pioneer dealers was joined by dozens more.

Effective selling normally requires price lists or catalogs for those who cannot come to one’s store or selling-corner.  The first stamp list was created by Berger-Levrault, dated September 1, 1861.  Other 1861 catalogs or lists quickly followed and multiple editions of a number are known.  Among the catalogs were ones published by numismatist LaPlante, part-time dealer and postal employee Potiquet, and Parisian bookseller Baillieu whose family owned a bindery.  All the 1861 catalogs were-French produced.  On the opposite page is a reproduction of the first page of the very first stamp catalog, the September 1861 Berger-Levault price list reproduced by courtesy of the British Museum.  A number of the other early catalogs are illustrated in my series “The Incunabula of Philatelic Literature on Locals and Carriers’ in the Collectors Club Philatelist issues of May, July and September 1993, pages 183-7, 223-226,295-302 for those who wish to see what they looked like.

In 1862 the Belgian stamp dealer and antiquarian Moens put out a catalog with supplemental illustration, while in England artist-collector Frederick Booty also did so with his Stamp Collector’s Guide.  The same year stamp dealer Mount Brown published a regular catalog using the collection of the Rev. Stainforth as a basis.  One of the earliest stamp collectors, Dr. John E. Gray, a zoologist associated with the British Museum, put out a popular collector-inspire catalog.  Mount Brown’s catalog was pirated and published, with some additional material in America by Philadelphia book, coin and stamp dealer John W. Kline in 1862, using the name A. C. Kline.  An 1862 French catalog also came from Valette, an employee of the French Ministry of the Interior and owner of a German newspaper.  This older collector was the first to put forth a theory of pricing as well as the first to discuss cleaning stamps.  Its author was executed during the Paris Commune of 1871.

A numbIntertwining Part 1 Image 1er of the young 1850s collectors became dealers and probably drew into the hobby contemporaries of their own age.  The image on the left shows eighteen of them.  Except for Moens and Kline, none were old enough to be a collector in 1840 and neither Moens or Kline became a stamp collector until the 1850s.  Going down the list number 1 is Jean Baptiste Moens of Brussels (1833-1908), who became a dealer in 1852, fascinated by the stamps on his business mail.  Along with his writer brother-in-law, Louis Hanciau (1845-1924), Moens published one of the great classic philatelic journals, Le Timbre-Poste, beginning in February 1863.  Number 2 is Justin Lallier, (1823-1873), a Parisian dealer, noted French archeologist and creator of one of the most important early albums in 1862  .It was published in French in August 1862 with spaces for 1,200 stamps and later the same year in English as the first English language album. The first American album was published in December 1862 by the Appleton firm. Lallier’s albums, which lasted through some fifteen editions, were barely preceded by a German album printed by bookseller G. Wuttig of Leipzig.  The Wuttig album is still with us today, for Gustav Bauschke who purchased Wuttig’s copyrights in 1864 named his new acquisition the Schaubek album later in the 1870s, as an anagram of his own name.  Wuttig’s album was preceded by a few months by Ludwig of Leipzig’s German language album.

Figure #3 is Alfred Smith (1837-1888) while #4 is his brother, H. Stafford Smith (1843-1903).  These two men formed one of the early English dealerships and published the well-respected Stamp Collectors Magazine, the best of the early English-language journals.  Number 5 is E. Stanley Gibbons (1840-1913), who became a dealer at sixteen in 1856 and was the founder of the Gibbons catalog and auction house.  Number 6 is E. Loines Pemberton (1844-1878), an important early English dealer and probably the first stamp expert.  Not shown is William S Lincoln (1844-1922) who became a dealer in 1853 at age nine.

Among the early American dealers is number 7, S. Allan Taylor (1838-1913), one of the first serious students of locals as well as a famed forger, who published the first philatelic journal in America.

Number 8 is W. Young; partner in the Liverpool firm of Young and Stockall in the early 1860s, which firm published perhaps the best-known English catalog of the 1860s, although little known today.  The firm, founded in 1858, claimed to be the first established in England, a claim disputed by Stanley Gibbons.  Number 9 is J. M. Chute (1846-1892+).  He was an early dealer and forger-member of the ‘Boston gang’ as well as the first elected editor of the American Philatelist in 1886, although he did not serve in that post.  Number 10 is J. Walter Scott 1845-1919) perhaps the best known of the early U.S. dealers and father of the Scott catalog.  Number 11 is Charles A. Lyford, a member of the ‘Boston gang’ of forgers but also editor of the New England Journal of Philately.

