Thursday, 24 March 2011
Stanley Gibbons Specialised Volume 4 Part 2
The SG Great Britain Specialised Catalogue is a comprehensive reference for British stamps. It comes in five volumes, with Volume 4 - Queen Elizabeth II Decimal Definitive Issues split into two parts. Historically, Gibbons has updated each volume every few years.
The decimal definitives, however, have gotten to the point where Gibbons can't seem to handle them. After updating Volume 4 roughly every three years since 1976, progress came to a halt after the 2000 edition.
Because of the number of stamps, Gibbons split Volume 4 into two parts. A new edition of Part 1 appears in 2008 but part 2 didn't show up until late 2010, a full ten years after the previous edition.
Part 1 contains the denominated Machins with water-activated gum. Part 2 contains non-denominated Machins, Machin and pictorial regionals, all self-adhesive Machins, castle high values, greetings stamps, Faststamps, and more.
You may have heard or read about this recent Part 2. I just finished writing a review of it that will be published in The Great Britain Collectors Club Chronicle. Here's the summary:
The new two-column layout with color accent is not well thought out in some respects. The organization is a mess. The volume is riddled with errors. (Gibbons posted a partial list of corrections on their web site.) And, most insulting, no one did even cursory proofreading to catch obvious errors and inconsistencies. It is really sloppy work.
A member of the Machin Forum posted a letter he received from Hugh Jeffries, Catalogue Editor, who said the problems resulted from the unexpected departure of the volume's editor during its production. That doesn't explain why mistakes that would be noticed by any literate high school student weren't fixed before publication.
I can't recommend this volume, and I can only hope this represents Gibbons' nadir, and things will improve from here.