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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Stamp errors – If Variety is the Spice of Life: Try Adding it to Your Stamps

February 29, 2016 by Stanley Gibbons
Collecting stamps may be enjoyed in countless ways. Some of us save stamps from the whole World, others are more interested in a specific group of countries, or perhaps have just one favourite. You may like to collect only mint, or used, or both. Perhaps you favour a thematic approach, saving stamps featuring dogs, aeroplanes, waterfalls or some other subject that appeals to you, with no concern as to whether or not the stamps were issued for postal purposes or aimed primarily at the collector. [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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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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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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A guide to stamp condition and value: gum (part 1)

November 16, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons

A guide to Stanley Gibbons’ definition of ‘fine’

The quality and overall condition of a stamp are vital when determining its value and each feature of a stamp has to be considered. The state of the gum on the reverse, the condition of the margins and perforations and whether it has faded or sustained damage are just some of the factors that can have a dramatic impact. The article below covers the subject in great detail and is essential reading.

What exactly does ‘fine’ mean and how do slight defects affect the price? To quote in full the relevant paragraph in the introduction to the current Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps Catalogue; ‘The prices quoted in this catalogue are the estimated selling prices of Stanley Gibbons Ltd at the time of publication. They are, unless it is specifically stated otherwise, for examples in fine condition for the issue concerned. Superb examples are worth more, those of a lower quality, considerably less.’ This single paragraph is probably the most significant piece of information in the entire catalogue – but one that is frequently ignored or forgotten. The big question, of course, is just how much more is ‘more’ and how much less is ‘less’? [Read more…]

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A guide to stamp condition and value: margins and perforation (part 2)

by Stanley Gibbons

Margins

Another feature which has long been a part of the ‘Stamp Improver’s’ repertoire has been the adding of margins to stamps which have been deficient in them. Once again, this ‘service’ has developed because of the premium placed by collectors on ‘fine four-margin’ examples of stamps like the Penny Black. [Read more…]

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How to start collecting other fields

November 14, 2015 by Stanley Gibbons

BRANCHING OUT

If, like the apprentice who finally qualifies in his trade, you wish to develop your stamp collection on more specific lines than simply accumulating stamps, there are various ways in which you can pursue a serious philatelic study. The specialist is a mature student of stamps, their design and printing, their history and postal significance, devoting his attention to one particular country, or even to one period of a country’s issues, its postal history and postmarks. It follows that a good knowledge of the four principal methods of printing stamps – recess or line-engraving, typography or ‘letterpress’, lithography and photogravure (a form of recess printing) – is one of the necessary qualifications to becoming a philatelist. [Read more…]

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How to Use Stanley Gibbons Catalogues

by Stanley Gibbons

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…]

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