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Your last chance before I put my prices up

The prices of British Commonwealth stamps continue on their upward trajectory

Today is an important day in our philatelic calendar…

It is the day collectors and dealers of British Commonwealth stamps find out how the market has changed in the past year.

As you can imagine, everyone is especially curious this year.

Just how did the market change in the terrible year of the pandemic? 

You see, the latest edition of the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth & British Empire stamps catalogue just landed on my desk.

It is the catalogue known affectionately by avid collectors as the “stamp collector’s bible”.

The prices quoted in the catalogue are internationally recognised as the most reliable guide of market prices for British Commonwealth stamps.

I am pleased to report all is well in the market for British Commonwealth stamps and prices continue to go up, not down.

British Commonwealth Market Update

Hugh Jefferies MBE, the longstanding editor of the catalogue and highly regarded philatelist, reports in his preface:

“…there have been some spectacular auction realisations during the past year (and not only British Guiana) all of which are duly reflected in the catalogue.” 

I was most interested, however, by his following market insight: 

“Meanwhile collectors with a little more time on their hands over the past months have sought to fill some of the empty spaces in their albums, the true scarcity of many hitherto underappreciated items is becoming clear”.

This supports my long held view that many British Commonwealth stamps do not command a price that adequately reflects the rarity factor for “fine quality” examples.

Following the trend in recent years, most of the Asian and African territories continue to show high levels of interest, causing prices to rise.

This means I will need to review the prices of the 1,210 British Commonwealth stamps currently for sale on our website.

As you know, wherever possible, I aim to offer our clients a discount to catalogue values for catalogue quality examples.

But, I cannot ignore the rising market values. 

So, I urge you to take this chance to fill some of those gaps in your album before I complete my pricing review…


I would like to share with you a few choice rarities, I would thoroughly recommend you purchase.

I have selected these stamps from areas of the market reported as being particularly strong right now by the SG catalogue editor. 

India and Indian States

The price of Indian stamps seems to have been rising for so long now, it is becoming a bit of a cliché to report on the continued market growth. 

Yet again, we see prices rising with the lithographs almost all up in value and watermark varieties appearing to be growing very popular.

Also, the Convention and Feudatory States have been carefully assessed in this year’s catalogue in the light of recent auction realisations.

India and Indian States stamps are so difficult for us to buy without chasing the market.

Because of this, we have just one Indian States philatelic item available right now…

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Indian Feudatory States Orchha 1939-42 set on 10 to 8a, (missing the 1¼a, SG35), in blocks of 4 (four being marginal examples), SG31/41.

This is a fine and fresh unmounted mint set with full original gum. There are the odd trivial wrinkles barely detracting from the stamps’ choice quality. The set is most attractive.

These stamps are scarce in blocks and very rarely found preserved in such fine condition.

Orchha was a Princely State within the Bundelkhand Agency, a part of the Central Indian Agency. It is presently in the State of Madhya Pradesh. This stamp issue features Maharaja Vir Singh II who ruled from 4 March 1930 until 1 January 1950 when Orchha merged with India.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £362+.

It is currently available for the price of £325 (new price will be £350).


The West Indies

The West Indies has been relatively subdued in recent years but is now beginning to show some price appreciation. In particular Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Turks show more price rises.

The West Indies is certainly an area where I feel current prices seem to underappreciate the value of rarity. This key rarity from Jamaica is a perfect example…

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Jamaica 1917 (March) 3d purple/yellow, type 21 'WAR/STAMP.' overprint. Error with overprint SIDEWAYS (reading up), SG75d.

This is a spectacular quality mint example with interpane margin at left. It is in very fine condition with its original gum.

It is a very rare error as only one pane existed.

Jamaica joined most British colonies in 1916, by introducing a levy on correspondence to support the war effort. The Government Printer produced four overprints of "WAR STAMP" including this half penny coat of arms King George V stamp.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £500.

You can buy this attractive rarity today for the price of £400 (new price will be £475).



Australia has shown strong price appreciation in recent years.

Things look a bit quieter than in recent editions, although there are still some isolated dramatic price increases seen for some unused classics and errors.

Specific collecting areas showing most interest and price growth in the past year are watermark and plate varieties as well as postage due stamps such as this one, which is a postage due stamp with both an error and a printing variety…

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Australia Postage Due 1922-30 2d carmine and yellow-green, watermark w6, Ash printing, error imperforate between stamp and gutter margin at left, SGD94var.

It is a lovely fresh stamp with original gum. I mention a couple of shortish perforations and trivial specks on gum for accuracy, but it is a fine and spectacular rarity.

The stamp additionally shows the prominent constant frame plate flaw 'lower left corner broken', confirming its position as right pane R6/1.

Only 30 originally existed, from three sheets with the first vertical row of perforations on the right pane omitted, but some of these have since been trimmed at left.

One of only three examples possible with the additional flaw!

Australia Specialised Catalogue Number: ACSC D108b, with flaw 'k'.

Despite its exceptional level of rarity, you can purchase this from me today for the price of £850 (new price will be £950).


New Zealand 

Price changes in New Zealand are mainly in 19th century issues.

However, there are also some more price movements in the first pictorial stamp issues, which are among my favourite stamp designs of all time…

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New Zealand 1899-1903 2s blue-green, no watermark, perforations 11, left marginal block of 4 from R5/6/1-2, showing minor plate flaws, SG269.

