Tag Archives: manuscripts

Historians and Philatelists

There’s a story about a stamp collector whose particular interest was letters posted at sea.  For philatelists who know about these things – and I don’t – there is a wealth of variety in the covers, franks and stamps on letters sent by passengers or crew from naval or merchant shipping, even in the present day.

In pursuit of his hobby, this man sent a polite letter to a naval vessel asking the captain if he would please frank the enclosed stamped addressed envelope and send it back.  Outraged, the captain wrote an angry reply telling him not to waste precious naval time, put it in an envelope, hand addressed it, and sent it off with the ship’s mail – and thereby gave the collector a much more valuable item for his collection than he was expecting. Continue reading

The Value of Manuscripts

It happens rarely – but it does happen.  People steal manuscripts, autographs, stamps, seals, maps and illustrations from libraries.  Last July, Barry Landau, author of The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy (2007), was caught with an accomplice, Jason Savedoff, stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society.  Since then, police have found about 10,000 documents in their apartment.

‘I cannot believe it,’ Lynn von Furstenberg, the second wife of Prince Egon von Furstenberg and a close friend of Landau’s for many years, told The Daily Beast. ‘The things I’ve been reading about him in the press are not the Barry I know. He’s just this gregarious, sweet, sensitive human being.’

Well yes, maybe.  On Amazon, Landau is described as a ‘historian’ – but as those of us in the profession well know, anyone can call themselves a historian.  There’s no quality control outside the university system, and since non-academic historians do a lot of important work, I don’t really want any – but sometimes someone goes rogue. Continue reading