Notes from the Past

Frederick J. Melville
Famous Philatelists Series

A journalist with a love of philately will undoubtedly write about stamps, and Frederick John Melville (1882-1940) was no exception.  Born in England, the son of a journalist, Melville attended his first stamp show at the age of 11.

His initial essay into philatelic journalism was an eight-page booklet, the immaturity of which was a later embarrassment, and he bought up copies and took them out of circulation.  Such was his success that it is now something of a rarity.

Being under age, he was refused admission to the Philatelic Society, London, and he decided to form his own society in which age would be no barrier.  This he did and the Junior Philatelic society was born.  Now the National Philatelic Society, it continues to be a major national philatelic organization in Britain, and its publication, The Stamp Lover, has a worldwide reputation.  Melville was president of the society for 40 years until his death in 1940.

The A.B.C. of Stamp Collecting was Melville's first handbook and, unlike his original pamphlet, was a success and was published in American and Spanish editions.  Nonetheless, it was as the author of The Melville Stamp Books that he became best known.  This was  a series of 28 books on the issues of various countries, and its publication spanned the years from 1908 to 1936.

Modern Stamp Collecting, Melville's last book, was published on May 6, 1940, the centennial date of the first government postage stamp.  But he did not live to see the anniversary, having died on Jan. 12. 1940.

Melville's philatelic career covered the transition of philately from a pastime for children to its emergence as a respectable adult hobby.  To him belongs much of the credit for that growth and maturity. 


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Two G-P
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted September 29, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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