News-Antique.com - Dec 22,2010 - It is a common fallacy that the prices in our catalogues show what a stamp is ‘worth’, should you wish to sell it.
They are, instead, the price at which Stanley Gibbons will sell a fine example of the stamp in question, but that price includes a lot of other factors, as well as the inherent ‘value’ of the stamp itself. There are costs in running any business and these are built into the price of any stamp shown in the catalogue, although the proportion of the price that relates to the stamp and that which relates to ‘business overheads’ will vary from stamp to stamp.
What is true is that the prices shown in the catalogue represent an accurate ‘guide’ to the value of the stamps listed in it. Stanley Gibbons are now the only major philatelic publisher whose stamp catalogue is the firm’s price list. Naturally, if the prices are set too high, no one will buy our stamps, if they are too low, we will have difficulty replacing our stocks. It is therefore vitally important to the future of the company that the prices in our catalogues are set as accurately as possible. As a result, a great deal of care is taken over those prices – which is why they are held in such authority by collectors, dealers and stamp auction houses throughout the world.
Each year, every price in our annual catalogues is checked and amended if necessary, having regard to the prices being achieved at auction as well as the demands of our customers at 399 Strand and orders coming in via the post, email and our website. Prices are held, increased or reduced according to those factors, giving a very accurate picture of the state of the market for each and every stamp.
Can stamps be purchased for less than the prices quoted in this catalogue?
Of course they can. Stanley Gibbons themselves will frequently have stamps in stock at prices lower than ‘full catalogue’. Every business offers discounts and makes ‘special offers’ from time to time and Stanley Gibbons is no different. That apart, however, it should always be remembered that the prices quoted in the catalogues are for stamps in fine condition. Stamps with minor defects, heavy postmarks, slight fading and other flaws will frequently be offered at lower prices, both by Stanley Gibbons and by other dealers and auction houses.
It is very important that, when you are thinking of buying a stamp for your collection, you carefully consider the condition of the item in question. Does it match up to the Stanley Gibbons definition of ‘Fine’? If it doesn’t, is the price at which it is being offered too high? If you believe that the price is higher than it should be, leave it alone – or if you are really desperate, haggle for a better deal.
The knowledge as to what is ‘fine’ and therefore worthy of ‘full catalogue’ is one that you will gain with experience and