I just received my copy of the newly published book "The G.H Kaestlin Collection of Imperial Russian & Zemstvo Stamps", authored by Thomas Lera & fellow Rossica member Leon Finik.
This fantastic collection, built largely before the end of WWII by a London banker of Russian origin, has been recently re-discovered sleeping in the American National Postal museum. Such is the importance of that holding that the museum has decided to publish this opus, expertly commented by the written voice of Leon Finik.
Not only do I applaud the effort, but I also congratulate Rossica & the National Postal museum for launching a 'pleasure reading book', exactly the kind of format that we are strongly missing in classical philately (and my comment is not limited to Russia, but applies to Worldwide Philately as well). Yes, it is certainly very pleasant to balance once a while the time we spend reading some technically-packed and serious-minded articles with some light and colorfull readings on our hobby.
A very good idea of gift for a child or a philatelic friend, this is also the perfect book to relax your philatelic mind, or when you just feel the need to dream lightly about beautiful rarities that you might probably never own :-) Beginners can enjoy a clear, colorfull and step by step introduction to the wonders of Imperial Russian philately, reaching its peak toward the middle of the book when Leon is commenting the Zemstvo pages of the collection. But mind you, there are also lots of sound information and the serious philatelist will certainly learn a thing or two as well.
And to give you a single taste of what wonders lie in the pages, just enjoy this fantastic bloc of four of Russia #1, a piece that was once believed lost during the war.
Russia 1857 - Michel 1 / Scott 1
Unique Bloc of Four
A bloc of four was already mentionned in the Cercle Philatélique France-URSS catalogue back in 1956 (I once had the original catalogue, alas lost!), where Serge Rockling - who saw the bloc during the 1928 Monte Carlo exhibition- described it as 'in bad quality'. I believe that it might well be the 'Kaestlin bloc' above.
You can have more detailed information about G.H Kaestlin and his fantastic collection, as well as order the book, on the Rossica Society website.