Philip Von Ferrary
Ferrary's market extended all over the world, and he made periodical visits to London and other capitals to add to his treasures. He bought stamps from several of the leading dealers, but was not averse to conducting business with some of the lesser lights; in fact his charitable nature often led him to patronize small firms in the hope that he would be doing them a good turn. In this way he sometimes came into contact with disreputable characters, and among them were the notorious Benjamin and Sarpy who, together with Jeffryes, were known in the eighteen-nineties as 'The London Gang'. Ferrary bought stamps at the poky little shop in Cullum Street on a number of occasions, and there can be no doubt that not all his purchases were of genuine stamps, because Benjamin and Sarpy probably regarded him as a 'mug'. Indeed, there was a tendency in the philatelic world to decry Ferrary's knowledge of stamps because of the number of spurious specimens found in his collection.
Nevertheless, he had a real and extensive philatelic knowledge, and knew when he was buying duds, as the following story will show. While in Berlin on one occasion, and accompanied by the late Philipp Kosack, the leading German dealer, he made a point of buying about £100 worth of stamps from a small dealer who he knew had fallen upon hard times. After their return home Kosack drew Ferrary's attention to the fact that all the stamps were forgeries. At this Ferrary smiled and said: 'Do you think I had not seen that? The man wanted money badly, and had nothing else, so I had to take the forgeries.'
This was only one instance of his generosity: there were many more, but in every case he would give anonymously, and Charles Phillips has recorded how, in 1893, Ferrary gave £50 to a fund for the dependents of the victims of a naval disaster, and in 1899 £100 towards helping British wounded in the South African War. On scores of other occasions he asked Phillips to send £100 or £200 to relieve cases of distress and always gave the description of the donor as 'A Paris Student' or 'A friend of Old England', or some similar designation.
LN & M Williams