Brian was born on 16th August 1949 in the small seaside fishing town of Whitby, Yorkshire which is on the north-east coast of England about 250 miles/ 400 km from London. Whitby has several claims to fame – it is the birthplace of Captain Cook, the early explorer; Whitby Abbey was the meeting place in the dim and distance past for the church synod to decide on each year’s date for Easter; and, finally, Whitby is the place where Count Dracula’s ship was wrecked and he was supposed to have set up home near Whitby. Brian’s parents owned a pub called the Talbot Hotel in Whitby. The family had moved from Whitby to Scarborough when he was 4 and he started school there at Northstead Primary. – Brian had three half-siblings ranging from 20 years to 10 years his senior from his father’s first marriage. When Brian was 7, his mother died of cancer at the age of 38. From then on Brian lived between two homes; partly with his half-brother in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and partly with his half-sister on her farm.
When Brian was 11, he took the 11 + examination which was to determine which school he would subsequently attend. He saw the opportunity and, with his excellent results, won a scholarship to attend a boarding school called Archbishop Holgates in the city of York. Brian said he remembered getting abreast of current affairs by reading all the newspapers that summer so that he would be right up to date for the interviews – the big story was Gary Powers being shot down over Russia and, sure enough, this question came up and he was spot on!
Brian recalled that the first thing he learned was that boarding school wasn’t how it was portrayed in the literature provided. However, as a young 11 year old boy, he soon found his feet and learned how to survive in this new environment!
He turned out to be quite good at Rugby, Cricket and Athletics and he made most of the teams. Brian was very good at English but his best subject was Maths where he was excellent and always at the top of his class throughout his academic school life. He also enjoyed and excelled at Geography and History. Although he studied German, French and Latin, he said he was generally hopeless at languages! (Hence, he was the Latin American rare stamps and postal history expert who didn’t speak Spanish!!!)
Brian did not see his father much after his mother’s death, but his father had bought a small box of German stamps for him while he was at boarding school which, unknowingly, planted the seed for his interest in stamps.
Brian left school with good qualifications that would enable him to get a job in banking, insurance or the like and so, when he had just turned 16, he headed for the bright lights of London!
Brian applied for a job at the laboratory with SMEC (Simms Motor and Electronic Corp.) and started out doing boring testing of switch gears for a year but then he moved on to chemical engineering which he found more interesting as he was working with x-rays and a spectrograph, etc. Brian took a special course on chemical engineering and he progressed quite rapidly to being qualified as a Metal Analyst. Being good, studious and following a life-long career as one should, he suddenly discovered what was going on out there! It was the 1960‘ s and his new life style of being out until the early hours of 3 and 4 every morning, meant something had to suffer! He was fired!
Christmas and jobless, he was able to use contacts to secure a job at the Round House in London , where it had just opened as a theatre and was the venue for many of the London rock concerts. Brian was not yet 18 years old, when he was managing the snack bar restaurant there. Being sacked at SMEC had turned out to be a favour! Life was good for him at the Round House! Brian saw most of the major groups at the time including the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Tim Rose, Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown, Jeff Beck, The Who, Pretty Things and a whole host of others… On the theatre side, the first major production was Hamlet starring Nicol Williamson and Marianne Faithful which ran for three months with the American TV crew filming in the day time. . . a very busy life for a restaurant manager! Then the Round House had a smash hit – big time, with the then decadent and controversial “Oh Calcutta!” – a production that none of the other West End theatres would touch… unfortunately, the success led to the downfall of the Round House when “Big Money” moved in and they “Moved Out” – meaning Brian was out of a job again! Such is life!
Next came selling paintings! No, Brian did not have a gallery in Mayfair, but he had decided to sell ‘original’ mass produced crayon pictures drawn on a black ‘velvet’ paper mounted on a white board. They were surprisingly attractive and Brian did quite well on the first day making a few pounds. The second day was a disaster but he thought he’d give it one more day. On the following day, he heard that the man who was running a big scale mobile painting gallery needed a driver urgently and Brian got the job. He came up with a good business plan for this man by using a minivan and hiring a team of 4-5 people to sell paintings as an organized business venture. Within two months Brian was running the Bristol office for this man and taking commission not just for his own sales, but a cut from the rest of the team. Money was rolling in… one could live very well on £20 a week back then and he was taking in more than£ 50 a week, so life was smelling of roses – but nothing good lasted long in those days!
