J. H. Curle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
J. H. Curle
James Herbert Curle.jpg
Born18 October 1870
Melrose, Scotland
Died26 December 1942 (aged 72)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
OccupationMining engineer, journalist, writer
Known forPhilately

James Herbert Curle (18 October 1870 – 26 December 1942) was a Scottish mining engineer, traveller, writer, eugenicist, and philatelist. He wrote The Gold Mines of the World as well as autobiographical and travel works of a philosophical turn.

He was a member of the Eugenics Society and published To-day and To-morrow: The Testing Period of the White Race (1926) in which he surveyed the races of the world and argued that the white race was being out-bred by other races and its purity being eroded through inter-breeding with other races.

He won awards for his collection of stamps of the Transvaal and in 1940 jointly won the Crawford Medal of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, for his book on the postage stamps of that province.

Early life

Eildon Hills near Melrose

James Curle was born in Melrose, Scotland, on 18 October 1870,[1] one of eleven children.[2] His father was also James Curle and his mother was Marion Passmore Whyte Newlyn.[1] The family lived in the south of Scotland at the foot of the Eildon Hills. He was educated at a preparatory school in Worcestershire but did not attend a public school due to "an overcharged nervous system".[3]

In 1885 he travelled to Australia in the care of a physician whose passage had been paid by Curle's father. The physician drank the brandy from Curle's flask, attributing its disappearance to "evaporation" and, according to Curle, much of the rest of the alcohol on the ship. Curle arrived in Australian at the age of 14 and after visiting relatives and staying in "the bush", visited his first gold mine at Ballarat. He visited Tasmania before returning to Scotland in 1886.[4]

Later in 1886 he travelled to South Africa, visiting the Transvaal and Natal before returning to Scotland where he spent two years at the University of St Andrews before matriculating at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge.[5]


Cover of the first edition of The Gold Mines of the World, Waterlow, London, 1899.

In 1891, Curle arrived in Witwatersrand, South Africa. In 1894 he was appointed mining editor of the Johannesburg Star but he left that job fairly soon after to work in mine evaluation which he did during his extensive travels. In the course of his work he acquired a great deal of financial insight into mining companies that enabled him to become wealthy by trading shares on the stock exchange.[6][7]

In 1899 he published The Gold Mines of the World which had a second edition in 1902 and a third in 1905.[8] He also wrote a number of autobiographical and travel works of a philosophical turn such as The Shadow-show (1912) and This World of Ours (1921). According to his obituary, he travelled with a large map of the world on which he recorded his journeys which for a prolonged period of time averaged 50,000 miles per annum.[9]

The writer Manfred Nathan, who worked with Curle on The Star, described him as "a tall man with thick eye-brows and a sort of stammer" who was taciturn and did not encourage confidences.[6] His obituary in The Eugenics Review, described him as "very much a Border Scot", shy, deflecting praise with a joke, an agnostic, of strong views but personally generous. Tall at 6 ft 3 in (191 cm), he was, however, not robust and his extensive travels were the result of determination and an inherently roving nature.[9]

Racial views

Curle was a member of the Eugenics Society[9] and in 1926 published To-day and To-morrow: The Testing Period of the White Race in which he surveyed the races of the world and argued, as was common in eugenicist circles before the Second World War, that the white race was being out-bred by other races and its purity being eroded through inter-breeding with other races.[10][11][12]

He described the "Negro" as the "hero of Africa", capable of great good and a gentleman, but characterised him as unsophisticated and child-like with "vivid emotions", a ready laugh, and an innate gentleness. Described as having a smaller brain than other races, Curle argued that "Evolution does not need the Negro" and saw the growth in their population in Africa as a "vast futility" but one that "we [the white race] must make the best of".[10]

Curle placed the races of the world in a pecking-order with the white race at the top but even there he saw significant differences between different groups, seeing whites from Western Europe as more advanced than those from Eastern Europe whom he described as inferior, unstable, and ruled by emotion.[13]


He was a specialist in the stamps of Transvaal. In 1940, with Albert Basden, he was awarded the Crawford Medal by the Royal Philatelic Society London for his work Transvaal Postage Stamps.[14] He was a signatory to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists of South Africa.[15]

He was unmarried and it was said of him in his obituary in The London Philatelist that his stamp collection was his "wife and children" to him and that there was no distance he would not travel to add to his collection.[16]

Death and legacy

Curle died at the Royal Jubilee Hospital on 26 December 1942, in Victoria, B.C., from cancer of the pharynx.[17] He left his stamp collection to the Africana Museum, Johannesburg.[18] It was displayed at the JOMAPEX 2013 stamp exhibition.[6] He left £2,000 to the Eugenics Society.[9]

Selected publications


  1. ^ a b James Herbert Curle Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564–1950. Family Search. Retrieved 23 March 2019. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Curle, J. H. (1922) The Shadow-show. 11th edition. London: Methuen. p. 31.
  3. ^ Curle, The Shadow-show, pp. 20–21.
  4. ^ Curle, The Shadow-show, pp. 21–23.
  5. ^ Curle, The Shadow-show, pp. 23–27.
  6. ^ a b c "J.H. Curle of The Curle Collection", Wilhelm J. Verwoerd, The South African Philatelist, Vol. 90, No. 2 (April 2014), Whole No. 923, p. 40.
  7. ^ Curle, J. H. (1926) To-day and To-morrow: The Testing Period of the White Race. 2nd edition. London: Methuen. p. 1.
  8. ^ Curle, Mr James Herbert (geology). S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d "J. H. Curle", R.C., The Eugenics Review, 1943, pp. 26–27.
  10. ^ a b Curle, To-day and To-morrow, 2nd. pp. 97–98.
  11. ^ Bailey, Jonathan. (2006). Great Power Strategy in Asia: Empire, Culture and Trade, 1905–2005. London: Routledge. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-134-13758-9.
  12. ^ Tyner, James A. (2016). Violence in Capitalism: Devaluing Life in an Age of Responsibility. University of Nebraska Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-8032-8456-2.
  13. ^ "Eugenics, Nativism, and the 'Tribal Twenties'" by Diane Negra in Gregg Bachman & Thomas J. Slater (Eds.) (2002). American Silent Film: Discovering Marginalized Voices. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-8093-8910-0.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ a b The Society's Medals and Honorary Fellowship. The Royal Philatelic Society London, 2009, p. 3.
  15. ^ RDPSAPhilatelic Federation of South Africa, 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. Archived 4 January 2013 at WebCite
  16. ^ "Obituary J. Herbert Curle." in The London Philatelist, Vol. LII, No. 613, January 1943, p. 1.
  17. ^ James Herbert Curle South Africa, Transvaal, Probate Records from the Master of the Supreme Court, 1869–1958 Family Search. Retrieved 24 March 2019. (subscription required)
  18. ^ Who Was Who in British Philately, Association of British Philatelic Societies, 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. Archived here.
  19. ^ a b c British Library catalogue search. 2 April 2019.

Further reading

  • Pirie, J. H. Harvey & William Redford. (1951) "The World's Rarest Group of Stamps." A short description of the "Curle" collection of the stamps of the Transvaal. Johannesburg: Africana Museum.
What is Wiki.RIP There is a free information resource on the Internet. It is open to any user. Wiki is a library that is public and multilingual.

The basis of this page is on Wikipedia. Text licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License..

Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is an independent company that is not affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikimedia Foundation).

Privacy Policy      Terms of Use      Disclaimer