The Philatelic Bibliophile’s Companion




Brian J. Birch



Although this document is only intended to exist in electronic form, I find it very convenient to have a hard copy to hand. It is easier to refer to a book than wait the five or ten minutes it takes to start up and close down a computer, just to obtain a single reference or check a fact. Books also give you the big picture of the document as a whole rather than the small-screen glimpses we have all got used to. Accordingly, I printed and had bound a copy of this document in January 2004, which I have called the First edition, for convenience. Late in 2004, I removed Section 5.4: Philatelic Bookplates and transferred it into its own free-standing volume. In January 2006, I transferred the contents of Section 5.3: Biographies of Bibliophiles and Literature Dealers to the already free-standing Section 5.2: Biographies of Philatelists and Dealers, to avoid the necessity of referring to two volumes for biographical information. This resulted in a significant loss of pages and lead me to print a Second edition to record the changes. Late in 2006, I decided to combine Section Histories of Individual Periodicals with Section Cumulative Indexes to Philatelic Periodicals (which had been a free-standing document for many years) and my informal, unnamed, ad hoc document listing all of the periodicals I had read looking for material to further my researches. This brought most of my information on periodicals together and eliminated much tedious duplication. The fact that this change coincided with a major revision in the style of reference employed, lead me to print a Third edition to record the changes. In 2010, I began to populate some of the Sections that had, until then, been just titles and realised that my previous classification was flawed. This lead me to revise some Sections and add others, in order to provide a more-logical arrangement. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to simplify the layout, eliminating some 65 pages.


Henceforth, I will have a copy bound each January, provided the document has increased in size by at least ten percent since the previous printing. At the same time I will send an update to the web files on, where the electronic version of this document is hosted. Since printing and binding is quite an expensive undertaking, I donate the obsolete volumes to important philatelic libraries round the world. By the middle of 2012, this document was moving towards the 1,300 page mark and so, in line with my other documents, I simplified the set-up and turned off the remove widows and orphans feature. This resulted in a reduction in length of 70 pages.


This edition was printed on the first day of January 2014


1st edition, January 2004                 A single bound copy of 487 pages. It was donated to the Western Philatelic Library of Sunnyvale, California, when it was replaced in my library by the 2nd edition.

Ø    This edition was bound in navy blue cloth in the same style as my Biographies of Philatelists and Dealers in order to have a uniform style for all of my works. In practice, this was found to be rather inconvenient since I could not readily distinguish between the volumes on my book shelves on sight. All subsequent volumes were intended to be bound in green.


2nd edition, February 2006   A single bound copy of 450 pages. It was donated to the Collectors Club of New York, when it was replaced in my library by the 3rd edition.

Ø    This volume was inadvertently bound in maroon. It was therefore decided to bind all future volumes in the same colour.


3rd edition, January 2007                 A single bound copy of 468 pages. It was donated to the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library of Denver, Colorado, when it was replaced in my library by the 4th edition.


4th edition, January 2008                 A single bound copy of 603 pages. It was donated to the American Philatelic Research Library of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, when it was replaced in my library by the 5th edition.


5th edition, January 2009                 A single bound copy of 667 pages. It was donated to the National Philatelic Society of London, UK, when it was replaced in my library by the 6th edition.

Ø    Although the title page was correct, the binders made a mistake and the title on the spine read Philatelic Biographiles Companion. Unfortunately, the binder then proceded to go into liquidation so I could not return it to them for correction.


6th edition, January 2010                 A single bound copy of 739 pages. It was donated to the Royal Philatelic Society London, UK, when it was replaced in my library by the 7th edition.


7th edition, December 2010              A single bound copy of 857 pages. It was donated to the British Library of London, UK, when it was replaced in my library by the 8th edition.


8th edition, January 2012                 A single bound copy of 1,126 pages. It was donated to The Royal Sydney Philatelic Club of Sydney, Australia, when it was replaced in my library by the 9th edition.

Ø    Somehow, an error occurred in printing, whereby the facing pages carried even numbers.


9th edition, January 2013                 A single copy of 1,279 pages, bound in two volumes:- Volume 1 comprising the Introduction & Sections 1 to 2, pages 1 to 758 and Volume 2 comprising Sections 3 to 7, pages 759 to 1,279. It was donated to The Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand of Wellington, New Zealand, when it was replaced in my library by the 10th edition.


