From the Winged Heels of Mercury – Book Review (Brief)

Discussion in 'Stamp Chat' started by Molokai, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    From the Winged Heels of Mercury by Zaven M. Seron, M.D. Collectors Club of San Francisco 1984, hard-bound gilt lettering, 196pp printed on high quality paper. Amazon $3.50 +.

    As every philatelic schoolboy knows, the first stamp was the penny black of 1840. Correct? Well, not so fast…

    Dr. Seron traces the evolution of the postage stamp from the Mesopotamia messenger tablets (2350-2150 BC) and Egyptian flat seal stamps (1778-1570 BC) to the first adhesive stamps of Great Britain (1840) and the early stamps of North America. In-between are Holland’s adhesive revenue stamps of 1579, India hand-stamped seals of 1642 and 25 other categories showing the gradual evolution of the modern postage stamp.

    Quoting from the Introduction, “Well, more than 5000 years ago in ancient Babylon, the temples of the gods were the center of learning. Man had not yet developed a written alphabet, so the temple scribes portrayed picture, ideas, or pictographs, with a stylus on wet clay tablets, which conveyed a picture message, in this case, a receipt for a gift of sheep to the temple. The clay was then baked, inserted into a clay facsimile envelope and later carried by messenger to the donor of the gift. The stamped impression in the corner would authenticate the donor’s gift when the tax collector made his spring rounds.”

    Outline of the book:

    Editor's Preface



    Category I – Evolution of the Stamp from Ancient Times to 1840

    Category II – Interim Period: First Adhesive Postage Stamps

    Category III – Stamps of North America, 18th Century

    Category IV – Special Purpose Stamps

    Category I and IV are especially fascinating, with much information very few collectors may have access. Some ‘offbeat’ topics I learned of – Villayer’s Local Post Wrappers (Paris), Special Disinfection Handstamps of Venice, the Pony Express of Spanish America, ‘Scinde Dawk’ Pony Express Stamps of India.

    This book is very lovingly written, full of personal anecdotes and several very prescient laments of modern society. (It was written in the early 1980s.) I’ve read this book twice and will probably read it again in the future. Very nicely illustrated, also.

    Three attached images: Cover, Categories, and Egyptian Seal Stamps.

    This book belongs in every stamp collector’s library. At $3.50 on Amazon it is a terrific bargain.

    A nice article on Postal History (2p .pdf)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
    Makanudo and James-2489 like this.
  2. Werner Salentin

    Werner Salentin Well-Known Member

    The following set from Austria,which shows letters of different
    ages,was issued for the WIPA 1965 postage stamp exhibition
    on June 4th,1965:
    Molokai likes this.
  3. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    Now we're going the other way with email, 'chat' and 'tweets.' Soon we'll be back to pictographs.
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