Resource of the Month – Amrhein’s Philatelic Literature

As a librarian and bibliophile who has worked in a number of different libraries in the last 25 years, one of the things that has always been of keen interest to me in this profession is exploring the history of a particular subject through its literature. Philately, more so than many other hobbies, has a rich and extensive bibliographic history of notable publications, some of which even pre-date the formation of philatelic organizations such as the American Philatelic Society.

Central American Philatelic Literature

This month’s resource of note started as a two volume set that its author Manfred Amrhein described as “a systematic review of all major bibliographies and articles [in order] to compile the bibliography and historical information dealing with the development of the world’s philatelic literature.” The original two volume set simply titled Philatelic Literature: A History and a Select Bibliography from 1861 to 1991 [Closed Stacks Oversize HE6203 A527p] contains over 3000 bibliographic references taken from a wide variety of philatelic literature published in the 130 years between 1861 and 1991.

Select Bibliography for Brazil

Volume One (1992) traces the history of stamp collecting and the philatelic literature that accompanied  and supported it. The last chapter of this initial volume deals with the history of philatelic book collecting and that of philatelic libraries. Each chapter in all four volumes of the series concludes with a select bibliography of resources which provide even greater insight into the topics discussed therein.

Images of Famous Philatelic Authors

Volume Two (1997) begins where Volume One concluded focusing on the scope and spread of philatelic literature and knowledge in the 20th century. Also included in this volume is a chapter devoted to the literature dealing with forgeries. Following this there begins a series of chapters devoted to the literature of specific countries. In this second volume the countries of Central and South America are discussed.

Ma Zung-Sung and his First Ma’s Specialized Catalog of China (1947)

With Volume Three (2001) and Volume Four (2006) Amrhein continues this geographic approach and examines the philatelic literature of the Middle East, Africa and the Far East in the third installment, while several European countries are discussed in the fourth volume of the set. As with previous volumes each chapter concludes with a select bibliography of the philatelic resources and references for those countries.

Throughout all four volumes the chapters are generously accompanied with images of some of the earliest philatelic publications and of those individuals responsible for these seminal publications. The four volumes are not only a textual history of philatelic literature but also a visual one as well. Add in the bibliographies included throughout and Amrhein’s work becomes an invaluable resource for the philatelic bibliophile and literature historian.

Although the four volume set is housed in the Closed Stack area of the American Philatelic Research Library and therefore its borrowing is limited, pages and chapters can be scanned or copied for interested researchers. Contact the APRL if interested in this unique resource documenting the history and scope of philatelic literature.

6 thoughts on “Resource of the Month – Amrhein’s Philatelic Literature”

  1. I have been unable to locate a copy of this set for my own library.

    Someday philatelic publishers will recognize the value of creating a digital version to be sold whenever their typically-too-limited print runs are sold out. Such material is too valuable to limit.

    1. In one of the first pages of the first volume (1992) there is a note of the author Dr. Amrheim who says:
      … This book may be ordered directly from the author Dr. Manfred Amrhein, Apartado 1167 – Centro Colon, Costa Rica.
      In frienship !

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