The boss was being chased by the Inland Revenue and that was the end of that job! Giving up has never been an option for Brian! He then started his own mobile art gallery with a friend and they formed a company called ‘Midas Fine Arts’. (Midas for the millions they were going to make!!) They hired a young lady to make appointments with home owners then he and his friend would take the paintings to the house and let the client put them on the wall before buying… it was very successful! They then needed to address supply and demand by stocking up and producing an inventory. Brian came up with the idea of negotiating with the artists or sellers at London’s Sunday outdoor painting market and “borrow” their paintings during the week for their mobile art gallery, and then return them in time for their Sunday market sales. It worked extremely well and again, money was rolling in! But then, six months later, there were hundreds of such mobile art galleries flooding the market and they had to quit!
What came next? Driving a taxi part-time. The funniest story was when Brian picked up a young lady in Mayfair who was carrying piles of clothes. She asked him to take her to all the second-hand shops where she eventually disposed of everything. The next day, the company boss told Brian that a lady was asking him to go back to the same shops as the day before. This time it was the mother! Apparently, the daughter had a row with her mother and she had decided to sell all of her mother’s clothes!
The next adventure was forming a partnership with someone and starting their own motor cycle dispatch messenger services. After lots of hassle, numerous upsets and problems, they acquired a fleet of Suzuki 250cc motorbikes. There was usually at least one breakdown a day and a minimum of one crash a week as well as other minor mishaps to liven things up! Eventually, his partner had a nervous breakdown under the pressure and Brian was going nowhere fast!
Time to look for a job again! So next Brian, at 19-20, had become an advertising executive in the powerful world of advertising! For someone who didn’t know much about advertising, somehow, he was impressive enough and he got a position with a company called Harris Publications. This was the turning point where stamps came into the picture!
Brian was put in charge of a group of weekly magazines called Stamp Collecting covering the Philatelic Exporter, etc. He collected stamps as a kid starting with the box of stamps from his father and he used to send off for “Approval Selections” and received a book full of stamps from somewhere called the ‘South Moluccas Republic’ (a non-existent territory as such under Dutch rule in the Indies).
This job renewed his interest in stamps and he saw there was money to be made, so after buying quietly using his savings while still working with Harris Publication, he started doing a little buying and selling of his own about three years later. Brian told me that when he first started in the stamp business, the bank wouldn’t even entertain lending him a £500 loan. He often had to stop bidding at an auction because he had run out of capital funds.
Brian concentrated on Latin America as it was the only area he did not have advertisements in the magazine – in other words, he was not treading on anyone’s toes as an existing client of the magazine. Brian discovered that he had a flair for the trade and a couple of years later, he resigned from the magazine group and became a full-time stamp dealer trading as South American Stamp Supplies around 1972. Later, Brian traded under his own name as Brian Moorhouse.
His business motto was: “If you keep your word and pay people, you will always be trusted and have no problem in doing business!”
Brian’s first venture into the international market was travelling to Brazil in 1979 for a stamp exhibition sponsored by the British Board of Trade promotion. From memory, Brian has told me that our friends, John Barefoot and Greg Todd were amongst the group of British dealers there!
Soon after I had arrived England, I became part of the business – including taking over the dreadful task of bookkeeping which Brian always hated, but happily passed them over to me! As quoted by my son, Kennon when he was 12 years old, I was the “Assistant Philatelist”!
We were a great team together in business; Brian said we were like twins, connected as soulmates and we complemented each other perfectly by contributing positively in getting to know our clients while buying and selling stamps, and then later, becoming good friends.
It was an honour for Brian and myself that his surname “Moorhouse” became a verb in the philatelic world for his iconic knowledge and authority of authenticity in Latin American rare stamps and postal history. (Coined by two generations of Bolivia stamp collectors, Dr. Frank Lucas and his late father Franz Lucas.)
Fun but interesting: I have been told that from now on, any philatelic material that has been “Moorhoused ” will probably go up in value in a year or two!. . . We shall see!! Brian’s photographic memory and his very sharp eye for detail gave him the edge when becoming an expert in this field. His accumulated experience, passion and professionalism in philately, willingness to give his time and sharing his knowledge with everyone, his attitude in fairness to all plus having handled such a vast amount of material over the last 45 years – have earned his unchallenged authority with great respect from all over the world .
Brian’s famous one liners were:
“Show me another one!”
“If I haven’t seen it – it has to be rare!”
Respect, has to be earned – Brian has done just that!
