Collecting magazines

Collecting has moved on a long way from just stamps and coins. Alan Geere goes for a rummage on the newsstand to find magazines for collectable enthusiasts.

By Alan Geere

Collecting magazines
Photograph: Ali Bakhtiari on Unsplash

Coin News

What’s it about: ‘Where money talks’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: January 2020 issue: 104 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavier cover, perfect bound. £4.20 cover price. States a sale of 8,000 in the media kit. Published monthly by Token Publishing in Exeter, Devon.

Cover: Big pictures of coins and rings illustrating the cover story ‘Viking Hoard’. Three other smaller pictures and four more coverlines. Three more cross-refs neatly engineered into the spine.

Content: Concise ‘In this issue’ on page 3 lays out what’s in store, from a serious investigation into a stolen hoard to everything you would ever need to know about French banknotes after World War Two. Four pages of newsy news, auction highlights, a detailed background guide to the guinea (1663-1813) and even a focus on modern coins make for a comprehensive read. Lots of small-type ads contribute to an overall feel of plenty going on here.

Digital: Publisher’s website is shared between Coin News and companion title Medal News. Plenty of content including news and a ‘shop’ with coin-related books, videos and accessories like binders and albums. Free digital copies to all subscribers. Links to Twitter (1,136 followers) and Facebook with 243 likes.

What they say: “John W. Mussell, FRGS. Member, British Numismatic Society, Numismatic Literary Guild, American Numismatic Association, International Banknote Society, etc.” – the managing editor puts his credentials out there in the contact panel.

Verdict: A run of eleven full-page ads from page 3 tells its own story about this comprehensive and authoritative reflection on the coin collecting world. But this is more than just a repository for small pictures and large numbers, with a lot of care and attention lavished on every page, sharing the knowledge and affection for this most exacting of collecting pursuits.

Collectors Gazette

What’s it about: ‘The only toy collecting magazine that focuses mainly on traditional and nostalgic old toys’ – description on publisher’s website.

Vital statistics: February 2020 issue: 48 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Heavyweight newsprint, self-cover, stitched. £3.75 cover price. Publisher reports circulation of 8,000. Published monthly by Warners in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Cover: Picture of a Dinky toy Ford Anglia complete with original packaging and the coverline ‘What’s it worth?’, three other smaller pictures and four coverlines.

Content: Straightforward contents panel on page three heralds auction reviews and hobby news. The two-page features come thick and fast: railway collectables, Corgi gift sets and Tri-ang figures amongst them. ‘Starting Out’ is an inclusive introduction to collecting tinplate toys and the centre pages house an addictive round-up of what has sold on eBay, including a 1960s bus for £2,150. Six pages of illustrated price guide are complemented by two well-written reports from events.

Digital: The url promoted on the folio line takes readers to the website of the ‘Collectors Club of Great Britain’, which is the publisher’s home for their three collecting titles. News, articles and useful interactive maps of upcoming events and dealers. Decent promo on page five of the magazine points to Twitter (802 followers), Facebook (1,269 likes) and Instagram.

What they say: “Please send us a covering letter, a copy of your CV and a 300-word answer to this question: The future of marketing is a digital one because…” – publisher makes it a testing start for applicants to their digital marketing apprentice scheme.

Verdict: It’s difficult not to stop on every page to admire the collectable toys and artefacts without some wistful nostalgia and maybe regret that more care wasn’t taken over those childhood possessions. This unpretentious title is the perfect companion, patiently explaining and not shy to come up with those all-important prices. Oh, and that Ford Anglia on the cover? It sold for £75.

Dolls House World

What’s it about: ‘UK’s best-selling miniatures magazine’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: February 2020 issue: 84 pages of 297mm x 230mm. Quality matt paper, card cover, stitched. £4.99 cover price. Sales figures not available. Published monthly by Ashdown in Pulborough, West Sussex.

Cover: Big picture of a miniaturised Yorkshire village street scene, with understated coverline. Three smaller pictures and seven little coverlines above the stylish masthead.

Content: A contents spread across pages 2-3, incorporates ‘welcome’ from the editor. ‘Open house’, ‘room style’, ‘show report’, ‘small stitches’ and ‘scene around’ all showcase some amazingly detailed dolls houses while ‘mini makes’ shows how it’s done in well-illustrated easy stages. An engaging Q&A is called ‘Where I work’ and ‘Meet the maker’ is a first-person piece by an enthusiast who has made no less than 10,000 miniatures. There is even a mini-calendar to cut out and make.

Digital: A smart website has opportunities to subscribe and a taste of the magazine content. A link to that has videos galore, both for viewing and instruction. Free access to the library of back issues with a subscription. 5,535 likes on Facebook and 912 Twitter followers.

What they say: “Once people discover dolls houses they do get addicted. People want to get away from their tablets and phones and get hands-on. I’ve seen a reproduction of the red room from 50 Shades of Grey. You can get anything made in miniature” – editor Richard Jennings quoted in a Daily Mail story headlined, ‘Why I've spent £50,000 on dolls houses’.

Verdict: Adorning page three is the strapline ‘Where little things matter’. Yes, maybe a little twee, but it perfectly sums up what this lavishly produced publication is all about. Clean typography and good use of pictures make this both a joy for the enthusiast and a delight for the casual reader.

