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.
Tapling was born in Dulwich, London.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. His father, also Thomas Tapling, was a businessman who made a fortune from the manufacture of carpets and household furnishings. His mother was Annie Elizabeth Tapling (née Keay).
Tapling originally intended a career in law, and he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple as a Barrister.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.He became Vice-President in 1881 following the death of the former incumbent in a railway accident. The Tapling Medal, in silver, was created in his memory by the RPSL and first awarded in 1920. His name was recorded on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921 as one of the original "Fathers of Philately".
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.The collection includes these rarities:
The Inverted Swan, a 4-pence blue postage stamp issued in 1855 by Western Australia, was one of the world's first invert errors. Technically, it is the frame that is inverted, not the image of the swan, but it has become commonly known as the Inverted Swan.
The Mauritius "Post Office" stamps were issued by the British Colony Mauritius in September 1847, in two denominations: an orange-red one penny (1d) and a deep blue two pence (2d). Their name comes from the wording on the stamps reading "Post Office", which was soon changed in the next issue to "Post Paid". They are among the rarest postage stamps in the world.
The Inverted Head Four Annas of India is a postage stamp prized by collectors. The 1854 first issues of India included a Four Annas value in red and blue. It was one of the world's first multicolored stamps; the Basel Dove preceded it by nine years. However, an invert error occurred during production, showing the head "upside down."
Edward Benjamin Evans, a British army officer also known as "Major Evans", was a distinguished philatelist, stamp collector, and philatelic journalist. His philatelic specialization included Mauritius, the Confederate States of America, the Mulready envelopes, and the Indian feudatory states.
Sir Edward Denny Bacon, KCVO was a British philatelist who helped with the enlargement and mounting of collections possessed by rich collectors of his time and became the curator of the Royal Philatelic Collection between 1913 and 1938.
Arthur Hind (1856–1933), of Utica, New York, was an English textile industrialist and philatelist.
The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) is a philatelic award of international scale, created by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain in 1921. The Roll consists of three pieces of parchment to which the signatories add their names.
David Richard Beech MBE was the curator of the British Library Philatelic Collections from 1983–2013. He is a Fellow and past President of the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL). In 2013, it was announced that Beech was to receive the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award for outstanding lifetime accomplishments in the field of philately.
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.
The Tapling Collection of postage stamps was donated to the British Museum from the estate of Thomas Tapling in 1891.
Maitland James Burnett was a British philatelist who was one of the "Founding fathers of Philately" entered on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921. He was also editor of The Philatelic Record for the first seven years of its existence from 1879.
William Edmund Image FRCS DL JP was a surgeon and early philatelist.
Sir William Beilby Avery, 1st Baronet was a British philatelist who was entered on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921 as one of the fathers of philately. His grandfather was the elder brother in W. & T. Avery, weighing machine makers of Birmingham and until he retired Sir William managed a great expansion of that business.
William Amos Scarborough Westoby M.A. (1815–1899) was an English philatelist who was one of the "Fathers of Philately" entered on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921. His obituary in The London Philatelist stated that he had "...fairly earned the title of the Grand Seigneur of Philately." By profession, Westoby was a Barrister of Lincoln's Inn.
William Wilmot Corfield was a British philatelist who was an important figure in Anglo-Indian philately. By his own account, he was an auditor by profession.
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.
Henry Joseph Duveen was an art dealer who co-founded the firm of Duveen Brothers with his sibling, the first Sir Joseph Joel Duveen. After his brother's death from Bright's disease in 1908, his nephew, the future Lord Duveen, worked alongside his uncle. He was also an eminent philatelist who was one of the Fathers of Philately named on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921.
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 Gregorio de Ysasi Jáuregui 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.
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| Member of Parliament for Harborough |