Advanced Philatelic Research

Around this time last year, I was walking by the Strand over lunch and I saw an intriguing top-half to a book poking up from one of their outdoor book carts. It looked like this:

“Stamps tell the story of –” Of WHAT? I simply had to know.

Instantly, I mentally filled in the blank with, “Civilization! History! Humanity! Love! Death! War!” But when I pulled the book out of the cart, I found the final line was just… “Stamps”. Stamps tell the story of — stamps. Turns out stamps are very self-involved.

I also found a book nearby called “Advanced Philatelic Research” (hence the title of this post). That book looked pretty dense, living up to its name I suppose, but I went ahead and bought “Stamps Tell the Story of Stamps”, since it was only, like, two bucks, and because it was really short and had a photo of a stamp on every other page, with a short paragraph explaining the stamp on the facing page. Very user-friendly and inviting.

In fact, as I discovered later when I started to read it, this was a book for kids: something I would have realized if I’d read the inside dust jacket flap. Although, the copy on that flap was worth the price of admission alone. Here’s what it said:

STAMPS TELL THE STORY OF STAMPS

Everybody uses stamps. You buy them at the Post Office, in different shapes, colors and designs, stick them on your letters — and zoom! — off they go, carrying your message to a nearby town, or far away across the seas.

But how did all this start? Who decides how much a stamp should cost? Why are some stamps so valuable, even though they are merely small pieces of printed paper? How did people communicate with each other before stamps were used?

In the pages of this fascinating book, the young reader will find the wonderful story of stamps. Quite naturally, the book is richly, colorfully and beautifully illustrated with stamps.

This is a book for all young people, stamp collectors or not. It is a rich mixture of history, geography and that special world of the stamp enthusiast, philately.

You may become a stamp collector after reading STAMPS TELL THE STORY OF STAMPS. You will look with new interest at every letter bearing a stamp that arrives at your own home.

You WILL look with newfound interest at stamps. Or else stamps will start telling another story. The story of how they beat your sorry ass into a bloody pulp.

More Odd Books here.

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