|Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2010 by Stanley Gibbons|
|Category: Business and Finance|
|Reviewer: John Van der Kiste|
|Summary: The standard fully illustrated catalogue of British stamp issues from 1840 to 2010.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 340||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Stanley Gibbons Ltd|
Stanley Gibbons Great Britain stamp catalogues come at basically three levels. At one end of the scale is Collect British Stamps, a concise listing which excludes variations in shade, perforation, phosphor banding, watermarks et al. At the other is the multi-volume specialized edition. This is the intermediate catalogue, which provides in one 354-page paperback the main variations of each issue. It also includes such extras as miniature sheets, special first day of issue postmarks, postage dues, booklets, and regional issues (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, plus the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the latter territories prior to postal independence in 1969 and 1973 respectively).
In my view, you do not have to be a dyed-in-the-wool collector to appreciate this volume fully. I write as one who devoted myself passionately to the hobby from childhood and reluctantly took the decision to call a halt for various reasons a few years ago. Since then, I had completely lost touch with new issues (apart from Christmastime, my mail is rarely thus adorned these days, more’s the pity), and with the proliferation of franking machines and those uninspiring Postage Paid labels on parcels, I had to resort to occasional visits to the Royal Mail website to see what they had been up to while my back was turned. It was thus good fun (there’s no other way of putting it) to pick up this volume and see what I had missed.
It would be all too easy to review British stamp design in general, rather than the publication in particular. So keeping to the latter, the book is superbly laid out. All designs are reproduced in colour, slightly smaller than original size, plus prices for mint and used specimens, and in the case of Victorian issues, used on cover as well. (Your 1840 1d black is £275 used, by the way, if in good condition). Edwardian and George V stamps are priced for unmounted and mounted (previously hinged) mint, and Edward VII to the present day unmounted mint and lightly used only. I say ‘prices’, rather than ‘values’, as Gibbons prices tend to be a little over the accepted odds. (In my collecting days, when selling surplus material to dealers, their general rule of thumb was that they bought at one-third Gibbons price and sold at around two-thirds.)
With the vast array of different definitives, commemoratives, and special issues available, even a fairly basic listing takes some navigation. I for one was grateful for the Commemorative Design Index at the front, an A-Z listing of all subjects since 1953. If you want to know where to look for the United Nations 20th anniversary (1965) issue, or stamps showing anything from London Bridge and barn owls to the James Bond books or the sleeve of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, start here.
This volume also caters for the moderately specialized collector. Listings of Fiscal and Telegraph stamps, as well as self-adhesive ‘smilers’, are here, to say nothing of elliptical perforation differences. There is also a two-page chapter on the Queen Victoria line-engraved issues, with a paragraph about postmark variations from the classic Maltese Cross design onwards.
Collectors have long since regarded this publication as a handy checklist and guide to values, but it is far more than that. It is in effect an illustrated history of British stamp design, and while it may provide more detail than some will ever need, finding one’s way around is easy enough. Despite recent trends in technology which have tended to marginalise the stamp in recent years, I find it encouraging that the hobby is still thriving, and that we still have the catalogue, updated and barely recognizable from the hefty hardback tomes that I remember from my childhood, still here to reflect the fact and assist today’s enthusiasts.
Our thanks to Stanley Gibbons for sending a copy to Bookbag.
For further reading on a similar subject, why not try Collect Autographs: An Illustrated Guide to Collecting and Investing in Autographs by Fraser's Autographs; or for an associated work of fiction, The Stamp King by G. De Beauregard and H. De Gorsse, translated by Edith C. Phillips.
You can read more book reviews or buy Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2010 by Stanley Gibbons at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2010 by Stanley Gibbons at Amazon.com.
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