Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies

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Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Van der Kiste
Reviewed by John Van der Kiste
Summary: The 114th edition of the standard Commonwealth stamp catalogue, for many years unrivalled in its field.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 700 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Stanley Gibbons
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0852598139

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Each edition of the 'Gibbons Commonwealth' catalogue of the sterling era, which covers the era of pounds, shillings and pence up to the end of 1970 with a few exceptions, sees several changes. The 114th edition is no exception. Reflecting market trends and demand during the previous few months, many price increases affecting almost all areas and periods have been made, including the more modestly priced items as well as some of the 'blue chip' pieces. One of the latter now makes history, as following the recent sale of an 1847 'Post Office' Mauritius 2d blue, this and its 1d red partner become the first stamps in the Gibbons catalogue to be priced at £1,000,000 or more. As we are told in a note underneath the listing, most known surviving examples are now in permanent museum collections.

Over a hundred stamps have been added to the catalogue. Even though these are generally only minor varieties of paper, perforation and watermark, it is interesting to consider that though everything listed here is over forty years old, new discoveries are still coming to light and appearing here for the first time.

As ever, the introductory pages at the front provide much additional background information before we reach the individual territories' listings with prices and in full colour. The six-page article on 'The importance of condition', which originally appeared over several issues of the monthly magazine in 2003 and was reproduced in the previous year's edition, emphasizing such details as the importance of imperforate stamps with good margins, and well-centred perforated specimens, has now become a permanent feature of the catalogue. An eight-page section on general philatelic information and guidelines to the scope of the full series of Gibbons Commonwealth catalogues contains sections on prices, condition guide, and technical matters such as paper, printing, watermarks and specimen stamps. (It should be noted that the most common stamps from all countries are valued at 10p each, but the lowest price – including a handling charge – of any individual stamp purchased from Gibbons is £1). Also included are an international philatelic glossary, a listing of specialist philatelic societies, and a select bibliography.

Altogether these preliminary sections account for over thirty pages before we reach Great Britain, the start of the individual country and territory listings. The grouping of regional divisions, such as New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and other once philatelically-independent areas of Australia which issued their own stamps prior to the latter's first in 1913, and of Canada, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and others is very helpful.

A recent, interesting innovation (either that, or I had missed it last time round) is a section at the end giving set prices for British Empire omnibus issues. The first of these was for the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935, with 250 stamps which would cost £1300 unused or £1800 used, although this price is dwarfed by that of £2000 unused and £2250 used for the 138 stamps (admittedly many of which were higher face values) for the Royal Silver Wedding of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1948.

Even for those who do not avidly collect all the countries listed, there is as ever endless pleasure to be derived from examining items from bygone decades, whether studying differences in perforation and watermark or merely comparing designs old and new, admittedly to the detriment of the latter. I still find such sets as the 1960s Sierra Leone embossed on silver and gold foil pretty unsightly in comparison with the restrained classic empire designs of less than a decade before. I've always far preferred the dignity of the one- or two-coloured designs with a framed pictorial design and the sovereign's framed profile alongside or in the corner , but that's just my opinion.

As ever, this catalogue is certainly not inexpensive. Yet for collectors and enthusiasts it is virtually an investment in itself. It is easy to see why this has always been the market leader, and why its pre-eminence in the field is unlikely to be challenged.

Our thanks to Stanley Gibbons Ltd for providing Bookbag with a review copy.

For similar reference and reading, see also the review of Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2011 by Hugh Jefferies.

Buy Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue 2012: Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840 - 1970 by Hugh Jefferies at Amazon.com.

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