Friday, January 16, 2009

The Error World: An Affair with Stamps

I've been anxious to read Simon Garfield's book since it appeared last year in England to favorable reviews in philatelic and non-philatelic publications on both sides of the Atlantic. My only trepidation was the author's main stamp collecting focus of modern British errors--specifically, missing colors and design elements. I had succumbed to a similar interest with modern U.S. errors decades ago which lasted perhaps six months. Admittedly, Garfield's errors were the much more elusive stamps while mine were only "oddities" such as miss-registrations and erratic perforations. Fortunately, while the error-related parts of the book are interesting, they comprise a comparatively small part of the book. In fact, there is a goodly amount of non-stamp material, although most of it collecting related, ranging from David Hockney prints to antique Jags.

What I enjoyed most were the observations and characterizations of our beloved hobby. Some were personal: "My children though stamp collecting both strange and perverse, and inevitably used that same phrase they employ to describe anyone over twenty-five in trainers and into rap music: 'Sad.'" (Page 11)

Others were from professionals. A dealer described a collection of worldwide stamps "with a phrase that put a chill around my heart. He called them 'mostly small nothing stamps.'" (page 71) Now that's 'sad.'

Any "Blue" International stamp collector will recognize him/herself in passages throughout this book. A quick, entertaining and informative read.