November 25, 2011


Way back in the 1990s, when I still lived in the Netherlands, I went to a stamp fair in The Hague and took my place among a number of collectors who were debating which country issued the most beautiful stamps. Being the staunch anglophile that I was, I butted in immediately and said: "Well, that has to be Great Britain of course!" I was surprised and rather miffed to find that I was absolutely the only one who thought so. Having recently been treated to beauties such as the 1997 Queen's Horses, the 1998 Endangered Species, Queen's Beasts and Lighthouses, and with the magnificent Millennium series just around the corner (though obviously I did not yet know about these!), I couldn't for the life of me understand how anybody could not think they were the best among the lot.
It may not surprise you that there was no consensus at the end of a heated discussion but it seemed that there was a slight majority for Austria. In silence I had to admit that, yes, Austria did manage to come up with a solid catalogue of wonderfully produced stamps.
I was reminded of all this because I had to buy a lot of Austria lately and was struck once again by the beauty of their stamps. The set of which I'm showing you some values today is a very fine example indeed of the many, often recess-printed, stamps that Austria used to produce in their post-war years. It is a charity set issued in 1948 with a surcharge for the Salzburg Cathedral Fund, which was badly damaged in the war. The stamps are all designed by S. Jahn, and engraved by a range of famous names, among which for example R. Toth and G. Wimmer.
There are eight values in all, six of which depict various views of the cathedral. Now I suppose a cathedral is rather a good subject for a stamp, and almost always turns out well, but these stamps here are of a magnificent elegance, I think. As soon as I saw them in real life, they became my instant Austrian favourites.
And the great thing is that Austria managed to keep up the good work. Just look at the range of wonderful definitives they issued from the 1940s onwards: the 1948 provincial costumes set, the 1957 Views set, the 1973 Views set, and the 1984 Abbeys & Monasteries set, are all beautiful sets in  their own right. The fact that they are (part) recess-printed will help as that usually gives a stamp an air of importance. It is therefore an extra joy to see that recess-printing is also used quite often for the Austrian commemorative issues.
So yes, many years after that discussion in The Hague, I must admit that I now fully agree with that lot and also believe that it may indeed well be Austria which has the most consistent range of stunningly beautiful stamps!

See yous later!

PS: It would be great to hear from you if you agree, and if not, why not. Why not leave your comments on this forum thread? Thanks! 

November 18, 2011


Hello everyone and welcome to the new Stamp Magazine Blog! It's been an honour to be asked by Stamp Magazine to start blogging for them and I only hope I can live up to their expectations! I suppose I'd better dedicate this first post to introducing myself so that you all know who you are dealing with.

My name is Adrian Keppel, I'm 46 years old and I live in the southwest of Bonnie Scotland. I was born in the Netherlands, where I spent the first 35-odd years of my life. With a father, an elder brother, an uncle and many of my school chums collecting stamps it was no wonder that I, too, started collecting stamps at an early age. At the tender age of 9, I was the very proud owner of a proper preprinted album for the Netherlands, even though it had so many gaps and so few stamps in. I also had an 8-page stockbook which proudly housed my "All World" collection. My fascination for Britain must have started there and then, for I still vividly remember the British stamps in that collection. I had a few Machins (and was totally flummoxed by the p's and d's), the Tutankhamun stamp (which I didn't like) and the 3p value from the 1972 Village Churches set, which I loved. It still is my favourite set from the early 1970s!
Anyway, in the many years that passed, stamps were more or less forgotten about, until I started going to Britain more frequently. One day I chanced upon a stamp magazine, bought it, and read about the Machin 2p having two different types of gum; creamy and bluish. For some strange reason that got me hooked again and I haven't looked back since. It was the start of a rather unhealthy addiction to stamp collecting, and soon I found myself swamped with Machins and many other British stamps.
After I had finally moved to Britain, in 2001, I immediately felt a nostalgic longing for Dutch stamps and decided to collect the stamps of Queen Wilhelmina. That is still my main and most serious collection.
I also discovered the writings of James Mackay, who became my philatelic hero. He happened to always write about stamps I loved so I started to collect everything he wrote about. That's where I turned into a real magpie collector, I think.

Always wanting more, I often dreamed about how it would be to be able to turn my hobby into some sort of career. So when Stamp Magazine advertised their "My Collection" feature, I jumped on the occasion and my Queen Wilhelmina collection duly appeared in the September 2007 issue. That was the start of my "philatelic career" which is where you find me now.

I hope I'll be entertaining you with this blog and, who knows, every now and then I may even be able to tell you some things you didn't know! Next week, we'll start properly, but until then, if you're curious about what's awaiting you, why not have a look at my previous blog, which you can find here. I promise I'll be a bit more professional (well, hopefully, anyway) and I hope you'll come back here often!

See yous later!