“For me, an unused stamp isn’t especially exciting. The more signs there are of handling and of life, the more valuable it feels. I take out my stamps, sniff them and stroke them, maybe lick them; the taste is of crumbling gum arabic, vegetable starch and hide glue – and in the best of cases, an indefinable something that may go back to previous licks, many years ago in some remote corner of the world. Impressions that are not my own, but which I share in as they stream by.” – Bjorn Berge, 2017
This quote is from the foreword of Bjorn Berge’s recent book, Nowherelands: An Atlas of Vanished Countries 1840-1975. The book is beautifully presented with a cloth-bound spine, thick creamy paper, and a clean, stylish page layout – but even better than that, it is an exploration of countries which no longer exist and is illustrated with examples from Berge’s own stamp collection.
One of my own (many & various) fascinations with postage stamps comes from the discovery of stamps from unknown countries (if, in fact, they ever existed – more on that to come in future posts!), so this book is great for looking up a bit of background on countries like The Republic of Maluku Selatan, or just for dipping into at random to learn unexpected facts or historical trivia. Mostly, though, I just enjoy reading a book by an author who clearly has a real feel for stamps and their stories, rather than a dry academic interest. A very welcome addition to my library, in every respect! 🙂