Number 12 is Ferdinand Marie Trifet (1848-1899). He was one of the significant early Boston dealers beginning in 1860 as a collector and emerging as a full time dealer in 1866, as well as a short-term member of the ‘Boston gang’.  He arranged the 1876 Centennial Exposition of U. S. stamps.  Number 13 is John W. Kline (1824-1892) of Philadelphia. An adult collector-type before stamps came on the scene, Kline was a major coin collector, selling his holding in 1855 in the largest U.S. coin sale to that date.  He published the listing of early U.S. locals in the 1862 A. C. Kline Stamp Collectors’ Manual and may have been an important early forger.  It is believed he may have been the source for items attributed to Hussey, but not found in the Woods memorandum book of Hussey productions.  Herbert Trenchard published a Kline biography in the January 1993Philatelic Literature Review.  Number 14 is William P. Brown, who lived on until late in 1929 or 1930, and was often touted as the first American stamp dealer. His ‘Philatelic Reminiscences’ of 1892 were reprinted in the September 1987 Collectors Club Philatelist.  He exhibited the Charles Coster locals collection in August 1871.  Number 15 is Leonidas W. Durbin (1849-1887) of Philadelphia, 16 is J. A. Nutter (1849-1910) the first collector of U. S. locals whose teenage collection inspired S. Allan Taylor in his first studies of U. S. locals in the 1850s; Nutter quit stamp dealing in 1867. 17 is G. Steward, Jr., an early Canadian dealer while 18 is E. A. Craig, another little known pioneer dealer.

 French Supremacy

At the time stamp collecting was institutionalized, Frenchmen dominated the intellectual world.  A wave of liberalism swept over Europe in 1848, set off by the abdication of the French “citizen-king’ Louis Phillipe in February 1848.  It was immediately met by a conservative reaction in country after country.  In France a combination of Catholics, monarchists and militarists elected Louis Napoleon Bonaparte as ‘prince-president’ of the Republic.  Although he had failed twice before, he created a coup-d’état and had himself crowned Napoleon III on December 2, 1851.  His aim for the next two decades was to restore France to its past Napoleonic glory as a new Second Empire.

France enjoyed an economic boom during the 1850s and at the time of the 1855 Paris international art exposition was generally conceded to be the world center of art, fashion and diplomacy.  Beginning in 1853, Napoleon III unleashed Baron Haussmann on Paris to redesign the city, creating the broad boulevards and spacious gardens for which the city of light has ever since been famous.

In addition to the previously mentioned Baudelaire and Rimbaud, there were a number of other writers who were creating a French literary renaissance.  In 1847 Mérimée authored Carmen, a masterpiece that became Bizet’s opera in 1875.  The following year, 1848, Dumas fils produced the first novel of passion and contemporary mores, Dame aux Camelias. It was translated to the stage by the younger Dumas and in 1853 was transformed into Verdi’s opera La Traviata.  Flaubert introduced a new literary school of realistic novels with his Madame Bovary (1857).  Regarded both for its realism and the precision of style used by the author, it had a tremendous impact throughout Europe.  A similar result followed the publication of Hugo’s Les Miserables in 1862.  Swinburne termed it a great epic and its author ‘the greatest man born since the death of Shakespeare.’  Zola, whose serious writings were published after France surrendered at Sedan, created a series of novels featuring a ‘scientific study of heredity.’  These Zola novels were less literary masterworks than reflections of the concept of extending scientific observations into art, which was a feature of the era.

The Second Empire’s French artists were heavily involved in naturalism and realism.  While the French impressionist painters were beginning their studies during this period, they did not burst upon the world scene until after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, at which point they began to dazzle and dominate European art until well into the 20th century.

