Every collector of Central and South America probably knows the name of the professional philatelist Brian Moorhouse. As a dealer, expertiser and publicist he was for decades of international renown. Less well known was his own passion for collecting many areas, in which he alone put together 14 exhibits, some of which went down in the history of philately with high honours and awards. Two of them are documented in this comprehensive, well-written work.
The name "Tierra del Fuego" - known to many as the "Land of Fire" and the southernmost province of Argentina - is inextricably linked to that of Julius Popper (1857-1893), a Romanian-born Jewish freemason and adventurer who came to Argentina in 1885 in search of gold. A year later he found gold-bearing sand on the beach at Paramo, a peninsula of Tierra del Fuego. A short time later Popper produced large quantities of gold. This enabled him to establish his own "empire" with his own gold coin currency and his own local stamps, which from 1891 were sold by a postal service in Ushuaia. Two years later Popper died unexpectedly and his own kingdom quickly perished with him.
Moorhouse tells this story in much greater detail in his collection and provides stamp issues with an abundance that is unparalleled - but cannot be found, as he himself has acquired most of the material that still exists. His collection is the best and most extensive ever in this field. One learns from it all the subtleties of these local issues, which one previously knew at best from hearsay.
With the second collection, on what was probably the bloodiest war in South America, the Chaco War of 1932-1935, Moorhouse also demonstrates his expertise in philately and postal history, which he acquired over many years thanks to his excellent historical and literary knowledge. This military conflict between Bolivia and Paraguay was about decades-long territorial claims on the Gran Chaco, a rather deserted and seemingly economically uninteresting region, which ultimately led to a war. In 1938, Paraguay was able to claim victory and in a peace treaty gained control over the larger part of this area for itself.
Moorhouse documents the stamps, postmarks, military mail and censorship systems of both countries involved at that time, and he has even taken into account propaganda postcards and labels, as well as the prisoner-of-war mail of both sides. The abundance of the material shown is almost overwhelming and extremely depressing, reflecting the events of the time in an incomparable way. This collection is a history book of a special kind and goes far beyond a purely philatelic exhibit.
— Wolfgang Maassen (AIJP)
196 pages, hardbound with dust jacket, in English