Anyone who has read the 564 pages of this extensive work - presented in the style of an EDITION D'OR volume – will know why history and especially postal history fascinate so many people today. Although this book is based on the author's own collection, what he has made of it thanks to the Köhler/Corinphila publishing team breaks all the constraints of previous EDITION D'OR and EDITION SPÈCIALE volumes. The result is a perfect mixture of comprehensive information, richly combined with interesting, valuable and attractive covers from the period covered. But Schindler does not stop there. He also takes the next step with regard to what is often referred to today as "social philately". He includes contemporary illustrations of all kinds, reproduces original texts, maps, paintings of people, photos and much more, which brings to life the otherwise "dry" historical material.
Schindler treats the complex subject-matter chronologically. He begins with the early development of the Levant up to the Congress of Vienna, then shows the developments on land and sea and discusses the early postage rates as well as the introduction of stamps. This alone takes up almost 300 pages and it is fascinating to read how the progress of industrial development was in tune with the expansion of postal routes, the available means of transport and destinations served. Of course, the Austrian Post Office's position in the interplay of powers at the time is not neglected either, as it - like so many others - always endeavoured to increase the Habsburg claim to expansion as far as Asia and Egypt. International postal links to Europe and overseas, postal treaties along various routes were the result and here it is also fascinating how the author deals with these important aspects on an almost global scale. The last 50 years of these developments - from the General Postal Union to the beginning of the First World War - are dealt with more briefly in comparison, but show the new stamp issues in different currencies and new postal services as well as the renewed economic changes.
This book is not a compendium, that is, not a concise textbook, it is an encyclopaedia of the Austrian Post and the Habsburg claims in the Levant - an encyclopaedia which has not existed in this form and with this content until now. The author is up to date, as is made clear by the sources he has evaluated and the state archives used, which today are gradually digitising their holdings. As a competent postal history expert, however, Schindler knows how to put facsimiles of old postal treaties in their overall context instead of reprinting them page by page, as is often the case, and he describes documents in such a way that one can learn from them. He is aware of and interprets the correspondence of large companies and trading houses, he knows about treaties and their backgrounds, but he does not simply leave them isolated in space, but interprets them against the background of previous and subsequent historical events, so that an overall picture of this complex matter emerges.
The author and publisher can only be congratulated on this book. It is a reference book in the best sense of the word, a monograph, not a documentation of a collection. But the book shows what you can do with a collection and what you can use it for. In short: philately meets history. The two are no longer separate!
— Wolfgang Maassen (AIJP)
564 pages, hardbound with dust jacket, in German and English