Rare collection of Belgian stamps in sale

A collection of over forty lots of Belgian stamps, postal history and wide-ranging exposition, fair, cross-channel maritime and other postcards will go under the hammer at The Cotswold Auction Company in Cheltenham.

This collection was amassed over many years by the late Tom Pring, a highly respected member of the Belgium Study Circle specialist philatelic society, and consists of:

Postage stamps from the earliest issues, postmarks and postal history of Belgium and its regions both internally and with other countries worldwide, including Tom Pring’s two specialist books on the Belgium stamp issues, and postal covers to officials in Napoleonic armies in Europe.

Belgian Expositions/Exhibitions & Fairs 1840s to 1930s particularly those of Liege in 1905, 1930 and 1939 – their commemorative and promotional stamps (including vignettes & cinderellas), letters/covers, postcards, medals, badges, brochures, guides, maps and other ephemera such as tickets, award labels and trade cards.

Cross-channel mail and postal history with focus on the Dover-Ostend route including a wide range of letters, postcards, brochures, guides, tickets, and other items from Corsini letter of 1575 onwards, with 1700s ‘Bishop-marked’ covers seen.

The son of the proprietor of City Brewery in Exeter, Tom Pring was born in 1937. His uncle Geoffrey Pring initiated his interest in stamp collecting. Geoffrey had an extensive collection of British stamps, and Tom also began his collection with an interest in British issues. Having studied accountancy in the family tradition and despite his dreams of being an architect, Tom was not particularly stimulated by his career and spent his spare time collecting, soon starting a collection of Belgian issues.

In 1966, he, his wife Christine and their two young daughters, Alison and Susan, purchased a small 16th-century hotel in Hartford, Cheshire. As a result of the career change, his stamp collecting was put largely on hold. The hotel was later sold, and as he began work as an auditor in Manchester, he picked up his passion once more, collecting Belgian postmarks and items from the Belgian postal service.

During his retirement in Gloucestershire, he sold his British stamps in order to concentrate on all things Belgian, joining the Belgian Study Circle, and amassing an exceptional collection of not only stamps but postmarks, posters, catalogues, and anything to do with the Belgian postal service and Belgium expositions, exhibitions & fairs from the 1840s onward. He wrote detailed books on Belgian stamp issues, the Fine Barbe Varieties (2009) and 1893 Armoires du Royaume (2015). He was part-way through writing a book on the Dover-Ostend postal route when he suffered a stroke in March 2021 and, unable to complete this work, passed away in August 2022.

The sale takes place on February 7.