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Copy of article originally published by The Philatelic Record in November 1908

Walter Dorning Beckton

W Dorning Becton circa 1908

    THE subject of our sketch this month is one who is well-known in philatelic circles, by reason of the prominent part he has played during the last fifteen years in Exhibitions, both as a successful exhibitor, and in more recent times as one of the Jury, and also in Society work. In connection with the latter, Mr W Doming Beckton was one of the promoters of the Manchester Society, which as a provincial Society has been vouchsafed more than the usual amount of notoriety and success. He was one of its first Vice-Presidents, in its early stages acted as Hon. Secretary for some years, and has been President since 1896. By virtue of this position he was the Chairman of the Manchester Philatelic Exhibition of 1899, which will always be looked upon as one of the great Exhibitions of the past, to bring about which he, in conjunction with his friend, Mr G F H Gibson, the Hon. Secretary, ably supported by other well-known Manchester philatelists, strove so long and so hard.

    Mr Beckton's ability in the matters indicated, and as a philatelist, have received recognition at the hands of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, upon the Council of which he was elected, and sat for three or four years before it received its present title of which its Fellows are so justly proud. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the last London Exhibition in 1906, and was also appointed one of the Judges, having served in the same capacity at the Hague and other places.

    The successes gained by him as an exhibitor at the London Exhibition of 1897, Calcutta (1898), Manchester (1899), Paris (1900), and Berlin (1904), are represented by four gold, seven silver and one bronze medal. We believe we are correct in saying that the last medal was one coveted by Mr Beckton, and caused him the most pains to secure. Coming to his stamps, these may be best summed up by saying that he has what may be termed a sound slightly specialised general collection of those issued between the years 1840 and 1890, in which a few countries are highly specialised, such as Greece, Roumania, the Native Protected States of the Straits Settlements and one or two others. The all-round general strength of the collection can be gauged by the fact that no country has been shown at any Exhibition a second time, and that the medals Mr Beckton has won have been for different countries, all of which at present form part of his collection. In fact, when touching upon this point, it is well recognised amongst his friends that he has never been known to sell a single stamp out of his collection since he commenced collecting in 1879.

    Having regard to its size, which does not approach that of very many specialised collections of to-day, and all told amounts to only slightly over 60,000 stamps, it is remarkable how many surprises its owner from time to time is able to spring upon his London friends, as instances of which may be mentioned his blocks of 5s and 4d Griqualand with large G, both unique, as well as his almost entire sheet of the ½d red surcharge, and panes of the 1d; while only a few weeks ago he astonished an eminent specialist of Japan by producing entire sheets of the 6 sen, including the rare syllabic 17. Other instances could be given, but enough has been said on this head to make apparent what is indeed pretty well recognised in the Strand, that no one quite knows what he may still have up his sleeve. It must not be overlooked, however, that this "Mark Tapley", as he was dubbed at one of the Exhibition banquets, is the leader of the Manchester school, identified so closely with which is the collection of stamps in entire sheets and large blocks - so much so that it was in imminent peril at one time of being rechristened the "Strip, Block, and Sheet Society".

    Mr Beckton is widely known as a writer; his work upon the stamps of Greece, and that undertaken by him with his friend, Mr Duerst, upon Roumania, being perhaps the best examples, although, of recent years, a very large quantity of philatelic matter has appeared in the press written by him, but without his name being disclosed.

    "You, Sir, by nature are of a broad-minded disposition, and your collection has been built accordingly, which has brought with it an all-round knowledge of the stamps of the world formed by few in these days. From one point of view, it would have been better had you restricted the sphere in which to work; by so doing, your natural philatelic ability would have given to the hobby another brilliant specialist of the Crawford school. From another standpoint it is as well, perhaps, that you have always remained a general collector, thereby enabling you to be in greater sympathy with the general body of stamp collectors, as so much is done by sympathy to encourage and foster the pursuit. We have said you are broad-minded, and believe this to be the case, although at times in your writings you have been very severe upon the stamp collector who ties himself down to used stamps only, and also upon the new issue collector. This severity is really attributable in a great measure to the virtue we ascribed to you, as it is begotten by your aversion to the hypocrite or the narrow-minded man who fails to see good except through his own particular pair of spectacles.

    "You have spent a busy, we might almost say an arduous philatelic life; your friends recognise that your labours on behalf of philately have been, prompted solely by your love for the hobby, and you have in the past spared neither your time nor money to further the interests of the hobby you have so much at heart. You would, we know, gladly welcome others to take part of the care and work in future from off your shoulders, and thereby to give you that respite from your labours whereby you could enjoy to the full the satisfaction of looking back upon the past and the future study of your stamps, which have given you such intense pleasure in getting together."

see also
Walter Dorning Beckton
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Walter Dorning Beckton (1866 - 17 or 18 March 1931) was a British philatelist who signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921. He was a Manchester Solicitor by profession in the firm of Hockin, Beckton & Hockin.

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