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A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stampsby Chris West
Synopses & Reviews
Stamps tell a story — and Chris West's book is the unique, fascinating tale of Great Britain told through its stamps.
Hailed by The Times of London as “a splendid reminder of the philatelic glories of the past,” A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps tells the rich, layered, and breathtaking history of England through thirty-six of its fascinating, often beautiful, and sometimes eccentric postage stamps. West shows that stamps have always mirrored the events, attitudes, and styles of their time. Through them, one can glimpse the whole epic tale of an empire unfolding. From the famous Penny Black, printed soon after Queen Victoria's coronation, to the Victory! stamp of 1946, anticipating the struggle of postwar reconstruction — A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps is a hugely entertaining and idiosyncratic romp, told in Chris West's lively prose.
On their own, stamps can be curiosities, even artistic marvels; in this book, stamps become a window into the larger sweep of history.
"Issued in England in 1840, the 'Penny Black,' named for its price and background color, was the world's first postage stamp, which provides West a starting point for a concise, readable history of modern Britain. His conceit is clever: using postage stamps as a lens through which he focuses on historical events and issues from 1840 to the present: 'Stamps tell stories' he writes. 'They speak to us across generations.' The author, clearly a keen philatelist, offers a broad overview of Britain's historical events and issues, from the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution to the 'Jubilee Olympic Britain' of 2012. He is good at explicating stamp design and subject matter, and finds connections between stamps and historical events — though sometimes he stretches this a bit too far. For example, the 1848 'Penny Red' stamp provides West an entrée into the devastating potato famine that impacted millions, but the only link to the stamp is its Irish postmark. Similarly, the financial crisis in 2008 is 'illustrated' by a stamp commemorating Lloyd's of London issued in 1999. But there is cultural history to be found in these miniature art forms, and West has certainly found it, providing a quirky, and always interesting, overview of modern British history." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Though this delightful read is deliberately designed to capture the fancy of both devoted Anglophiles and stamp enthusiasts, it will also appeal to members of the Downton Abbey set interested in background and context.” Booklist
“Stamp collectors and Anglophile history buffs alike will enjoy this book — and for the reader who's both, it's a sure bet.” Kirkus Reviews
“Each classic, lovingly designed stamp is presented in full color, revealing it to be both a work of art and a tantalizing window into the character and spirit of its era.” The Guardian (London)
“[A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps] happily demolishes in a few pages the kinds of questions...that might otherwise consume whole volumes.” The Daily Telegraph (London)
About the Author
Chris West has written widely in a variety of genres. His titles include a bestselling business guide and a quartet of crime novels. He inherited a love of history from his father and an Edwardian “Lincoln” stamp album from his great-uncle as a child. His love for stamps was revived when he found that same dust-covered album in his attic as an adult. He lives in Cambridgeshire, London.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History