________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 30 . . . . April 5, 2013


Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalog Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970. Part 1. 2013 ed.

Hugh Jefferies, ed.
Ringwood, Hampshire: UK: Stanley Gibbons Publications (orders@stanleygibbons.com), 2012.
616 pp., hardcover, 79.95 (British pounds).
ISBN 978-0-85259-851-1.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4



When talking to fellow collectors, they will often admit to me that they do not buy every edition of this catalogue, explaining that now it no longer lists new issues, it cannot change much from edition to edition, apart from the prices, and that they are either not really interested in prices or feel that they, too, are subject to little change year-on-year.

I will return to the subject of prices, later on, but it seems to me that demand for good Commonwealth stamps is greater than it has been at any time in the last 30 years or more and, therefore, prices in most areas are going up all the time, but that some are rising very much faster than others. Thus it pays us to keep abreast of developments by having the latest catalogues to hand.

As for the suggestion that there can be few changes and amendments to the listings of pre-1971 stamps, if I were prone to take offence, I would certainly do so, not only for myself, but also on behalf of the greater number of collectors, dealers and auction houses who take the trouble to provide us with details of their researches and discoveries which in turn are made generally available through the catalogue.

Hugh Jefferies. Catalogue Editor. (From the Preface.)

The mere appearance of a new Gibbon's Stamp Catalogue is enough to send a frisson of excitement through an avid stamp aficionado. Its signature cover, its thick glossy pages, its richly colored illustrations and detail after detail of information based on years of research are all features that set up a keen sense of anticipation in enthusiasts. Knowing that the book's wonderful insights into the history of postage stamps makes it a parallel and indirect history of each Commonwealth country is further cause for excitement.

internal art      Now into its 115th edition, the Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970 continues to maintain its reputation as a first rate resource for both specialist and generalist collectors. This volume, like its predecessors, is a large hardcover volume containing over 600 pages of finely printed, solidly researched detailed information. For every stamp listed, all the traditional information that users have come to rely upon is present, such as pricing, condition, printing varieties, perforations, watermarks, colors, and other technical matters. In addition, extensive criteria as to how these details, definitions and variations are arrived at are also provided.

      Every year new features are added, and this year, in addition to the thousands of price increases that reflect the ongoing activity in the field, there is a full and detailed listing of government telegraph stamps, especially but not exclusively those of Ceylon, India and some South African provinces. These stamps were intended solely for the prepayment of telegraph fees and are becoming increasingly collectible.

      As per the standard format, countries are listed in alphabetical order with the exception of Great Britain, which appears as the first entry. Where countries have undergone a name change, the latest name is used, and all stamps from previous appellations appear under this heading. Stamps are listed in date order with any special features and variations included. Gibbons includes a more comprehensive array of these variances and specificities than any other catalogue, including the listing of all watermark varieties, an inverted watermark list, all perforation varieties as well as all discernable color shades and overprinted varieties. The vast array of stamp illustration is in full color. Prices are listed in pounds and pence sterling. The volume also contains a list of specialist philatelic societies across the world and a select bibliography of books about the stamps of many countries.

      There is a substantial section on Canadian stamps, including those from British Columbia & Vancouver Island, the Colony of Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island before they became part of the Dominion of Canada. From that time period on, all Canadian stamps are listed until 1970. This year in the Canadian section new varieties of the stamps known as the 'Small Queens' and the 1935 definitives have been added while listings of the 1967 Centennial definitives and contemporary postage dues have been expanded.

      If a stamp collector cannot find the information s/he needs in this volume, it is hard to imagine another source s/he may go to that would have more comprehensive information. Many specialists believe this to be the premier catalogue for Commonwealth stamp collectors. Where budgets allow, this volume will enrich and balance existing collections and will be appreciated by both beginner and specialist collectors. While it is a book aimed at adult specialists, younger stamp enthusiasts, from ages 13 and up, would also find the catalogue a great identification and informational tool.

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley, a now retired librarian, was formerly with the Mississauga Library in ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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