After having bought quite a few specialist catalogs I recently received another compliment to my every growing selection of exile stamp catalogus: the “Ukrainia DP Camp, POW Camp, Government in Exile and National Council Issues” (second edition) catalog of stamps of, well, the title says it all.
And let me start by saying that this catalog did surprise me: for the first time I had a specialty catalog not produced by an actual publishing company which gave me the “wow factor”. Okay, it has almost no color (only the front and back have some color: blue lettering) and it has no nifty layout, but straight after opening the envelope I noticed that this book is exactly as I would have hoped. The lettering and layout is very nicely done, no overstatement or whatever, but what is more important: this catalog actually tells me what I need to know.
No hidden agenda in this catalog: whatever the political feelings of the author may be, I couldn’t find it in the text. This catalog, unlike the Croatian exile catalog, doesn’t have to make me feel ashamed for the blatant political propaganda. Of course, the history of the Ukrainian nation is different from the Croatian nation in at least one sense: during the Second World War the Ukrainians never had any form of independence, so they never got around to doing what the Croatians and Serbs and pretty much everybody else in Easter Europe at the time could do: slaughter everybody else. This nation was slaughtered, either by the communists or the fascists. They put up an heroic struggle, which is very interesting to read about. But you won’t find anything about this period in history in this book because this book shows exactly what it is about: the stamps! And that is, in my opinion, what a catalog should be all about: give some background but leave out the political message. That is not so obvious to some of the other catalogs out there.
Having said that, the catalog is indeed a very nice book to have. It shows all the stamps mentioned in the listings, scanned at a very good resolution. All stamps are therefore very easy to recognize if you come across them on for instance Ebay (my main forum to search for such stamps). The stamps get some background information, like numbers produced, date of production and such, and they are listed in the different forms they came in (for instance perforated or imperforated). There is also information on how they were supposed to be used, and when, and the accompanying postal stationary gets its share of attention as well. I did not miss any information, it is really the exact amount of detail needed!
The book lists all the DP camp stamps and POW camp stamps produced by the Ukrainians, including variations on those stamps. For me the most important parts are the exile stamps (produced between 1923 and 1939) and the UNC stamps produced in exile after 1945, the main reason for me to buy this book. Unfortunately the decision by the author to only include the “official” stamps produced by these organizations means that you will not find some stamps which are regularly offered on sites like Ebay. You will not find the scouting stamps and all sorts of privately produced propaganda labels (which I also collect), but then again: that is not what this catalog is about. And so the book lists exactly what it promises.
Oddly enough the book did have something funny: blank pages. Within the book there are three positions were there are blank pages, but this is no problem. The page numbering is still correct, so I didn’t miss any information. I have no idea why these blank pages are there, but it didn’t matter either.
So, in short: this is a very good book and I am happy to have bought it. It can still be easily ordered from the Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society (UPNS), through their website. The US postal services have unfortunately upped their postal charges, but the UPNS can’t be blamed for that. The book is priced at a very modest 15 dollars, a very good value considering both the merits of this book and the prices some publishers dare to ask for their catalogs!
The details are Ukrainian DP Camp, POW Camp, Government in Exile, and National Council Issues (Second Edition) by Borys Fessak (x +80 pages, 8.5″ x 11″ format). See this direct link for the bookstore of the UPNS.
Below are some examples of pages from the book: