Die Pariteit van Munten in de Postgeschiedenis 1700-1875 (Parity of Currency in Postal History), Leonard H. Janssen, Dutch text, privately published, Bocholt, Belgium, 2001; available in the USA from Rosetta Stone Press, Box 930, New Providence NJ 07974, $75 postpaid. Sewn, hardbound, 8-1/2 by 12 inches, 502 pages, illustrated.
The author has performed a great service for postal history collectors, especially for those interested in the prestamp and early adhesive periods. This must have been a lifetime project of compiling information from a wide variety of sources into one handy reference work. For postal history students, it brings much information together and saves having to consult many, many different sources.
While the strength of the compilation will appear to be in the European mails, the author includes currency equivalent information for African, Asian, and some American countries as well. Anyone who has tried to analyze a cover sent from one country to another, and perhaps passing through several other countries on the way, knows the tedious research that must be carried out to determine how much is prepaid, what was assessed en route, and what may be due from the recipient at destination. Each country noted these amounts in their own currency, and the problem is how to sort out these differences to tell the entire rate story.
The introductory pages are not only in Dutch, but also in French, German, and English. In this section he discusses the units of weight and their equivalents as used by European postal services. The organization of the tables is by country and then alphabetically for the major cities within each country. Beginning with Antwerp, Belgium you learn about the comparison of gulden, schelling, stuiver, livre, groten, penning, etc.
The tables show the changes in parity among currencies during the time period of the book. The listings for German cities follow those for Belgium, then France, Greece, England, etc. The table of contents is detailed so that one can easily find the city of origin for a cover and go directly to the appropriate tables. The data is presented in logical fashion so that currencies of adjacent communities are readily found. There are only a handful of illustrated covers in color, but the analysis of rates for each is presented.
Source references are footnoted throughout, and a 5-page bibliography provides details of the works consulted. A handy 4-language (Dutch, English, French, German) word list will help the reader work through the text. The typeface is easy to read and the use of white space and the elongated format (the book is 12 inches wide) helps one to read the tables of data.
Last December, author Leon Janssen was presented with the Prof -Brühl Medal of the Briefmarkenfreunde Düsseldorf in recognition of his tremendous contribution to the field of postal history. With this work, postal historians will be indebted to him for many years.