Postal Stationery Newspaper Wrapper Catalogue

BOOK REVIEW – Postal Stationery Newspaper Wrapper Catalogue
by Jan Kośniowski

Reviewed by Neil Sargent FRPSL

Postal stationery, although grown significantly in popularity over recent years, is still considered by many to be the poor relation in philately with Newspaper wrappers perhaps the cinderella of stationery. Hopefully that may well now change with the publication of this mammoth 3 volume catalogue on Newspapers Wrappers of the World. Volumes 1 and 2 of this opus cover all the wrappers issued from around the world, apart from Great Britain which benefits from its own volume. This will allow those solely interested in GB stationery to buy only one volume rather than all 3. Printed throughout in full colour and self-published by the author, these are A4 size stiff cover books.

Volume 1 covers countries A - E, volume 2 covers countries F - Z and as mentioned volume 3 covers GB wrappers only. The format is standardised across all volumes with each covering, where applicable, 4 different types of wrappers: Post Office issues, Stamped-to-Order, Official and Private Overprints on Post Office and Stamped-to-order issues. Each volume benefits from the same 3 page introduction in which the author neatly sets out his approach to the listing of wrappers, the different types and of course his approach to cataloguing a value for each item. In this respect, he has attributed a value to Post Office issues in mint and used form and to some stamped to order; for the majority of private printed wrappers no value has been given. It would appear that the majority of valuations are based on actual internet prices achieved, although with the scarcity of some issues and sales this could give a distorted picture of a standard price. No doubt dealers in stationery will utilise the catalogues for pricing purposes but the main function and contribution to philately of this work, is the pure extent of the information that has been gathered in one place over a period of nearly 20 years study.

The traditional reference point has previously been the original Higgins & Gage world stationery catalogues produced in the 1960/70s together with the occasional specialised single country book - with these volumes we now have all the information of issued wrappers in one place. Each indicia is produced full size together with scans of the text boxes and the difference in various issues either produced full size or enlarged where appropriate to highlight detailed changes. In the Official and Private Printed sections, the wrappers are shown full size enabling clear identification. Specimen overprints also are mentioned in some countries and the majority given a catalogue value. An important addition is the inclusion of a detailed bibliography at the end of each country section. This lists not only previous catalogues and textbooks but also magazine and study group articles that have been published. This indication of references not only supports the information given but also directs readers to where further and more detailed information could be obtained from. It is also shows the depths of research that the author has undertaken in producing this work.

Overall, the colour reproductions appear excellent and maintain the clarity of the originals. The layout is relatively easy to follow and adapt to with use. The most useful parts of the books are the reproduction of all the private printed wrappers and this is the first time they have all been bought together in one place. This certainly expands previous existing knowledge on these items. The extent of these is impressive; for instance, in the GB volume pages 27 to 416 contain all the private wrappers with, for example, a total of 55 different Daily Mail printings. In the COGH section there are 62 illustrations for the Argus Mail & Weekly Edition. Ceylon illustrates a total of 63 wrappers. In many cases it is the minor printing detail such as font type, letter spacing and company addresses which are the differing feature rather than the value or indicia. Many may well not wish to collect down to this level of detail but the information on different types is now available.

The author has adopted his own sequential numbering system for each country, apart from Great Britain where he has used the numbering system contained in 'Collect British Postal Stationery' by Huggins & Baker; although there is no cross-referencing with other works such as the Higgins & Gage catalogues. In the private printed sections each company is given its own code letter with a separate number for the indicia.

Overall, these three volumes comprising a total of 1,268 pages are an attempt to bring together and illustrate all known issued newspaper wrappers. A momentous task in which, in my opinion, the author has succeeded and is to be congratulated.

Although new items will no doubt continue to be reported on for a long time, I expect these volumes will be adopted as the 'standard text' on this subject.

Self-published June 2019 by author and Society member, Jan Kośniowski, the catalogue is presented in 3 large volumes: Volume 1 - Countries A-F. Volume 2 - Countries G-Z. Volume 3 - Great Britain. ISBN978-1-9161309-3-7, 1,268 pages, A4 size, full colour.

from the August 2019 issue of the Postal Stationery Society Journal