Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Volume 4 Continued (add to the debate)

Ian Rose has replied to this post below with his comments. (Click on comments at the end of the post to view) Many thanks Ian for adding to this debate. Douglas Mayall has also responded.

James Skinner as you say does not list them, and I appreciate non marginal singles could pose problems for dealers. However, when the stamps were first printed due to the phosphor layout so close to the perforations and the different papers it was advised to collect these as marginal pairs or singles in order to aid identification. This is how dealers should supply them.

As all date blocks and cylinder blocks consist of margins attached they (intermediate paper)should for completeness (in my view) be listed and priced in both Gibbons Vol 4 and Connoisseur.

The MCC catalogue has a lot of faults, but it is a good reference book, it does list and price these and short / inset bands too. Some time back Larry explained the way to identify these stamps, this is worth another read I think.

Douglas Myall (Thanks Douglas) informs us

"The best way of distinguishing Byfleet TR3 papers is to have identified samples of all of them (marginal date strips are ideal) and stick them onto a piece of black card, one below the other. Lay an unknown sample across these strips at right-angles so that they can all be seen together under the lamp. Because daylight contains some UV
these benchmark strips should not be exposed to it or they will become

The Adobe version, to be published in April, has a new appendix with publishing dates. These are linked to the catalogue lists at level 3.

My Original Post

I was also shocked to learn that (according to the Gibbons specialised vol 4) they do not recognise intermediate paper (TR3). After all the work put in by specialists to study and record details, they have now decided just to do away with them and class all TR3 intermediate papers as bright.

As I say I was shocked. This is the first I have heard of this. Has anyone else heard of another Machin specialist catalogue that has scrapped intermediate papers from its lists?


I was intrigued to learn that the 9p Machin (Orange & yellow) was staying with us (for the time being). So I got my collection out of cold storage to cross check that my my date blocks were current against the 9p values listed in vol 4. I was so confused, half of the dates I have were not covered by Gibbons. I read up on the notes to find out why!

This means that the intermediate cylinder block cat by MCC @ £15.00 is now only worth £3.00. My inset left cylinder block (intermediate) does not exist!! How crazy is that?

At least I can possibly add to my collection of 9p (dull) date blocks and cylinder blocks, even if the intermediate blocks I have been collecting for 6 years are now bright :-)

Now you are as confused as me.

To recap on papers before someone at Gibbons decided to alter things.

TR3: This is the main term for paper that was used by Royal Mail for the Byfleet printings, there are (were) 3 types to be found to date with variations of the amount of OBA (Optical Brightening Agent) in the coating.

They (as far as I know) were listed and known to specialist collectors as Dull, Intermediate and Bright papers. Listings are given secondary codes by collectors as - d, - i, and - b.

TR3-d = DULL
TR3-i = INTERMEDIATE (no longer exists) but you can call it bright.

RMS Paper is known as (Royal Mail Standard ) or (Specification) This is the paper currently used at Dunstable for all current printings , Known in certain circles as ATN (c) This has a cream PVA gum and is dull in appearance, developed and designed by order of The Royal Mail to get near to that of HS2 used previously by Harrison's at the High Wycome plant.


Ian Rose said...

I don't think that the Connoisseur catalogue lists intermediate papers either. As far as I can see, it only lists two papers "without fluorescence" (presumably dull) and "with fluorescence" (presumably bright). You can find this in the introduction to section 3A. The catalogue is to be found online at

If I remember right, dealer Jim Bond used to only supply intermediate papers when customers specifically requested them. For the purposes of making his lists, he only recognised bright and dull papers. His (prefectly reasonable, in my view) argument was it could be exceedingly difficult to tell non-marginal intermediate singles from non-marginal bright singles.

As I am a collector of cylinder and date blocks, I was never short of a sizeable piece of margin to go with my stamps and consequently I collected all three papers. But I would guess that a catalogue editor has to be aware that the great majority of collecors will only ever see a non-marginal single.

Ian Rose said...

Thanks for referring me to Larry's article, which I hadn't previously seen. I use pretty much the same way of identifying singles, although I always found the intermediate and bright papers to be the harder to separate as singles. The task of separating singles is not made easier by the fact that there are variations within the intermediate paper category.

Possibly Gibbons could have handled this by some form of footnotes. Under the main listing for each value they could have added a footnote to say something like "this stamp occurs on papers of intermediate and full brightness". (This is something like the way that they handled PCP1 and PCP2 - but let's not digress into the PCP1/PCP2 controversy here!) Under date blocks they could identify the fluor used by date and a reference back to the footnote.

In fairness, identifying non-marginal singles is probably not a lot harder than identifying direction of print and probably easier than distinguishing 150 and 250 screens. Collectors seem to accept both of those. (And good luck to them with the screens on the panes of 6 3d stamps, so much harder than other panes, but there lies another long digression.)

Interestingly, I don't think Gibbons lists either screens or direction of print.

I do agree with your comments on the cost of the Gibbons catalogue and the truly dreadful listing of booklets. But I might be happy with a listing of fluors treated as footnotes along the lines suggested above. And I think they got PCP1/PCP2 absolutely right ...

GBStamps said...

Thanks for your comments, Ian. For the record, John Deering always included intermediate papers in his lists. My problems arose when he differed with Douglas Myall about which papers existed for which values. Fortunately, that didn't occur too often.

The Gibbons issue is part of a larger question. Should catalogs adjust their listings based on what they think collectors will want (or what they want collectors to want)? Or should they be comprehensive in their listings and let collectors choose? Myall takes the latter approach, which I certainly agree with, and also clearly sets out his criteria for listing.

Imagine if all editors decided not to list intermediate papers but you wanted to collect them? What then?

In Gibbons case, there could be a third alternative - the editors list only what they are willing to stock and sell. I don't know if that's the case at SG (or Connoisseur), though I would think that mentality would argue for more listings rather than fewer.


GBStamps said...

This reminds me of an exchange I had with the new issues editor at Scott. When the 1st Machin appeared in the James Bond booklet printed by litho, Scott initially listed it as photogravure. (Scott still uses that term though it is now incorrect, but that's another story.)

I dropped him a line and pointed out that the listing should say litho and therefore the individual stamp merits a new catalog number.

He wrote back that he would change the listing to litho but would not assign a new number as he did not want to make collectors hunt down (and identify) this new stamp. (This was accompanied by a tirade aimed at the profusion of new stamps from Royal Mail, but that was really off topic.)

By making that choice, he added yet another inconsistency to the many that already exist in the Scott GB listing.

Certainly, many (most?) collectors are happy to go along with whatever the catalog editor decides (often in ignorance that alternatives exist), but is that really how catalog editors should make their decisions?

(I know, that's the same question I asked in the previous post. I just worked my way around to it by another path.)