Biography and History

William Hogarth Tower (1871-1950), Princeton University Class of 1894, served as secretary of his class and was a resident of Montclair, New Jersey. It was Professor Lawrance Thompson of the Princeton University Library who encouraged Tower "to begin a Princeton stamp collection" and who later suggested that Tower bequeath it to the University (From "William Hogarth Tower," an obituary published in The Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume XII, Number 4, Summer 1951, p. 225.). Tower described his own collection in an article entitled "A Philatelic Medley," published in The Princeton University Library Chronicle (Volume V, Number 1, November 1943, pp. 14-15), as follows:

When I made a fresh start in collecting, about six years ago, I hoped to form a collection that would interest anyone, collector or not. That meant keeping away from the lesser details and minor types, and permitted the broadest latitude in acquiring philatelic material… my collection is predominately made up of postally-used envelopes, or covers, and completeness of any given period or country is not sought after so long as I can show illustrations of varieties and types along certain lines. Even that is a consideration secondary to miscellaneous items of peculiar interest. With this as a working principle, my collection has gradually fallen into four or five distinct sections, each of them an essential part of the whole: (1) Philatelic Miscellany; (2) English Postal History; (3) United States Postal History; (4) War Covers; and (5) Franking.

Tower assembled and annotated hundreds of pages of philatelic material and bound them into over fifty volumes (see photos of him at work). He won prizes at many exhibitions, and was especially renowned for his early English postal history and American Colonial covers, Abraham Lincoln collection, and Arctic philately collection. Tower was instrumental in establishing a Stamp Room in the Princeton University Library in 1946 for the study of philately and postal history, and became the curator of many well-received exhibits there. Tower died on December 14, 1950, and was elected posthumously to the American Philatelic Society"s Hall of Fame in 1951.

Source: From the finding aid for C0911

  • William H. Tower Collection. 1380-1950 (inclusive), 1700s-1940s (bulk).

    Call Number: C0911

    Consists of envelopes both used and unused (also known as covers), letters, postcards, documents, postage stamps, and a variety of other philatelic material from around the world as collected and annotated by the Reverend William Hogarth Tower (1871-1950). The collection spans the topics of English Postal History, United States Postal History, War Covers, Philatelic Miscellany, and Franking.