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STAMPING OUR HISTORY: The Story of the United States...

October 21, 1990|Sonja Bolle

STAMPING OUR HISTORY: The Story of the United States Portrayed in Postage Stamps by Charles Davidson and Lincoln Diamant (Lyle Stuart: $49.95). In 1865, the British magazine Punch mocked stamp collectors as "industriously idle people, as eager to collect Queens' heads as Harry the Eighth was to get rid of them." In the United States, however, the postal service, free from the constraints of depicting a monarch on its stamps, turned its attention to more artistically varied subjects. "Stamping Our History" reproduces philatelic celebrations of U.S. history, while the text offers a quirky narrative that careens between the earnestly patriotic and the delightfully obscure. It explains, for example, what happens to the mountains of minuscule wastepaper dots left behind by stamp perforation and how we almost had the wild turkey as our national emblem because Ben Franklin found that the bald eagle had "a bad moral character."

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