“Machin” Definitives – Great Britain 1967

by Stanley Gibbons

Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.

The Machin series was a definitive stamp series that followed the Wildings.

The Stamp Advisory Committee expressed a desire for a designer to focus on the Queen as a person, as opposed to a symbol of the Monarchy. Arnold Machin was commissioned for this work. Born in Stoke-on-Trent, he was a renowned artist, designer and sculptor, notable for his simple interpretations and designs. [Read more…]

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Postal Union Congress (PUC) £1 – Great Britain 1929

by Stanley Gibbons

Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.

Issued in 1929, the £1 PUC stamp was the second commemorative stamp to be released after the British Empire Exhibition stamps of 1924/25. Designed by Harold Nelson, the £1 is regarded as one of the most striking stamps ever to have been issued – it features an intricate design of Saint George and the Dragon accompanied by a portrait of King George V. [Read more…]

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“Seahorse” High Value – Great Britain 1913

by Stanley Gibbons

Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.

First issued in June and August 1913, on the cusp of World War 1, the definitive high value “Seahorses” remain one of the most iconic stamps to date. This is primarily due to their high quality engraving and intricate design, a depiction of Britannia on her chariot behind three horses on a rough sea, accompanied by a striking portrait of King George V. [Read more…]

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5 Simple Steps to Starting a Stamp Collection

April 16, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

STEP 1 – CHOOSING YOUR FIRST STAMPS

Starting a stamp collection is a lot of fun, learning all about the stamps which have been issued by the countries of the world over the years. The best advice to the novice is to buy the largest packet of whole-world stamps you can afford, together with a medium-priced album and some gummed stamp hinges to mount the stamps. This simple start will be your ‘apprenticeship’, and you will have the pleasure of sorting the stamps by country and arranging them in the album. You will be able to identify most of the stamps without hesitation: put aside any which you are doubtful about until you can trace them in the catalogue. To keep your interest alive, you will be seeking more and more stamps, and there are numerous sources of supply. [Read more…]

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The £5 Orange Stamp that wasn’t needed

March 22, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.

“For any serious GB collector who has passed the stage of having a Penny Black, it is likely to be their next dream or certainly amongst their foremost philatelic desires.” These were the closing words of Dr. John Horsey when he recently gave a presentation to the Royal Philatelic Society London, on a stamp that wasn’t actually needed for postal purposes – the £5 Orange.

There are some remarkable stamps out there; printed on wood, cork, plastic and even stamps made from foil! However, there is one special stamp that many GB collectors aspire to have – the £5 Orange. Along with the Penny Black, £1 Seahorse and £1 PUC, the £5 Orange is a stamp that is a true emblem of Great Britain philately. [Read more…]

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A guide to stamp condition and value: cancellation (part 5)

February 23, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

Cancellation quality

When describing the postmarks of the nineteenth century, the word ‘obliteration’ is synonymous with ‘cancellation’ – because, of course, that was what they were designed to do – to ‘obliterate’ the stamp in such a way as to prevent any opportunity for reuse.

The Maltese cross is an attractive cancellation, especially when applied in red or one of the ‘fancy’ colours, but many early Great Britain line-engraved adhesives are heavily cancelled by over-inked black crosses, which detract considerably from the beauty of the stamps.

A ‘fine’ cancellation should be lightly applied, if possible leaving a substantial part of the design – ideally including the Queen’s profile – clear of the cancellation. Also desirable are well centred examples displaying all, or nearly all of the cancellation on the stamp.  This is particularly true where the cancellation is more significant than the stamp, such as a Wotton- under- Edge Maltese cross. Here, you would want to have as full a cancellation as possible, although it would still be preferable to have it lightly applied.

[Read more…]

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A guide to stamp condition and value: damage and perfins (part 4)

February 22, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

What’s the damage? 

We have looked at some aspects of damage in this series, notably in relation to perforations, so let us conclude by reviewing other aspects of damage.  All young collectors are advised from the outset to avoid torn stamps, and the advice obviously holds good throughout one’s philatelic life. However, that is not to say that all torn stamps are worthless, because even a torn example of a desirable stamp is still collectable and can therefore command a price. [Read more…]

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The 175th anniversary of the Penny Red

February 10, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

Last year, the Penny Black celebrated its 175 years and this year, on the 10th of February, it was the Penny Red’s turn to celebrate its 175th anniversary. Whilst the Penny Black was initially a success it ultimately failed. Examples were reported with the red maltese cross cancellation removed and attempts made to re-use the stamps. Following some trials both the colour of the stamp and the cancellation were changed – the Penny Red was born. [Read more…]

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How to Collect Penny Reds

by Stanley Gibbons

COLLECTING PENNY REDS – THE PROBLEM WITH THE PENNY BLACK

The status of the Penny Black as ‘the stamp which changed the world’ is beyond doubt – but it did have one serious failing. Prior to its issue, Rowland Hill and his colleagues at the Post Office and at the printers, Perkins Bacon, had built a substantial number of features into the stamp, specifically to prevent forgery. However, one potential difficulty seems to have been ignored until a late stage in the run-up to the issue of the first stamps; the possibility that the red cancellation might be cleaned off the black stamp, allowing it to be reused – on the face of it a much easier way of defrauding the Post Office than going to the trouble of printing our own stamps!

Accordingly, in the same month that the Penny Black was issued, trials began to determine how easy it might be to clean stamps which had already been used and whether there was a better combination of stamp and cancellation colours than black stamps cancelled by a red postmark. The end result of these trials was the decision to swap the colours round and introduce a red stamp which would be cancelled in black. So, in February 1841, just nine months after the issue of the Penny Black, it was replaced by the Penny Red.

The imperforate Penny Red then covered the standard letter rate in the United Kingdom until the arrival of the first officially perforated stamps in 1854 and is the subject of this article.

[Read more…]

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