Thomas Tapling

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Thomas Keay Tapling
1855-1891 Thomas K. Tapling.jpg
Thomas Keay Tapling

Thomas Keay Tapling (30 October 1855 – 11 April 1891) was an English businessman and politician. He played first-class cricket and was also an eminent philatelist who formed one of the greatest stamp collections of his era.

First-class cricket is an official classification of the highest-standard international or domestic matches in the sport of cricket. A first-class match is of three or more days' scheduled duration between two sides of eleven players each and is officially adjudged to be worthy of the status by virtue of the standard of the competing teams. Matches must allow for the teams to play two innings each although, in practice, a team might play only one innings or none at all.


Early life

Tapling was born in Dulwich, London. [1] He was educated first at home and then at Harrow School from age 15. Later he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating BA and LL.B in 1880 and MA and LL.M in 1883. [2] His father, also Thomas Tapling, was a businessman who made a fortune from the manufacture of carpets and household furnishings. [3] His mother was Annie Elizabeth Tapling (née Keay). [1]

Dulwich district in the London Borough of Southwark, England

Dulwich is an area of south London, England. The settlement is mostly in the London Borough of Southwark, with parts in the London Borough of Lambeth, and consists of Dulwich Village, East Dulwich, West Dulwich and the Southwark half of Herne Hill. Dulwich lies in a valley between the neighbouring districts of Camberwell, Crystal Palace, Denmark Hill, Forest Hill, Peckham, Sydenham Hill and Tulse Hill and was in Surrey until 1889, when the County of London was set up.

Harrow School English independent school for boys

Harrow School is public school for boys in Harrow, London, England. The School was founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I, and is one of the original seven public schools that were regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. Harrow charges up to £12,850 per term, with three terms per academic year (2017/18). Harrow is the fourth most expensive boarding school in the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Trinity College, Cambridge Constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

Tapling originally intended a career in law, and he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple as a Barrister. [1]

Middle Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

Barrister lawyer specialized in court representation in Wales, England and some other jurisdictions

A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching the philosophy, hypothesis and history of law, and giving expert legal opinions. Often, barristers are also recognised as legal scholars.

In 1882, however, Thomas Tapling senior died and his son was forced to drop his plans and take over the family business of Thomas Tapling & Son. [1] This does not appear to have been a burden and the business prospered and expanded, providing him with the money to travel and build his stamp collection. He had a reputation as an enlightened employer, who emphasised temperance and thrift to his employees. [1]


Tapling played first-class cricket at Cambridge University, turning out for Trinity College, Trinity College Long Vacation Club and Cambridge University Long Vacation Club. He played for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) against Cambridge University in 1886, his sole official first-class match. He was included in George Vernon's side for an 1889/90 tour of India and Ceylon but was unable to play after a close friend was taken ill in Italy and he opted to stay with him. [1]

Marylebone Cricket Club English Cricket Club

Marylebone Cricket Club is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's Cricket Ground, which it owns, in St John's Wood, London, England. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket in England and Wales and, as the sport's legislator, held considerable global influence.

George Vernon English cricketer and rugby union footballer

George Frederick Vernon was a cricketer who played first-class cricket for Middlesex County Cricket Club. He also played one Test match for England during the first-ever Ashes tour in 1882-83.


Tapling. Thomas Keay Tapling.jpg

Tapling was a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for the Harborough Division of Leicestershire from 1886 to 1891. He was a member of the Standing Committee on Trade.

Harborough (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Harborough is a constituency covering the south east of Leicestershire represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2017 by Neil O'Brien of the Conservative Party.

Leicestershire County of England

Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. The county borders Nottinghamshire to the north, Lincolnshire to the north-east, Rutland to the east, Northamptonshire to the south-east, Warwickshire to the south-west, Staffordshire to the west, and Derbyshire to the north-west. The border with most of Warwickshire is Watling Street.


Tapling began collecting stamps as a schoolboy in 1865. During the 1870s and 1880s he purchased existing collections from other philatelists, including those of William Image, W.A.S. Westoby, Edward B. Evans, and Gustave and Martial Caillebotte. By 1887 his collection was second only to that of Philippe Ferrari de La Renotière. Among his holdings were many world-famous rarities, including both values of the "Post Office" Mauritius and three examples of the Inverted Head Four Annas of India. It is the only intact private collection formed during the Nineteenth century, with examples of practically every stamp issued world-wide up to 1889. [4]

In 1870 or 1871 Tapling joined the Philatelic Society in London (which subsequently became the Royal Philatelic Society London), being elected to its Committee in 1876. [1] He became Vice-President in 1881 following the death of the former incumbent in a railway accident. [1] The Tapling Medal, in silver, was created in his memory by the RPSL and first awarded in 1920. [5] His name was recorded on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921 as one of the original "Fathers of Philately". [6] [7]

Death and legacy

Tapling died at the age of 35 of pleurisy at Gumley Hall, Market Harborough in Leicestershire.

His collection was bequeathed to the British Museum. It currently forms the Tapling Collection in the Philatelic Collections of the British Library. [8] The collection includes these rarities:

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Mauritius "Post Office" stamps first stamps of the British Colony Mauritius

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Inverted Head 4 Annas

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British Library Philatelic Collections

The British Library Philatelic Collections is the national philatelic collection of the United Kingdom with over 8 million items from around the world. It was established in 1891 as part of the British Museum Library, later to become the British Library, with the collection of Thomas Tapling. In addition to bequests and continuing donations, the library received consistent deposits by the Crown Agency and has become a primary research collection for British Empire and international history. The collections contain a wide range of artefacts in addition to postage stamps, from newspaper stamps to a press used to print the first British postage stamps.

Tapling Collection

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W. A. S. Westoby British philatelist

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Frank Jukes Peplow was Borough Librarian at Deptford and a philatelist who won the Crawford Medal from the Royal Philatelic Society London in 1927 for his work The Postage Stamps of Buenos Aires. He signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1933.

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Thomas Ridpath

Thomas Ridpath was a Liverpool stamp dealer who handled some of the greatest rarities in philately such as the British Guiana 1c magenta of 1856 and the block of four of the 1869 24c United States stamps with inverted centre. He gave philatelic lantern displays at which the differences between genuine and forged stamps were shown enlarged on a screen and supplied the philatelic press with reports of new finds that they reported in their columns.

Victoriano G. de Ysasi

Victoriano Gregorio de Ysasi was a Spanish wine merchant and philatelist resident in London. He was an early member of the Philatelic Society, London, later the Royal Philatelic Society London. Shortly before his death, major parts of his collection of the stamps of Spain and its colonies were acquired by Thomas Tapling. He died from injuries received in a railway accident at Blackburn while waiting in a carriage at a railway station when a connecting train failed to stop in time.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Tapling – The Man Behind the Collection" by Ron Negus in The London Philatelist, Vol.116, No.1343, March 2007, pp.39–47.
  2. "Tapling, Thomas Keay (TPLN875TK)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. One-Name Study: Tupling
  4. Fred J. Melville, "Our National Stamp Collection", The Connoisseur XI (Jan., 1905) pp. 35–40.
  5. "About the Society", Royal Philatelic Society, London. On line. Archived 7 June 2001 at the Wayback Machine
  6. The British Philatelic Trust, Who Was Who in British Philately Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "APS Hall of Fame (1941)". American Philatelic Society. 1999. Archived from the original on 23 June 2002. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  8. "Philatelic Collections: The Tapling Collection", British Library
  9. "Spain: 1851 2 reales blue, error of colour". British Library. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Paget
Member of Parliament for Harborough
Succeeded by
Paddy Logan