Notes from the Past

Stanley Edward Gibbons - Part I
Famous Philatelists Series

It was one of those strange coincidences that seem to exercise control over subsequent events that Stanley Edward Gibbons, who was to lay the foundation for an empire based on postage stamps, was born in 1840, the very year that the postage stamp itself was born.

Gibbons was the son of a chemist in the West-of-England seaport town of Plymouth.  It is reported that as early as 1854 he possessed a small collection of postage stamps.

His interest grew until, with parental encouragement, he set up a small "stamp department" in his father's shop, and the name of Gibbons entered the world of professional philately.

By 1859, he had expanded to a room above the shop and employed a clerk.

Following the death of his father, the stamp business outgrew the chemist shop, which he sold in order to concentrate on stamps.

In 1863 the event that was to propel Gibbons into the forefront of the stamp business occurred:  a couple of sailors brought in a sackful of stamps to sell.

The sack, bought for £5, contained thousands of triangular stamps from the Cape of Good Hope, which the sailors said they had won in a raffle while in Cape Town.

For some time, Gibbons was busy selling the stamps by the gross -- eight shillings a gross, to be exact!  With blocks at 10 shillings a dozen!

To be Continued


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Two G - P
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted December 3, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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