09.10.2017 - Wolfgang Maaßen: Der geheimnisvolle Philipp von Ferrari. Philatelist, Philanthrop und Kosmopolit

(p*c) Is it possible to write a book of 500 pages on large format about one person? About a philatelist whose name and life everybody believes to know? A biography which nevertheless presents something new and unknown in each chapter and almost every page, which corrects more than 100 years of historiography and brings much to light that has been slumbering in obscurity? Yes, it is possible indeed – as proved by the author of ‘Der geheimnisvolle Philipp von Ferrari. Philatelist, Philanthrop und Kosmopolit’, Wolfgang Maaßen, who already has made himself a name by the publication of numerous works on the history of philately.
He has succeeded in painting a much more complete and complex portrait of the legendary ‘King of Philatelists’ Philippe de Ferrari than anyone else did before him. Thus a book was written which reveals much of this mysterious personality and his eventful life, against the background of the society, the politics and economy of his times, but also in the context of his noble family, traits and aspects one did not expect.
Two well-known and unbelievably rich aristocratic families are what Ferrari perceives as the ever-present shadow obscuring all his life: his early childhood, his school time and studies, his long years of teaching at college and university of which so little was known so far, and also the confrontations with his cold and authoritarian father, the fond affection for his mother and the refusal of riches, nobility and titles. Ferrari, a young revolutionary? That is exactly what he was, someone who protested against the society of his epoch and – once he had understood that he could not change it – who retreated up to the point of completely denying his identity. To find refuge near his beloved collections whose origin and evolution the author describes in detail. In this way arises the image of a passionately driven man who on the one hand is excluded from society by his personal orientation, and who on the other hand, for his love of humanity, becomes more and more of a philanthropist and cosmopolitan. Someone who acquires various nationalities, goods and properties in many countries – and who in the end is nowhere at home.