The MFN catalogue: a NEW start!
Soon after the founding of the MFN Eric started to make a book with an overview of all motorcycle stamps in the world. At that time still based on an existing overview that was constantly supplemented, and due to his passion for our hobby the book became thicker and thicker. The undersigned, as auctioneer at that time, kept up a price list to Eric's work based on the Michel world catalogue, which then existed of 5 volumes, categorised per continent.
A lot of other details were included in the pricelist, like teething, printing method, etc. etc. A lot of the MFN members asked me to provide them this pricelist, and so was done.
Also due to the "explosion" in motorcycle stamp issues in 1985 (100 year motorcycles) the catalogue book became too big. The A4 format became difficult to handle on philatelic events and we decided to change over to another format, a combined MFN catalogue / price list divided in 5 volumes, issued parallel with the appearance of the volumes of the Michel catalogue. Later we added overviews of Cinderellas and Speculative issues, and Nico completed it in 2010 with an overview of postal stationary. Altogether a thorough reference work for our hobby and collecting passion.
Big problems arose with keeping the catalogues, and especially the list prices, up-to-date. They changed with ever issue of the Michel, but often only with a dime. A lot of work for a little bit of change. Another big problem arose in the mid-90s, when a lot of doubtful issues from "monkey countries" appeared, of which it was for several years impossible to say whether they were official or not. The dilemma whether to include them or not resulted in long postponement of the updating of the MFN catalogue. Through the years Eric kept on looking for novelties and reporting them, and as executive committee we have set up a policy for it at a certain moment. We report everything that appears to be important, with a notification whether it is an official, doubtful or for sure non-official issue.
Already several times the making of new catalogue volumes has been started,
but every time it ended with new difficulties and did not result in a useful product.
What will be included in the new catalogue?
While for one person the limit is at a visible smoke plume coming out of the exhaust of a snow scooter that just disappeared behind the mountain (snow scooter sport is in the end also housing under the wings of the FIM), someone else wants to see a clear brand logo on the tank of a 2-wheeler. Our choice is to let you do the sorting by yourself, and therefore we want to include everything that has wheels and can be counted as a motorcycle in our catalogue. Older notifications that were already included in the MFN number series, like very small or uncertain motorcycle images (e.g. the Finland stamp) will still be part of the catalogue. For new issues we want to keep on using the notifications as used by Michel. Not in the Michel means regarded by the MFN to be not official, and thus speculative. Issues of which the official status or the order of issuing can not yet be ascertained will be provided with a temporary serial number and description in Italics. Thus for countries where italic descriptions are used, changes in numbering can occur.
In cases where a stamp, block or sheet must be inserted afterwards between already known items, it will get a letter added to the previous number (e.g. 3b between 3 and 4). As an example think of the many "hidden" motorcycle images on the Tour de France sheets.
With the arrival of the internet era and the help of the Essens family with their knowledge about web design, the MFN has entered there too (see www.mfnl.nl) and the MFN catalogue has also gained an outstanding position there.
With all persons involved in this matter we have brainstormed, tried something here and there and asked you, our members (and thus our target audience) how you use the catalogue. This led to the conclusion that the printed and digital catalogue must work together. Therefore the printed catalogue will be kept alive, but members can also (keep on) using the catalogue online on the website.
The printed catalogue
We had the idea that MFN-members used the catalogue for 95% to administrate and check whether they already possess a certain stamp, sheet or block. We checked if is assumption is true.
We presented them the page of Afars and Isas from the Africa catalogue. As most important item they chose the image. Second was the date of issue. The description was also regarded to be important. They found the printing method and teething not important. The list price was seen as irrelevant, because it is always lagging behind the market prices and is not used anymore by the traders in thematic philately. Thematic stamps are business, and supply and demand determine the price.
For older stamps a comparison of prices can be handy, but who would ignore the Guatemala no. 1 priced 4 euro because its list price is only 20 cents? The extra information is regarded to be interesting and the catalogue numbers are rarely used.
Guatemala no. 1
Together with the fact that we want to make the lay-out of the catalogue so that it can also be used as collecting album page, we came to the following design:
- We are going to use the computer program Microsoft Word. This because most of us received or bought this program with a new computer, and a lot of other programs offer the possibility to convert Word documents.
- Each country will start on a new page, showing the country name in the page header. We drop the principle of grouping countries per continent because the Michel catalogue, which we will keep on using as our guideline, on internet orders by alphabet and this works fine.
- For each volume we can use at most 30 sheets of paper + a cover (limited by the staples). We have to see how the exact division will be, but also the printed version will be ordered by alphabet (e.g. A to G, H to M, etc.).
- Per country the page will be split in 2 columns, with in the left one the stamp image and in the right column information like the date of issue, MFN no. and the description plus eventually other supplemental information.
- The printing and teething information and the list price thus disappear in this version. Those who are interested can (for cost-price) receive a print of all extra information that we have of each stamp.
The catalogue will be made in A4 format, and before printing be reduced to A5 format. In the A4 lay-out all images (stamps, blocks and sheets) will be full-size, nice if you want to use this lay-out for album pages. For printing the paper version of the catalogue it will be downsized to A5 format, which makes the stamp images around 30% smaller. The images of sheets and blocks are then still too large to deliver a handy format. In the catalogue they will be printed in a suitable format, and where necessary for clearness, a detail image will be added.
The cover colour of the stamp catalogue will be blue, the overview of stamp booklets will get a yellow cover, Nico's overview of postal stationary stays orange and if it ever comes to making a Bogus and/or other overview its cover will become red.
And when will it come?
In due time a lot of time has been spent on it and as it looks now, the presentation of the printed catalogue will be on the 25th anniversary party, thus mid-September 2012.
As I can oversee now the MFN stamp and block catalogue will comprise 4 volumes that are offered for copying cost-price, around 6 euro per volume. In the next newsletter (no. 101) a possibility to order will be disclosed, and when you are coming to the anniversary party you can (probably) take the catalogue home immediately. If you want to receive it by post the shipping costs will off course be added to the price. As said, more about how to get the catalogue in the next newsletter. And by the way, the digital nerds amongst us can follow the updates (when necessary) on the website.
To be continued.
Hans de Kloet
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