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Monday Morning Brief | For sale: 160 years of philatelic tradition

June 19, 2017 08:30 AM

On June 12, Stanley Gibbons, the storied British stamp dealer and auction house, announced the firm was open to receiving takeover bids from “any interest party.” Linn’s managing editor Chad Snee reviews this startling development, and reminds collectors about the innovative Total Solar Eclipse stamp and its real astronomical counterpart occurring later this summer.

Full Video Transcript:

Greetings fellow stamp enthusiasts! Welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for June 19.

One of the hobby’s most storied institutions, Stanley Gibbons, is up for sale.

Matthew Healey, Linn’s New York Correspondent, filed a report June 15 on Linns.com announcing that the “venerable British stamp firm has confirmed that it is open to takeover offers from ‘any interested party’ as part of restructuring efforts begun last year.”

For more than 160 years, Stanley Gibbons has been one of the most recognizable philatelic brands around the world. Royal Mail enhanced that awareness in 1982, when it issued a prestige stamp booklet titled “Story of Stanley Gibbons.”

In recent years, though, Stanley Gibbons has fallen on rather challenging financial times. The firm reported a pretax loss of £29 million against sales of £59 million for the financial year that closed March 31, 2016.

In addition to dealing in stamps, Stanley Gibbons produces a line of albums and other products, numerous stamp catalogs, and Gibbons Stamp Monthly, a respected monthly philatelic magazine.

More controversially, perhaps, the firm also actively touts investing in stamps through its professionally managed indexes that track the values of rare British and worldwide stamps.

According to the Stanley Gibbons Investment website, the firm’s GB250 Stamp Index consists of a “selection of the top, traded 250 Great Britain stamps over the last 14 years,” while the GB30 Rarities Index has tracked the “performance of the top 30 British investment-grade stamps over the last 62 years.”

Do you have the financial wherewithal to take on one of the legendary brands in philately? If so, Healey reports “proposals will be accepted throughout the summer and may be made in secret.”

Turning to matters astronomical, tomorrow, June 20, marks the official first day of the United States Postal Service’s Total Solar Eclipse stamp.

The innovative stamp, printed with thermochromic ink, debuts two months before an actual total solar eclipse that will be visible in a narrow band across the United States Aug. 21.

As Linn’s associate editor Michael Baadke reported in our June 12 issue, “When the thermochromic element is warmed slightly, by a human hand lightly rubbing the design, for example, an image of the moon will appear. It will revert to blackness once the stamp cools.”

Both images on the stamp, the eclipse and the thermochromically revealed moon, are courtesy of astrophysicist Fred Espenak, who is affectionately known as “Mr. Eclipse.”

For Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott catalogs, I’m Chad Snee. Have a great week enjoying our wonderful hobby. Cheers!