Arthur Maury

Arthur Maury was born in Paris on 31 July 1844. At age 16 he began stamp dealing, an endeavor that flourished into a lifelong occupation. He was an able and prolific philatelic writer, and in 1864 he founded a monthly journal Le Collectionneur des Timbres-poste. In 1865 he published the first edition of Catalogue complet des timbres-poste, which became the standard for collectors and dealers.

Maury sued fellow dealer Victor Robert for infringement of copyright for publishing a catalogue similar to his. He lost the lawsuit, which concluded on 20 Dec 1895. During his closing argument Robert’s attorney stated, “Monsieur Maury is a dealer in postage stamps. He sells genuine ones and he sells those which he makes himself… Listen to him in regard to the [postage due] stamps of the Regency of Tunis. ‘These stamps are perforated T by us with implements identical to those used by the director of posts.’ Listen to him in regard to other stamps. ‘Certain of these stamps have actually been used in different cities before the government monopoly: the genuine ones are generally rare; on the other hand, those which we offer below are the imitations.’”

As early as 1865 his catalogue offered reprints and imitations of United States local issues. He chronicled his own bogus provisional stamps of Diego-Suarez by overprinting the current French stamps with the initials D.S. and a line. He sold bogus postage due stamps of Persia.

Maury was involved in the printing of the first issue of Ethiopia in 1894 (issued in 1895). In 1896 he made available to collectors an unauthorized postage due overprint that was never used in Ethiopia. In 1900 he sold the first issue at a discount off face value, a deed that ruined the market and forced the creation of annual control overprints back in Ethiopia.

With a face like Santa Claus and a smooth tongue, Maury survived his transgressions and served as honorary President of the French Philatelic Society. He published Historie des Timbres-Poste Francais, an important work on French stamps. After his death on 1 Dec 1907 his obituary in The London Philatelist found him, “A man of great integrity, of great ability, and of an amiable and kindly nature.” 

                    Last update: August 5, 2002