30 September 2018
Stamp dealer and collector David Bailey reviews Lost Countries by Stuart Laycock and Chris West
Lost Countries is a compact guide to the temporary entities that have issued stamps over the last 150-odd years. Some are almost forgotten - except for the headings on old album pages. In others, we find the roots of conflicts that are still making headlines today.
The authors cover 76 of these, with comprehensive histories that can reach right back to classic times. And in doing so, they manage to tell complex stories in a very compact form.
There are just three quibbles. Sometimes, you run into the odd clunky sentence that you need to read twice. The authors can't resist a witty aside. And it occasionally breaks into a colloquial style that feels at odds with all the erudition on display. The stories don't need this; they're interesting enough in themselves.
This book is for anyone who's seen an unfamiliar stamp on an old album leaf and wondered "what was that all about?" Alternatively, if the tide of new issues is getting too much, here's a wonderful range of countries that won't be issuing any more.