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The Error World: An Affair with Stamps

Posted by The Boss on August 1, 2011 in Stamps and Philately

The Error World: An Affair with Stamps



From the author of Mauve, an obsessively readable memoir that brings the mania for stamp collecting to life From the Penny Red to the Blue Mauritius, generations of collectors have been drawn to the mystique of rare stamps.
Once a widespread pastime of schoolboys, philately has increasingly become the province of older men obsessed with the shrewd investment, the once-in-a-lifetime find, the one elusive beauty that will complete a collection and satisfy an unquenchable thirst.
As a boy, Simon Garfield collected errors—rare pigment misprints that create ghostly absences in certain stamps.
When this passion reignited in his mid-forties, it consumed him. In the span of a couple of years he amassed a collection of errors worth upwards of forty thousand pounds, pursuing not only this secret passion, but a romantic one as his marriage disintegrated.
In this unique memoir, Simon Garfield twines the story of his philatelic obsession with an honest and engrossing exploration of the rarities and absences that both limit and define us.The end result is a thoughtful, funny, and enticing meditation on the impulse to possess.
From the author of Mauve, an obsessively readable memoir that brings the mania for stamp collecting to life From the Penny Red to the Blue Mauritius, generations of collectors have been drawn to the mystique of rare stamps.
Once a widespread pastime of schoolboys, philately has increasingly become the province of older men obsessed with the shrewd investment, the once-in-a-lifetime find, the one elusive beauty that will complete a collection and satisfy an unquenchable thirst.
As a boy, Simon Garfield collected errors—rare pigment misprints that create ghostly absences in certain stamps.
When this passion reignited in his mid-forties, it consumed him. In the span of a couple of years he amassed a collection of errors worth upwards of forty thousand pounds, pursuing not only this secret passion, but a romantic one as his marriage disintegrated.
In this unique memoir, Simon Garfield twines the story of his philatelic obsession with an honest and engrossing exploration of the rarities and absences that both limit and define us.The end result is a thoughtful, funny, and enticing meditation on the impulse to possess.

List Price: $ 24.00

Price: $ 24.00

Stamp Collecting As A Pastime



Stamp Collecting as a Pastime has become a classic book for any stamp collector. Written by Edaward James Nankivell in 1902, the book presents the hobby of stamp collection as a serious pastime for everyone. The first ever stamp issued was the Penny Black in 1840 and by 1902, stamp collection was a relatively new hobby and considered to be a fun for just the kids. Edward was an avid stamp collector and wanted to educate people about his beloved hobby and why it is a hobby for all, from the Prince of Wales to the school children. As a result, this book was written.

List Price: $ 12.45

Price: $ 12.45

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Reader Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars
I fail to see how this man’s life is interesting., February 1, 2009
By 
Mendicant Pigeon “Mendicant Pigeon” (pdx, or United States) –

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Without meaning to be cruel, I do marvel at the conceit of people who because they’ve had some success believe that a record of their lives is somehow interesting, and I mean really interesting. Interesting in the “I’m gonna write a book that is all about me” sort of way and not in the “h’mmm, now that’s interesting” sort of way that one might feel upon seeing a newly issued postage stamp, for instance.
I realize that a majority of us feel about ourselves that we are special and nuanced and possibly worthy of adulation. At the same time however we are sane enough to recognize that pretty much nobody leads a life that cries out to be auto-memorialized because we comprehend that all but a teeny tiny fraction of people bob around the statistical line known as average.
Some people should write autobiographies because their lives have been truly extraordinary, or because they lived through and helped to shape certain historical events that had tremendous effects upon a people or country or science, and above all have led inordinately interesting lives. For instance, Charles Manson should write an autobiography, Mao Tse Tung should have, the Founding Fathers of the United States might have. President and General U.S. Grant did. Thomas Edison’s autobiography might have been fascinating. Voltaire’s was predictably scandalous, the Marquis De Sade’s scurrilous. Sei Shonagon’s was too brief as was Geronimo’s. Robinson Crusoe’s was brilliant if a bit contrived.
You get the message though: Only certain classes of people should write autobiographies.

Mr. Garfield is not in them, any of them. Although he seems a likable enough chap his life and interest in stamps aren’t compelling enough to hold one’s interest for very long, certainly not for the length of a book (and this book really isn’t about collecting, it’s about Mr. Garfield). On the other hand, if he’d been able to amass a world-class stamp collection that involved him in possible skullduggery or, say, having to first trek through the jungles of Borneo to take possession of a particularly rare species of orchid in order to make the trade. Alas, nothing of the sort took place, at least not in Garfield’s world. All he did was cheat on his wife; spend prodigious amounts of money building a postage stamp collection; and then snag a writing contract as a means to, among other things, ultimately profit from his otherwise injudicious behaviour.
I believe this to be a weak premise for an autobiographical story poorly told. I believe it would have been interesting in a much truncated version as an article in The New Yorker.

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#1 
Review written by Mendicant Pigeon "Mendicant Pigeon" on August 1st, 2011 @ 5:14 PM
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars
Well written, but wow — I don’t recognize this hobby, February 26, 2009
By 
chefdevergue (Spokane, WA United States) –
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From a strictly literary standpoint, I enjoyed this book an awful lot. Garfield is a very engaging writer and sustains narrative very well. But holy buckets! I barely recognize the hobby he describes, and can feel the contempt he seems to have towards those collectors (such as myself) who are much more indiscriminate. The contempt oozes off every page, as he dismisses most stamp enthusiasts as mere “accumulators” rather than collectors. Well, excuse me — if I had the disposable income, I certainly wouldn’t mind putting together a collection on a par with Sir Gawaine Baillie’s, but I’m just some poor schlub who spends maybe $50-$60 a month because — dammit — I love stamps. All of them! The impression I was left with was that somewhere along the line, Garfield forgot that this was supposed to be fun. Obssessions aren’t necessarily all that enjoyable.

The general tone of the book left me wondering (like other reviewers have) just who this book is marketed towards. People who don’t collect stamps will be bored beyond belief by the extended passages dealing with the history of stamps and the history of the errors market. Meanwhile, many stamp enthusiasts such as myself will feel alienated by Garfield’s dismissiveness, not to mention what we regard as a perversion of what should be a rather nice, enjoyable hobby. So exactly is going to read this book? Probably about as many people as could afford to purchase the Blue Mauritius, I suspect.

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#2 
Review written by chefdevergue on August 1st, 2011 @ 5:22 PM