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01.05.2017 - James Barron: The One-Cent Magenta: a fascinating novel

(wm) At the start of the year 2017 James Barron published a book in the USA with the title: ‘The One-Cent Magenta - Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World‘ (ISBN 9781616205188). You can order the book via Amazon (selling price approx. 20 Euros), but if you live outside the United States you must expect a delivery time of approx. 4 to 5 weeks. The author of this paperback-sized, hardbound book of 276 pages, works a reporter for ‘The New York Times’. He describes the fascinating history of the philatelic world rarity that we know as the Guyana One-Cent Magenta and he does this in an entertaining fashion. It is clear that he has met all the key players in the story that is unraveled in his book, like Michael Sefi, the Royal Keeper, Bob Odenweller, many experts and of course also Sotheby’s auctioneer David N. Redden, the man who auctioned the famous stamp in 2014 in New York, where it yielded 9.5 million American dollars.
James Barron understands masterfully how to develop an exciting story, a report that he litters with countless actual (or alleged) facts. In this way, his book seems to be more than a historical novel; it also gives the impression that all the presented facts are historically assured. Especially since he provides 30 pages containing information about the documents that he has researched, along with a list of references.
Barron has published a book that has the capacity to increase interest in philately and in the fascinating world of stamps. For this he deserves our respect and hopefully his book will find a large number of interested readers. But we have to add that this does not release him from his duty (especially for a someone who is a journalist) to present data that are reliable and truthful. And seen on this "meta-level," Barron sometimes presents ‘facts’ that are far removed from the truth, especially where it concerns his description of the life and work of the famous philatelist Philipp von Ferrari. This does not diminish the pleasure of reading Barron’s book, but leaves a doubt where it concerns the accuracy of his research.