STEP 1 – CHOOSING YOUR FIRST STAMPS
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.
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…]
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…]
The Stamp Catalogue
The stamp catalogue, basically a dealer’s price-list, is a most essential work of reference for the stamp collector. It provides complete, detailed lists of all the postage stamps issued by every country in the world from the earliest days, with information about dates of issue, commemorative events, face values, colours and designs, and – if it is a fairly new catalogue – the current prices of the stamps, unused and postally used. For the beginner and general collector the most useful catalogue is the Stanley Gibbons Simplified Catalogue of Stamps of the World published in five volumes. This catalogue contains all the details – except perforations, watermarks, designers, printers and varieties – the average collector needs for every country. [Read more…]
Before you purchase your first stamp album you should have some plan in your mind, even just a few thoughts and inclinations, on the likely progress and eventual scope of your collection. Most beginners buy, or are given, a monster packet of stamps and a printed album with a page for every country. Sooner or later you will run out of space and the surplus stamps of some countries will be scattered untidily on other pages. In these circumstances enthusiasm may flag, as the only solution is a larger album with all the work of rearranging your stamps! [Read more…]
There are two main ways in which collectors can mount their stamps to album pages. The original method involves using hinges, small pieces of special gummed paper which allow the collector to attach stamps directly to an album page.
Plastic mounts meanwhile enable collectors to present their stamps in albums without physically attaching the stamps themselves to pages. Stamps are placed inside protective plastic mounts and the mount is then attached to the page, meaning unmounted mint stamps can remain in pristine condition whilst still appearing in an album. Mounts are available already ‘cut to size’ or in strips that can then be cut to the correct size depending upon the size of stamp. [Read more…]
The essence of a good stamp arrangement is neatness – stamps placed squarely in the spaces provided for them or in level, tidy rows on a blank leaf. It sounds simple – and indeed it is – but it does require care and thought. Some printed albums have stamp ‘squares’ in rows across the album page. Usually these are big enough to accommodate the majority of stamps, which are invariably rectangular – horizontal or vertical – in shape.
Larger stamps will extend beyond the confines of the square and in such cases the printed background should be ignored, with two stamps taking up the space of three squares. Personal preference and ingenuity should be employed! [Read more…]
Part of the Iconic Stamp series. Click here to see the full list of Iconic Stamps.
The Penny Black is frequently referred to as an Iconic Stamp and we have put together an interesting range of information and items, including some free downloads:
- A free PDF guide detailing more of the story behind the Penny Black plus some unusual facts that you may not be aware of
- Our Penny Black initials finder for you to try out
- Details of the Treasury Competition and the medal that inspired this iconic stamp
- An introduction to the ways in which these stamps can be collected, including issued stamps, varieties, cancellations and trials
- A collection of supporting publications and albums, including an excellent free PDF article from Gibbons Stamp Monthly
- An exclusive offer to display your stamps to their very best advantage
- A range of gifts.
*SPECIAL OFFER – Buy your Penny Black from the Stanley Gibbons online store and receive a free presentation album with our Certificate of Authenticity.
The 1d Black was produced between May 1840 and February 1841. It was not only the world’s first postage stamp, it also changed the world and the way we communicate. It caused global change and incentivised many to read and to write as it made sending letters affordable for any Victorian. This year we celebrate not only its 175th anniversary but also the men behind the world’s most famous postage stamp who, without knowing, started a revolution. Every collector would like to own a Great Britain 1840 1d Black, so, together with our Great Britain specialists, we take a look at the story behind the 20x24mm stamp that changed the world.