The purists among us, may wonder why we have waited until now to tend to The Grand Seigneur of Philately, especially if said purists prefer history dished up in strict chronological portions, or indeed if they expect this philatelic feast to be served in order of seating or course etiquette.

However, as your waiter, at this imaginary banquet there are two fundamental rules when serving up tasty philatelic morsels; how many guests, and the number of courses on the menu. 

And William Westoby (1815–1899), an English barrister, entered on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921, would most definitely be on the top table, and surely at the head, but crucially he would be the host. And as you all know, guests are served first, and if this is a six course meal; “Voilà!” Here is your dessert!

Notwithstanding the poetic licence, these hearty plates of stamp folklore should be palatable even to the connoisseur. Because one of the endearing features of the host Westoby was how generously he fed the Philatelic flock. Let’s put it this way, give Westoby a stamp and he’d somehow find a way to share it with thousands. In fact, miraculously, he’d go on supplying the multitudes long after his final supper.

You see as well as being a noteworthy collector who’s finer European material found their way into The Tapling Collection, and being the man who discovered the first known copy of the 1851 Spanish 2r error of colour in 1867, Westoby was a prolific writer and contributor to philatelic journals. Sharing and feeding the Philatelic world via articles in The Philatelist and The Stamp-Collector’s Magazine.

Westoby was the editor for four years of The Philatelic Record and also of Alfred Smith & Co.’s Monthly Circular from 1878. He was best friends with our Father of Philately Judge Philbrick (Legend #2) who was his co-author of the book “The Postage and Telegraph Stamps of Great Britain”.  He wrote the books ‘Postage Stamps of the United Kingdom issued during Fifty Years’, and ‘The Adhesive Postage Stamps of Europe’ Volume 1 and 2, and contributed and authored many other references and guides for philatelists, which still sustain us today. 

It is not a fictional fantasy of mine that Westoby is our Grand Seigneur of Philately either. He can have no other title, because his obituary in The London Philatelist stated that he had “…fairly earned the title of the Grand Seigneur of Philately.”

“Postage Stamps of the United Kingdom 1840-1890” by William A.S. Westoby, 1891

So, whilst we may rightly have already heralded the great collectors, it is a fact that Westoby was the one who nourished them. If you look up from this dessert bowl and glance to the top table, you’ll see our host Westoby’s at one end, to his right Tapling and Ferrary, and to his left Herpin and Image, with Philbrick at Westoby’s opposite end, the co-host, so to speak.

What a ‘Grand’ table of six. Can you imagine how luscious it must have been to eat with such legendary collectors, or more accurately, how sweet it is to be fed by Westoby.

Next week we feature a soldier of philately Charles Viner.

You can also catch-up on the previous five Legendary Collectors: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.