A few days back I bought, off eBay UK, a copy of Beech et al’s New Zealand and Dependencies: A Philatelic Bibliography. The edition was shown as bound in bright red cloth and thank to Brian Birch’s magnus opus, The Philatelic Bibliophile’s Companion, I immediately recognised it to be the British Philatelic Trust’s version – one of the 16 numbered copies (Figure 1). I could not believe my luck and placed a rather high bid; I was fortunate to get it for a decently low ball number.

Figure 1: #5 of the British Philatelic Trust’s version of the book

I wrote to Brian mentioning my acquisition and that it was numbered 5/16. Brian maintains a record of all limited edition bibliographic philatelic books and in his records this number was shown as belonging to the British Library in London. Both the Library and I sent Brian photos of the copies in our possession. It turns out that we both have ones numbered 5 (the British Library has another unnumbered copy as well) and there has obviously been an error in numbering. Possibly there is a 4 or a 6 missing in the world.

When I inquired from the eBay seller, he mentioned that this book was part of the Francis Kiddle library. Kiddle was, of course, the past librarian and President of the RPSL and a philatelic bibliophile. Brian says that Kiddle, who was also Chairman of the Trustees of the British Philatelic Trust, was responsible for publishing the Trust’s edition. He mentions in his Companion:

It was originally intended that the British Philatelic Trust would publish ​this book on behalf of the compilers. However, there were serious disagreements between the compilers and the Trust on policy and editing of the book so that the agreement on publication of the book by the Trust was eventually terminated and the compilers published it themselves. Since the Trust had expended a considerable sum of money on the publication, it produced a small edition of sixteen copies in order to recoup at least some of the money.

Figure 2: The two editions of the book. The one at the bottom in green is the authors’.

The authors self-published their own edition a year later in 2004 (Figure 2) The Trust’s edition has great production values – a very high-quality buckram covered hard binding with rounded spine and impeccable gold lettering. The authors’ own version is also quite good considering that it was meant for widespread distribution (published at N$ 80) and hence possibly costs needed to be controlled. I also speculate that superiority of the former’s bookbinder may have also played a part.

Update as of May 2020: Brian Birch was kind to send me his updated but unpublished 2020 Philatelic Bibliographic Companion and other files. The whole story is given in it as narrated over email by David Breech to Brian.

Just to be clear and for the record: The original intention was for the British Philatelic Trust to be the publisher. It mismanaged the project and let production costs – for which it alone had control – get out of hand. This resulted in the trustees deciding to produce the first edition – not formally published – in a limited edition of just 16 [numbered] copies and bound in red.

To the three authors, having put many years work into the project (in my and Allan Berry’s case some sixteen years each, for Robin Startup much longer) this was unacceptable. This resulted in a second edition (improved and expanded from the first edition) being published in Thames, New Zealand by Allan P Berry & David R Beech. This second edition was reset to avoid any question of typographical copyright belonging to the British Philatelic Trust.

The bibliographic data is:

David R Beech, Allan P Berry & Robin M Startup, New Zealand and Dependencies: A Philatelic Bibliography, British Philatelic Trust, London, UK, 2003, 298 pages.

First edition of sixteen copies, bound in red.

David R Beech, Allan P Berry & Robin M Startup, New Zealand and Dependencies – A Philatelic Bibliography, Allan P Berry and David R Beech, Thames, New Zealand, 2004, 288 pages.

Second edition bound in green.

I am happy for this text to be published as a matter of record.

In an email dated 23 September 2019 to me, Beech mentions that he holds number 1 of the 2003 edition. The red binding it that of Kiddle’s friend Tony R. Finlayson. Finally, 300 copies of the second edition were printed.

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