10th edition, January 2014                 A single copy of 1,407 pages, bound in two volumes:- Volume 1 comprising the Introduction & Sections 1 to 2, pages 1 to 830 and Volume 2 comprising Sections 3 to 7, pages 831 to 1,407. It was donated to PHILAS Library of Sydney, Australia, when it was replaced in my library by the 11th edition.






Early in 1987, the postman slipped a bulky envelope through my letterbox. When it was opened, it proved to contain a computer print-out. There was no covering letter nor even a title-page to indicate what the document was. The return address on the envelope however, indicated that it had been sent to me by the Friends of the Western Philatelic Library.


The print-out was a substantial philatelic bibliography of bibliographic works. It consisted of a Table of Contents, an Explanation of Formats Used and pages 1-116 of text (the following pages being absent: pp.32-34; pp.37-39; pp.72-74 & pp.92-94.). Dates on the pages showed that the text had been printed on 2 February 1986 (pp.1-31), 4 February 1986 (pp.35-116) and 15 March 1986 (Contents and explanatory notes). A manuscript note on the contents page read For Brian Birch.


The Table of Contents showed the bibliography to consist of five sections:-


                        SECTION 1 - Bibliographies

                                                Part A - General Bibliographies

                                                Part B - Country Bibliographies

                                                Part C - Subject Bibliographies


                        SECTION 2 - Periodical Lists and Directories

                                                Listings of Periodicals Published in the Philatelic Field


                        SECTION 3 - Individual Periodical Indexes


                        SECTION 4 - General Indexes to Periodicals


                        SECTION 5 - Philatelic Library Literature Bibliography


However, my copy consisted of the first three Sections only.


I immediately dashed off a letter of thanks to Roger Skinner, my correspondent amongst the Friends and enquired what it was that I had actually received. Roger replied in a letter dated the 5th April 1987 stating:



A glance at my notes indicates we last wrote in 1985, concerning some indexes, and other duplicates. You kindly sent us some indexes we did not have, but in trying to determine exactly what we did have, we found that our operation was in far worse shape than we thought. There was no good list of any of the periodicals, nor any list of them of any type. They were not even stacked in the same spot. Well, it has taken us almost two years to generate something that even resembles a listing, but at least we have a bare beginning of the effort. It is undergoing revision weekly as more and more items come out of the woodwork.



In that same letter, Roger was foolish enough to ask for my advice, which I was quick enough to give in a letter dated 28 April 1987. Whilst preparing my response to Roger, it occurred to me that the ultimate product would be a reference manual intended for the use of both bibliophiles and librarians. Thus was conceived the idea of The Philatelic Bibliophile’s Companion with the following suggested list of contents:-








                        EXPLANATORY NOTES


                        LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS


                        1.         BIBLIOGRAPHIES

                                    A         Literature about Bibliographies and Bibliography

                                    B         General Bibliographies

                                    C         Country Bibliographies

                                    D         Subject Bibliographies


                        2.         LIBRARIES

                                    A         Literature about Libraries and Librarianship

                                    B         Library Lists


                        3.         PERIODICALS

                                    A         Literature about Periodicals in General

                                    B         Periodical Lists and Directories

                                    C         Periodicals Devoted to Philatelic Literature


                        4.         INDEXES TO PERIODICALS

                                    A         Literature about Indexes and Indexing

                                    B         General Indexes to Periodicals

                                    C         Indexes to Individual Periodicals and Literature about                                                  Individual Periodicals


                        5.         THE LITERATURE MARKET

                                    A         Literature about the Market in General

                                    B         Dealers Price Lists

                                    C         Auction Lists


                        6.         LITERARY PERSONALITIES

                                    A         Literature about Bibliophiles in General

                                    B         Biographies and Bibliographies of Individual Bibliophiles


                        7.         MISCELLANEOUS


Having sent the response, my enthusiasm was fired and I immediately sorted all my philatelic literature according to the above classification. Inevitably, this exercise highlighted omissions and errors in the categories used and accordingly, I revised the Contents list extensively. Revision has continued over the years as I acquired additional items for my library and tried to fit them into this scheme.


Amongst my collection of photocopies, I even came across a classified listing of philatelic publications, produced by Steven Pla, the then Librarian of the American Philatelic Research Library. (Steven A. Pla: Back in the stacks., The American Philatelist, November 1982, Volume 96, Issue 11, pp.1038-1041.) This provoked the addition of several new categories to the Contents list.


Undoubtedly, this project is a massive undertaking and its final shape is not yet established. However, the essentials are all in place and such changes as will be necessary in the future will be finessing rather than of a fundamental nature.



Brian John Birch


Standish, UK.

30th December 2006


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