To learn more about William Edgar Geil, click here for the Accidental Ethnographer Resource Center
A year ago on Round and Square (25 September 2012)—Academic Autobiography: John King Fairbank-d
One very interesting thing I noticed as Rachel Johnson and I were scanning Geil’s Great World-Wide Tour was his tendency to scrapbook. Often times we would find cut out articles from pamphlets or books, but what really draws the eye is the colorful collection of stamps that will occasionally be found pasted in with his documents. There’s no real rhyme or reason to when or where these stamps appear or even where they come from. I’ve seen stamps from Spain, Hong Kong, and from Sarawak.
The most interesting (and colorful) of these is the large collection of stamps from Sarawak. Featuring the profile of Sir Charles Brooke, each line of stamps represents a different release of stamps. The five at the top were first printed in 1871 when Charles Brooke became the Rajah of Sarawak. The eight on the second row were first printed in 1899 and were reprints by De La Rue (a well-known printing company that is still around today) of the 1888 stamps (featured on the bottom row). The De La Rue stamps can be differentiated by the lack of the word “revenue” on the later stamp.
The readers familiar with this series will easily recognize the next image as it has been featured before. But rather than focus on the words, I’m focusing on the stamp. This stamp is from Spain and features King Alfons XIII on it. First printed in 1889, the exact printing date of the stamp is unknown, but it is interesting to note that 1903 (when Geil pasted this stamp in) was the first year of King Alfons XIII reigning without his mother as a regent.
The third (and final example) is a stamp from Hong Kong. Actually 96 Hong Kong cents and not a dollar as marked, this stamp features the head of Queen Victoria. In 2011, this type of stamp caused a big stir when four unusually olive colored stamps sold for 6.4 million Hong Kong dollars (820,000 USD). This stamp is not olive colored, however, and thus not worth anything near that much, but still part of the stamps that were printed in 1896.
So what do these unrelated stamps mean? Some are clearly used, yet some are in pristine condition. Geil gives no explanation to the befuddled reader (though this may be because these are his personal notes and not meant for publishing). What we can see though, is someone interested enough in foreign stamps to place them in his personal notes. Perhaps they are reminders, perhaps just 2-D baubles, but Geil certainly knows how to decorate a page!
|[d] Decorated DHS|