Philately, the collection and examination of postage stamps, was once the king of hobbies. With the decline in use of the postal service for day-to-day business and personal communication in favor of email and other electronic messaging, the interest in philately has waned somewhat. In recent years, however, the interest has received a boost with a lot of philatelic trade taking place on Ebay and other online channels. With this resurgence, it is interesting to note the many famous personalities who were and many who continue to be avid philatelists.
Among the most famous are several personages from the British Royal family. It is believed that King George V had the largest collection of stamps in the world. He was introduced to Philately by his uncle Prince Albert. Upon the death of Kind George, Queen Elizabeth II inherited it. This extensive collection which includes hundreds of Albums is called the “Royal Philatelic Collection” and is stored in a room dedicated to it at St. James Palace.
Another famous royal philatelist was Prince Ranier III, who established The Museum of Stamps and Currencies which houses his own awe inspiring collection.
Former French President Nikolas Sarkosy is a Philatelist. He sponsors the Philatélique Club de l’Élysée.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an avid collector. He collected published stamps as well as die proofs. His collection of nearly 1 million stamps was of much delight to him all throughout his life but was of great comfort especially after he contracted polio as a child and lost his mobility. He was inducted into the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame in 1945. He said “Stamp collecting dispels boredom, enlarges our vision, broadens our knowledge, makes us better citizens and, in innumerable ways, enriches our lives.”
John Lennon of the Beatles, who collected stamps as a child, was introduced to Philately by his cousin Stanley Parkes. His collection is now on display at The Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen also collected stamps. After his death, his father sold the collection and donated the proceeds to The Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS charity set up by the former members of Queen.
Other famous people who collected stamps include novelist Ayn Rand, chess champion Anatoly Karpov, playwright George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, actor James Earl Jones, actor Patric Dempsey, tennis champion Maria Sharapova, investor Warren Buffett are all members of the pantheon of famous philatelists.