In the late 1970s a fascinating series of articles written by Mr. K. Kouwenberg about the history of Stamp Collecting, appeared in the Dutch magazine Philatelie. This series has been the source of inspiration for PostBeeld owner Rob Smit to rewrite the history of stamp collecting in instalments. This is Part 4 – Alfred Potiquet.Alfred Potiquet (1820-1882) was a civil engineer who carried out works for the municipalities of Meaux and Paris. He was a collector of manuscripts and stamps and an acquaintance of Oscar Berger-Levrault (see Part 3). He received permission to use Berger-Levrault’s stamp lists when composing a catalogue. Potiquet added information from his own collection and others and produced a fully illustrated catalogue which was clearly an improvement of the lists of Berger-Levrault and as such suitable to publish.
Collaborating with Eugène Lacroix, owner of a technical bookshop and Parisian stamp dealer E. Laplante, the first edition of Potiquet’s catalogue was published on December 21, 1861. This ‘Catalogue des Timbres-Poste Créés dans les États diverse du Globe’ was the first illustrated stamp catalogue, and the first to be available in book shops – the price at the time was 2 francs 50 centimes. Prices of stamps were not listed yet. Partly because at the time they were not so important, and because accurate valuations were not yet possible.
The catalogue was a success. In March 1862 the book was sold out and because of this success a second edition could be sold more cheaply (1 franc 25). The second edition refers to 1080 stamps and 132 items of postal stationery. But there were problems on the horizon. The collaboration collapsed when Lacroix discovered Laplante had marketed the catalogue under his own name. Laplante’s name was removed from the second edition cover and Lacroix gave his version of the split in the preface of the second edition, where not only Laplante, but also J.-B. Moens (who in Brussels had published his “Manuel du collectionneur de Timbres-Poste”) were accused of plagiarism. He also subtly indicated that the errors in the first edition (of course corrected in the second edition) still existed in the catalogues of the other two men.
Shown below is page 255 from an antique booksellers’ bulletin for the 1st quarter of 1862, showing the then available philatelic publications. On the bottom is an advertisement for the 2nd edition of the publication of Potiquet and directly above is mention of Moens’s catalogue.
Coming soon, Part 5 – Booming 1862