Brian and I first met in late November 1986 in Hong Kong inside our hotel elevator when he picked up a ring that I had dropped on the carpet. Three days later, when he was en-route to Hawaii for the late Harvey Weeks’ estate, and I was flying back to San Francisco after a quick meeting in Hong Kong about my water treatment project – Brian was by chance assigned to the seat next to me on our flight to Tokyo!
When we first introduced ourselves, I told Brian about my work with the water treatment project and he told me “I buy and sell stamps”. The only stamps I knew were the square papers with holes on the sides which you lick and stick on the right upper corner of an envelope … So I replied “Ahh . . . You work at the post-office!”
We licked a lot of stamps and wrote to each other daily over the next eight months before I moved to live with him in England on 15th July 1987. Ironically, Brian died on the same day thirty years later.
We were married on 23rd July 1988. We travelled the world “seeing this world before the next” and collected 267 countries and territories on our country list. Our adventures were countless… We survived 8 days on the high seas with gale force 9 in the Antarctic region all the way to the Falkland Islands; walked on fire in Fiji; bungee jumped in Australia; scuba-dived all over the world; swam with hundreds of Hammerhead Sharks and the giant Whale Sharks; dodged bones hanging down from hang graves in Borneo; fell over elephant dunk in the Safari; climbed the Tiger Mountain in Bhutan, the Great Wall of China and the pyramids in Egypt; explored mysterious and beautiful Iran; drank champagne at the Midnight Sun in the Arctic; Flew over Everest in the brightest morning sun… “Count Dracula” Brian even drank live snake blood in Vietnam! What an exciting and colourful life!
No time has been wasted.
We worked hard and played hard! Friends have often reminded us that Brian and I have lived a full and intensive life compacting more than 30 people’s lifetimes in 31 years.
Through the years, our unconditional love and great respect for each other never diminished with time.
Cayman Islands visiting Tiyen and Philippa in 2015
Top: New York 2016
Bottom: Our 5th wedding anniversary
2014 Pitcairn Island – Mutiny of the Bounty
2016 Iran – Mysterious and beautiful
Brian said he has no regrets.
He only had worries about me – although he knew that I am like he was, a survivor, and I will always land on my four feet like a cat!
2002 Antarctica – Elephant Seal in a size of a house
2014 South Pacific
Home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire – I tied a yellow ribbon on the 16th of August 2017 around and old tree in front of our house. A modern tradition in the U.S. to remember or welcome someone home.
Brian would have turned 68 on this birthday.
2017 April – Walking to the Bluebell Wood
Brian with Kennon and Tiyen in an antique car show
Brian has four daughters. Tania from his first marriage in 1970. Kylie, Nadine and Leana from his second marriage in 1976. His two step sons are Tiyen and Kennon from me.
Brian’s three daughters Kylie, Leana and Nadine
The Mick Jagger of Philately (we owe this epithet to Erich von Hungen) – although Brian may have seemed a quiet person to many, he certainly enjoyed dancing in public with his Mick Jagger steps! He loved the music from the 60’s by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Animals, the Queen, the Kinks, Eric Clapton, the Eagles…, and the list would go on and on.
Brian continued to keep fit by running all his life, no matter in which country – Antarctica, the Amazon jungle, beyond the Arctic Circle, the Galapagos, on Pitcairn Island, etc… and throughout most of the 267 countries where we had travelled together. His routine was running a minimum of 7 kilometres each day.
We were two serious scuba divers and enjoyed putting 150+ dives under our belts!
Brian also enjoyed playing competitive tennis on a regular basis during the last 25 years. Brian would win games 9 times out of 10 – almost always coming home with a big grin on his face!
With Tiyen I his old classic car
2015 Monte Carlo – with Roger Federer after the MC Tennis Master
2006 The Rolling Stones concert
Brian with Paul Jone, the singer of the song “Do wah diddy diddy”
Brian mounting the pages of the Haiti Collection which has won him a Large Gold at Finlandia in 2017
Brian was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma grade 4 brain cancer at the beginning of February 2017. He kept up with his running to stay fit over his near six month battle with cancer, albeit slower and slower day by day but he kept moving until the last 6 weeks towards the end . Brian came through like a super hero without too much complication over the Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy in half the time with double the dose. The second phase of Chemotherapy knocked Brian down flat after just cycle one of a series of six. He did not suffer from any pain until the last 10 days.
Each day, Brian would say “Another new morning, another new day!” and “I am still here and I am still smiling!”
Brian continued his routine 45 minute daily walk to keep fit and keep fighting. He kept saying to himself, “Fight, fight, fight! One step in front of the other, stopping is not an option!” Yet his circuit was completed a bit slower each day – from running to fast walking, to just walking, then shuffling and finally at a snail’s pace, but he kept going even up to the start of the second phase of chemotherapy in early June. He also did a lot of walking during the trip at the exhibition hall in Tampere and on the Aaland Islands, a new countable destination for us.
Our motto: “See this world before the next”!
2017 May – With Kennon in Stockholm
Against all odds, with the assistance of logistical planning by Tiyen and the physical help of Kennon lugging our suitcases and pushing the wheelchair, Brian amazed all the doctors and specialists by feeling well enough to travel to Sweden and Finland for over a week, immediately after his first phase of Chemotherapy and full Radiotherapy. The purpose of the trip was to attend the Finlandia 2017 Stamp Exhibition in Tampere this May to see his philatelic friends and his Haiti collection in exhibition. Also, to collect one more territory by visiting Mariehamn, the Aaland Island. He was really happy and he especially enjoyed eating reindeer meat again!
His oncologists and the Macmillan Cancer nurse have said that they have never, ever seen any patient having taken all these treatments and still able to fly away and travel like Brian did.
The icing on the cake was that his Early Classic Haiti stamp collection won a Large Gold medal.
Karl Louis of Corinphila was first to text and let us know the result that Brian’s collection The Classic Stamps of Haiti – The 1881-87 “Liberty Head” Issues had won a Large Gold medal. Brian and I were very happy with the news! It had made Brian’s last effort to travel just that much more meaningful.
The brain tumour had not affected Brian’s thinking as such. He said “1844”… when I asked him what was the year of the INCLINADO of Brazil! On the 4th of July U.S. Independence Day, I told him that I had put the flag up. He then duly reminded me not to forget to take it down before sundown.
Brian’s biggest problem was the agitation which had developed about 5 weeks previously. It caused him to move non-stop, incessantly wanting to get up out of bed and then immediately lie down. This went on all day and all night long for the whole five weeks. It seemed as if his brain kept telling him the wrong messages due to the pressure on certain nerves. It was sleep deprivation for both of us.
What else could I possibly have sourced to help more? Medical Marijuana (Cannabis Oil) is used for cancer in the USA, Spain or the Netherlands. But Brian declined this option as it is still unlicensed and illegal in Great Britain.
Brian died peacefully in my arms and with all the children holding his hands at his bedside on Saturday, 15 th of July 2017 at Thorpe Hall Sue Ryder Home Hospice in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire U.K.
To honor the wish of Brian, there was not a funeral but a dignified and graceful civil service was held by just the close family members on Friday the 28th of July in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
I chose to play some songs from some of Brian’s favourite artists. Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Animals, John Lennon and last bur not least a song so befitting Brian – “Street Fighting Man” from the Rolling Stones!
The hearse stopped by the front door of our house and Brian visited his house one last time before his cremation. He was surrounded by at least two dozen friends who surprised us by turning up to wave their final farewell to this wonderful and courageous man – their good friend and good neighbour.
Brian’s ashes were scattered in the natural large woodland park behind our house where Brian had run his daily 7 to 9 kilometer circuit regularly for the last 35 years, also over the bluebell fields and by the river bank where we used to sit on a bench – just listening to each other’s heart-beats and holding hands.
I have reserved some of his ashes to be scattered over the Yorkshire moorland area where he came from, also some will be scattered in San Francisco Bay, my old home – his home away from home.
‘A true professional and a real gentleman, a legend, an icon, the provenance, encyclopaedic knowledge of all 20 countries in Latin America, an unselfish, patient, knowledge giver and sharer, staid and erudite, Mick Jagger/ Rock Star of Philately…’ fancy and complimentary words were written by hundreds in heartfelt messages in cards, letters, texts, emails, phone calls and special postings on the memory guestbook.
Brian Moorhouse, the Rock Star of Philately – after 45 years of devotion to his profession, has made his last bow to the final curtain on 15th ofJuly 2017.
To Karl Louis of Corinphila, for the kind offer of producing this EDITION D’OR on the “Life Journey of Brian Moorhouse ” and featuring his Haiti Large Gold collection.
To Dr. Norman S. Hubbard, for his introduction presented at Brian’s Celebration of Life on the 2″* of October 2017.
