Best Stamp Catalogs - An Introduction

Stamp Catalogs attempt to enumerate, illustrate, and evaluate stamps issued by the world’s various postal departments. As with all aspects of philately, choices are aplenty for Stamp Catalogs too. The overwhelming surge in the issue of stamps in recent years along with certain political factors makes it an impossible task for Catalog manufacturers to record all stamps ever issued by all countries of the world. Further, the vast array of stamps issued almost mandates catalog manufacturers to issue different types of philatelic catalogs. The variations between these catalogs are based on one or more of the following:
  1. By country and the level of detail – General catalogs spanning multiple countries (usually by an alphabetical range) are the most popular. They cover most stamps issued in their category but are not detail-oriented.
  2. By topics and/or year by and the level of detail – The most common and popular topics include Animals, Space, Ships, Trains, Birds, Sports, Olympics, Soccer, Movie Stars and Disney Characters. “Serious” collectors focus on themes that are harder to come by (investment value is higher) such as certain countries (Prince Edward Island, Falkland Islands, Tasmania, Newfoundland, Cape of Good Hope, Vatican, Bahawalpur, Aegean Islands, etc.), and other areas such as Independence Issues, National Flags, World Figures of historical significance (Pope, Queen Victoria, Christ, etc.), and others such as Zeppelins, War Tax Stamps, First Day Covers, Se-tenants, Gutter Pairs, etc.
  3. Specialized in some other way – Specializing in stamps released in the first 100 years (1840 to 1940) is especially trendy and several catalogs are dedicated to this period. Country specialized catalogs are also extremely popular among enthusiastic collectors. Specialized catalogs offer much more detailed listings of the stamps in the arena they focus on.
The big three in philatelic catalogs are Scott Publishers Inc. of USA (a subsidiary of Amos press), Stanley Gibbons of UK, and Michel of Germany. Catalogs from manufacturers including names such as Yvert & Tellier of France and others are either not available in English or do not envelop the entire world. Between the big three manufacturers, the popularity is largely determined by the users location – for US and Canada, Scott catalogs and their numbering system is the de facto standard. In the German speaking world, the Michel catalog is favored while for the rest of Europe and other Commonwealth countries, the Stanley Gibbons catalog is preferred. Among the three, Michel has a reputation for the most country coverage and details.

Given all these choices, it is hard for beginning collectors to decide which catalogs to purchase, if any, to start with. Similar to investing in a quality musical instrument, the less spent initially, the better – chances are high that philately could be a passing interest or one might opt to specialize. Availing of the resources at the local library initially is ideal. When the passion is real it is recommended to consider the following:
  • Invest in used catalogs as opposed to new ones – the valuations change every year based on exchange rate and other factors but they are minor and for the most part beginning collectors easily acquire a broad sense of the valuation range with older catalogs. One caveat with this recommendation is to choose catalog from the late 90s onwards as opposed to earlier ones as the valuations of certain categories of stamps (CTOs – Cancelled To Order) have changed drastically as collectors recognized the diminished values of stamps issued purely as a revenue source, and
  • Prefer alternative media (CDs or DVDs) in place of paper book catalogs whenever possible.

Last Updated: 09/2015.

13 comments :

john said...

Hi,

Hope to win this time. Thanks

john
attorneyatwork@Hotmail.com

rj said...

Another great article on this great hobby!

rj
resterbackup@hotmail.com

resty said...

This site is truly a good source of info for collectors

resty
nonator@uchastings.edu

Marilyn said...

Please enter me in your giveaway!!
Thanks!

Mikki said...

Great site!!! Thanks for sharing so much with all of us!!

~~Mikki
cajunlady77@gmail.com

noreen said...

would love to win
Thank you

john said...

would really hope to win

John Les

littlecumulus said...

Wonderful giveaway -- I found your blog via that one giveaway blog. :) Happy day!

amandafetters at gmail dot com

Abi said...

My daughters would love it if I won this stamp give away.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

knotaway said...

Wonderful giveaway! I don't know a thing about philately, but my son has recently decided he MUST collect stamps (he's 5)! Thanks for the chance!

LaurenS said...

This would be for my son

pinkveganmiso(at)yahoo(dot)com

Angel said...

My son would LOVE to add these to his collection!

caseykelp said...

Would like the chance to win this, Thank you for the giveaway.

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