Last year I gave you all a running commentary on my purchase, and eventual receipt, of Czeslaw Slania: Catalogue of Works by Janusz Dunst. After receiving the book in the mail I promised I'd write my own review of it. Well, it has taken rather a lot longer than I had anticipated to write it, but here it is, warts and all...
First of all I really need to stress that the thoughts expressed in this review are solely my own, and I'm sure there are those out there who have different opinions. If you feel differently to what I think please add your thoughts to the comments. I love hearing from fellow collectors! With that said, let's get into it.
The first step would be to take a look at the overall presentation of the book, which I think is excellent. It is hardcover, so very resilient to the rigours of regularly leaving through it. There are 230 pages, and they have been printed on thick, glossy paper, which I find quite robust. The only downside here, which is slight, is that the book is a little heavy. There is even an attached ribbon bookmark, which is a nice touch. So for presentation I'd give the book 10/10. This aspect of the book really is fantastic.
Next we come to the layout, or overall design of information contained within the book. In general, this is also excellent. Every stamp is shown in full colour, and many of Slania's designs which never made it to stamps are showcased as full page images - a very nice touch. There is also a loose leaf article on Slania's Art School Graduation Project. It's a pity this wasn't finished in time to be added to the book, as the loose pages swimming in the book aren't ideal. For design I give the book 9/10.
Now for some of the critical areas of the catalogue. How useful was the information in the catalogue? One thing I really did like was the way information was presented for Swedish booklets. An easy to read numbered table is provided to illustrate the different perforation types of each stamp. This is very handy, especially if, like me, you intend on collecting all booklet positions of, say, the Gustaf VI definitive stamps. I give this aspect 10/10.
One of the few things I was unhappy with was the lack of information given for each stamp. Now, I know space restrictions prevent a lengthy description of what each and every stamp is. But I felt a little more info could be added. I still find myself having to refer to Ann Mette Heindorff's wonderful Slania site for basic information. This I found a little sad. So for this aspect of the book I can't give it any more than 5/10.
Overall my score is 34/40, which is pretty good , I must say.
I do, however, have some criticisms. One thing that I was hoping would be in the catalogue but is unfortunately lacking is an easy reference table of the number of stamps he engraved for each country and what year he started engraving for that country. For me this would be a very handy tool to have.
Also, I would've liked for the numbering system to include a running total of the number of stamps he engraved. What I mean by this is if I, say, wanted to find out what his 55th engraved stamp was, I'd just need to flick through the book till I found number 55. This would've been absolutely fantastic!
So would I recommend this book to anyone? Well, that actually depends. If you're the type who doesn't get to the computer much or simply prefers books, then I would say go out and grab the book right now! But if you don't mind using the net, then, honestly, I have found that I hardly use the book because I get more information from the Heindorff site. This has left me feeling, overall, a bit disappointed. Purely because I personally wanted more out of the book. Others may think differently, since this is purely my own opinion, based on how I like to use catalogues and what I expect from them. Ultimately, I can't say one way or another if this book is for you, but maybe the information I have given can help you decide.
With all this said, I just re-read this review, and I asked myself: would I still buy this book, knowing what I now know? I have to honestly say - absolutely. It still is a nice book with lots of lovely stamp pics!
I hope my comments weren't too confusing and were of help in some small way.
Until next time...
Stay Slania Crazy!