How to Collect Penny Reds

February 10, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons


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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Stanley Gibbons Auction Roadshow

February 09, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

Stanley Gibbons will be hosting a series of roadshows around the country, where we will be happy to discuss the sale of all or part of your collection either directly to Stanley Gibbons or via Stanley Gibbons Auctions. The first two events will be held on the 7th and 8th of March, albeit at different venues.

We are happy to examine anything philatelic including postal history, however please note that modern First Day Covers, Omnibus (Royalty) collections and Childhood collections are outside the scope for our current requirements. Larger or more specialised collections might need to be brought back to 399 Strand for a full valuation.

Whether you are looking for a direct sale or sale via auction, as the world’s leading name in stamp collecting, you know that you can trust Stanley Gibbons to value your collection in a fair and professional manner and to give expert advice.

To avoid any unnecessary waiting on the day, we ask that you reserve an appointment time by calling 020 78368444 (option 4), or email us at

Home visits may also be arranged for bulky or more valuable collections. Please call or email for further details.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide insurance or probate on our Roadshows.

Details of first two events: 

Venue: Holiday Inn Guildford, Egerton Road, Guildford, GU2 7XZ

Date: Monday 7th March from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm 


Venue: Best Western Reigate Manor Hotel, Reigate Hill, Reigate RH2 9PF

Date: Tuesday 8th March 10:00 – 2:30 pm 

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Filed Under: Guides, no-follow

An Introduction to Canadian Revenue Stamps

January 31, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

The first revenue stamps of 1765 were mostly used in what’s now the province of Quebec. They were in use only briefly to 1 May 1766. These first stamps were actually colourless British embossed revenue stamps with the word ‘AMERICA’ added to the design. All are very rare. In 1864 The Federal Government of Canada introduced the First Issue Bill stamps, featuring a central design with Queen Victoria, for use on promissory notes and other financial instruments. In 1865 this issue was replaced with a second attractive issue featuring Queen Victoria, followed in 1868 by the Third Bill issue featuring the Widow Queen. [Read more…]

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Tools You Need to Start Stamp Collecting

January 30, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons

A book – such as a dictionary – that is in constant use soon begins to show signs of wear. The edges of the pages gradually lose their crisp, fresh looks, and the same thing happens to your stamps with excessive handling. Thus your first essential item of equipment should be a pair of stamp tweezers – these are made of light, plated metal with slender, flattened tips or ‘spade’ ends enabling stamps to be picked up and sorted quickly and surely. With a little practice, tweezers are easy to handle (held with the hilt in the palm of your hand), and they are usually supplied in a plastic case so that you can carry them around in your pocket. [Read more…]

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Stanley Gibbons Shop 399 Strand

January 21, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons
399 Strand Shop

399 Strand Opening Hours

Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm

Sat 9:30am-5.30pm

Sun Closed

Have any questions? Get in touch:

+44 (0)20 7557 4436

  • Get advice from our experienced and knowledgeable staff.
  • See first hand our superb range of top quality stamps, albums and accessories.
  • Get insider tips on how to enhance and expand your collection.
  • Ask for guidance on techniques for care and storage of your stamps and covers.
  • View our specialist material.
  • All Stanley Gibbons stamps come with a lifetime guarantee of authenticity from our stamp specialists.

Unsure how to develop your collection?

Visit 399 Strand to get advice from our experienced and knowledgeable staff. They will help you choose the stamps and philatelic accessories that will enhance and expand your collection. They will also offer guidance on techniques for the care and storage of your stamps and covers.

We have a superb range of stamps, albums and philatelic accessories.

We strive to cater for every need a collector might have, and if we don’t have the exact item you need, we will recommend an equivalent or an alternative.

Come in, browse our range and choose what’s best for you.

Before you commit to a particular album, take the time to talk to our staff who will help you weigh up the pros and cons before you make your decision. We are always happy to demonstrate anything we sell from tweezers to Frank Godden luxury albums.


View before you buy.

Where else can you view the specialised material or anything else that you’re interested in? Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to provide you with any insight you may need or if you just want to view the stamps you’re interested in adding to you collection in peace, that’s fine too. Our expert staff are committed to giving you the best possible advice and service whether you are a seasoned collector or are just beginning.

A shop to be proud of.

Completely refurbished in 2010, you will enjoy your visit to the shop, with dedicated display areas, our world renowned specialist stamp counter, internet pods and display screens. Prior to 399, Stanley Gibbons Ltd held two different premises on the Strand; As a consequence of growth, the company had to leave behind previous shops at 425 and 391 Strand before moving to 399, which officially opened in 1981. The official name of the building that houses 399 Strand is Romano House which harks back to the golden days of the late Victorian/Edwardian era when the site was occupied by an equally famous London institution, Romano’s Restaurant. But now it is the destination for thousands of stamp collectors every year looking for that elusive stamp, the latest catalogue, a new album or just coming in to talk about their collection with other collectors and our friendly team of experts.

Sign up for the Stanley Gibbons Loyalty card and save £10.

Spend £20 at one time and we’ll stamp your loyalty card. Collect 5 stamps and we’ll give you £10 off your 5th purchase.

