Wednesday, 19 June 2019

New version of our Checklist reflects Gibbons' Concise 2019 changes

 Stanley Gibbons' venture into producing a hardback version of their Great Britain Concise catalogue was short-lived, with the 2019 version just received reverting to soft-back.  Gibbons cites customer feedback as "too heavy and unwieldy" - this change to what must be a cheaper format (certainly to ship) is accompanied by an £8 increase in cover price after 2018's steep reduction, which we never did understand at the time!

For collectors of pre-Elizabethan stamps all the colour images have been replaced by new improved scans, and better illustrations have also been added to illustrate some QE2 varieties.  A major improvement, and one which have called for for a number of years, is the showing of pictures of re-used designs for the listings where they have been reused.  This is particularly useful with the listings of Smilers greetings booklet stamps, especially the 2008 booklet.

Until now, the listing has referred to the design types - Gibbons' illustration numbers - which meant that catalogue users had to keep flipping back and forth.   Last year the designs descriptions were shown on each line, rather than the colour description.  Prior to that (I believe) each line showed 'multicoloured'.  The first three (1842, 1842a and 1842c) referred back 14 pages to 2005; the other three (1932-4) referred back 9 pages to 2006.  The importance of this is that the 2008 stamps have elliptical perforations whilst the others do not, which explains why they get separate listings.  The listing for the three booklets (QA2 - QA4) does not indicate the elliptical perforations, only referring to the 'pane' numbers, which refers you back to the main stamp listings 250+ pages earlier!  This is another omission which could be rectified.

As mentioned at the end of April,  some of the U- numbers for security Machins have been altered: the variants are now all numbered with a,b,c, etc codes to keep them all near the start of the listing.  The panes are now all listed separately from l,m,n etc as they are in pre-security listings.  Some other numbers have changed to accommodate new stamps, but there is a very small gap between U2971, the top (£3.60) value in the counter sheet stamps and the first of the NVIs, U2975 original 2nd class counter sheet.  Airmail rate increases may not produce four higher-valued stamps next year, nor even the following year, but...  And there will be more 'a numbers' with the eight spaces in the U29-- range not necessarily falling in the right place for the new values.   The Preface acknowledges that the editors "woefully underestimated the issuing prowess of Royal Mail" - well it wasn't difficult to forecast that more stamps would be needed when postage rates were increased!

I've noticed one change in the retail booklet numbering where MB8e has changed to MB8d which hadn't been - and wasn't likely to be - used.  I don't see the need for this tidying up which will have collectors asking dealers for a stamp which one or other of them will see as the 'wrong' number.  It could have been covered by a footnote saying that MB8d was not used: there may be others.  The inconsistency of assigning sub-numbers to booklets without the Printer's Imprint, and with the FSC logo, but not for the change in telephone number from 0845 to 0345 has still not been rectified nor explained.

The preface includes a list of additions (aside from new stamps) and a list of Wilding booklet pane number changes, but not a list of changes to the U-number series.  Our new checklist will show original, 2018, and 2019 numbers for the time being.  For space reasons, there may be a time when we have to show only the latest two numbers in the tables!

New stamps

Since I last wrote about new Machins the 1st class business sheet has been found in branches and the £1 counter sheet made available from Tallents House together with the 20p.  But the 1p, 10p and 1st Large Signed For are still not available from Royal Mail and we have no proof that the 1p and 1L SF exist.  If anybody would like to send pictures of those two stamps, we will properly include them in our Checklist.  Details of the new stamps are shown on the June Machin post here.

Another new stamp available from Tallents House is the Wales 1st class from cylinder C3 printed on 30/01/19.  The stamp appears to be bluer than the C2 printing, but is not significant enough for catalogue listing.  If any readers require singles, cylinder blocks of date blocks, please contact me by email - see at top right.

New Checklist
All the latest changes, new stamps and Concise number changes, have been incorporated into the latest - and I know, long-awaited, version of our Machin Checklist.  Download it from the usual Dropbox here or at the link on the right.

Because of some confusion over terminology, especially of colour names, I am thinking of using the Stanley Gibbons colour names in future versions of the Checklist, only modifying them where I think it necessary to distinguish different printings.  I welcome users' views on this.  One thing I won't be doing is using Royal Mail colour names, although these may be added in a separate table.

As always I can't guarantee that there are no mistakes in the new version and I welcome all contributions to make it more accurate.


  1. My copy came in a slipcase (which I find inconvenient to use) so I'm not sure that the shipping weight would be much less than the 2018 hardback edition.

    Regarding the booklet renumbering: I completely agree that they still have a mess with the MB8 set of booklets. Maybe if they'd spent less effort on tinkering with this and more on avoiding omissions (both the Xmas 2018 booklets as well as PM60 are all missing from the listings) then we'd be somewhat happier.

  2. I looked through my edition & was amazed at the amount of missing information & printing errors especially in the MPIL listings & country listings, ie wrong years applied to certain stamps, no dates printed on some.

  3. Having sent an email to Stanley Gibbons with regards the missing items, namely the Stamp Books, and missing Security Machin (Source and Year Code Tables) SG. U3045 -> UG3052 and other errors I have come across. I was surprised to be told they knew nothing of these omissions before my e-mail of today. Compared to the 2018 edition, which had some items missing, this years edition has more than ever. With all the information that is printed, one would expect one or two errors, but this issue surpasses that. So who proof read this edition before authorising publication. More care needs to be taken, as these Catalogues are not getting any cheaper

    1. Hello Chris, your copy must be a rogue, as my 2019 edition does include the SG3045 - SG3052 issues, & no information is missing.

    2. I OK'd Chris's comment while I was out last night, not having noticed any error of this kind.

      Sure enough, as Peter writes, the stamps are listed and pictured on page 357. Perhaps Chris has a rare paper-fold variety?

      Which stamp books are missing, Chris?

    3. I think Chris was referring to the detailed year code listings for U3045 -> U3052 which are also missing from my copy (the basic listing is there). The other errors I've noticed so far: PM60 omitted, PM62 not showing both backing paper variants, Christmas 2018 booklets (LX57 and LX58) omitted, U2921 and U2922 not showing both backing paper variants for M17L.

    4. The Stamp Books not listed are the XMAS Booklets of 2018 and PM60 (Red Arrows) Booklet issued 11/05/2018.

      With regards SG3045 - SG3052, the Stamps are listed on p.357, however the Security Source and year-code table which was in the 2018 edition on p.339, is now completely missing

    5. Chris, thanks for the clarification, I hadn't thought to look at the John Deering tables.

      I suspect it would be useful to have a separate area where I put all these omissions and errors, so that Gibbons can then be alerted. I'm just not sure at this stage how to operate it without involving more work than at present.

      I'll contact Gibbons; perhaps they have a forum space on their own website.