Following in the footsteps of a slim 1996 paperback of the same title, this new hardcover book documents commercial covers with German local issues of 1945, as offered and sold by some of the leading German auction houses over the last five years.
Not only are more than 400 beautiful covers pictured here (some of them in color), but in each case, the details of the sale and the hammer price are also given. Together, these features make for a beautiful coffee-table book that also serves as a unique reference for the current market in these often elusive philatelic items. American collectors of German locals may be surprised how expensive genuine commercial covers of these local issues can be - especially com- pared to the low prices some of the same stamps are commanding
off-cover or on philatelic covers (not to speak of forged covers) often offered at stamp shows or on Internet auctions.
These prices also reflect the fact that - due to the research of some study groups in Germany, as well as the diligent work of a new generation of expertizers - many covers that were formerly deemed genuine have now been recognized as philatelic fabrications or even outright forgeries. The availability of first-class material has become very limited, and good pieces now easily compete with the prices of classic issues, often reaching several thousand euros or dollars.
But more important than the prices, at least in my opinion, is the wealth of information to be gleaned from closely studying the pictures and their descriptions. This is a tough sub-field of philately, where even expertizers often have to review their own opinions and
certificates: In an appendix, one of the BPP expertizers questions the legitimacy of no less than 16 covers in the book - several of them authenticated by himself as genuine less than five years ago. Only through books like this - where one can compare the features of a
significant number of otherwise elusive covers under the guidance of a true specialist - is it possible for an average collector to develop a feeling for what is worth its price, and what is not.
Eckartsberga Michel 1 al, a genuine stamp on a piece from a known series of blank cards, all of which were canceled "18.9.45 13-14." The plausible looking and well-invented text and address were added to the otherwise blank postcard later, to give it the appearance of a true commercial usage.
As an example, above is shown an Eckartsberga provisional card from my collection, which at first glance most of us would have considered a legitimate and quite valuable usage of Michel 1 al. After noticing that an almost exact duplicate of my card was pictured on page 38 of Ose's book, 1 got suspicious and wrote to Dr. Arenz, the BPP expertizer for this issue. His answer was that all September 1945 cancellations with this cancel known to date are either on blank pieces, or are philatelic creations. Both the card pictured by Ose and my piece are part of a well-known series of blank cards canceled 18.9.45 13-14," to some of which (including the one pictured) have later been added very convincing-looking commercial texts!
The 1996 version of this book is still available for about $20. There is no duplication between the two editions, since the 2001 book picks up where the former one had stopped. Together or separately, they are a great addition to any philatelic bookshelf.