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 8.
As previously mentioned in this series, in 1862 stamp traders, catalogues and magazine articles appeared. So it was almost inevitable that in 1862 the first stamp album was produced, also in France.
The album appeared in February or March 1862, published by A. Lenègre in Paris. The editor is shown on the cover as Henry Justin Lallier. It is not quite certain whether he actually created the stamp album. He was an archaeologist, and it is claimed that he knew nothing of stamp collecting. Other sources indicate that he was a stamp dealer and saw the publication of an album as an opportunity to promote his business. It is known that he obtained the Paris stamp dealer Alexandre Baillieu’s co-operation – whom one year later issued his own catalogue. In the first edition there was space for roughly 1,200 stamps.
Henry Justin Lallier lived from 1823 to 12 August 1873.
K. Kouwenberg wrote in 1978 that some forty years earlier one of Lallier’s albums was discovered. It was full of stamps, including many rare specimens. However, further analysis showed the contents to be practically worthless; mostly reprints, badly damaged or fake. Nevertheless, the description ‘a Lallier album with content’ has “for years been a household word for something very good”, said Kouwenberg.
An album from that era was quite different compared to a current album, where you can add annually-issued supplements. The first albums were bound and had spaces for all hitherto known stamps. In later editions further spaces were added and people had to actually transfer their whole collection to the new album. For example – as seen below – by 1862 The Netherlands had only issued three stamps. Their second issue appeared two years later.
As mentioned, each known stamp had its own space in this album, with pages divided by country and displaying each country’s emblem. The album spaces included descriptions of the items. There were no images of the stamps in the first albums. The pages are sometimes so full and the frames often just too small that sometimes the stamps had to be resized slightly in order to fit. It was not unusual for collectors to trim off the teeth of the stamps. At the time nobody was really interested in the different forms of serration.
Postal stationery, rather the stamps printed on it, also had a place in this and other albums from the early days. The idea was to cut the stamps from the postal stationery. Consequently, many special items of stationery have been lost.
The albums were such an instant success, and the demand so great that no less than seven editions were published in the first five years. In total, 14 editions were published by Lenègre. The last, printed in 1876 – was edited by Pierre Mahé. The last edition was also published in other languages, including English, German, Spanish and Dutch, although the first Dutch edition of the album appeared in 1863 published by W.F. Dannenfelser in Utrecht (of whom more later in this series).
Later in 1862 the Edard Laplante album appeared (see part 6 of this series). Many considered Laplante’s album to be an imitation of Lallier’s, though there was no doubt that it was inferior in every way.
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