This page includes Book Review columns from the 1999 issues of Across the Fence Post.
January issue No Column this issue
A Review of the Brookman Price Guide for Disney Stamps, 2nd Edition
By Robert Gould, Badger Stamp Club
The Brookman Price Guide for Disney Stamps, published in 1998, is a large format, softbound book with 248 pages. It is essentially a sales catalog that has illustrations of Disney stamps and sets issued by more than 35 different countries. This is an updated edition of the original guide issued in 1993.
In the front of the catalog is a three-page article on stamp collecting with a focus on Disney, written by the American Philatelic Society. The article covers a variety of topics including how to start collecting stamps, where to locate additional information, how to store and care for stamps, and getting involved with clubs. A short article by Ken Lawrence, who owns and exhibits a Walt Disney topical collection, follows this. He writes about the history of Disney stamps and of his collection, which includes items that go back to the 1930s. There are several obvious typographical errors in this section and I would hope that the rest of the catalog was properly proofed and any mistakes corrected.
The main portion of the catalog is devoted to listing and illustrating Disney stamps. It is divided by country and then by the year issued. The catalog covers mainly 1979 to 1998, but does include listings for the 1968 United States 6-cent Walt Disney stamp and the 1970 San Marino set of 10, which was the first Disney set offered for sale.
There are many illustrations showing entire sets with souvenir sheets. They include the well-known characters of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto, as well as Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Bambi and the rest of the Disney family. There are also a large variety of Disney stamps for the topics of sweethearts and about Christmas. The illustrations are of a nice size and present a clear image of each theme. Some items, such as booklets or souvenir sheets are not shown, but have been previously illustrated in the set. Below each illustration is the Brookman Disney catalog number, a very brief description of the subject and the retail price.
There are several order forms with easy-to-read instructions and $100 worth of coupons that can be used when purchasing stamps from this catalog. This is a good resource guide for Disney enthusiasts and I would recommend it to those collectors.
The Brookman Price Guide for Disney Stamps. 2nd Edition is available from philatelic book dealers or directly from Krause Publications, Book Department PNR8, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. When ordering from Krause, remit $19.95 plus $3.25 for shipping (Wisconsin residents add 5.5 percent sales tax). Charge-card customers can order by calling (800) 258-0929. The book can also be purchased through the Krause Publications Web site at www.krause.com.
March issue No column this issue
April issue No column this issue
May/June issue No column this issue
A Review of The 1999 Comprehensive Catalogue of United States Stamp Booklets
By Grew Greenwald, Central Wisconsin Stamp Club
The 1999 Comprehensive Catalogue of United States Stamp Booklets, by Robert Furman, is a 190-page softbound price guide featuring chronological listings of complete booklets as well as booklet panes starting with the first booklets of 1900 through the issues of 1998. Self-adhesive convertible booklets are included as well as airmail booklets and panes. Other back-of-the-book items such as insurance booklets are not included.
Booklets are identified through a new Krause-Minkus "B" system of booklet numbering along with the Bureau Issues Association's cover checklist numbers. An entire chapter is devoted to inside and back cover illustrations. Front cover illustrations accompany the individual listings.
Complete booklets and booklet panes are priced in grades of VF-XF and F-VF, as well as used, where prices for used panes are known. Grade along with other useful definitions are included in the "How To Use This Catalog" section. It is highly recommended reading Plate and web positions are also priced, some with very high premiums.
The content of the catalog is excellent. The full range of booklets, pane positions, plate layouts and varieties are listed. Also included are provisional booklets such as the Wheaton Provisionals not found in Scott. Detailed pricing of modern varieties is also welcome.
I did, however, find a few problems with the catalog. The primary fault is the numerous production problems. Column condition headings are inconsistent. At times, "F-VF VF-XF" is used and at other times "VF-XF F= VF" is used. Other condition headings include "NH" where the next listing will not. 1 also found several listings where some prices were omitted or shifted into the wrong columns.
Illustrations are hit and miss. Some are excellent while others on the same page are deplorable.
The catalog touts the inclusion of the booklets assembled by Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) the last few years. While the catalog claims to have the booklets "extensively described and priced," a quick perusal of one of my favorite specialties found the opposite to be true. The booklets are not listed in chronological order and many of the premium positions are not accurately priced. I also found the descriptions lacking. Additional illustrations of these booklets are required for casual collectors. The catalog includes none.
Another shortcoming is the lack of an index by stamp or booklet issue. Unless the collector knows the issue date of, for example, the Seattle Provisional booklets, they will be hard pressed to find the listing.
