Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies

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Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Van der Kiste
Reviewed by John Van der Kiste
Summary: The Concise Great Britain catalogue, now in its 27th year of publication, covering every issue up to and including March 2012
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 403 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Stanley Gibbons Ltd
ISBN: 9780852598467

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Now in its 27th year of publication, the Great Britain Concise Catalogue provides a comprehensive listing of all issues from the 1d black and 2d blue of May 1840 to the Children’s Comics issue of 20 March 2012. As a halfway house between the very basic ‘Collect British Stamps’ and the multi-volume specialised edition, this lists the main variations of each issue, alongside miniature sheets, special first day of issue postmarks, postage dues, booklets, and the regional issues from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, as well as the Channel Islands and Isle of Man prior to their postal independence in 1969 and 1973 respectively.

With the prolonged recession impacting on the disposable income of many collectors and would-be collectors, plus the proliferation of the ubiquitous large gold franking label which adorns almost every privately-posted medium-sized package these days, I would have thought that philately is not quite the popular hobby it was for many years. Nevertheless prices continue to rise each year, with the least expensive variations of the 1d black used selling at £350, an increase of £50 on last year, while the 2d Tyrian plum, prepared for use but never released because of King Edward VII's death on the scheduled date of issue in May 1910, shows an increase of £10,000, up to £110,000. Even putting aside any investment factors, this suggests that the interest is still very much present.

Errors are still showing healthy increases, as are recent issues, for which available supplies seem unable to meet an increasing demand. This latter statement, by the way, is made by the editors, and at the risk of courting controversy, could be construed as a less than wholehearted endorsement of Post Office management today. At the risk of getting nostalgic, some years ago it was easy to walk into any office (and there were far more at the time) and obtain any commemorative issues that had been on sale for only a few weeks, as well as acquire postally used specimens on letters and packages which arrived through the letterbox, or from helpful friends. Those situations are but a distant memory today. This is reflected in the fact that many of the lowest values of commemoratives and special issues from the 1960s and early 1970s are listed at the lowest price of 10p, unmounted mint and used, while equivalent lowest values for those of the last couple of years are at least £1 each.

The sheer complexity of listings is one that continues to plague the catalogue editors, Hugh Jefferies and Vince Cordell, as much as it presumably does its readers and users themselves. It is rightly stressed on the Preface that it is up to the individual collector to decide what they acquire and add to their stamp albums themselves. Over 30 pages are devoted to the decimal Machin definitive series, from the first issue of February 1971. Even the colour and value variations at their most basic must number over a hundred now, even without taking into account the variations of 1st and 2nd class (without specific printed values), uncoated paper, phosphor omitted, and everything else. If I was a first-time collector coming to the hobby today, I think I would be completely dazzled if not totally put off by the vast range at my disposal. So all credit is due to the editors for providing such a comprehensive listing of a seriously demanding field.

Also new to this catalogue is an expansion of the Post & Go labels, available from self-service machines from a few select larger post offices since 2008. Because of their limited availability, these are still quite scarce, but the rather attractive bird and farm animals of the series introduced so far suggests that they may well prove a popular collecting area.

Even if one is no longer an avid collector, as a book this is superbly laid out. Anybody with the slightest interest, or an eye for design, will relish looking at the pages and different designs through the ages, from the classic Victorian and Four Kings issues to today’s multicoloured concoctions, miniature sheets and booklet covers. For those of us who may say ‘they’re not what they used to be’, there is some satisfaction in looking at the May 2010 issue for the Festival of Stamps and centenary of the accession of George V, which incorporated facsimiles of some of the most striking stamps of the King’s reign, as well as others for cats, dogs, wildlife in general and the Winnie the Pooh drawings of E.H. Shepard.

As ever, this 400-page volume is not inexpensive, but it is the undoubted leader in its field, for which there is no substitute.

Our thanks to Stanley Gibbons for sending Bookbag a review copy.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Commonwealth & Empire Stamps 1840-1970 2011 by Hugh Jefferies.

Buy Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2012 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon.com.

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