One leading group of Second Empire artists was that of the Barbizon landscape painters including Corot, Millet and Daubigny.  The ‘realists’ included Courbet, whose Stonebreaker was pained in 1852.  Also in this school were Rosa Bonheur’s horse paintings, which were prizewinners at the famous 1855 Paris international art exhibition.  A leading realist of the period was Gerôme, whose Death of Caesar was painted in 1859.  He fought the impressionists in a series of bitter battles.  It is also possible to put Moreau’s mythical 1862 Oedipus and the Sphinx, exhibited in 1864, into the realist school. In sculpture Carpeaux’s realistic nude Dancingwas selected for Napoleon III’s new Paris Opera House and was a scandalous success.

The realist school involved not only painting and sculpture; it also brought in architecture, lithography and photography.  Daumier’s Third-class Carriage of 1862 shows how the realist concept was translated into social commentary through painting by a skilled lithographer.  It is a presage of the lithographic posters Toulouse-Lautrec was to produce in the impressionist period.

Although lithography had been invented in the previous century and used earlier for both art and postage stamps, it was not until grained paper lithography was invented in 1868 that lithographic art took off as an important medium.  In the late 1850s lithography was used to create the first illustrated colored posters.  Among the first to achieve international fame were those of Jules Chetet in 1866.  They were so popular they were stolen right after being put up, and new laws on posting bills were needed.  It was only later they were purchased directly from the printer or artist.

In philately the first lithographic issues were the Zurich locals of 1853.  In the United States the Confederate issues were the first produced, somewhat before the French Bordeaux issues of 1870.  De La Rue used the lithographic process and failure to use it eventually cost Perkins, Bacon its stamp contracts.  De La Rue first produced lithographic revenues on April 14, 1853, and began going after postage contracts in 1855.

In the same vein early photography was dominated by the French from Dauguerre’s improved process of 1844 through Niepce’s albumen process, Gaudin’s dry-plate collodion process (1854), and Becquerel’s colored daguerreotypes of 1848 to Lippman and Lumière’s work.  In Second Empire photography Negre’s street scenes and Nadiers’ 1858 photos ware well regarded even today.  In philately most stamps are produced by photographic processes today, while some of our earliest stamp illustrations were photographic carte de visites made around 1862 in Paris.

The realist or naturalist art movement spread around the world.  In England William Morris and Burne-Jones were working in this mode both in art and architecture.  Whistler’s Sixteen Sketches etchings, which included his 1869 Black Lion Wharf, show the effect of realist draughtsmanship.  Repin, who had a traveling scholarship in France in 1869, brought realism back to Russia and became one of its more famous painters.

In America one of the leaders of the naturalistic Hudson River school was Frederick Church, (Scott 3236n) who in 1853-1857 traveled to South America where he painted a series of realist landscapes such as his 1859Heart of the Andes.  It had the same combination of exotic locale and realism that endeared postage stamps to the collecting public.  Kennsett chose realist painting styles for his 1857 commission to decorate the U.S. Capitol, some of which ended up as stamp designs.  Winslow Homer, who began exhibiting in 1863, is as well known for his realistic seascapes as for his genre paintings. (Scott 1207 and 3336j)

The history of collecting in general up to the 1870s can be found summarized fairly well in Princeton Professor Thomas Kaufmann’s analysis of the Habsburg collections in his chapter contribution to Cultures of Collecting, published by Harvard in 1994.  Kaufmann noted that from about 1550 to about 1750 the collection of ‘curiosities’ dominated all collecting.  It was a period in which the nobility and the wealthy who emulated them assembled hoards of rare, exotic things into Schatzkammers or treasuries.  Most of the great libraries and art museums in the West are descendants of these treasuries.  Harvard President Neil Rudenstine made a similar point in a speech of October 25, 1997 comparing the last half of the 19th century to a second age of discovery.

The Schatzkammers gradually evolved into collections of the products of human artifice, called Kunstkammers, around the time of the French encylopaedists.  These Kunstkammers, into which stamp collections fit neatly, were designed to provide the raw material and organizational basis for scientific investigation.  A new basic collecting objective in this period became education and study.  For example, the Habsburgs set up their Albertina museum holding of graphic studies as a separate entity in 1800.

Figure 3 Stamp display at left in Kunstkammer exhibit at Antwerp in 1887.

