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.
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