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The 2p Machin welcomes you to the first Machin editorial

Machin Editorial 1
“Modes of Collecting” by Albert Farrugia

Reproduced from Machinations, Volume 1 Issue 4 (July-August 1998) with kind permission of the author.

The commonest problem facing the Machin collector, whether he/she is a beginner or relatively advanced in the field, is “How to collect Machins?” Faced with the plethora of issues and varieties, beset by a complex specialist literature and seeking, as with all branches of philately, those elusive features, completeness and organization, it is no wonder that many novices to the field acquire a gradual sense of despair as they struggle in the Machin morass.

We feel that the answer to this problem is the same as in any area of philately and indeed, when possible, of life: ‘Do what you feel comfortable with.’ Too often, collectors feel obliged to follow prescribed norms in their collecting, with the result that they may end up diminishing the enjoyment they may get from their hobby. In the Machin area, this is a perfectly feasible trap. The complexity of the field may impose the need to strive for a level of specialization which most collectors would not have envisaged when making their first tentative steps towards it. They then find themselves immersed in a sea of stamp issues which they do not really want, but feel they need to have in order to maintain completion and adherence to one of the several catalogues available.

Thus, as many collectors approach Machins as an integral part of their Great Britain collection, it is perfectly feasible to assemble a representative collection aimed at including all the basic values and colors currently achieved. Such a collection would be a basic level one and would be best achieved using a listing such as that created by the Machin Interest Group for their custom made album page set. For those collectors wishing to draw the line there, such an approach would be ideal.

For those wishing to go further, the options are many. On one extreme, a combination of a deep pocket, an absolute commitment and a large amount of time would allow the level of specialization represented by the Deegam Handbook. As many collectors do wish to approach specialization, they may feel that this level is intimidating, however scholarly the approach.

However, it is perfectly possible to achieve a high level of specialization and satisfaction without necessarily adhering to the norms established by the literature. Indeed, collectors may find that they will be spared much misery if they first decide how they want to collect Machins, and then utilize the various catalogs as tools to their mode of collecting. And so, at the second level of specialization, the collector may wish to include varieties of paper, phosphor and gum, as well as some of the more obvious surface differences such as value types, all as reflected through the various printers. We believe we are aiming for this level through the specialist feature, with its accompanying album page, included in each issue of Machinations.

Collectors will find that their needs will generally approximate, but seldom fully concur with, one or other of the specialist works. For example, the second level will probably be well approached by the Connoisseur Catalogue, as well as Deegam's Level 2, although modifications will be necessary. And it must be said that in many ways, such a requirement is the very salt of collecting, and the ability to input one's own preferences should be viewed as a positive feature. After all, any fool with a big bank account can complete a catalog listing!

And a final word on following norms. We note that some collectors exhibit frustration at the criteria followed by certain eminent authorities and feel obliged to follow suit even when they don't like the approach used. For example, the level 2 and 3 Deegam listings institute a major classification on the basis of gum, paper type etc.

This has resulted in an interesting development as recent years have seen the photogravure method shift from acid-etched to computer generated (EME) cylinders. This constitutes in itself a level 3 change and will thus not be picked up by collectors wishing to limit themselves to level 2. The inclusion of the new lay flat polyvinyl alcohol (PVAl) gum by Harrison in early 1997 generated a level 2 listing, which in some instances was first exemplified by an acid-etched stamp followed by subsequent EME printings. Many collectors would argue that the distinct features of an EME stamp would merit a level 2 listing on a much higher priority than a change in gum.

If that is what collectors feel, then they should adjust their collecting mode accordingly. Remember - use the literature as a tool, not an impost.

And ... don't forget to have fun!

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