When my friends heard I was writing a book, they naturally wanted to know what it was about.
I told them that the main theme of the book is that stamp booklets can start a person on an adventurous trip. The booklets contain information that give you ideas about cultures and societies that you may not have thought about. Stamp booklets can take you on journeys around the world and back in time.
One friend asked me if there weren’t many other ways to do the same thing. I answered that of course there were. There are travel magazines, travel sections of newspapers, TV travel programs, and travel books. However, there is a difference. All the current travel media are directed to you as a tourist. The messages that come across are, “See how interesting or relaxing or friendly our land and society are. Why don’t you come and visit us?”
Note: The online magazine Empty Nest, has an article about the book and me. Click on the Empty Nest link
to read the article. It´s not bad reading.
Certainly there are tourist messages in stamp booklets. In modern booklets, there are pictures of beautiful beaches, golf courses, soaring mountains, and gorgeous sunsets all designed to lure you to visit. The older booklets are different.
Their messages were directed to their own people. The messages were designed to motivate the people to action—buy our product, use our airline, contribute to our charity, help your government. Those messages are for the society that existed when the stamp booklet was sold. They are not directed at you.
The booklets hold secrets of the society and culture in a foreign land that existed years ago. The fun and excitement of using these booklets to start a journey is uncovering the secrets hidden in the booklet.
My friend interrupted and wanted to know if he couldn’t get more information by looking at magazines and newspapers from that era and country. Of course. Those media are many times the size of a stamp booklet and contain much more information. The charm of a stamp booklet is its size. Think of the challenge a copywriter had. In a space of 2 x 3 inches, the writer had to use few words and tiny hand-drawn black-and-white pictures to set up a situation, present the problem, and motivate individuals to do what benefited the company or government.
We see the message, and it is up to us to try to immerse ourselves in the environment, to feel the emotions of the people, to uncover and understand the forces driving the culture in the context of what was happening politically and socially, and to attempt to find out if the messages achieved their intended purpose.
Therein is the big difference between the current travel media and the messages in stamp booklets. The current travel media provides tempting information. It tells us what’s attractive and entices us with pretty pictures and seductive words. Very little effort is needed to understand what is being presented. Booklets provide a mystery. You are a "cold-case" detective trying to learn what was happening in that society, what was important, and where those uncovered events led. You are an explorer. You are investigating new things, events that interest you, and which roads to travel. You have to work to sample the atmosphere, to envision the political climate, and to absorb the culture. It is a vicarious adventure. You embark on a discovery trip, going where you want, whenever you want.
This book tells you how to do that. It provides a methodology for finding answers. There are numerous examples of how the information in a stamp booklet whisks you into new worlds. Did you know that the same man who sponsored auto races at the turn of the century also paid for Henry Stanley’s search for Dr. Livingstone? Were you aware that there was a liberal attitude toward women in the years prior to the French Revolution in 1789? In my searches, I found that the Library of Congress was able to put me in touch with people who had actually lived in the foreign city I was “visiting.”
This book lists specific resources that you can use, which will provide the information you seek. The Internet is obviously at your fingertips. With it you can not only get information by searching the “World Wide Web,” but you can e-mail other sources, and they will send you the information or tell you how to find it.
Annotated lists of Web sites are given within. A glossary and bibliography are also available. Articles of interest are listed. For convenience, some pertinent articles of the author are provided so that you don’t have to search for the journals in which they were published. A list of about three hundred countries and government entities that have issued booklets is also provided. The book contains over one hundred pictures so that you can more easily see what is being described.
Procedures are presented to make your research easier. These include how to copy images from the Web and how to use the Web to translate foreign words.
Most of the book tells you how you can explore the world, but there are some chapters devoted to philatelic matters. They are only slightly technical. They are presented to help you understand the nature of the items that form such a crucial part of the adventures. If you are going to use stamp booklets for starting a journey then you have to own some; you have to know what to look for in them, how to store them, how to protect them, how much you can expect to pay, and what you can expect to sell them for when you are ready to do that.
Stamp booklets can be arranged so that they tell a story. Mystery, conflict, and tension will make your collection interesting to your friends and family. You can be creative in your collecting habits in addition to visiting other societies.
Stamp booklets are not a financial investment. Their values remain fairly steady throughout the years. They are an investment in pleasure, enjoyment, and will provide you with satisfaction and stimulation. Stamp booklets can enjoyably “transport” you to new vistas.
Above all, this book persuades you that answers can be found. You may have to try many sources to get answers to your questions. Many people will respond quickly and will offer you help in your search. Others may not respond. There are alternate sources available. Perseverance and patience are needed to unravel the secrets of stamp booklets. There are many ways to obtain meaningful information. Be creative and persistent, and you will have many pleasurable hours.
The main thrust of the discussion about Potato booklets beginning on page 20 is that this tax exempt booklet leads to a legislative journey involving Federal vs States rights, a Supreme Court decision, and the Constitution.
The discussion about the booklet needs to be clarified. Potato growers were given a weight allotment. The booklet stamps were tax exempt and were to be attached to the sacks of potatoes that were within the weight allotment. The potato stamps, which were used to pay a tax, were to be used to pay for potatoes which exceeded the allotment. Because of the short life of the act the stamps were not used, although a few sacks are known to be in collectors´ hands with the tax exempt stamps attached.