World Stamps

By William F. Sharpe

Perusing the online Crawford philatelic library

September 14, 2016 05:00 PM

  • Home page of the Global Philatelic Library. To search the library compiled by James Ludovic Lindsay, the 26th Earl of Crawford (1847-1913), click on the British Library logo in the center of the page.
  • The contents page of the Crawford philatelic library.
  • The search window for the Crawford philatelic library.
  • The first page of the United States section of the 1877 Scott catalog, from a PDF from the digitized Crawford philatelic library.

By William F. Sharpe

Linn’s reported on May 4 that the contents of the Crawford philatelic library would be available online. 

Those interested can now search the library. Click on the red British Library logo in the middle of the Global Philatelic Library home page to reach the search page. 

You also can find links to the Royal Philatelic Society London Library, the Philatelic Union Catalog hosted by the American Philatelic Research Library, and the Smithsonian Library by clicking on the boxes on the left side of the page.

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Clicking on the word “Libraries” at the top of the home page takes you to a page listing 27 different libraries with a brief description of the contents of each.

To get an idea of what’s available, you might want to download the full Crawford philatelic library index or separate parts of the index.

Note that the library covers only the years from 1861 to 1913. Click on the underlined “Click here” link to the right of the red library logo on the home page for more information about what is in this library.

From this link, you can read or download the entire catalog or various sections. I suggest that you also click on the middle document shown on the right side to view David Beech’s 2016 supplement to the London Philatelist describing the catalog. 

Pages 17 and 18 of Beech’s supplement provide important information on how to use the search feature to find items of interest. 

This supplement is also worth reading for its biographic information about James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847-1913), and Beech’s efforts at conservation of the original documents.

The full index PDF (Portable Document File) is 42 megabytes, which will result in a long download time for anyone with slower download speeds. Many of the PDF documents in the Crawford philatelic library also are large.

My search for “American Philatelist” using the journal filter on the search page gave me 13 PDFs ranging in size from one to 1,036 pages. 

I downloaded the first result, 24 pages comprising the first three issues of the American Philatelist magazine. 

I was also able to find Stanley Gibbons catalogs from 1877 through 1913. Earlier catalogs were listed in the search results, but no PDFs were available.

Scott catalogs from 1877 to 1912 were available. The first page of United States stamp listings from the 1877 catalog is shown nearby. 

The 1877 catalog included 140 pages, and the price was 25¢. Note that the minimum value for stamps on this page was 25¢. By the 1912 edition, the catalog had grown to 1,048 pages.

The Crawford philatelic library is a work in progress; not all of the holdings have been digitized yet. 

For example, the search results for Scott catalogs indicated that the 1907 through 1912 PDFs were in progress when I visited the site in August.

Anyone interested in older philatelic literary information will find that the Crawford philatelic library provides a wealth of information. The links to other libraries on the Global Philatelic Library will include more recent documents.