Despite all of the shortcomings, I found the catalog to be quite useful. It is lightweight and easy to carry. The price listings help to identify premium items; it is also nice to have all of the booklet listings in one convenient place. Solve the myriad of production problems, include a useful index, give needed attention to the MDI booklets and you've got a winner.
The 1999 Comprehensive Catalogue of United States Stump Booklets is available from major bookstores or directly from Krause Publications, Book Department PR99, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. When ordering from Krause, remit $17.95 plus 53.25 for shipping (Wisconsin residents add 5.5 percent sales tax; Illinois residents, add 6.25 percent). Charge-card customers can order by calling (800) 258-0929, Department PR99. The book can also be purchased through the Krause Publications Web site at www.krause.corn
A Review of the 1999 Krause-Minkus Standard Catalog of U.S. Stamps
By MaryAnn Bowman, Waukesha County Philatelic Society
When it comes to catalogs, the collector of United States' stamps has many choices. There are a wide variety of editions available, from the so-called bible (i.e., Scott U.S. specialized) to the more portable pocket price guides such as the Blackbook.
The Krause-Minkus catalog is a middle-of-the-road catalog. Its cover price is $19.95 compared to the retail price of $36 for the Scott specialized. And although the detail and depth is not in the same class as the Scott catalog, there are many U.S. collectors who do not need and/or use that kind of information in their day-to-day use of a catalog.
The 1999 catalog is the second edition for Krause Publications. There have been some improvements, most notably the size and quality of the illustrations. The back-of-the-book listings have been expanded. But still missing are the postage due stamps.
A new feature of the catalog is an eight-page section devoted to the listing and pricing of postage currency, encased postage and postage stamp envelopes of the Civil War.
Coverage has been expanded. There is a 13-page introductory section and 563 pages listing stamps. The table of contents page lists coverage of these U.S. issues: postmasters' provisionals, regular issues, commemoratives, airmails, special delivery, parcel post, special handling stamps, as well as registration and certified mail issues. The catalog lists newspaper stamps, officials, savings stamps, envelopes, wrappers, postal cards and airmail postal stationery.
The revenue section includes proprietary stamps, future delivery stamps, documentary stamps, and duck stamps. You will also find listings for stock transfer stamps, potato stamps, wine stamps, playing card stamps, and more. Coverage is also given to U.S.-related areas: Confederate States, Canal Zone, Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Ryukyu Islands.
As those who have used the Krause-Minkus catalog know, definitives and commemoratives are listed separately. There are several charts in the definitive section that help make identifying the varieties of the Washington -Franklins, Great Americans, and the Transportation series a lot easier.
Bound into the front of the catalog is a post card, which entitles the owner to a stand-alone cross-reference, listing for Krause-Minkus and Scott catalog numbers.
The softbound catalog still has problems. A recent review by literature critic Charles Peterson gives specific examples of misspellings, missing illustrations, and incorrect information in text and pricing. He concludes that the major problem with the Krause-Minkus catalog is "sloppy writing and incomprehensibly poor quality control."
The catalog is still a worthwhile tool for the collector looking to obtain a moderately priced reference tool and pricing guide.
The 1999 Krause-Minkus Standard Catalog of U. S. Stamps is available from major bookstores or directly from Krause Publications, Book Department PR99, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. When ordering from Krause, remit $19.95 plus $3.25 for shipping (Wisconsin residents add 5.5 percent sales tax; Illinois residents add 6.25 percent). Charge-card customers can order by calling (800) 258-0929, Department PR99. The book can also be purchased through the Krause Publications Web site at wwww.krause.com.
October issue No column this issue
A Review of Affordable Foreign Errors on Postage Stamps of the World
By Kenneth G. Grant, Baraboo Stamp Cub
Ive collected stamps for almost 25 years now, and each time I head to the post office to buy the latest United States new issue or simply stamps for postage. I secretly hope that the counter clerk will hand me a sheet of imperforate stamps or an inverted color error. Well, in 25 years I've gotten my share of poorly centered stamps, but not a single error. That has led me to suspect that the high prices for U S. error stamps advertised by dealers are a genuine product of their scarcity.
You can imagine how surprised I was when a copy of Paul S. Greenlaw's Affordable Foreign Errors on Postage Stamps of the World arrived for review. This wonderful book prepared in collaboration with Martin Sellinger lists over 5,000 errors, none of them priced above $200.
