Thursday 8 July 2021

A new detailed catalogue and a forgery checklist.

Whilst at Midpex I picked up a copy of the new 'Complete Machin Stamp Catalogue - A specialised Guide to the Machin Definitive Series 1967-2021 by G J Burgess.

What, another new catalogue, you say?  Yes, in addition to the very specialised Deegam, the reasonably specialised Gibbons Concise, the freely-downloadable Stoneham, the out-of-date Connoisseur, the Machin Collectors Club catalogue, and our own detailed Checklist of the security stamps, is there a need for another?

The Complete Machin Stamp Catalogue - Burgess.


Well each of these catalogues has its own features, little extras, and omissions.  Whilst many will rely on the Gibbons product because that is what very many dealers use for their price lists, as a reference book it can be quite difficult to use, with no illustrations of booklet panes, and constant references back and forth to establish (often by type number rather than catalogue number) the actual contents of a booklet. (Try booklets QA1-4, for starters!)

The well illustrated Stoneham GB Catalogue, which usefully shows every PSB pane, has an arrangement for the Machins which assumes you know where you are starting from, with the first decimal Machins arranged according to paper/gum type, in over 20 different lists in 17 pages, and that's just the pre-elliptical stamps.  The pattern is repeated for the elliptical.  And as if an afterthought, all the self-adhesive stamps are in a separate section after the Booklets listing, over 110 pages after the gummed NVIs.


The new book

The first and most obvious thing about the Burgess catalogue is that it is A4 not A5.  It's on better quality paper than the Concise with its 250+ pages coming in at two-thirds of the thickness of the Concise's 566. 

It's also clear - all pages are in a single column, compared with the 2-column style of many of the others.  This aids clarity, with a sans-serif typeface. While some prefer Times New Roman, the serifs make it harder, not to read, but to study.   And the tabular system, with lines separating the rows means that even with the wider page, it is easy to use:

Burgess Machin catalogue 'value' stamps with elliptical perforations, page 61

The observant will notice that the Courvoisier trial stamps and the 2002 official 'RNIB' trial booklet stamps are also listed, the latter priced considerably higher than the much-publicised recent discoveries.

When it comes to the 2009> security stamps the detail is staggering.  The listing of each of the stamps with it's year code and source code (counting absence of a year code as 2009 in the same table as all the stamps with actual year codes), means 10 pages for the NVIs, and more for the special purpose stamps, the Diamond Jubilee and Long to Reign, with booklet contents being shown, rather than just the cover as Gibbons does.

NVI Security stamps listing in Burgess Machin catalogue.

Other pages show all the colour tabs for each of the stamps for each year, making it easy - if you have your collection arranged by year - to identify anything missing.  Equally it's easy to see which stamps don't exist in a particular year - no 1p, 2p or 5p counter sheet stamps in 2013 and no 1p stamp in 2014, for example.  Always useful if you have convinced yourself that a gap means that you are missing a stamp - you're not, Royal Mail did!

The section on gummed security stamps clearly shows which prestige book each appeared in.  No issue dates, they really aren't relevant expect for first day covers, and the first of any year always use the previous year's year code.

If you hark back to the Wildings, for which the (Gibbons) catalogues often showed all the printing dates and cylinders, well this book shows all the printing dates for the counter sheets, from 1p to 500g Special Delivery.

Counter sheet printing dates - Burgess Machin catalogue.

Regional/Country definitives are also covered of course, but only the Machins.  A detailed study of the pictorial country definitives would show many differences over the years that they have replaced the old 'emblem' stamps.

After the expected stamps come Machin stamps for Gibraltar, independent Guernsey, and a two-page listing for Hong Kong.  This is important and useful; I know of at least one collector who has an impressive collection of Hong Kong Machins used on cover (yes, I'm back to postal history again).

Modern non-Machin stamps are included for completeness, such as the decimal Wildings & Castles, and the 1d black (etc) definitive-sized stamps.  Booklets are shown in detail, although the (non-Machin) greetings stamps only have one illustration for the three different combinations of stamps, so here only marginally better than the Concise.  

There is also a two-page un-illustrated listing of forgeries of the security stamps.

Prestige Stamp Book definitive panes are well illustrated in the Burgess Machin Catalogue. 

With excellent colour matching and quality printing this is an excellent book for the Machin collector even if you have others, which it will supplement.  It is priced at £29.99 and can be obtained from some stamp dealers or direct from the publisher through his eBay listing.   A pdf version is also available, supplied on a USB-stick for £16.99.  

UPDATE 15 July: If you are ordering stamps etc from Arun Stamps, Tony now has stocks of this catalogue which can be included. 


Just before I went off to Midpex, a collector and regular contributor here sent me a digital copy of a listing of Machin and other modern Forgeries he has compiled.  Fully illustrated with not just individual stamps, but complete booklets, 'sheets of 99', business sheets etc, this runs to 140 pages and includes Christmas stamps and country definitives.  

This is another tour de force, and I hope he makes it available to others interested in modern forgeries.


  1. That's a useful revue of what looks like a very good catalogue.
    I buy the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise every few years but find their Machin section a bit of a muddle. I've written with detailed suggestions for some clarification but haven't had a reply.

  2. I have just brought this catalogue and found it to be a very useful addition to my small library of Machin and GB catalogues. The content and the quality of this publication is excellent.

  3. Any idea how/when and frequently this publication will be updated? Doug (Enfield)

  4. Catalogue is into it's second year and will be updated on a yearly basis.

  5. Are there really that many forgeries that they need their own check list?

    1. Send me your email address and I'll send you the draft. It's more than a checklist as it shows pictures of complete booklets, business sheets and 'sheets' of 99.

  6. I am very interested in the catalogue I was just wondering how much postage would be to send it to Stoney Creek Ontario Canada. I know I have bought books in the past from the UK and it was not very much but other sites are telling me that this would cost about 40 to 50 Dollars USD to send it.

    1. Shelley, if you click on his eBay listing and set the delivery to as Canada you will see that tracked shipping currently costs £26.55. Prices will almost certainly increase at the beginning of April.

      Or if you click on 'see other items' you will see the pdf version which costs only £16.99 plus £6.20 as it is supplied on a USB stick.

  7. Hi Ian. Thanks for publishing this review. It wasn't until very recently (New Years Eve 2023) that I realised that Arnold was from Stoke-on-Trent, like myself.
    I think I probably found this out while browsing your blog. So thanks for helping me to find out.
    I'm enjoying learning a lot more about Arnold's life and his works.
    I will just say that everyone from Stoke-on-Trent, and all philatalists too, should very, very proud of what this wonderful man has achieved.


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