Robert Murray Stamp Shop, Edinburgh
Established 1977
Members SPTA, PTS
Scotland's Best-Stocked and Most Popular Stamp Shop

Robert Murray; Stamp Dealer; Biography

Robert ("Bob") Murray was born in Edinburgh in 1957, and started his first stamp collection at about the age of seven, following the example of his mother and elder brother. Stamps became a more serious hobby later in primary school years, where he can remember much swapping going on. In 1971, still aged 13, he attended a stamp auction in Edinburgh conducted by G. Kerr Doig and bought a shirt box of mixed world stamps for �1.50. "I remember sorting through the box, picking out all the stamps I wanted for my collection, and sorting all the extras out by price to take to school to sell to my friends. It wasn't long before I had all my money back in halfpennies and pennies and started even to show a profit, and thought this seemed a very satisfactory way of building my collection." While still at school he went on to run a small approvals service, and to take tables at some local stamp fairs. He first took a table at Scottish Philatelic Congress in 1974, and has been a standholder there every year since.

During his last year at school he took a part-time job at Dowell's, a famous and old-established general auction house in Edinburgh, where he carried out general duties but also started running their stamp auctions, the first being in December 1974. On leaving school in the summer of 1975 he started working at Dowell's in Edinburgh full time, sharing an office with the book department, running regular stamp auctions, and helping with other departments (books, antique furniture, coins and silverware, paintings, sporting goods, and general household goods) when necessary. Dowell's had already become part of the Phillips group, and changed its name during his time working there. During that period he also spent some time at Phillips' London office (working with David Boyd) and attending some shows and exhibitions representing the company. Happy with the variety of work and the general auction world, but unhappy with the management and long-term prospects, he left that position at the end of 1976, with the intention of becoming self-employed.

Robert Murray opened his stamp shop at 5 Inverleith Gardens, Edinburgh, on 3 January 1977. The stamp business at that time was booming, and there were many stamp shops all across the UK. His first public auction was in March 1977, which was his first experience of acting as auctioneer, with his mother making up the accounts, and no other staff. (All the lots from that first auction could be transported in his Morris Minor Traveller !)

Largely at the instigation of William Carson and Michael Ferris, a meeting was held in Glasgow of many stamp dealers from across Scotland. This was to be the start of the Scottish Philatelic Trade Association, and Robert Murray being part of the first meeting thereby became one of its Founder Members. In later years, Bob went on to spend a number of years on the SPTA's Executive Committee, and was Chairman in 1997 to 1999.

The boom years of the stamp business started to tail off in 1980, especially in the philatelic investment area. Robert Murray had always warned people off pure investment, which had given him the disadvantage of losing out on sales at the time, but the advantage of preserving and strengthening reputation. (For example in 1981 while some members of the trade vigourously marketed the Royal Wedding issues, Murray actually wrote to customers warning them of the risks.) 1981 presented another opening when the shop next door became available. This opportunity was taken, and the shops at numbers five and six rebuilt into one shop. Some years later another shop in the same street was added to give additional working and storage space.

Over the years business has steadily grown, and staff taken on to keep up with this increase in activity. Robert Murray Stamp Shop rose through the ranks to take on quite a unique position within the stamp trade; a business which was at the same time {a} one of the UK's top three or four retail stamp shops and {b} one of the UK's half-dozen leading philatelic auctioneers. Other areas of collectables such as coins, banknotes, medals, postcards, and cigarette cards, became established parts of the area of operations.

Bob Murray is also an active collector, being a member of the Scottish Philatelic Society (President 1989-1990), Edinburgh Philatelic Society, Scottish Postal History Society, Alba Stamp Group, East Coast Vikings, Scandinavia Philatelic Society, Nepal and Tibet Philatelic Study Circle, and Faroe Islands Study Circle.

Robert Murray is a well-known and experienced speaker, mainly on philatelic subjects. Equally happy at a local Probus club or a serious philatelic event, he was described in a Scottish Philatelic Society vote of thanks as "obviously a communicator". For a couple of years he was a regular guest at Radio Forth while they had their "Phone the Expert" feature, and he has written numerous general and specialist articles in the philatelic press.

In recent years he has - time permitting - run series of workshops on various philatelic subjects. Bob says "I think it is important that collectors should have the opportunity to learn more about their hobby, to get inspiration to help them enjoy their hobby even more, and to get some of the tools which will stop them from becoming victim to pitfalls. It is also a great way for me to keep my thinking sharp, and you never know what interesting questions are going to come up."

Bob Murray married Adrienne in 1985, and they have three adult children. Outside the world of stamps, Bob's interests include Scottish traditional music and song, sport (hill-running and triathlon), politics (non-party), and local history.

For the range of his activities see

Postal Address; Robert Murray Stamp Shop, 5 & 6 Inverleith Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH3 5PU
Telephone 0131 552 1220, or 0131 478 7021 

Email [email protected]  Website  Skype name "stampshop"

Last updated Sunday 19 October 2014.
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