Gibbons Stamp Monthly

What’s it about: ‘The first choice for stamp collectors since 1890’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: February 2020 issue: 132 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £4.75 cover price. Circulation of 11,000, according to publisher’s statement. Published monthly by Stanley Gibbons Ltd in Ringwood, Hampshire.

Cover: Main image is a stamp from Mauritius with big headline, three smaller stamps with coverlines plus straplines top and bottom of the page. Ingenious masthead neatly encapsulates the three-word title.

Content: Comprehensive contents spread on pages 4-5 plus ‘Dear Reader’ from the editor. ‘Newsdesk’ up front leads into society news and diary dates before the historical perspectives kick in with detailed overviews of elements of stamps used during wars and the franking system. That Mauritius cover story is part 20 of a series on colonial stamps, a piece on stamps from the 1919 England-Australia air race is illustrated with delicious images of envelopes while a feature on a legendary collector examines his legacy in some detail.

Digital: Promoted url on the spine is for the whole Stanley Gibbons empire. The magazine does, however, have a page of its own detailing subscription services which enable users to view and download articles. Twitter has 3,742 followers and Facebook 8,758 likes.

What they say: “What I like most about working on a philatelic title is the way stamps can take you to different places and different times. My least favourite part of the job is the long hours and late nights that are an inevitable part of publishing a monthly magazine” – editor Dean Shepherd goes for the sympathy vote during a Q&A on a Stanley Gibbons digital platform.

Verdict: More than 30 items are listed in the contents spread which gives an indication of the breadth and depth of this specialist publication which will delight the connoisseur collector. For many people out there in the ordinary world, Stanley Gibbons is THE name in stamp collecting and this serious, diligently-researched publication does nothing but enhance that reputation.

Model Collector

What’s it about: ‘The established publication for the diecast model enthusiast in the UK’ – information on the publisher’s website.

Vital statistics: January 2020 issue: 84 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £4.35 cover price. Circulation of 9,422 according to publisher’s statement. Published 13 times a year by mytimemedia in Edenbridge, Kent.

Cover: A biggish picture of a car with coverline. Images of four more cars, a tractor and a bus with six accompanying coverlines.

Content: Advertising all the way to page 13 where editor Lindsey delivers her ‘Welcome’. Contents spread has a parking lot full of colourful cars before ten pages of new releases that include some waspish verdicts and ratings. Readers are then treated to a five-page dissection of a yellow plastic Jowett Javelin, the evolutionary process of the Saab 900 and eight pages of Fiat / SEAT coupes. Yet more readable content includes a headline in Russian, a column called ‘wheeling & dealing’ and four pages of letters.

Digital: Website has a range of content, but mostly sadly now out of date. More recent stuff is on Facebook, with 2,143 likes, and there are still 959 followers on Twitter, although there have been no posts for nearly a year.

What they say: “This month I had the pleasure of witnessing lack of relief definition being addressed with filigree overlays” – pleasure comes in all forms, as evidenced by this ‘must-read comment’ about the glazing of scale models.

Verdict: There is so much to like about this bright and lively member of the pantheon of collecting mags. On the money news and comment plus facts and figures (ie values) galore that will satisfy even the most ardent of collectors. Engaging design and a slew of complementary advertising serve to enhance the package. And all chaperoned by the capable editor – the lone member of the editorial staff.

Record Collector

What’s it about: ‘The UK's longest-established monthly music magazine for those who want to dig deeper’ – description on Twitter account.

Vital statistics: January 2020 issue: 148 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £4.95 cover price. Website states a circulation of 35,000. Published monthly by Diamond Publishing in Hounslow, west London.

Cover: Big picture of Jimi Hendrix with overlaid coverline, two smaller pictures with attendant cross-refs, four smaller coverlines and references to a Who’s Who of music greats from Steeleye Span to Supergrass.

Content: ‘Tracklist’ (aka contents) on page three goes from start to finish via pictures of Mike Nesmith Monkeeing around and the Bay City Rollers with big hair. Straight into small-type content of letters, auction news and ‘anything most wanted’. So many quality performers – Nesmith, Dave Clark, Gentle Giant, Mike McGear – treated with enthusiasm and respect, it’s difficult to know where to turn next, and the forensic examination of Hendrix’s last months would grace the pages of any self-respecting general interest magazine. Erudite columns abound and there’s even room for a crossword and prize competitions.

Digital: The attendant website is as busy and professional as the magazine. News and reviews plus an opportunity to sign up for a free weekly newsletter. Links to 14.7k followers on Twitter and 15.2k likes on Facebook, plus a welcome invitation to submit your ‘news and live dates’ to the news editor.

What they say: “A proto-metal crescendo followed by a wall of structured musical chaos and destruction…as if the Vietnam War was breaking out on his fretboard” – advertising manager Bill Edwards celebrates breaking into the editorial columns with thoughts on his favourite Hendrix song, Voodoo Child.

Verdict: Every centimetre of the generous 148 pages is filled with lovingly crafted information, comment and some very welcome ephemera. The team don’t seem to have forgotten the thrill of listening to old music as well as the value of collecting. The epithet ‘Home of vinyl’ on the spine could not be more appropriate.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.