Notes from the Past

Philipp Arnold de la Renoitière von Ferrary
Famous Philatelists Series

Ferrary was the son of a wealthy widow, the Duchess de Galliera, who owned much of the Italian city of Genoa.  Ferrary was born in 1848 (some sources claim it was 1858) and made his home in Paris.  On the death of his mother, he became the adopted son of Emanual El Renoitière on Kriegsfeld, an officer in the Austrian army who was rumored to be his father, and assumed the officer's name as part of his own.

Wealthy as one could be only in those days of untaxed money, Ferrary spent enormous sums on the purchase of rare stamps, covers, and entire collections.  His accumulation was large enough to occupy a suite of three rooms in his paris home.  Though he seems to have been an accumulator rather than a philatelic student, the world of philately owes him a debt of gratitude.  If he had not been such a hoarier of of full sheets and large multiples of rare stamps it is likely that they would not have survived intact to provide later philatelic students with research material.

Earnest A. Kehr (The Romance of Stamp Collecting) tells how every Monday morning Ferrary's treasurer filled a series of spikes in the anteroom of the philatelic suite with 50-, 100-, 500-, and 1000- franc notes to a total of 50,000 francs ($10,000) for the week's incidental purchases!  For larger purchases Ferrary would write a check.

Ferrary was in the Netherlands when World War I broke out and because of his Austrian descent went to Vienna, but he spent the next few years in Switzerland, where he died before the War's end.

Ferrary had willed his collection to the Imperial Postal Museum in Berlin.  This gave the French the opportunity to seize the collection for sale, with the proceeds being applied to German war reparations.  The total of 14 sales held form 1922 to 1925 is reported to have been more than $1.5 million, in those days an extraordinary amount for a philatelic sale.  Many rarities came to light that had not been known to exist.  It was at the Ferrary sale that American collector Arthur Hind bought the famous British Guiana 1¢ magenta for a reported $32,500, at that time a record price for the stamp.

- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume One A-F
Van Dal Publications 1982
Posted May 20, 2000

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