Another discovered collection item which, as it is somewhat quirky, I’d like to share with you. Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks have been extremely busy at the British Library: I can’t remember how I stumbled across this one – well, apart from searching for the German word “Spiegel” (mirror) I can’t quite recall what I did. It might have been a DSC request or it might have been another kind of outside “prompt” making me search for this.
So, the title I discovered is:
Megla, Gerhard K., Musik im Spiegel der Philatelie. (Tübingen : Wasmuth, c1984.)
This book combines three areas: first, it’s about philately, and second, how stamps mirror music. Thirdly, it’s a book printed in Germany, but refers to stamps, and therefore relates to the British Library’s Philatelic Collection. This collection, housed here in St. Pancras, has over 8 million items from most countries of the world.
Even if you can’t read German (the explanations of the stamps will elude you), you can enjoy the reproduction of the 401 stamps in this volume. Just to give you a flavour of how this book is structured and what kind of stamps are highlighted:
- Folk and ritual dances
Interestingly, this book also points out, for example, which composers had not been commemorated with a stamp by 1984. For example, Megla identifies four composers which are missing out on philatelic stardom, but which were important for Baroque music: Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Henry Purcell (1659-1695, I can’t quite believe that there were no stamps commemorating Purcell by 1984), Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) and Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764).
I’m always interested to highlight a bonmot, or just a nice phrase, and here it must be the author of this book quoting Beethoven as saying “Nicht Bach – Meer sollte er heißen!” [Bach = brook in German, so it’s “Not Brook – He should be called Sea!”] Unfortunately, there is no reference for this quotation.
As you might be cringing already, I might as well, share the following faux-pas of the East German postal service, when they issued a commemorative stamp for Robert Schumann in 1956. Unfortunately, the first issue contained music by Franz Schubert in the background (see stamp to the right); the corrected version with music by Schumann is to the left.
And finally, in order to tie this blog post in to a current exhibition we have in the library (until 16 May 2010): Chopin: The Romantic Refugee. Frederic Chopin was born 200 years ago, and whereas there will probably be new philatelic items issued this year, I add the following two examples:
Many thanks to my colleague Paul Skinner for helping with digital scans of all the stamps from the British Library’s Universal Postal Union Collection for this blog post.