(extracted from The Canadian Philatelist, Sep-Oct 1988; by Ian S. Robertson)
Born in February 1893. the future self-employed insurance salesman, soldier, philatelist and numismatist was educated at Upper Canada College.
Like many boys, young Vinnie followed the example of his father and took up stamps, collecting just about any type that appealed to him. At age 11, he took out an advertisement in Brown's Advertiser, offering to exchange Canadian, Newfoundland and United States stamps for foreign stamps.
In his teens, his stamp interests faded as he prepared for his future at school. The First World War interrupted his civilian pursuits, however. On Aug. 9, 1918, he was wounded in the right arm by a machine-gun bullet at the Battle of Amiens.
During the Second World War, he stayed in Canada as a recruiting officer.
Mr. Greene renewed his stamp interest in 1925 when an uncle in London. Ont. showed him 25 covers he was selling for an estate. Most bore Cape of Good Hope triangle stamps from the mid-1800s.
He turned down his uncle's offer to buy them for $20 and forgot about the covers until his uncle told him sometime later that he'd sold them for $500.
The idea of missing such a good opportunity bothered him and he bid on the three best examples in a New York mail auction - only to see them sell for twice what he bid.
"It was a valuable lesson." he said, one which launched his lifelong pursuit of knowledge about stamps and, more important, about postal history.
In 1929, he joined the first of many clubs and launched lifelong friendships with such people as Fred Jarrett, the noted Canadian philatelic writer.
Mr. Greene also met C.M. Jephcott and John H.M. Young, with whom he wrote the limited-edition. The Stamps of New-Brunswick and Nova Scotia. His associations also brought him in touch with Alfred Lichtenstein, the great U.S. collector, and noted British philatelic author and dealer Robson Lowe.
Through his contacts, Mr. Greene began to study the importance of postal rates as represented on covers. He began compiling a collection of covers back into the late 1700s - at a time when most people were primarily interested in stamps.
But when it came to stamps, appearance counted above all else. Compared to the current trend to collect full gum, never-hinged stamps, Mr. Greene said: "I'd rather have a Large Queen perfectly centred, with no gum, to an off-centre stamp with perfect gum."
For his service to philately - he judged exhibitions in Toronto, London, New York and Mexico - he received many philatelic honors: a signatory of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists; Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society of London; and in 1964, received the Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award, the top such award in the U.S.
In 1951, 1978 and in 1987, Mr. Greene was chairman of CAPEX, the only international exhibitions held in Canada - all in Toronto.
He was president of the British North American Philatelic Society, the Toronto Stamp Collectors' Club, the Canadian Numismatic Association and was a member of the distinguished Collectors' Club of New York City.
Concerned that Canada is one of the few western countries without a centre for philatelic studies, Mr. Greene in 1975 used $50,000 from the proceeds of the sale of his major collection to form the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation in Toronto.