Thomas Keay Tapling: Cricketer and Philatelist

Published: 1995
Pages: 16
Author: Rosenwater, Irving
Publisher: Private
Rating: 3.5 stars

The subject of this monograph died in 1891 at the age of just 35. Nonetheless Tapling packed a great deal into his life, and a number of impressive achievements. He qualified as a Barrister and was elected to Parliament at the remarkably young age of 30. If that were not sufficient he was also a success in business. The family firm, a carpet manufacturer, was one he inherited but, leaving a fortune worth about £15 million by today’s standards, he was clearly a man with considerable entrepreneurial flair to add to his other skills.

But those matters are not the reason that Tapling attracted the attention of Irving Rosenwater. For Rosenwater it was two of Tapling’s leisure activities that attracted him. As a cricketer Tapling was, in the final analysis, no more than a reasonable club player, although he did play for MCC once in a First Class fixture, against Cambridge University at Fenners in 1886, when he scored 5 and 0.

As a Philatelist however Tapling owned a remarkable collection. Bearing in mind that postal history began as late as 1840 by the time Tapling died he seemed to own just about everything that any collector could desire. Remarkably the collection itself can still be viewed intact, as on his death Tapling left it to the British Museum on condition it would not be broken up.

I am not aware that Rosenwater himself maintained any sort of a stamp collection, but his description of some of the contents of the Tapling collection clearly demonstrate he must have had some interest in the subject and with his usual zeal he has dug into every aspect of Tapling’s life to produce an absorbing and unusual story.

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