Wednesday 8 July 2020

Latest Gibbons Concise catalogue - new corporate style, but no number changes!

The 2020 edition of the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Catalogue was published on 30 June and I have found time to have a quick look at it.

The most obvious change is the cover, which has now been brought into Gibbons' new 'corporate branding style' matching all new catalogues.  The preface mentions that this happens to make it very similar to the earliest editions which had just one stamp on the cover, but I think it is unfortunate.

Like the front cover the spine is dark blue, with the title in bold white near the top in a font which is like Times New Roman, rather than the sans-serif font used in previous years.  The previous style look modern: the new style looks 'traditional' and dated to me.  I suppose if you have a library of Gibbons catalogues or you keep several years' catalogues they will look good on the shelf, but I prefer the colourful pictorial front cover with a recent commemorative making it easy to see from a distance that this is the latest version.

But the meat is inside, of course.  One of the most important points, especially for the Machin security stamps, is that there are no number changes.  The Postage Rate tables, previously only for 1st class, 2nd class, Large and 'E' stamps, have been expanded to show the Recorded Signed For and Special Delivery stamps, and the rates applicable to Post and Go Faststamps with their various and oft-changing weight steps for airmail.  This is important for postal historians, calculating whether covers bearing these stamps after the step changes are prepaid at the correct rate - a 40g stamp issued in 2010 (costing £1.46) is now valid for 100g and is worth £2.42 in postage.  I'm pleased to have played my part in persuading the editors to include this information.

With over 500 pages I haven't looked all through and made comparisons with previous editions. The preface indicates that, as usual, prices have been 'carefully checked and updated where necessary to ensure that they represent an accurate picture of the current market for British stamps in very find condition'.

I've looked at the U stamps and note the following mostly from John Deering's supplementary tables.

- U2923 the 10p M17L counter sheet is up from 70p to £4

- U2939 the £1.28 has changes both ways: the 2013 version drops from £6 to £5 and the 2014 up from £5.50 to £12.50

- U3031 the scarce 2nd Large 2010 business sheet stays at £24, but

- U3032 the similarly hard to find 2nd Large 2010 booklet stamp is up from £21 to £27.  This and the 1st class stamp were readily available (once discovered) at the London 2010 exhibition.  The 1st class stays at £8 in the new catalogue.

- U3745, the Long to Reign stamp on Security Backing paper from booklets (REIGS) stays at £35.

Another thing I noticed was the 2nd class Scotland stamp with the new font, S159/a. In a Stamp Monthly catalogue supplement the stamp from the James Bond PSB was given a new sub-number. This stamp was listed with a grey head whereas the original sheet stamp listing described the head as silver.  In fact there is no metallic silver ink and both are shades of CMYK grey.  The new catalogue now describes S159 as silver-grey and the S159a PSB stamp as dull-grey.

I think this is unfortunate. The shades of grey are undoubtedly different, but many country definitives exist in a wide range of shades, notably the 1st class England.  If this new stamp is worth a sub-number, then some of the others must be.

(It's been pointed out to me that the 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe PSB is listed as EN53a and described as Venetian Red, compared with the sheet stamp which is Indian Red.)

Apart from these there are many ups and downs in prices, especially in the case of used stamps many of which are no longer the same as the mint.  It is fair to say that it is still possible to buy many of the more common stamps at prices lower than those shown, but as always the premium hard-to-find variants are probably being sold at around full catalogue value or more.

People who have more time than I do at present will doubtless have their own views and spot changes and not only in pricing. I look forward to your findings and will add them here when time is available.

The £1 machin gold foil stamp, listed twice (as acknowledged in the Preface), but the pane has different prices on pages 289 and 358, £16 and £13.50 respectively.

2019 STAMPEX opt on Normandy/D-Day m/s (MS4236) is not mentioned unlike the previous 
overprints, e.g The 2019 Classic stamps MS 416, where it's mentioned as a footnote after the listing.


  1. I agree with you Ian, the previous editions were much nicer & as you say modern, nice to see some early NVI stamps rising in price, fortunately I got these when they were cheap hooray!

  2. Although I agree that the 2020 edition has a rather sombre cover, at least it seems (as far as I can tell) that the catalogue has fewer obvious errors than in 2019 (when a whole section of John Deering's tables was omitted, together with several booklets). I'm happy to trade a boring cover for accuracy and completeness in the listings.

    Incidentally, the 1st class England stamp from the Visions of the Universe PSB has been given a new number (EN53a) as they have decided that the colour is Venetian Red (with the counter stamp classed as Indian Red). Whether the PSB stamp is sufficiently different from the range of colours for the counter stamp, I'm not really competent to judge (I find shades very difficult!).


  3. This blog is a mine of really useful information, thank you for the details of the Scottish 2nd S159a, & the 1st England EN53a, I would be lost without this input. Well done Ian & anonymous (John)

  4. This pandemic has had repercussions for us Machin security stamp collectors, this year SG were due to issue a supplement to the QESD supplement in Vol 6 Windsor albums but it never happened. Let's hope things are better next year, as most collectors will have nearly 3 years worth of issues to put into spaces

  5. Just noticed some number changes in the country stamps £1.40 values NI167 is now NI164a, S167 is now S166, & W157 is now W156


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