Hugh Jeffries, from Stanley Gibbons, discussed the past, present and future of the Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogues.
From the business’ origins in Plymouth in 1856 the business has come a long way, first moving to London, then being sold to Charles Phillips in 1890 and expanding to create the first pocket size catalogue. Stanley Gibbons also is one of the only catalogues to list the prices of stamps, through intensive research, even of stamps that are not in its stock. This has led to some pricing controversies over the years and Hugh myth busted a few of them.
Part of Stanley Gibbons’ development saw them diversifying, as collectors began to specialise, and in 1970 the catalogues split off into British Commonwealth stamps and foreign stamps. Now, of course, there is a catalogue for every country.
New challenges have emerged however. Stanley Gibbons now aims to create an accurate and up to date list of all new issue stamps. Hugh discussed the issues relating to this including the necessity to purchase the stamp to include it in the list in order to examine it thoroughly, stamps with errors being released and the fact that post offices now produce stamps specifically for collectors and others for normal use without this being announced.
The internet is also becoming a major factor in the business’ development. It has proved very useful when trying to establish market prices and the online version also allows collectors to input all the stamps they have. In the future Stanley Gibbons intends to future computerise aspects of its catalogues which will be a tool for an ever more specialised generation of collectors that perhaps don’t want to buy the whole catalogue. It has also recently introduced a new look for its catalogue as part of its modernisation plan.
The print version will continue, none the less, and Hugh highlighted how the creation of the list of new issue stamps will also continue to be a collaborative effort as collectors and societies share their knowledge.
For the full talk click HERE
Stuart Aitken from the Postal Museum joined us at Stampex to give a talk about the origins of transatlantic/international airmail, celebrating its 100th year.
Airmail in the UK actually began right after the First World War in 1919 when communication was necessary between the British troops that had occupied Cologne and Britain. The RAF thus introduced the service between Kent and Cologne which then became the first civilian service, but this time operating between London and Paris. This was inefficient and expensive at first as weather could seriously impact the arrival time but allowed the first postcards, letters, samples and business letters to travel across the channel by air.
The war had spurred a great advance in aviation technology and the race was on to see who could boast the best plane. With great use of original photographs and footage, the presentation then moved onto the air race for the first transatlantic flight, first achieved (after a number of failed attempts) by Alcock and Brown. They flew from Newfoundland to Ireland in June 1919 and landed themselves a winners cheque from the Daily Mail of £10,000, also carrying with them the first transatlantic air mail.
The second air race was from Great Britain to Australia. This was won by the Smith brothers, landing their Vimy Bomber in Port Darwin, also in 1919. They managed to meet the challenge of managing the journey in 30 days and also bagged a cash prize. With them, travelled 130 covers which was the first airmail service to Australia and arguably opened up Australia for emigration and communication.
To see the full presentation click HERE
Dr Pete McCann, retired president of the American Philatelic Society gave a talk at Stampex on the judging criteria for postal history exhibits, focussing on Treatment and mistakes to avoid.
First of all Dr McCann highlighted the importance of defining Treatment. Treatment is how you tell the story of your exhibit by showcasing your material, what you know about it and explaining what the subject is all about. Crucially Treatment is the aspect of your exhibit that you have the most control over.
The title page was highlighted as being of vital importance in setting out a storyline for your exhibition, featuring headings and subheadings. On the title page the purpose and scope (start and end dates/geographic area/ jurisdiction/social or historical context) should be set out clearly. Vitally the development of the rest of the exhibition should not stray from the boundaries of the scope.
He also showed how there should be a primary focus for the exhibition whether that be routes, rates or markings and it is essential to be consistent with that focus throughout. If you want to create a hybrid exhibition, there should still be one main focus e.g. routes and the other e.g. rates should be secondary.
Some major mistakes to avoid with exhibitions:
Watch the full live talk HERE
Image from Mark Bloxham