Obituary: Robson Lowe

Robson Lowe, stamp collector and dealer: born 7 January 1905; married (two daughters); died 19 August 1997.

Robson Lowe was the towering giant in the world of stamp collecting or philately. A stamp dealer, auctioneer, writer, editor, publisher and organiser, he has left an enormous amount of literature on all aspects of philately.

"Robbie", according to his own story, started stamp dealing as a schoolboy when he was 15 years old, in 1920. He was determined to establish a career in stamp dealing and first applied for a job with the London stamp dealers Fox & Co, in South Kensington, but was not accepted due to his outspoken comment that he was only working to learn how to become successful himself. Funded by his parents, he started a business which grew until its name became renowned world-wide. Initially it was called the Regent Stamp Co, with a subsidiary, Robson Lowe Ltd (1926), which became arguably the leading stamp auction house in the UK and was taken over by Christie's in 1980.

His auction house became famous and he handled many of the great collections, primarily through personal contacts established through his standing as a philatelist. Collectors of today owe much to him through his marketing the archives of the stamp printing companies of De La Rue, Bradbury Wilkinsons, and Waterlows, and selling these publicly and privately, spreading the sales over a period so that the market could absorb this tremendous original artwork, proofs and essays of the stamps of so many countries.

From a humble beginning, Robson Lowe became one of the great entrepreneurs. By 1934 he was successful enough to launch his own magazine, the Raconteur, which became the Philatelist in 1937 and is still published today. Promotion of the hobby, and hence himself, through the written word was his particular strength.

By 1948 he had published his first major book, Handstruck Postage Stamps of the Empire 1680-1900, which introduced the field of postal history - the study of routes, rates and postal markings of the mail - to the philatelic world as a serious collecting field. Between 1948 and 1990, this was followed by his six volumes of Encyclopaedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, which became the authoritative points of reference for the stamps and postal history of Great Britain and the Empire.

Such books not only were learned, they were also propagandist in their promotion of postal history, an aspect of collecting which he established as a most important part of philately. His belief in the subject led him to introduce the first Postal History auction sales: they have now been copied by hundreds of auction houses across the world.

In the 1970s he gained yet another landmark in the development of postal history by persuading the Corsini family to sell their letter archive. This material was the first major source of early postal history and did cause problems as the letters, and the associated private postal markings, were written in antique Italian. Not to be defeated, Lowe taught himself the language, and translated many of the historical letters. Indeed, he became so proficient that he lectured learned societies on the subject in Italy.

Whilst an extremely successful businessman, he also contributed much in the promotion of the hobby, and assistance to others not so fortunate. Unable for health reasons to serve in the Second World War, he created in Bournemouth the 1940 Stamp Exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the Penny Black, the world's first postage stamp. Linked to this, he organised many events, including an auction, to support the Red Cross in its war efforts. His talent for organising stamp exhibitions led to his being the Organising Secretary of the 1960 London International Exhibition on the South Bank and the early British Philatelic Exhibitions at the Seymour Hall.

Lowe received many philatelic honours. He was the first "stamp professional" who was invited to become an Honorary Member of the Royal Philatelic Society, London. In recognition of his contributions to newer aspects of philatelic collecting he was made Honorary President of the Cinderella Stamp Club in 1983, and of the Revenue Society of Great Britain on its formation in 1989.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor