Fred Melville
Frederick John Melville was a British philatelist, prolific philatelic author and founder of The Junior Philatelic Society. He was also a founder in 1907 of the Philatelic Literature Society
Philatelic Literature Society
The Philatelic Literature Society was a short-lived society to promote the cause of philatelic literature among philatelists at a time when information about philately could be hard to obtain and philatelic books expensive.-Formation:...

. Melville is a member of the American Philatelic Society
American Philatelic Society
The American Philatelic Society is the largest nonprofit stamp collecting and organization of philately in the world, with almost 44,000 members from 110 countries...

's Hall of Fame and was a signatory to The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
Roll of Distinguished Philatelists
The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists is a philatelic award of international scale, created by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain in 1921...

in 1921.

Early life

Melville was born in Edinburgh to Thomas J. Melville and Annie Melville but moved to London at the age of two when his father, who was a journalist, became the House of Commons correspondent for The Scotsman
The Scotsman
The Scotsman is a British newspaper, published in Edinburgh.As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423, down from about 100,000 in the 1980s....

. Fred had brothers Cecil Balfour, Thomas B. and William. He also had sisters Kate and Helen (later Mrs Helen P. Terry).

Fred was educated at Westminster School
Westminster School
The Royal College of St. Peter in Westminster, almost always known as Westminster School, is one of Britain's leading independent schools, with the highest Oxford and Cambridge acceptance rate of any secondary school or college in Britain...

 where he was the instigator of a school magazine The United Westminster School Field Club Magazine. He was always known just as Fred.

As a young boy of just 11 he took his father to an exhibition of stamps organised by the Philatelic Society, London, now The Royal Philatelic Society London at Arundel Street. At that exhibition he met Edward Denny Bacon
Edward Denny Bacon
Sir Edward Denny Bacon was a British philatelist who helped the enlargement and mounting of collections possessed by rich collectors of his time and became the curator of the Royal Philatelic Collection between 1913 and 1938.- Early life :Edward Bacon was the son of a malt producer of London,...

 who handed him a copy of the Society’s journal the The London Philatelist
The London Philatelist
The London Philatelist was first published in January 1892 and is the journal of the Royal Philatelic Society London.It is published ten times annually and includes coverage of worldwide philatelic and postal history topics...


In 1899 he applied for membership of the Society, but was rejected as he was under 18 years of age. As a result, he formed The Junior Philatelic Society (now The National Philatelic Society
National Philatelic Society
The National Philatelic Society is one of two national philatelic societies in Great Britain. The other is the Royal Philatelic Society London.- History :...

) that same year. The society was a huge success, capitalising on pent-up demand for a philatelic society that anyone could join and the new society soon had to seek a larger meeting place. In 1906 Melville formed a Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 branch of the society. Melville was President of the society from the start until his death and also edited the society's journal The Stamp Lover.

Melville was never in good health and he did not serve in the military during World War One.


Melville wrote over 100 books and his works are still some of the most common encountered in Philately.

In 1897 he wrote and self published an eight page pamphlet called Stamp Collecting, priced at one penny. Fred was so embarrassed with the publication in later years that he bought up every copy that was offered for sale, with the result that it is now a very scarce item.

In 1899 Melville became the editor of the philatelic section of a small journal known as Hardman's Miscellany. Soon afterwards he launched his own magazine, Young Stamp Collector which ran for six issues before merging with Stamp Collectors' Fortnightly. Melville also contributed philatelic articles to The Daily Telegraph, Wide World Magazine, The Straights Times of Singapore, the Illustrated London News and John O'London's Weekly.

Melville's skill as a journalist has been partly attributed to the training he received from the press baron Sir Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, founder of The Daily Mirror and The Mail.

His 1908 book Postage Stamps worth Fortunes was translated into Swedish and Dutch and his last book, Modern Stamp Collecting, was published on 6 May 1940, the centenary of the issue of the Penny Black
Penny Black
The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year....

. Melville also edited the Postage Stamp (1909–1929), Stamp Collector's Fortnightly (1921–1939) and British Philatelist (1932–1939). He also wrote, still on a philatelic theme, The Lady Forger: an original play which was published by The Junior Philatelic Society. The play had its first performance in 1906 at the society's annual Concert-Conversazione at the Bijou Theatre, Archer Street, London.

Melville used the pseudonym Miss Fitte as a pun on misfit when writing about stamp errors.

Outside philately, Melville was editor of the Heartsease Library, Cosy Corner, Good Words and Sunday Magazine.

Organised philately

Melville was active in many branches of philately. He was a member of the Fiscal Philatelic Society
Fiscal Philatelic Society
The Fiscal Philatelic Society was an early twentieth century philatelic society that is seen as a predecessor to today's Cinderella Stamp Club and The Revenue Society...

 from 1911 and he served on many philatelic exhibition juries. He won the Congress Cup at the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain in 1935, for his work The Lives of the Forgers.

When the Postal History Society was founded in 1936 Fred Melville was elected as the first President of the society.

He appears in the 1938 Blue Book of Philately where his specialism is shown as philatelic literature
Philatelic literature
Philatelic literature is written material relating to philately, primarily information about postage stamps and postal history- Background to philatelic literature :...

 and his address is given as 10a Ardberg Road, Herne Hill, London.

Melville organised the Imperial Stamp Exhibition of 1908, the War Stamps Exhibition in 1915 and the first international airpost exhibition, APEX, in 1934. He also edited the catalogues for the international philatelic exhibitions held in London in 1912 and 1923.

Although principally an author and journalist, Melville did also deal in stamps and a full page advert appeared in Stamp Lover in June 1920 offering stamps for sale from the firm of Fred J. Melville Ltd.


Melville died on 12 January 1940 and his funeral took place at Lambeth Cemetery, Tooting, London on 16 January. Fred was not married and was survived by his sister Mrs Helen P. Terry (née Melville). In 1941 he was posthumously inducted into the APS Hall of Fame. After his death, Melville's extensive philatelic library was purchased by the United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 but it was not delivered until 1947 due to the effects of World War Two. Today it is split between that library and the library of the National Postal Museum
National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum, located opposite Union Station in Washington, D.C., USA, was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993. The museum is located across the street from Union Station, in the building that...

, part of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...



  • A Penny All the Way. The Story of Penny Postage, W H Peckitt, 2nd edition, 1908, 48pp
  • A Penny All the Way. The Story of Penny Postage, Warren H Colson, American edition, 1908, 34pp
  • A Simplified Collection, The Philatelic Institute, 1918, 8pp
  • Abyssinia, C Baldwin, 1909, 31pp
  • Aero Stamp Collecting - A Practical Guide and Descriptive Catalogue, The Philatelic Institute, 1923, 56pp
  • Aero Stamp Collecting - A Practical Guide and Descriptive Catalogue, Rapkin, 2nd edition, 1924, 62pp
  • Aero stamps; A descriptive catalogue with prices, Philatelic Institute, 1919, 16pp
  • All about Postage Stamps, T W Laurie, 1914, 255pp
  • An Historical Catalogue of the Stamps of the New Europe, 2nd edition 1919, 48pp
  • An Innocent Afloat, F J Melville, 1926, 15pp
  • Andorra, Philatelic Institute, 1934, 48pp
  • Antigua, Philatelic Institute, 1929, 57pp Free download at Project Gutenberg Canada here.
  • Azerbaijan, Philatelic Institute, (no date), 24pp
  • Baden, Philatelic Institute, 1928, 59pp
  • British Central Africa and Nyasaland Protectorate, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909, 84pp
  • British New Guinea and Papua, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909, 63pp
  • Brunei, Philatelic Institute, 1932, 37pp
  • Cape of Good Hope, The Melville Stamp Books, 1913, 96pp
  • Cape of Good Hope: The Fourpence Black Triangular Stamp, The Philatelic Institute, c 1924
  • Catalogue of War Stamps, 1914–15, J F Spriggs, 1st edition 1915, 16pp
  • Catalogue of War Stamps, 1914–15, J F Spriggs, 2nd edition 1915, 48pp
  • Cayman Islands, The Melville Stamp Books, 1912, 72pp
  • Chats on Postage Stamps, Fisher & Unwin, 1911, 362pp
  • Chats on Postage Stamps, Frederick A Stokes Company, American edition, 1911, 362pp Free download from Canadian Libraries here.
  • Confederate States of America; Government Postage Stamps, The Melville Stamp Books, 1913, 72pp
  • El nuevo ABC del coleccionista de sellos, Santiago de Cuba, Arroyo Hnos, Castilian edition of The New ABC of Stamp Collecting translated by J D Sague, 1926, 166pp
  • Egypt, Stanley Gibbons, London, 1915, 84pp
  • Frimärken Värda Förmögenheter, Sveriges Filatelist-Förenings Förlag, Swedish edition of Postage Stamps Worth Fortunes translated by L Harald Kjellstedt, 1910, 43pp
  • Gambia, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909, 84pp. Free download at Project Gutenberg here.
  • Great Britain: Embossed Adhesive Stamps, The Melville Stamp Books, 1910, 39pp
  • Great Britain: King Edward VII Stamps, The Melville Stamp Books, 1911, 83pp
  • Great Britain: Reel printing for postage stamps, 1924, 7pp
  • Great Britain: The Line Engraved Stamps, 1st Edition, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909
  • Great Britain: The Line Engraved Stamps, 2nd Edition, The Melville Stamp Books, 1910, 86pp
  • Great Britain: The Line Engraved Stamps, 3rd Edition, The Philatelic Institute, 1925, 82pp
  • Great Britain: The Line Engraved Stamps, 4th Edition, The Philatelic Institute, 1926
  • Guide to Stamp Collecting, G F Rapkin, 1924, 60pp
  • History from the Stamp Album, The Philatelic Institute, 1924, 16pp
  • Holland, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909, 77pp
  • How to Collect War Stamps, Philatelic Institute and Galleries, 1919, 16pp
  • How to Start a Philatelic Society, Peckitt, 1910
  • Jamaica, The Melville Stamp Books, 1910, 89pp
  • Latvia Map Stamps. A tentative check list, 1922
  • Les premières emissions de timbres de la Grande-Bretagne, Mendel, French edition of Great Britain: The Line Engraved Stamps translated by Georges Brunel, 1912
  • Les timbres de Gambie, Édition des publications modernes, French edition of Gambia translated by Georges Brunel, 1914
  • Les timbres de la Jamaïque, Édition des publications modernes, French edition of Jamaica translated by Georges Brunel, 1914
  • Local Postage Stamps, The Philatelic Institute, 1924, 14pp
  • Modern Stamp Collecting, English Universities Press Ltd, 1940, 316pp
  • Nevis, The Melville Stamp Books, 1st edition 1909, 60pp
  • Nevis, The Melville Stamp Books, 2nd edition 1910, 60pp
  • New Hebrides, C Baldwin, c1910, 20pp
  • Oil Rivers and Niger Coast Protectorates, The Philatelic Institute, 1924, 58pp
  • Origins of the Penny Post, The Philatelic Institute, London, 1930, 130pp
  • Phantom Philately, The Philatelic Institute, 1923, 204pp
  • Phantom Philately, The Philatelic Institute, 1935, 204pp
  • Phantom Philately; a descriptive list of stamps that are not what they seem, Emile Bertrand, 1950, 204pp (with a foreword by Lowell Ragatz)
  • Philatelic accessories, Philatelic Institute, 1924, 15pp
  • Pioneer Stamp Men of Liverpool, W G Warner, 1926, 19pp
  • Portugal: Postage Stamps, 1880-1911, Melville Stamp Books, 1911, 85pp
  • Portugal; The cameo stamps, The Melville Stamp Books, 1911, 90pp
  • Postage Stamp Printing, Pardy, 1925, 19pp
  • Postage Stamps in the Making, Stanley Gibbons, 1916, 198pp
  • Postage Stamps of the Hawaiian Islands in the Collection of Henry J. Crocker
    Henry J. Crocker
    Henry J. Crocker was a prominent San Franciscan businessman, one of the Committee of Fifty formed after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and a noted philatelist.-Business career:...

