12 August 2010

Stories of World’s Rarest Stamps

Hi ! In today’s Post I am pleased to write about a wonderful book “ Famous Stamps – The Romance of Rarities by Anil Dhir. Mr Dhir needs no introduction to the readers as he his known to all for his award winning film “The Last Post” and a special book “ Stamp Quizzes” which he earlier published. Mr Dhir is a renowned philatelist from Bhubaneshwar with a rare collection of Mourning Covers and India Classics.

His latest book “Famous Stamps – The Romance of Rarities” is a very interesting book, full of stories of some most famous and rarest stamps of the world. The best part of the book is that the story behind rarity of the stamp has been narrated very well by Mr Dhir. Many of us know about rare stamps but the detailed story behind that stamp is not known to us. Readers would find many interesting facts about world’s rarest stamps. This book contains details and stories of 50 famous stamps and covers of the world. This book is a complete reference book for philatelists of every class and age groups . Those who are not stamp collectors would find this book amazing as they would come to know about philatelic rarities of the world and interesting stories behind them. This book will soon become favourite of all and would find a top place in the shelf of Famous Philatelic Books …..This is all for Today….Till Next Post….Have a Nice Time !


Famous Stamps - The Romance of Rarities

By Anil Dhir

Anil Dhir Book PREFACE

The book you hold in your hands, like all serious books, was a long time in coming. The research took me a good three years, and I hope that you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have enjoyed in writing them.

The word “rare” is described as “uncommon”. However for a stamp collector, the word “rare” usually means an essence of mystery and romance. For a stamp to be both “rare” and “famous” is the ultimate philatelic attribution. Philatelists, be it the schoolboy ones or the dyed in the wool types, are very emotional and passionate about their hobby. Stamp collectors are justly proud of being different from all other hobbyists.

This book gives the stories of some of the world’s rarest stamps. Most of the stamps described herein are those that philatelists call “classics”- issues that were made in the period 1842 to 1875. The establishment of the Universal Postal Union in 1874 resulted in the increase of prepaid worldwide correspondences and necessitated the increased production of postage stamps. Stamps were mass produced, new postal experiments were conducted and path breaking innovations made. The postal services too got an impetus both in the pre and post war years. The hobby of Philately too took wings in this period, and many eminent statesmen and royals gave their patronage to it.

This book will probably offend many philatelic purists. However this eclectic mix that I have presented is purely my own personal choice. It was a daunting task to decide which stamps to leave out, rather then select the stories that should be narrated. Every philatelist dreams of finding a rarity, a dream that hardly ever becomes true. This book will allow you to share the philatelic dreams of those for whom these dreams came true.

My fascination for some of the great classics, the paper dreams that I have dreamt of discovering and owning, these gems has been the basis of my selection. I have heard and read of the strange, fortunate and fascinating tales of discovery of many of the rarities that have been mentioned here. Many of these stamps have been unearthed from old albums, family correspondences and old government records or have been spotted by sharp eyed collectors from ordinary collections. The printing histories of many of these gems are known, and it is a fact that many more copies are still in existence, lurking about anonymously in some attic, stamp album or just around somewhere. Only the philatelist who knows what to look for will ever find them. Even today, these gems are being discovered; I myself had the good fortune of picking up a few.

Stamp Collectors have spent hours peering through magnifying glasses, consulting catalogues and references, dipping stamps in watermark fluids, examining them under ultra violet rays, hoping to find some tiny flaw or unique characteristic attribute which would make their stamp different and unique. Many stamps have been sent to certifications experts with bated breath expectations that it would be classified as rare.

Some of the most cherished memories of philatelists are of the time and moments spent with fellow collectors at the stamp shows and exhibitions that are held at local and national levels. The talks eventually veer towards these rarities, anglers who always talk of the big fish which got away. Many a foolish bid is made in auctions, and if it is a wining bid the enormity of the situation only dawns when one has to pay the price. However any out bidding is always disappointing.

I have traveled the length and breadth of my country - India, in search of elusive stamps which I could add to my collection. I have searched old palaces, government record rooms, post offices and the collections of many old time philatelists, hoping to make some discovery of a rarity. Just the whiff of a collection somewhere and I have packed my bags. There were many disappointments, but a few gems that I garnered and the rich experience of these little adventures will be the story for another book. However I will humbly make a suggestion right here at the beginning, there is ample room for the exclusion of some issues in favour of others.

Most of the stamps mentioned here are postal paradoxes, created by a near blind engraver, a political hireling, ignorant postmasters, despotic and draconian rulers. Many rarities are the result of the unorthodox methods by which they were produced. Some stamps were printed on newspapers, maps, rice paper, while some were typewritten. Many more are due to the printer’s devil, defective paper, wrong colours etc.

Rarity and Price are akin to fame and fortune and do not usually go hand in hand. Many will argue that the design of a stamp is of secondary importance to its use as a means of prepaying mail service and that the method adopted to produce it. However they miss the important point that the postage stamp is a minuscule but vibrant record of the human story, more so of modern times. It is a big picture on a very small canvas. It is the philatelist alone who has the magnified vision to decipher and laud what is on the tiny piece of paper.

Stamp collecting is a dying hobby. It is aging, ossifying and stagnating in the last few decades. Once it was a staple hobby of childhood and school going days, but has lost its cultural relevance in this digital age. Many of today’s children have not gone to the Post Office ever. The variety and uniqueness of the world of stamps is lost to this generation. Writing this book is an effort to bring this enjoyable, albeit a little nerdish, hobby back to the creative masses.

Philatelists may read this book to understand their hobby more thoroughly. The purpose of this book is not to help stamp collectors to find any of these gems, but rather to make them enjoy the stories of their discoveries. The book may be used as a reference by all collectors who are interested in discovering, or discovering yet more about the hobby, the value of their own stamps, and the value of the stamps of their fellow collectors.

With the ardent wish that these fascinating stories keep the hopes of philatelists alive, make them dream philatelic dreams, and that they keep the search for rare stamps going on …….

- Anil Dhir

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Readers may contact Mr Anil Dhir at :

email : anildhir2k5@hotmail.com & amadeusbooks@yahoo.co.in

Postal address : Anil Dhir 112, Vaishno Villa, Satyanagar, Bhubaneshwar – 751007.

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