This page includes Book Review columns from the 2004 issues of Across the Fence Post.
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Catalog of United States Stamped Envelope Essays and Proofs.
Reviewed by Barbara R. Mueller
The world of useful philatelic literature has been enriched by the recent publication of Dan Undersander's Catalog of United States Stamped Envelope Essays and Proofs. Dan, a member of Madison's Badger Stamp Club and of the agriculture college faculty at the University of Wisconsin, has become well known as an author in Postal Stationery, journal of the United Postal Stationery Society.
That Society is the beneficiary of a substantial bequest from the estate of dealer A.E. Lewandowski; it has made possible publication of such elaborate books as [Undersander's. Hardbound, 8; x 11, with nearly 400 pages printed on substantial glossy paper stock, this work is especially notable for the inclusion of a free, integral CD readable in both Windows and Mac operating systems. It pictures in color all the items listed in the catalog with black and white photos. And those essays and proofs are gorgeous, some in more than one color.
The book is much more than a bare bones listing of several hundred items. Each entry includes every variety of each design and incorporates historical notes, information about sales at auctions, and valuations. Dan cautions that these should be guidelines only due to the scarcity of most items and collector demand at the time of sale. A glance at the valuations shows that these essays and proofs are top-drawer philatelic gems, although hitherto not widely recognized. This catalog should do much to elevate philatelic awareness.
Arranged according to the printers of postal stationery and/or bidders on contracts, the listings begin with George F. Nesbitt in 1853 and go up to 1961. Also included are department and penalty envelopes; special delivery, registry, patented return and currency
Envelopes; the Grant letter sheet; and the 1887 American Bank Note essays for Hawaiian envelopes.
There have been previous attempts at listing this material, beginning as early as 1911 by E.H. Mason. The Thorp-Bartels Catalogue of United States Stamped Envelopes, 6th (Century) Edition, of 1954, included some brief listings of essays. In 1989, a noted specialist, W. H. Maisel, compiled a 102-page loose-leaf listing, much more useful. Building on these foundations with his own
Studies and the cooperation of the current generation of specialists, Dan Undersander has taken the proverbial quantum leap forward and given philately a work that will be "the" reference for decades to come.
Available from the UPSS Central Office, P.O. Box 1792, Norfolk, VA 23501-1792, $40 to UPSS members, $50 to others.
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Latest update: June 12, 2005