Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Collecting Stamp Literature

Books, Monographs and Pamphlets

Every collector has one or more catalogues on the shelf to use as their major resource. We can't avoid this, as reference to value is a human condition. However, the catalogues only tell a small part of the story behind the stamps we collect.

If a catalogue was meant to be an educational tool, the SG Commonwealth & Empire catalogue may run to 20 volumes, and none of us could afford either the cost or the shelf space. If we want to find more depth, detail and interest, accumulating specialised literature is a very rewarding and worthwhile sideline to constantly hunting down our next piece of coloured paper. 

Much of this literature is out of print, but can often be found at very low prices. I'm going to show a small selection of my favourite items, and none of them cost me more than $5!

Didn't we all have a basic stamp book when we were young? The one that was given to us by our parents or our favourite uncle, when they realised that we were doomed to a life of hunching over a desk with a glass to our eye......

This is one of the best primers I've ever seen. Published by the Philosophical Library, this is the 6th edition (1966) of a book first published in 1951, and it contains over 3,000 A-Z entries. If you're looking for illustrations of cork cancels, details of where Wolmaransstad is, or what P.K.W.N is an ebbrevaition for, this is the book to have

I still have the book I used as my "bible" when I was a child, and I treasure it. The "XLCR" Stamp Identifier was invaluable. It's similar to the Encyclopedia, but in an abbreviated pamphlet form. 

Stanley Phillips was the editor of the Stanley Gibbons catalogues, and the joint editor of the Gibbons Stamp Monthly. His book "Stamp Collecting", published by Sampson Low (6th Edition - late 1940's), is much more of a "how to" manual, with chapter headings such as "How to get stamps", "Arranging a collection" and so on. A little dry, but a good read nonetheless

One of my collecting interests is military-related material. This book, written and published by the revered philatelic author Fred J Melville in 1915, was released only a year into World War 1. It encompasses the issues of all nations from the Crimea in the 1850's through to 1915. A great book!

The Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps by Robson Lowe is as valuable a philatelic resource today as it was on it's release in the late 1940's. This is a 1st Edition of Volume 1, Great Britain and the Empire in Europe. It contains incredible detail of pre-stamp markings, postal rates and postal routes, along with a priced catalogue. An expensive series that sometimes, just sometimes, turn up in bulk lots like mine did!

This book is, rightly, considered the premier non-catalogue resource for Falkland Islands collectors (the specialised Heijtz catalogue is a must for any Falklands collector). Published by Stanley Gibbons, this is a 1st Edition from 1952, and it's in bad shape, held together with tape. It has a wealth of detail and background information

Possibly the most obscure item I have is this monograph published by the Scott Polar Research Institute in 1951. Details of all the postal services and markings of the Antarctic, including those of the British Commonwealth, 
USA, France, Norway and the whaling ships. 

The last one for now is one for, perhaps, the lighter side of collecting. Compiled by Bill Hornadge, the former editor of "Stamp News", Cinderella Stamps of Australasia (1st Edition 1974) is invaluable for anyone interested in cinderellas. This book has been supplanted by a CD-ROM version, but you can't pop that on your bookshelf, can you!

I hope I've been able to light a flicker of interest to encourage some of you to acquire, read, digest and share the wonderful older literature that is still out there.

Rescue it and treasure it before it's too late.

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