Ormond Hill Requests for Favours

Christopher Harman RDP Hon FRPSL on behalf of the Expert Committee in his Plate 77 article in the July-August issue of the London Philatelist made this statement;

“It has been suggested by Mr Najjar that these stamps might have been created on purpose in order to create a philatelic rarity – not a theory that holds much water considering that the hobby of stamp collecting had only started in earnest in about 1862 and was still being pursued in a very simplified form. Not a thing, also, that a security printer would be doing.”

My open-minded view that the ‘possibility’ that ‘Plate 77’ stamps were made for collectors is one that can not be dismissed, it certainly could have happened.

Visible evidence clearly demonstrates that the 7s differ in shape and position and that there is irregular Border lattice-work between the accepted stamps. It is therefore very possible that these stamps may well not have originated from Plate 77. A philatelic objective may be one reason for their existence.

As for the statement “stamp collecting had only started in earnest in about 1862 and was still being pursued in a very simplified form”

Serious stamp collecting was certainly a practiced hobby by the following eminent collectors as early as 1859. Others no doubt existed.

i- William Hughes-Hughes, a founder member of the Royal Philatelic Society London was reported to become a collector around 1859 and ceased in 1874. He had a number of great world rarities including an ‘unused’ Plate 77 stamp. He stated in his interview with Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal in January 1896 that his whole collection had cost him £69 as most of his stamps were acquired “through influential connections”. Was Ormond Hill that influential connection?

ii- William Edmund Image began collecting in 1859 and built a strong collection which he sold to Thomas Tapling.

iii- William Westoby began collecting stamps in 1861 or 1862.

iv- Thomas Tapling, a foremost collector of his time, started collecting in 1865. He also had an ‘unused’ plate 77 stamp.

v- A paper titled ‘Great Britain: Plate numbers 71–225 on Cover’, which I published in The Great Britain Journal, 48/4 (2010) pp.84–86 very clearly demonstrates that the plate numbers on the 1864 issue were collected as early as April 1865. It is very possible that earlier evidence exists.

 

As for the statement “Not a thing, also, that a security printer would be doing.”

Ormond Hill, as early as 1861, twenty one years after the first postage stamp was printed, made the following irregular requests from Perkins Bacon as outlined in Percy De Worms work “Beginning of the End” which included the following requests which surely form clear evidence that serious stamp collecting was being practiced at that time:

a- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 18/4/1861:

“Two or three of my friends who are collectors of Postage Stamps have asked me to procure for them specimens of new or uncommon stamps whenever I have it in my power”

To which J B Bacon replied on the 24/4/1861:

“..in reply I beg to state that I shall have much pleasure in complying with your request.”

Request ‘a‘ asks for ‘uncommon’ stamps which clearly implies that collectors at that time understood their interest and value factor. And equally clearly, Perkins Bacon were ready to oblige!!

 

b- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 24/4/1861:

“I do not wish to give you the trouble of printing specially for me on any acct.”

Request ‘b‘  is of great interest in that, did it imply that if Ormond Hill desired it, Perkins Bacon would have printed stamps especially for him?

 

c- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 1/11/1861:

“I desired specimens for an Official collection and entirely for an official purpose..”

 

This evidence does point to the fact that the possibility of these stamps being made to order does exist and as such can not be completely dismissed.  It certainly could have happened.

The serious British collectors who would have liked a Plate 77 stamp in their collection obviously did exist at that time.