For Norman, Brian has always been his “philatelic son” and part of his family over the last 40+ years. Norman came to our wedding from New York in 1988 and he has gained a daughter, me.
To Nick Martin, for his generous support and co-ordinating this event with the Royal Philatelic Society of London.
lo the Royal Philatelic Society of London and the staff for facilitating and making the “Celebration of Life of Brian Moorhouse” at this perfect venue.
lo the Corinphila editing team André Schneider, Uve Gierth and Karl Louis for their relentless work and to meet the deadline. They have performed miracles!
To my translators in Spanish and my editors in English; Francisco Perez, Caroline Fallowfield and Michael Nelson for their hard work into the night and loving support.
To all other unsung heroes who have contributed in making this book possible — I am truly grateful.
I have kept most of the “Life Journey of Brian” in Brian’s own original words – extracted from a collection of nearly 400 letters which we had written to each other daily over the 8 months between England and San Francisco from November 1986 to July 1987.
Emotional, yes! I had to do it in order to confirm some of the points in the Life Journey of Brian. It took a lot of courage to finally open that box which has been closed for 30 years after my arrival in England. Such a lot of wonderful sweet memories to relish in these letters and seeing all those beautiful, witty and loving words, along with so many funny picture drawings once again — mostly in 10+ pages hand written letters by Brian. Overseas mail took over 12 days in each direction back in those days without the convenience of email, and Brian and I had to number our letters in order to keep track of our sending! We took turn to call each other on expensive long distance phone calls twice a week and we have exchanged at least a dozen cassette tapes. I will need to find my old Walkman to listen to them, one day.
We shared a perfect 31 years of unconditional love for each other – to quote what Brian wrote to me on Valentine’s Day this year — “A simple Twist of Fate brought us together…a dropped ring on the floor of an elevator on the other side of the world followed by sitting in adjoining seats on a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo. Both million to 1 shots but how perfect! How precious! How magic!”
Brian and I both agreed that our long marathon romance has been truly memorable and a wonderful fairy tale bliss!
Brian always took great pride in me and was always my loudest cheerleader. He offered me unlimited freedom, support and confidence to reach far and aim high. I am forever grateful to Brian for his love and encouragement to turn my hobby into a profession by being a Classical Chinese Feng Shui Master. Daring to be different — I have taken the insight and inspiration of Brian’s success by focusing on specializing my knowledge into a higher level of Feng Shui in Chinese metaphysics.
Kindred spirit, we think alike without saying a word. A as one.
On more than one occasion, Brian said and wrote to me: “You and only you can read the hieroglyphics engraved in my heart’… | was amazed and heartened to have had found a unique way to communicate with the seemingly “Sleeping” Brian up to his dying hour.
Two days before his passing at the hospice, we quietly exchanged our vows and married again on 13″ July. I told him I would love him forever and he moved his eyelid.
With Tiyen playing the background guitar, I sang our favorite dancing song by Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me To The End Of Love”. There were tears in his eyes.
I considered it as our blessing that I could care for and be with Brian during this heart-breaking six month journey from the start to the end. I would not have survived all these months fighting alongside Brian had it not been for Brian’s incredible strength and positive attitude – It was he who was pulling me along. He was such an admirable courageous fighter – even down to his last breath!
Brian loved the idea that I will continue to run the stamp business within my ability, to travel and keep on collecting more countries; seeing the world, giving lectures in different countries when I can…and to finish writing my book! I will be taking some of Brian’s ashes so he can travel with me.
It has been a great privilege to have met many of you over the last 31 years alongside Brian. The truth of the matter is, I cannot bear the thought of giving up on our philatelic friends… To many, I feel as if I have grown up with you half my life!
Thank you for sending the cards and letters with such beautiful words, the heartfelt and meaningful emails, also the special tributes in the Memory Guestbook for Brian. All your positive observations toward Brian and myself, as well as your endorsements to Brian’s accomplishments will become my main source of “motivation and comfort’ for the next few months and for the rest of my life.
I too, have no regrets.
I too, have found my perfect love in Brian, I am the luckiest woman in the world.
I shall cherish and find comfort in all the sweet memories we ve made and shared in this life time.
Wait for me Brian my darling — we shall continue from where we have left off when Í join you in due time.
I know, Brian is with me now, he will be omnipresence wherever l am
— Always in my heart.
Love, Eternal Love,
Mimi, the cat