Can you help solve mystery of King William’s stamp collection?

Robert McAuley with his Tercentenary Collection of first day covers which commemorates 14 of King William's battles in Ireland. In the background are two signed letters from King William and the Duke of Leinster, Meinhardt Schomberg
Robert McAuley with his Tercentenary Collection of first day covers which commemorates 14 of King William's battles in Ireland. In the background are two signed letters from King William and the Duke of Leinster, Meinhardt Schomberg

On the Twelfth of July, 1990 a stamp-based collection was released to celebrate the 300th anniversary of some of King William’s most famous battles in Ireland...

... or was it?

The first day cover which marks the Battle of the Boyne in 1690

The first day cover which marks the Battle of the Boyne in 1690

A treasured item belonging to Ballymena stamp collector Robert McAuley goes some way to proving that the collection existed at least in prototype form, but his search to find whoever created it has proved fruitless.

The 79-year-old is desperate to find out if he is the only person in the world to own the 14 first day covers which mark 14 key battles fought during the Williamite Wars from 1689 to 1691 or whether the collection went on general release.

The Orange Order, Royal Mail and An Post have been contacted about Mr McAuley’s collector’s item, and while two of the stamps included within it which celebrate the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Limerick have been traced to An Post, none of the organisations are claiming responsibility for the first day cover collection and its post marks – all dated 12.VII.1990.

Mr McAuley hopes News Letter readers may be able to help him trace whoever collated the covers into an album, created a series of unique post marks, and annotated the stamp-based collection with details of the key battles fought by King William at locations including The Boyne, Enniskillen, Carrickfergus, Limerick and Waterford.

The front cover of the collection

The front cover of the collection

He was given the album containing the first day covers labelled as the Tercentenary Philatelic Collection by Kilrea Orangeman Leslie Blair.

Mr McAuley said: “Leslie is dead maybe about five or six years now.

“I asked his wife but she had no idea her husband even owned such a collection.

“He never told me where he got it. He just knew that my wife and I were into collecting stamps and first day covers, so he asked if I’d like it.

“I can’t even tell you how much I paid for it, it wasn’t a terrible lot.

“There’s a lot of work that has gone into putting it together, especially the individual post marks. It’s not a spur of the moment thing.”

Mr McAuley said he was surprised that no one within the Orange Order was aware of the collection.

He commented: “I’m beginning to wonder was this just a trial run to see how it would go and there’s maybe been no interest in it. Maybe what I have is the only one of its kind.”

As well as his stamp collection Mr McAuley also has handwritten letters by King William and the Duke of Leinster, Meinhardt Schomberg.

If you can help Mr McAuley please ring reporter Graeme Cousins on 028 90 89 7725.