Review of The Bookmark Catalogue,
Volume 1 — Self-adhesive Stamp Books

by the Great Britain Decimal Stamp Book Study Circle

Reviewed by Larry Rosenblum

Published in the January, 2006 issue of The Chronicle, the journal of the Great Britain Collectors Club. Reprinted by permission.

Cover of Bookmark Catalogue After booklets were first issued in Great Britain in 1904, they became very popular with postal customers. The British Post Office responded with a torrent of booklets over the years, and stamp collectors found booklets to be a worthwhile specialty.

(Aside: The British refer to these items as “books,” but I have used the American term “booklets” in this review.)

Soon after decimalization in 1971, a group was formed to study the booklets of the new era. For over thirty years, the Great Britain Decimal Stamp Book Study Circle has distinguished itself with a scholarly and readable journal and other services for its members.

Among those services is a comprehensive catalog. Seven increasingly larger editions were published during the Circle’s first 25 years. When it came time to create the eighth edition, the club realized that many collectors were choosing to specialize in certain types of booklets. To serve those collectors better, the Circle decided to issue the catalog in modular form.

The first volume, covering self-adhesive issues, was published a few months ago. The first self-adhesive booklet appeared as a trial in 1993, so the catalog covers the twelve years to the end of 2004.

It makes sense for self-adhesive booklets to be the topic of the first volume. After some soul-searching when the items first appeared, the Circle decided to include all self-adhesive products (except coils) within its scope rather than trying to determine exactly which ones fell within the definition of a booklet and which ones did not.

The advent of self-adhesive stamps in various formats has led to some anomolies in nomenclature. The Christmas issues of 12 and 24 stamps are referred to as sheetlets “that are ‘Z’ folded to create a booklet” with “the top part of the top panel regarded as the booklet cover and the bottom part of the final panel regarded as the back cover of the booklet.”

The definition of a booklet was stretched even further in the case of the Fun Fruit & Veg issue of 2003. As the catalog notes, “The ‘book’ is in reality a pack containing a sheetlet of stamps and stickers packed behind an illustrated display card.”

The concept of a booklet pane has also required some adjustment in the self-adhesive era. With water-activated stamps, the pane is a separate physical entity, and it is easy to distinguish the pane from the booklet cover. Panes from stitched booklets, which can be removed without damage by exploding the booklet, are still collected as individual items.

The “booklet pane” of a self-adhesive booklet is the number, type and layout of the individual stamps in the booklet. Two items that have identically the same stamps and layout but a different outside cover are said to be different booklets that contain the same booklet pane.

The catalog includes comprehensive information about each booklet and pane. Each booklet has at least a full page devoted to it. A photograph of the booklet is at the top, followed by technical information such as issue date, printer and pane number. This is followed by an extensive description that includes information about varieties. A sample page is here (400kb image).

Each pane also merits at least a full page. A diagram such as the one at left is used to show the layout of the stamps, the phosphor bands and the folding (if any). The text description includes the contents, layout, phosphor and the gauge of the simulated die-cut perforation.

Although the diagrams are clear and the panes are easy to identify, I think it would be helpful, especially for novices, if there was an actual photograph of each pane as well as the diagram. Such photos are printed in the Circle’s journal, so their omission must reflect the editor’s decision to save space.

The catalog contains much more detailed and specialized information than I have described here, and it is well organized so that the reader can skip parts that he is not interested in.

There are two helpful lists in the introduction to this volume: a list of booklets by series showing which pane each contains and a list of panes in chronological order showing in which booklet(s) each appears.

At the beginning of the catalog is a chapter of notes that explains the relevant aspects of Machin collecting. While generally well-written, this section could be clearer in a few places where it deals with admittedly complex subjects. An example is the discussion of the various types of phosphor and the different ways it has been applied. For serious study, the novice collector should also have a general reference, such as The Complete Deegam Machin Handbook, to accompany this catalog.

The GB DSB SC is to be commended for producing a detailed and usable reference for the many self-adhesive issues of the last few years. This meticulousness has been a hallmark of the Circle since its inception, and it is good to see that degree of consistency maintained over several decades. The catalog is an invaluable reference work for the collector of these issues.

Effective January 1, 2006, the GB DSB SC has merged with the British Decimal Stamps Study Circle to form the Modern British Philatelic Circle (MBPC). The catalog is available to MBPC members at the price of £16.50 plus postage based on destination. A special combination offer of a one-year membership plus the catalog is available to non-members. For more information, contact Keith Woodward by email at keith@mbp-circle.co.uk. You can also visit the Circle’s web site at http://mbp-circle.co.uk/mbp-circle/index.htm.



Last update: January 30, 2006   Macintosh!
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