Following the revolutionary upheavals that swept Europe in 1848, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph revised the Habsburg collections, turning over all but his personal Schatzkammer (which remained in the Hofburg) into a series of public museums.  This shift took place between 1857 and 1891, the same era in which stamp collecting developed as a major hobby.  The directors and curators of the various Habsburg collections were professors of the history of art, and the collections began to serve as part of academic instruction.  Beginning in 1882, yearly publications called Jahrbuchs were made of the findings, and a link was forged between the collecting, teach and publication of knowledge.

For generations the family most associated with the postal system was that of Thurn and Taxis.  It had handled mail from 1290 to 1867 and held a monopoly throughout the Holy Roman Empire from 1505 onward. Prince Johannes von Thurn and Taxis noted, “I don’t collect art.  I surround myself with ancestry.”  This meant his family Kunstkammer was devoted to the posts, early postal artifacts and the Thurn and Taxis adhesives.  It was the first postal museum.

It is quite likely that a number of the first two generations of stamp collectors saw themselves as collecting along the same lines as major art collectors, their holdings were in the Kunstkammer tradition with a focus upon miniatures of intaglio engraving and lithography rather than large wall paintings or sculpture.

As befit the citizens of the intellectual capital of the world, French philatelists dominated the hobby when it was becoming organized during the Second Empire.  The early 1861 catalogs were written in French, as was a good deal of the early literature.  Georges Herpin coined the word ‘philately’ in 1864 to describe the new formal scientific approach to stamp collecting as opposed to the earlier accumulation of exotic souvenirs or artifacts.  It wasn’t until the 1870 debacle of Sedan that the demoralized French collectors lost their lead.

Dr. Jacques LeGrand (an early collector, born 1820, who entered philately through his nine-year old son in 1862) published a key article on watermarks in 1866 under the pseudonym of Dr. Magnus.  However, this article was scooped by Mme. Nicholas, an early Parisian dealer, whose 1865 catalog, compiled by Ernest Regard, was the first to list watermark varieties.  LeGrand, however, did not have to share the honor of proposing the first perforation gauge, which he canned an odontometre, in October 1866.  From this point on new stamp varieties included perforation varieties.  Another aid to collecting of the period was the stamp hinge, which Maury proposed in his Timbres-Poste Album of 1868.  The idea, however, was in the air, for an advertisement mentions hinges in the May 1864 Stamp Collector’s Magazine, published in Great Britain.

One of the early advanced collectors, Adelaide Lucy Fenton, commented about the new scientific approach to stamps that the French were promoting, noting in the September 1866 issue of Stamp Collector’s Magazinethat such studies of stamp peculiarities expanded ‘their history, their date, their formation, and their usual terms of existence.’

The idea of getting together to study was in the air of the French Second Empire.  The Congrés des Sociétés Savantes was first convoked at the Sorbonne in 1861.  The French Société d’Horticulture et de Botanique was founded in 1864.  The first meeting of the Congres Medical International was held in Paris in 1867, while the Ophtalmologie Congres took place at Brussels in 1857.  The French Société Industrielle began at Amiens in 1861, while the Congrés International pour les Progrès des Sciences Géographique first met in 1871.  The first International Astronomical Congress met at Heidelberg in 1863.  In England, the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain began in 1866, the Geologists’ Association was formed in 1858, and the Institute of Electrical Engineers dates from 187l.  In the United States the National Academy of Sciences was incorporated in 1863, while the American Entomological Society began to publish its proceedings in 1861.

In philately the Société Philatelique de Paris was formed in 1865, but lasted only two years while the Philatelic Society of London (now known as the Royal and the oldest surviving institution) began operations on April 10, 1869.  The first international Philatelic Exhibition took place at Dresden, Germany in 1870, beginning a stream of internationals that has lasted to the present.


** “In the latter part of the 19th century, another age of discovery—a sort of Magellan-like efflorescence—had begun.  There was a more or less unstoppable urge on the part of compulsive tycoons, middle-class classicists, pecunious as well as impecunious botanists, insatiable bibliophiles, and indomitable entomologists and archaeologists to travel, search, unearth, possess, organize, display, study, and, in effect, conquer everything in sight by amassing collections of every conceivable kind …At Harvard, the Peabody Museum, the art museum, the Warren Museum at the Medical School, the new observatory, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology were a few of the tangible structures created by this powerful surge of sustained inquiry and acquisition…”

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