Terms and conditions: Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Valid only in person at Stanley Gibbons 399 Strand. Each card is redeemable one time only.  £10 discount applied to the total of your fifth transaction above £20.

How to find us:

We’re in the heart of London, close to Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. We are within walking distance of Charing Cross and Waterloo main line stations and also Charing Cross, Embankment and Covent Garden underground stations.

399 Strand – London


Tel: 020 7836 8444 / +44 20 7836 8444

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Filed Under: Guides, no-follow

Specialist Great Britain Stamp Lists

December 21, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons
A superb selection of our recent sales lists can be found here and unless already sold, all of these items are in the Stanley Gibbons online shop. Once you find your favourite item in the catalogues listed below, use the P code (e.g. P15607460) to search and buy it on the online shop or if you would like to discuss any of these items in further detail please contact one of the Great Britain specialist team:

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7557 4424 (or) Email: [Read more…]

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Filed Under: Great Britain, Guides

Gibbons Stamp Monthly (GSM)

by Stanley Gibbons

The UK’s best-selling stamp magazine and the official publication of the world’s oldest and most famous name in philately – Stanley Gibbons. Consistently over 150 pages each month, with up to date news, auction results and everything else from worldwide postal authorities and the hobby of philately. Gibbons Stamp Monthly has in-depth articles for the specialists, thematic and new collectors by leading philatelic writers, a dedicated Great Britain section, extensive new issues pages and the monthly Stanley Gibbons catalogue supplement provided to keep your catalogue up-to-date. Subscribers also get exclusive reader offers on catalogues, albums and accessories.



MailRail: The London Post Office’s Own Railway: Part 2 

In the conclusion of his look at the history of London’s subterranean Post Office Railway, Len Stanway describes the later years of the service and presents a roundup of associated philatelic collectables.

Discovering Niue 

Chister Brunstrom explains what the ‘classic’ period of Niue stamps has to offer the collector.

Philatelic Adventures in the South Atlantic 

A chance find provided Albert-Friedrich Gruene with the opportunity to explore the links between the philatelic history of the islands with a keen German collector.

Railway Perfins of Transvaal and Orange River Colony 

The perforated stamps of the Central South African Railways are described by Alan Drysdall and Fernando Torres.

The 1939 Antarctic Expedition and the ‘Impractical’ Snow Cruiser 

Steve Pendleton presents the highly collectable philatelic souvenirs from an ambitious but ultimately flawed attempt to drive over the Antarctic.

Machin Watch 

In his latest article for GSM, John Deering sees what The Queen’s 90th birthday issues means for Machin enthusiasts and rounds off his definitive collector’s guide to Post and Go issues.


FRENCH CONGO The French Congo pictorials issue of 1900 has long been a source of queries, discussion and argument over its paper, perforation, watermark, shade, design and even date. The printer’s willingness to run off unauthorised novelties just adds to further complications. Therefore, to tie in with the issue of SG’s new French Colonies catalogue, Michael Round has provided an in-depth investigation of this issue to highlight the difficulties faced by the collector, and the cataloguer.

REVERSE WATERMARKS OF THE SMALL PAPUA ISSUE  When Mark (Robbo) Robinson decided to focus on the 128 base stamps and 82 variations of British New Guinea and Papua Lakatois he believed he would be able to collect all of these within one year. However, 12 years and 20,000 stamps later he is still missing three stamps to finish his collection!

GREAT BRITAIN: 1916 BRITISH POSTAL CENSORSHIP  During World War I, censorship was an important function of the War Office. However, what began on as small scale at the start of the war experienced a number of significant developments in 1916, including the opening of a censorship office in Liverpool, the arrival of a French censorship team and the examination of mail to and from Ireland following the Irish Rising in April. Next month Graham Mark provides a survey of these developments, and the implications they mean for collectors today.

PLUS GB News, Machin Watch and the latest supplement to the Specialised Catalogue.

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Iconic stamps of Great Britain and the British Empire

December 20, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons
Who knew that the first ever adhesive stamp, the Penny Black, would not only instigate a communications revolution but also a much loved global hobby? It is estimated that there are 60 million stamp collectors worldwide. Stamp collections and the passion for stamp collecting have been passed down from generation to generation and they now form part of our history. But what makes a stamp iconic for the collector? Is it the design, the story behind the stamp or simply the value? [Read more…]

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A guide to stamp condition and value: marginal items (part 3)

December 11, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons

Marginal premium 

For modern stamps, an intact sheet margin should not add to the value, although one might expect to pay a small premium for a plate block or imprint block over the price for a plain block of four.  For most of the earlier twentieth century stamps, also, a plain margin will do little for a stamp’s value, but if that piece of margin includes a control number, plate number or printer’s imprint then the difference can be very significant indeed! [Read more…]

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How to collect Penny Black Stamps

November 28, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons

All stamp collectors aspire to own a Penny Black, it is the world’s first and undoubtedly the most famous stamp of them all, but it is also one of the most beautiful stamps with its classic simplicity and fine engraving, and one of the most interesting, providing an opportunity to build up a substantial collection based on just this one stamp.

So, how do you collect Penny Blacks? Well, like most things in philately, the choice is yours, there is no right and wrong way, you can do as you please or as your pocket will allow, but this article aims to give you a few ideas. [Read more…]

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