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Some Of Our Favourite Stamp Books

Sandafayre keeps one of the largest reference libraries outside of the oldest collector organisations. We try to keep anything which might prove useful whether they be articles, pamphlets, auction catalogues or books. Many works we won’t need for years or perhaps ever, others we will refer to often. Our library is chiefly arranged by country or topic however there is an important section of what I would refer to as ‘general interest’ and these would be what we consider to be useful books which cover a very wide area of philately.

We thought it might be helpful to briefly review what we consider to be some of the best of these general works. Below are four books which I believe any collector would benefit from owning. The first two I would suggest could be enjoyed by anyone, the last two are definitely for stamp collectors only! Help out your family and friends by suggesting one of these for your next birthday!

“Stamps as Witnesses of History / A Guide to Political Philately” by Ruth Lea.

A few weeks ago a lady dropped by our offices and left a copy of a book she had recently published. “Stamps as Witnesses of History / A Guide to Political Philately” is a tremendous piece of work. The author is Ruth Lea CBE, many of our British clients will remember Ruth from her appearances on television as the ITN Economics Editor and from her other TV appearances. This can only scratch the surface of Ruth’s professional achievements but most importantly, at least from my point of view is that she attended the same school as my father and she is a stamp collector!

The book itself is a large colourful hardbound 608 page tour de force which is not primarily about stamps, as stamps. It is a guide of how stamp issues have reflected and witnessed global political developments since Rowland Hill invented the first postage stamp in 1840 and most of the illustrations (at a guess around 6000!) are of stamps contemporaneous with the events she describes. If you love stamps and history then you should always have this book close to hand.

“The Queen’s Stamps” by Nicholas Courtney

Published in 2004 this is one of the best books written about stamp collecting, at least at is most rarefied level. This is the authorised history of the Royal Philatelic Collection with a Forward written by HRH The Duke of York. I would suggest that is as close to required reading for a collector of British and Commonwealth stamps as any of the Stanley Gibbons catalogues. If you read this book you will understand your hobby better and you will be entertained as Mr Courtney writes very well. It is entertaining and takes you on a journey of events and characters which lingers long enough to educate but not so long as to become a chore. One of the few books about stamps which a non- collector would enjoy.

In my opinion this is one of the best books on philately ever written.

“Collecting Postal History” by Prince Dimitry Kandaouroff.

Hardbound 188 pages. Do you find the world of Postal History enticing yet somewhat impenetrable? Probably no other single book demystifies this area of philately so well. From the Posts in ancient times through to air posts and the posts during wartime the author sets about explaining the development of the mails nicely mixing interesting stories, historical data and illustrations of covers, mail carriers & personalities. Published in 1973 you can still pick this book up on the Internet.

“Philatelic Terms Illustrated” by Russel Bennet & James Watson and “Fundamentals of Philately” by L.N.Williams

These two books are from different sides of the same coin! The “Philatelic Terms” is a perennial favourite as is neatly takes the terms most often used in philately in alphabetical order and explains them alongside a helpful illustration, it is softbound and small and well worth the investment. The “Fundamentals” is a much less handy tome, my edition is hardbound containing 862 pages but it should contain everything you may ever need to know with in-depth descriptions of printing techniques, perforating devices, papers and so much more. Just owning this book will make you feel smarter and from time to time it will prove invaluable if you are a philatelist who wants to understand their hobby down to its deepest roots.

I do hope you have found this helpful, if you have any favourite books on stamp collecting please let us know, if we feel it would be of value to our clients we might review it in a future newsletter!

Vincent Green.

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  • CANADA - 1930-31 20c red Harvesting with Tractor (SG 301) block of four from the right side of the sheet showing DRAMATIC DOUBLE PERFORATING ERROR affecting the vertical right- hand pair and the sheet selvage, fresh never hinged mint. Such errors rarely seen (block 4 with perf error)

    CANADA - 1930-31 20c red Harvesting with Tractor (SG 301) block of four from the right side of the sheet showing DRAMATIC DOUBLE PERFORATING ERROR affecting the vertical right- hand pair and the sheet selvage, fresh never hinged mint. Such errors rarely seen (block 4 with perf error)

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  • BAHAMAS - 1902 KEVII £1 green & black, SG 70, very fine, lightly hinged mint

    BAHAMAS - 1902 KEVII £1 green & black, SG 70, very fine, lightly hinged mint

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