    of San Francisco
    , Stamp Lover, 1908, 9pp
  • Postage Stamps of the United States of America, Junior Philatelic Society, 1905, 116pp
  • Postage Stamps worth Fortunes, (self published), 1908, 46pp
  • Postage Stamps worth Fortunes, Severn-Wylie-Jewett Co, American edition, 1918
  • Postal Stationery, The Philatelic Institute, c1924, 12pp
  • Postmarks, The Philatelic Institute, c1924, 11pp
  • Rare stamps: How to Recognize Them, Melville Book Co, 1922, 46pp
  • Siam: Its Posts and Postage Stamps, Stamp Collectors' Fortnightly, 1906, 53pp. Free download from American Libraries here
  • St Helena, The Melville Stamp Books, 1912, 92pp
  • Stamp Collecting, 1897.
  • Stamp Collections for War Museums, Stanley Gibbons, 1918, 40pp
  • Stamps of the Steamship Companies: A Rough List, 1915, 34pp
  • Switzerland: The Children's Stamps,Pro Juventute, The Philatelic Institute, 1925, 14pp
  • The ABC of Stamp Collecting, Henry J Drane, 1903, 159pp
  • The Boys Friend Book of Stamps of the British Empire, 1925, 19pp
  • The boys own guide to stamp collecting, London, Sefi, Pemberton, 1924, 55pp
  • The British Prisoners' Stamps of Ruhleben, Philatelic Institute, 1919, 4pp
  • The Complete Philatelist, The Philatelic Institute, 1924, 246pp
  • The Cradle of the Postage Stamp, Harmer Rooke, 1923 30pp
  • The Lady Forger: an original play, Junior Philatelic Society, 1906
  • The Mayfair find of Rare Stamps, H R Harmer, 1925, 44pp
  • The Mystery Of the Shilling Green, Chas Nissen & Co Ltd, 1926, 16pp Free download here.
  • The New ABC of Stamp Collecting, Melville Stamp Company, 1922, 145pp
  • The Philatelic Library, Philatelic Institute, 1924, 20pp
  • The Postage Stamp in War, 1915, 160pp
  • The Postage Stamps of British Central Africa, Severn-Wylie-Jewett, 1918, 28pp
  • The postage stamps of China; with a history of the Chinese Imperial Post, 1908, 44pp
  • The Postage Stamps of Great Britain, Junior Philatelic Society, 1904, 56pp
  • The Postage Stamps of Hayti, C Nissen & Co, 1905, 69pp
  • The Postage Stamps of Sarawak 1869-1906, C Nissen & Co, 1907, 84pp
  • The Postage Stamps of the Cayman Islands, Severn-Wylie-Jewett, 1920, 22pp
  • The Postage Stamps of the Mozambique Company, The Philatelic Institute, 1918, 9pp
  • The Romance of Postage Stamps, W.H. Peckitt, London, 1910, 36pp
  • The Romance of Postage Stamps: A Short Introduction to the Joys of the Stamp album, Peckitt, 1908, 30pp
  • The Soldier and His Stamps Together with the Junior Philatelic Society's Roll of Honour, Stanley Gibbons, 1918, 60pp.
  • The Tapling Collection of Stamps and Postal Stationery at the British Museum, 1905.
  • The Wm. H. Crocker Collection of rare stamps of the whole World, Harmer Rooke & Co., 1938, 42pp
  • The World's Stamp Errors Part I The British Empire, W H Peckitt, 1910, 59pp (under pseudonym Miss Fitte)
  • The World's Stamp Errors Part II Foreign Countries, W H Peckitt, 1910, 50pp (under pseudonym Miss Fitte)
  • Then and Now, Whitfield King, 1938, 43pp
  • Tonga, The Melville Stamp Books, 1909, 65pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1847-1869, The Melville Stamp Books, 1st edition 1905, 68pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1847-1869, The Melville Stamp Books, 2nd edition 1909, 68pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1847-1869, Stanley Gibbons, 3rd edition 1915, 71pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1870-1893, The Melville Stamp Books, 1910, 55pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1894-1910, The Melville Stamp Books, 1910, 76pp
  • United States Postage Stamps 1922-1925, The Philatelic Institute, 1925, 93pp
  • United States Special Service Stamps, Stanley Gibbons, 1915, 69pp
  • Virgin Islands, Philatelic Institute, 1928, 68pp
  • War Stamps of Salonika & Long Island, Stanley Gibbons, 1916, 54pp

Further reading

  • Williams, L.N. & M., A "Melville" Bibliography, H.F. Johnson, London, 1941. (Reprinted with additions and amendments from The Stamp Lover, January to May, 1941.)

External links

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