Thomas Tapling & Co. Ltd. was a furniture manufacturer and carpet wholesaler based in London. The company owned a furniture factory in Finsbury, a bedding factory in east London and carpet warehouses in Manchester.
Thomas Tapling died in 1882, having made a fortune from the business. His son, Thomas Keay Tapling, abandoned his plans for a career in law, and took over the family enterprise. The company expanded and prospered, enabling Tapling to return to his childhood hobby of stamp collecting.
By 1887 he had one of the two greatest stamp collections in the world, the other being that of Count Ferrary. Among his holdings were many famous rarities, including both values of the “Post Office” Mauritius and three examples of the Inverted Head Four Annas of India. Tapling became Vice-President of the Philatelic Society and his collection was a key source for the Society’s handbooks.
Thomas Tapling died of pleurisy in 1891 aged just 35. After his death, Tapling’s stamp collection was donated to the British Library in London, and remains intact – the only 19th century collection to be so – though too large to display all at one time. Its 4,500 valuable sheets are now thought to be worth at least £10 million.