Russian stamps 10 kopecks imperforate, strip of five, largest multiple known. Ex Fabergé

Russian stamps 10 kopecks imperforate, strip of five, largest multiple known. Ex Fabergé

November 3, 2012

Famous Philatelists, part 1: Michel Liphschutz

Michel Liphschutz was born in St Petersburg the 25 February 1910. In 1922, his parents moved to France, Paris, with their son and daughter, leaving in Russia part of their family. He was then 12 years old. 

Brillant chimist and engineer, he started his industrial career in France in 1934, quickly grewing his professional position thanks to his intelligence and dynamism.

Michel Liphschutz started collecting Russian stamps in 1944, and built over 50 years of dedicated research the second greatest collection of Russian stamps in the world, second only to that of Oleg Fabergé.

Particularly impressive was his collection of the first issues, loaded with a fantastic array of rarities. His collection of Russia n°1, for instance, consisted of more than 300 copies, preceded by over 40 (!) different unadopted essays of the famous Mercury or Eagle types (1854-57).

He was also one of the first to assemble an 'ultimate' specialized collection of RSFSR and Soviet Union, during a time where those areas were quite unpopular. The world first reference catalogue to be published on the subject (by the Cercle Philatélique France URSS in 1969)  was greatly based on the Liphschutz collection.

Ex. Liphschutz (left to right): January 1858  30kop. mint block of four (one of two recorded); 1854 fabulous essay on envelope with trial cancellations (unique); 1857 10kop. complete sheet of paper with watermark "1" (unique in private hands)

Below: RSFSR 1918 extremely rare Essay of unadopted designs, the so-called 'Nathan Altman' sheetlet (one of three knwon)

His Zemstvo and Russian Post Offices Abroad were some of the best ever realised. One of the greatest gem, in his own words, being the famous Mongolian ulankom cover, that he discovered in the 1940's.

A page from the Liphschutz Zemstvo collection: selection of rarities (between 1 to 9 copies recorded)

Unafraid of paying the price for a rare piece, he once lost during an auction the unique 1858 set in mint blocks of four (Mi 2-4) (see the 30 kopecks block above); quickly understanding that he had lost for basing his bids on the market's estimation, and not on his own wishes, when the same set was finally offered 20 years later, he sent a French dealer in New York with the sole instruction 'BUY': he didn't want to make the same mistake twice!

Michel Liphschutz was an educated scholar and gentleman. I remember vividly some stories of my grandfather, who was one of his friend, visiting the Liphschutz residence in Neuilly sur Seine, where they would exchange their views and knowledge surrounded by books. His life was of course much more than stamps; he spent some time in Soviet Union to find some family members missing after the disastrous WWII, and could eventually succeed. He was also known for having done a lot to help his family. His sister Ida was a medical doctor running a clinic in the south of France.

The famous Ulankom cover: reproduced from the Craveri sale catalogue (Part IV), February 1994

High level philatelist, Michel Liphschutz was member of the French Académie de Philatélie since 1958, signed the prestigious Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) in 1968, became President of the Académie de Philatélie in 1980 and second president of the Cercle Philatélique France URSS (after Gabriel Citerne, my grandfather).

A rare photo: Michel Liphschutz (center) showing his collections to philatelic friends in the 1970s. First on the left is Gabriel Citerne, founder and first president of the Cercle Philatélique France URSS (author's archives).

His prestigious collections were sold in Switzerland by Guido Craveri/Harmers over a breath-taking serie of auctions. The catalogues of those sales are, still today, an important reference for any serious collector of this field.


Michel Liphschutz passed away the 5 September 1994, at the age of 84.


  1. I have very fond memories of meeting M. Liphschutz when he visited the BSRP in London. A "gentleman of the old school". His partner was also very charming, we got to talk about Danish accents! (his partner was Danish, and my mother grew up in Denmark, so I could place his accent immediately)

    I attended a few of the Liphschutz auctions, acting as (mostly unsuccessful) agent for a friend. Not much auction success, but Lugano was lovely, it was fun to watch the auction unfold and I had a great dinner there afterwards.

    An outstanding philatelist and a true pioneer.

  2. Thank you for your lovely input Ivo. I really enjoy the stories about the 'old school' masters of our art; it makes more sense and gives more life to our - profound - hobby! As a funny note, I may not speak with a Danish accent, but you will certainly smile if you hear me speaking English with a 'French touch' :-)


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