Sir Gawaine Baillie, 7th Bt (8 March 1934 – 21 December 2003) was an amateur motor racing driver, engineer, industrialist, stamp collector, and the owner of the ancient estate surrounding Leeds Castle, the ancient fortress in Kent. After his death, it was discovered that he had amassed, almost entirely in secret, one of the greatest collections of stamps of the former British Empire.
Sir Gawaine was raised at Leeds Castle, the ancient fortress in Kent that his mother Lady Baillie (née Olive Cecilia Paget), a Whitney heiress, had bought with her sister Dorothy Paget in 1928. At age five, after World War II broke out, Baillie went to live with his American cousins, the Whitney family. Soon after returning to England, his father died, and he succeeded to the family title, becoming 7th Baronet of Polkemmet, Linlithgowshire on 8 January 1947.
Following education at Eton and Cambridge, he created HPC Engineering in 1959, a company which specializes in sub-contract manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace, computer, defence, medical and machine tool industries. He served as chairman and managing director of the company for the rest of his life. He was also an amateur race car driver, competing in numerous championships against Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Jackie Stewart. After retiring from motor racing, he returned to his boyhood hobby of collecting stamps.
Sir Gawaine's driving career began in 1956 when he first started racing a Lotus Eleven sports car. By 1958, he became a member of the Equipe Endeavour team, earning several wins in a Jaguar Mark 1 including the John Davy Trophy at Brands Hatch as part of the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship season. By 1960, Sir Gawaine had purchased a Lotus Elite and entered several rounds of the World Sportscar Championship, including his first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 1961, Sir Gawaine entered the Tour de France automobile competition, finishing second in the touring car category. The following year, he crashed his Jaguar E-Type during the same competition and fell 100 ft (30 m) down a hillside. Sir Gawaine returned to the British Saloon Car Championship the following year, now campaigning an American-built Ford Galaxie. The Galaxie was also transported to Australia in 1964, where Sir Gawaine and Lex Davison entered the Sandown 6 Hour International.
After Sir Gawaine's Australian tour with the Galaxie, he purchased a Ford Mustang for the 1965 British Saloon Car Championship, he finished second in the class championship behind his teammate Roy Pierpoint. By 1967 Sir Gawaine had retired from racing.
Sir Gawaine's goal in stamp collecting was to build a comprehensive collection of postage stamps from Great Britain and the British Empire, starting with the earliest issues of Queen Victoria through to the present. Sir Gawaine was interested in only the most perfectly preserved stamps and his collection is distinguished from others of comparable scale by his exacting standards. He mastered at least ten areas of specialisation and acquired over 100,000 stamps, of the highest quality including a copy of the scarce Edward VII 2d Tyrian plum. The collection was considered the most comprehensive of its kind and, when Sotheby's put the stamps up for auction, after his death, the collection was described as the most important to be sold in more than 50 years. Sotheby's divided the stamps into ten separate auctions, the first nine of which exceeded the initial estimate of £11m, by more than £4m.
On his death, the baronetcy passed to his son, Sir Adrian Louis Baillie, 8th Baronet.
- "Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt". Obituaries. Telegraph.co.uk. 2004-01-02. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Adams, Susan (2004-09-14). "Lots Of Stamps". What's Hot Now. Forbes.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Lundy, Darryl. "A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe: Person Page - 12893". ThePeerage.com. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "The Seventh Sale of Stamps from the Collection of Sir Gawaine Baillie" (pdf). Press release. Sotheby's. 2006-02-01. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "Stamp collection raises millions". BBC. 2004-10-01.
- "The Philatelic Collection formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt". News Stories. Worldcollectorsnet.com. 2004-09-25. Retrieved 2008-06-30.