In his Introduction, Greenlaw distinguishes between errors - honest mistakes in stamp production - and fakes, an intentionally created "error" intended to appear as if it were an unintentional one. He goes on to establish four kinds of errors: repositioned. transmuted, augmented, and omitted. The repositioned category includes inverts whether of design, frame, overprint, or watermark. Transmuted stamps have some aspect of their position changed A stamp may be printed in the wrong color, with the wrong perforations, paper. watermark. or overprint.
Augmented stamps get a little something extra, whether it is an extra overprint or same sort of double impression. The final category, omitted errors, includes missing colors and imperforate stamps. As you might expect, overprinted stamps appear as the most frequent error with errors of color following a good deal behind.
Greenlaw does not include any U.S. stamps in his listing - only foreign - but he does identify a number of expensive foreign error stamps, pricing them with the designation "NA" for not affordable.
To give you a sense of the contents, here is a sample listing of two errors from Germany:
GRM4 66a 3pf brown "DFUTSCHES" 15.00 50.00
GRM5 95a 5m state & car center invtd NA
Greenlaw assigns his own number, a catalog number, value and color, error identification, and prices both mint and used.
Some countries have a wealth of errors - 67 listings for Germany alone, while other countries, like the British Antarctic Territories, are thus far error free. Helpful editorial comments help the reader distinguish between genuine errors and those that are suspected to be intentionally created by a postal service. Some comments about a country's errors are even presented in verse!
If you are even mildly interested in foreign errors, Greenlaw's book is a must have. What's more, like the errors lie chronicles, the book at 515.95 is certainly affordable. Perhaps as technology improves, the scanned stamp images that illustrate Affordable Foreign Errors will gain in sharpness and detail. Until then, I suspect we will happily live with this commendable Krause publication.
The book is available from major bookstores or directly from Krause Publications. Book Department PR99. 700 E: State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. When ordering from Krause, remit $15.95 plus S3.25 for shipping (Wisconsin residents add 5.5 percent sales tax: Illinois residents, add 6.25 percent). Charge-card customers can order by calling (800) 258-0929, Department PR99. The book can also be purchased through the Krause Publications Web site at www krause. com
A Review of the Krause-Minkus Standard Catalog of Canadian & United Nations Stamps
By Paul T Schroeder, Oshkosh Philatelic Society
Edited by George Cuhaj and Maurice Wozniak; 8 1/2 by 11 inches, soft cover, 272 pp., 2,500 black-and-white photographs, issued July 1999.
The second in a series of new stamp catalogs was issued this summer under the Krause-Minkus banner. The volume features stamps of Canada and Canadian provincials, plus those of the United Nations offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna.
After U.S. stamps, these two areas of collecting are the next most popular on our side of the Atlantic Ocean. For those who have used the Krause-Minkus United States effort, this new volume has the same look and feel to it. Illustrations are large enough for easy identification of stamps, with sufficient detail when necessary for different varieties of an issue.
One always has to wonder, though, how the decision is made on which stamps to illustrate. Identification problems tend to fade when a collector has been at it for a few years. The new collector, however, is always struggling to understand that some stamps of the same series -- even those with different designs - are just not illustrated. Consequently, it is necessary to read between the lines to match a series stamp to a catalog listing.
No matter what specialty is your strong suit, the catalog is the one reference book needed by all. If you're active with Canadian or U.N. issues, there is no reason not to have the Krause-Minkus book at your beck and call.
The economics of book publishing is being put to the test with Krause-Minkus treading on the recent almost monopoly status of the Scott line of catalogs. The ins and outs of copyright law and the need for general use by collectors has become a two-edged sword. While publishers have to allow enough use by the public, they still have to maintain sufficient control to make a bottom-line profit from the sale and use of their products.
Krause Publications has put the effort into a product that is desirable and useful. Can we now get the dealer side of the hobby to use two numbering systems? Collectors have to hope that Krause has the ability to produce a complete set of country catalogs in coming years. This has a balancing question in the seeming uncertain future for the hobby publications of Scott as part of Amos Press, Inc. The collecting fraternity will be watching from the sidelines as we once again see if two publishers can both meet the needs of the marketplace.
The Krause-Minkus Standard Catalog of Canadian & United Nations Stamps is available from major bookstores or directly from Krausc Publications, Book Department PR99, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. When ordering from Krause, remit $17.95 plus $3.25 for shipping (Wisconsin residents add 5.5 percent sales tax; Illinois residents, add 6.25 percent. Other sales tax requirements apply for Iowa, California, and Virginia residents). Charge-card customers can order by calling (800) 258-0929, Department PR99. The catalog also can be purchased through the Krause Publications Web site at www.krause.com.
Latest update: June 12, 2005