Stamp catalog

From Academic Kids

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Cover of the 1996 Michel Catalog volume covering "Europa West"

A stamp catalog (or stamp catalogue) is a catalog of postage stamp types. Although basically just a list of descriptions and prices, in practice the catalog is an essential tool of stamp collecting.

Originally catalogs were just dealers' price lists, and in some cases, such as Stanley Gibbons, that is still one of their functions. Over time, as philately developed, catalogs tended to accumulate additional supporting details about the stamps, such as dates of issue, color variations, and so forth. As their use by collectors became widespread, the catalogs came to define what was and was not a legitimate stamp, since collectors would avoid stamps not described in their catalog.

There are only a handful of catalogs with worldwide coverage:

These are large undertakings, since there are thousands of new stamps to describe each year, and the prices of all stamps may go up or down. (In the case of publisher that are not dealers, the prices are estimated by collection of data from dealers and auctions.)

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Example page from the Bolivia section of the 2002 Scott catalog.

In addition, the catalog publishers usually put out specialized volumes with additional details, generally by nationality; Michel has a specialized German catalog, Scott a specialized US, and so forth.

Many countries have their own "national catalogs", typically put out by a leading publisher or dealer in that country. Postal administrations may themselves put out catalogs, although they tend to be aimed at less-experienced collectors, and rarely supply fully-detailed stamp data. Notable country catalogs include:

Building on this idea, many specialized catalogs have been published, for instance to list and value different kind of postmarks used in a particular country during a single era.

It is worth noting that older catalogs are widely used by collectors for several reasons:

  • Older catalogs may contain information not found in current catalogs
  • Stamps issued in recent years (1950-2005) have less variations than older stamps. Older catalogs cover the older issues.
  • Many collectors use a catalog for stamp identification instead of valuation. Therefore, outdated prices are less important.

Related topics

External links

A few catalogs have been put online, by individual enthusiasts, dealers, and postal administrations.

External links



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