How to Use Stanley Gibbons Catalogues

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.

Stamps of the World

Countries in Stamps of the World are arranged in alphabetical order – Abu Dhabi to Zululand – and under each country heading there are brief notes about its location, status and currency. Most of the stamp illustrations are in colour, reduced to 3/4-size, and usually only one example of a set is shown, although all the different designs are recorded. Below the illustration appears the main heading, which gives the year of issue and in the case of commemorative issues, the nature of the person or event commemorated. There follows the tabulated list of stamps – catalogue number, ‘type’ (or illustration) number, face value and colours and/or design, and two columns of prices. The first column shows the unused price, and the second column the used price of the stamp. These are the prices you would pay for the stamps at Stanley Gibbons. Elsewhere you might obtain them at a discount on the catalogue prices, while, of course, common stamps in packets cost much less than listed prices.

Earliest-known-Gibbons-Catalouge-Nov-1865-cover for wordpress

Gibbons Catalogue 

The world-famous Gibbons Catalogue was first published by Edward Stanley Gibbons in 1865 and sold for 2d., post free. The main catalogue now comprises several parts and is intended for the more advanced collector. Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840–1952 includes all stamps of this area from the earliest issues up to the end of George VI’s reign and additionally lists and illustrates many of the better varieties popular with collectors. A series of single country or limited area catalogues covers Commonwealth countries from their first issues to date. Of the remaining parts, ten are devoted to European countries and eleven to ‘overseas’ countries. Thematic Catalogues are also published covering stamps featuring Aircraft; Birds; Butterflies and Insects; Chess; Fish; Fungi; Mammals; Motor Vehicles; Railways; Shells and Ships. Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840–1952 and Stamps of the World are published, fully updated, each year, new editions of the others are published as required.


Mini Catalogues

For the Great Britain collector who wishes to economise and yet keep in touch with the latest market values of his stamps, Stanley Gibbons publish three admirable ‘mini-catalogues’ or checklists – the Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue, Collect British Stamps and Collect Channel Islands and Isle of Man Stamps. These show all the new issues and latest prices since previous editions. All stamps are illustrated in colour and first day covers, presentation packs, officials and postage dues are included; the Great Britain Concise and Collect Channel Islands and Isle of Man Stamps also include stamp booklets. Many GB collectors take an interest in varieties of watermark – inverted, reversed and sideways, etc – and the Concise includes these in its listings, as well as missing colours, imperforate errors and phosphor omitted varieties. These catalogues are published annually.

Preview of GB Concise

Queen Elizabeth 11 catalogue
Queen Victoria catalogue
King George VI catalogue

As you progress in the hobby so the catalogue will become of more and more assistance. It shows you which stamps you need to complete a set, their face values and their designs, thus providing a guide to the arrangement of your stamps in the album. The catalogue will also help you to become acquainted with the colours and their names – the basic reds, blues and greens of Stamps of the World or the more explicit carmine-reds, greenish blues and yellow-greens of the main catalogues. Eventually you will probably select GB or some other country or group of countries as your especial favourites in a more specialised way, when you will need an even more detailed and specialised catalogue. Remember, too, that Gibbons’ catalogue numbers are used the world over – they serve to identify stamps for dealers and collectors – the former in their advertisements, the latter when negotiating ‘swaps’ with fellow collectors.

Starter Kits

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