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British Philatelist to Auction Edward VII Collection Down Under

The press release from Prestige Philately says the collection had been shown to several international heavyweights including Spink, Grosvenor and Feldman, all of whom expressed interest. For an Australian firm to be successful against this competition is seen as a real coup.

Prestige director and auctioneer Gary Watson said "We expect collectors of Australian or Pacific Islands material to sell through us because we have an excellent track record in those areas. However, general British Empire is not widely perceived as one of our strengths. To receive this commission is therefore very gratifying."

This impressive holding was formed over a period of 30 years by John Williams of Fulham (London). Asked why he had chosen to sell through Prestige, he replied that the proposal put to him was highly professional and persuasive. While he had originally hoped to sell the collection intact, he had accepted the argument that it was important for major collections to be sold at public auction in support of the wider market.

Mr Williams also confessed that the opportunity to have a "name sale" devoted to his collecting achievements was strong motivation to sell through Prestige Philately. He added, "I have been a buyer at Prestige for many years and have appreciated the quality material they offer and the results they achieve".

Within 48 hours of negotiations being completed Prestige Philately's representative, Nick Anning, was on his way from Melbourne to take personal delivery of John Williams' collection. According to Anning "We are always prepared to travel anywhere in the world to collect major consignments, to make certain that they travel safely and arrive in good order".

A very private collector, John Williams had never exhibited his material, even at club level. That changed dramatically when he was persuaded to fill the frames for the January 2009 meeting of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, where the dazzling display of Edwardian stamps in their original vibrant colours was greeted with acclamation.

The subsequent report in "The London Philatelist" was full of praise for John's achievement, recognising both the high level of completeness, and the overall quality of the stamps. These attributes will be fully revealed in the top-end hardbound auction catalogue where no expense is being spared to present this beautiful collection to its best advantage.

Said Gary Watson, "There are literally hundreds of items here that we have never before had the opportunity to present to our international clientele. The collection includes virtually all the issues of Edward VII's reign - including those that continued with Queen Victoria's portrait - excepting the ultra high values, but including a large number of the listed watermark and plate varieties, many of which are exceedingly difficult to obtain".

He went on to comment about the tiny printings for many Colonial issues of the time. "Many of the stamps in the collection were produced in very small numbers and are genuinely rare. However, market prices for Edwardian material have, as a general rule, lagged behind both earlier and later material. We expect there to be many surprises, especially in the varieties (many of which have not been offered at auction in recent years) and in the unmounted items."

One of the attractions of collecting Edwardian stamps is that the period is limited to just 10 or so years. Being restricted to a single decade offers new entrants to the field some hope of attaining an unusual level of "completeness".

King Edward VII was already 60 years old when he succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria, in January 1901. For the first time ever, the stamps of all those Colonies that utilised the monarch's portrait had to be replaced. It was a huge job, accomplished in record time, principally by Messrs Thomas De La Rue & Sons.

John Williams is typical of "modern" philatelists who don't fit the nerdy reputation of stamp collectors. Originally a career administrator in the British Colonial Service, he has also been a keen traveller, visiting such remote outposts as Antarctica, the Galapagos and Pitcairn Island! Quite an adventurer, he has climbed Kilimanjaro, and driven a Volkswagen "Beetle" from Kenya to England via the Congo and across the Sahara!

In the early-1970s, John had a stint with the Australian Defence Department, before returning to England, where he became International Director for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Having decided to relinquish his labour of love, John Williams now hopes that his collection, and the catalogue for it, will ignite a passion in others for the beautiful stamps of the reign of King Edward VII. He is also delighted that Prestige Philately have undertaken to create a permanent free-standing website as a record of his collection.

The website - - will include a "virtual" catalogue identical to the printed version, biographical notes on John Williams and King Edward VII, media releases, prices realised and a review of the auction, and links to other relevant websites.

The deluxe catalogue will be posted in a special mailing box and is available on request for $A40, $US40, £20 or 24 euro payable in cash, cheque ($A or pounds only) or by credit card. Contact Prestige Philately at PO Box 126, Belgrave 3160, AUSTRALIA, by email to or by phone on +61 3 9754 7666, or fax to +61 3 9754 7677.

For further information contact:
Gary Watson
03 9754 7666

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British Philatelist to Auction Edward VII Collection Down Under

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