This is a brilliant quality unmounted mint marginal block with full original gum (hinge mark in margin only). Despite the typical perforations and centring, and left pair with slight wrinkles, it is still a lovely piece.

Most importantly, it is rare in this quality.

One of the most attractive designs from what was the first pictorial series from a major British colony. The design of Milford Sound is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls on earth.

It was customary at this time for the monarch’s head to form the basis of most stamp designs. As such, this first pictorial definitive series, issued in 1898, caught the public’s attention.

The designs stemmed from a public design competition launched in 1895, offering cash prizes for the best designs. This approach was to support the government policy of encouraging new settlers and promoting tourism at that time.

The superb engraved views of New Zealand’s scenery, with Mountains and water proving the most popular subjects among the competition winners, captured the imagination of the Victorians and have remained ever-popular with collectors as they were ground-breaking at the time.

Provenance: Ex Michael Burberry, on part display page with enlarged drawing (and plating notes in pencil on reverse).

The Campbell Paterson Catalogue value is NZ$7,000 (approx £3,500).

This beautiful exhibition display piece featuring the first pictorial stamps issued is available today at the price of £1,500 (new price will be £1,750).


South Africa

Africa remains a strong area of the market, although most price increases can be seen in the South African provinces. 

In South Africa itself, postage dues and official stamps seem to show the most activity. 

This unique assembly from the Orange Free State of South Africa ticks all the boxes and is available at a very attractively discounted price…

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South Africa Orange Free State 1892 (Oct) 2½d on 3d ultramarine, type 8 surcharge, the complete sheet of 240 (separated into four panes of 60, each 6x10), SG67/b

The sheet is in overall good to fine condition, with fresh colour and part original gum to original gum, but with some creases, separation and missing pieces of selvedge, and with one block of four missing (but replaced) from the lower right pane.

Such imperfections are common and to be expected for a sheet of this size, remarkably remaining intact for almost 130 years.

The major printing variety 'Printer's quad after surcharge' (= SG67b) and a host of constant smaller varieties are present, which are all written up on four exhibition pages.

It is a unique and fascinating assembly for the specialist collector.

The sheet was formerly in the collection of Mr. J. Schoeman, which demonstrated that the first setting was indeed of 240, rather than 120 as believed by Buckley and Marriott in the 1966 Handbook.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £5,348+.

You can own this fascinating and unique assembly for the price of £1,950 (new price will be £2,500).


The Pacific Islands

Perhaps the most surprising area to see price rises is in the Pacific Islands where prices have been relatively slow moving in recent years.

Most notable price increases are in the Cook Islands and British Solomon Islands. 

I would recommend this major rarity from the Solomon Islands…

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British Solomon Islands 1907 6d chocolate 'large canoe', vertical pair, error imperforate between, SG6a

It is in very fine condition with original gum and very fresh colour. There is some minor gum soaking on top of the perforations, which does not detract from the premium quality.

This vertical pair with the error of having no perforations between the stamps is a major rarity from the British Solomon Islands.

The stamps issued in 1907 were the first “large canoe” stamps and are considered one of the most interesting areas in all philately, often the subject of specialist collections.

The design of the stamp is interesting as it depicts a war canoe called a “tomoko” used by warriors on headhunting expeditions. The palm trees on either side are Coconut palms, which was a major trade commodity at that time for the British Empire.

This error is extremely scarce, particularly in this quality and most examples known have serious condition issues.

It is such a major rarity, the last time it was seen on the market was when it sold at a Robson Lowe auction in February 1973.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £7,000.

This major rarity is yours today for the price of £5,500 (new price will be £5,950).


The Ruler of the Empire

Ironically, whilst the market for British Commonwealth stamps is evidently thriving, there is one exception…

The ruler of the Empire, Great Britain, presents an anomalous situation. 

It may be one of those buying moments of opportunity many will kick themselves for missing out on.

The prices for Queen Elizabeth II stamp errors, despite many years of high levels of growth, have fallen back considerably.

However, the SG catalogue editor states in his preface:

“…the market for Great Britain appears strong, no doubt fuelled by demand from new and returning collectors, so their effect on prices may be waiting to be seen.”

As the catalogue editor of the stamp “bible” has his nose to the ground, perhaps more than anyone else in the market, this sounds very encouraging indeed.

In that vein, my last recommendation looks a compelling acquisition at this price…

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Great Britain 1991 22p Ninth World Congress of Roses, SG1568b.The error shows the black printed double, which affects the value, inscription and the rose.

It is superb quality, unmounted mint with full original gum and is a stunning example of this extremely rare and visual variety.

The stamp is accompanied with a copy of a Royal Philatelic Society (RPS) Certificate of a block of four from which this single was taken.

The previous SG catalogue value was £7,000, which has been marked down to a price of £3,000 in the latest edition.

This price seems out of touch with the market demand and the general vibrancy in the market and looks exceptional value.


Last Chance Before Price Changes

You can of course purchase any of the above featured stamps directly from our website.

Alternatively, you can email me today at to place your order or call us on +44(0)1534 639998.

Prices will be reviewed over the coming week in line with market values. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Mike Hall 

PSBuild your own Empire

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