tradition and experience in classic philately since 1919

Richard Schäfer: Jean de Sperati – Rubens of Philatelic Forgers 1884–1957

125.00 CHF
article number: 474
"My 10th and last philatelic book" can be read in smaller print under the name of the well-known Swiss author. He was to be proved right, as when preparing for the International FIP Exhibition LUGANO 2022, at which on 18 May 2022 his ninth work entitled "Kantonalmarken Schweiz. Echt - falsch - verfälscht (Reuterskiöld Nr. II)" was presented by Walter Brühlmann for the Corinphila publishing house, Schäfer (born 1939) announced the forthcoming book as his last work. He probably lived to see its completion, but not its publication, for he died in the spring of this year.

In nine chapters, this expert first devoted himself to a biography of Sperati and his family, his curriculum vitae, and the early and later years of his creative work, literally putting him on a par with "Rubens" and his importance in art. Thanks to the acquisition of the family estate, Schäfer was able to include many unknown facts and photographs, so that this first part of the book can already be described as the best ever published on Sperati. This also applies to the second part of the book, in which he also describes, in detail in nine chapters, the techniques that Sperati used to produce his forgeries. From matrices to postmarks, from paper and ink to the printing process, the production methods are described, explained and illustrated in detail.

What is perhaps unusual is the third part of the book, which Schäfer devotes to the marketing strategy of this "Grand Master" of the forger's guild. For him, this includes Sperati's feuds with the assayers' guild, and also original price lists, approval cards and booklets, Sperati's correspondence, Sperati's 1953 album "Philatélie d'Arts" and a black album as a presentation book. On fully 150 (!) pages Schäfer then presents what increases the value of this book enormously: every imitation of classic Swiss stamps produced by Sperati. They are compared with enlargements of the originals and all the differences are given in detail in both English and German. Specimens are taken into account as well as proofs, clichés etc.

An overall judgement is very easy for the reviewer due to the scope of the book and the accuracy of the research: it is the best book on Jean de Sperati and his work on classical Swiss forgeries that this reviewer has ever seen. This was probably only made possible by decades of study of the subject, but also by an enormous financial commitment to acquire all these relics over a long period of time. Anyone who collects, deals in, buys or sells these stamps should read the book, as it should protect them from many a bad investment. Buying it is also a good investment, given the limited edition of 200 copies.

– Wolfgang Maassen, AIJP

Format 21 x 28 cm, 275 pages, many coloured illustrations, hardbound in cloth with gold-embossed title and spine, dust jacket, gilt-edged pages all round

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