The most complete stamp collection ever assembled was done so by Philip Ferrary de La Renotière. He was born in 1850 in the Hôtel Matignon in Paris, France. He was born into the aristocracy, his father and mother being a Duke and Duchess respectively. However, he eventually gave up his titles after his father died, asking to be simply called «Ferrary».
Stamps were a great love of his, and he started collecting at a young age. His collection really began to grow when he received an inheritance which he then used to fund his passion. His collection was so large that he needed employees to look after it and keep it in order! Some very famous rarities that were in his possession at one time are the Tre Skilling Yellow of Sweden, and the Two Cent Hawaiian Missionary of 1851 (tune in next week for an interesting bit of history regarding this stamp).
With the advent of World War I, Ferrary left France for Switzerland. He left his collection to a museum in Berlin in order for it to be accessible to the public. Unfortunately, after the war his collection was claimed by the French government and auctioned off. Ferrary never lived to witness the break-up of his life’s work though, having died in 1917.
While it is sad that the complete collection is no longer intact, those who have stamps which were in Ferrary’s possession certainly have a piece of living history in their hands, and surely treasure them as such!