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TÊTE-BÊCHE Rarities from the Oval Issue of Finland (Leather Bound with Slipcase)

Tomas Bjäringer RDP Hon-FRPSL & Mårten Sundberg FRPSL

This work tells the stories of the rare têtebêches of the oval issue of Finland 1856–1858, rarities which are highly prized by philatelists the world over. Appreciation of these rarities arose at a relatively late date, but amongst the former and present owners are many of the most acclaimed collectors in the history of philately including Agathon Fabergé, Philippe de Ferrari, Arthur Hind, Théodore Champion, Alfred F. Lichtenstein, Alfred H. Caspary, Alphonse Mayer von Rothschild, HM King Carol II, Maurice Burrus, Leo Linder, Rolf Gummesson, Hiroyuki Kanai, Christian Sundman, Gustaf Douglas, Luis Alemany Indarte and William H. Gross (all depicted on the back cover). Collections of classic Finland with tête-bêches have been awarded Grand Prix at international exhibitions on eight occasions.

Each of the sixty-eight recorded tête-bêche items is presented with a comprehensive biography including provenance. Four previously unlisted items have been added, but more thrilling is the story of the items that have been dismissed from previous listings. With the help of Leo Linder’s reference archive earlier recorded items that obviously were fakes are detected.

One hundred and four owners are presented in short biographies. One chapter deals with collectors who reportedly owned tête-bêches, but the relevant individual items could not be identified. Reprints and forgeries of tête-bêches are described, as well as reconstructions of large tête-bêche blocks. Agathon Fabergé claimed to know that all unused tête-bêche blocks came from the same source, and that a dealer divided full sheets that he had bought. The book presents a chain of circumstantial evidence that suggests who this dealer was.