The Error World
An Affair with Stamps
By Simon Garfield
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151013968, 256pp.
Publication Date: January 2009
List Price: $24.00*
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From the author of Mauve, an obsessively readable memoir that brings the mania for stamp collecting to life From the Penny Red to the Blue Mauritius, generations of collectors have been drawn to the mystique of rare stamps.
Once a widespread pastime of schoolboys, philately has increasingly become the province of older men obsessed with the shrewd investment, the once-in-a-lifetime find, the one elusive beauty that will complete a collection and satisfy an unquenchable thirst.
As a boy, Simon Garfield collected errorsrare pigment misprints that create ghostly absences in certain stamps.
When this passion reignited in his mid-forties, it consumed him. In the span of a couple of years he amassed a collection of errors worth upwards of forty thousand pounds, pursuing not only this secret passion, but a romantic one as his marriage disintegrated.
In this unique memoir, Simon Garfield twines the story of his philatelic obsession with an honest and engrossing exploration of the rarities and absences that both limit and define us.The end result is a thoughtful, funny, and enticing meditation on the impulse to possess.
PRAISE FOR MAUVE
"Garfield has surpassed himself with his new subject matter: Mauve elegantly relates the tale of Victorian chemist William Perkin who, in 1856, failed to make quinine from coal tar but discovered instead how to synthesize the colour purple. Fascinating stuff."Esquire
"This engaging and airy history shows how the development of mauve, the first mass-produced artificial dye, ignited a 19th-century revolution . . . Garfield has inspired me to wear a bit of mauve this spring to honour this inventive man."The New York Times