Fundamantals of Philately

There are only a few indispensable philatelic books and at the top of every one’s short list is “Fundamentals of Philately” written by the stamp collecting brothers L.N (Leon Norman) Williams and M(Maurice) Williams. The book was first serialized and then was published twice by the American Philatelic Society (1971 & 1990). It is 880 pages and is really a graduate level course on all the things a stamp collector needs to know about stamp design, stamp paper and printing. Having little to say about any particular stamp, the book is about the canvas and the paint that makes our hobby rather than the artistic designs that we actually collect. The first eighty pages are about paper, how it is made and the many different types that have been used in stamp printing. Learning this, a collector has new insights into faults and how to determine them. The section on printing is several hundred pages of fascinating information, evaluating the different major printing methods and the impact each has on stamp design and production. Similar sections evaluate perforations and gum.

The book has been out of print for years, though it is as indispensable to a thorough understanding of our hobby as reading the bible is to an understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It can be found here. Certainly one can collect stamps without “Fundamentals of Philately” but just as knowing the recipe increases the joy of dining for many eaters so this book will add to your collecting pleasure.

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