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A DOCUMENTATION OF THE STANLEY GIBBONS PROMOTION AND SALES OF 1981 ROYAL WEDDING STAMPS, VARIETIES AND ERRORS

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Cover of Sales Pamphlet

In 1981 the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana took place in the United Kingdom. It is known now as one of the most famous Royal Weddings in the history of Great Britain. In the stamp world almost every country in the world had stamps produced to celebrate the occasion. There were several omnibus issues produced in which many British Commonwealth countries were involved in. The most famous being the "Loving and Yacht Stamps" issue and the common design issues.

During the course of the years 1981 and 1985 after the initial release of the stamp issues, many were overprinted for various reasons and celebrations. Some were overprinted for "official" usage in 1982-3. Some were overprinted for currency changes. Some were overprinted for the Tonga Cyclone Relief fund in 1982. Some were overprinted for the Caribbean Royal Visit in 1985. All of these varieties produced a huge collection that thousands of collectors then and now try to complete.

The original stamp issues were created and produced through the Crown Agents Stamp Company, I.G.P.C. and Philatelists Ltd.. Several printing companies were involved in the production but the most prominent was The House of Questa. The "Loving and Yacht Stamp" issue and the common design were dominated by them. What is not known by most is that they were massively produced by the House of Questa under the philatelic agents orders to do so. I am talking in the millions for each country involved. An example is little Montserrat with a population of 12,900 people at the time. Now what was Montserrat going to do with millions of a single stamp issue?

I document the proof that this is fact on my page on the ties between The House of Questa and the Format Printers. A fascinating read that will change your views on stamps forever as this page will change your views on the 1981 Royal Wedding issues. Based on the evidence that is now available certain issues like the 1981 Royal Wedding issues are shown to break just about every rule the major catalogs use for allowing a stamp or stamp variety or error to be listed. Just like the Tuvalu Islands and the Saint Vincent dependencies which have been placed into "addendums" in Stanley Gibbons catalogs, these issues and even some of the countries involved should be placed in "addendums" as well if Stanley Gibbons were to follow their own guidelines. It is therefore unfair and biased and the use of selective favoring of one country over another for financial gain is shown to be true in regards to how Stanley Gibbons has listed stamp issues.

Mathematically speaking you can take the population of Montserrat and divide it into the number of issues produced and then do the same with basically any Tuvalu island and any Leaders of the World issue and you will see that the ratio of stamps per person is much greater with the 1981 Royal Wedding issues. Therefore, to be fair in all regards, Stanley Gibbons must either list the island issues with numbers as Scott Catalog has already done or delist and/or put into an "addendum" all the 1981 Royal Wedding issues and probably some of the countries involved as well.

The reason it Won't Happen

Possible reasons are pride and ego. Possibly because of dealer influence which is the basis of listings in the first place. But the most prominent reason I can see in my view is....guilt. Guilt because Stanley Gibbons knowingly sold thousands upon thousands of these issues including varieties and "errors" to unsuspecting collectors for overinflated prices...for years. There is no way they did not know the massive quantities that were produced. There is no way they did not know that varieties and "errors" were purposely made on a massive scale with intent to sell to collectors for high costs. The Crown Agents Stamp Company, I.G.P.C. and Philatelists Ltd. were all tied "hand in glove" so to speak with Stanley Gibbons. And of course the Crown Agents, I.G.P.C. and Philatelists Ltd. were completely tied with the House of Questa. A company that claimed they had 20 inspectors that would not let a "fly speck" get by.

The Proof

In my research on the Format Printers, naturally The House of Questa became involved. Both companies were used by The above named philatelic agents and as most of you know Stanley Gibbons was highly involved with them. Stanley Gibbons was running a program at the time called:

Stanley Gibbons Promotions

The program was, you guessed it, to promote stamp issues as investments for collectors and investors to buy. Stanley Gibbons used the program to lure in collectors and non-collectors to buy these stamps under the pretext that they would gain in value. Members were sent selections of stamps monthly and they were paying in the range of £20 to £40's for each selection. The following images are proof that they indeed did this knowing the stamps would never increase but would rather in many cases decrease in value over time and especially when the truth would be found out which it inevitably will as evidence of actual quantities produced would be found out. Items they claimed to be rarities are now being proven to be "common" and some have been masssively produced of which unopened printers packs of them are now appearing on the market. Printers packs contain thousands of a value or set. Anywhere from 3-5,000 sets. So when there exists printers packs that are unopened containing, for example, 5,000 sets with inverted watermarks, it kind of devalues these varieties that are being cataloged at £5 to £10's each would you not agree?

Montserrat 1981 Royal Wedding Unopened Stamp Packs Direct from The House of Questa

Would you not also agree that considering they are still in unopened packs direct from the printer that the printer knowingly created them in the first place? The answer is obvious.

In my research I came across a dealer who was selling several bulk lots of 1981 Royal Wedding issues (including the album for normal issues). What got my attention was that they were never opened and still attached to the invoices and receipts by none other than Stanley Gibbons Promotions.
I bought them all and with them I can now give a clearer record of how the promotions were sold to collectors, the overinflated prices charged, and how Stanley Gibbons indeed sold many varieties and "errors" at high prices that have dramatically dropped in value in their own catalogs! Now how ethical is that?

Here is a text document list I made comparing the offers in the above imaged pamphlet and prices listed in Stanley Gibbons Specialized catalogs from 2007. You will see that prices have either dramatically dropped or are still equal to save face. It is quite shocking. Just click on this link below.

Price Comparison of Stanley Gibbons Promotions 1981 Royal Wedding Variety and Error Pamphlet

Let's go!

Some are missing but the majority for a time period between 1981-1985 are there. I will show an image of the invoice and then images of the stamps. After each I will note values from Stanley Gibbons own specialized catalogs (around 2007) and in some cases the Scott Catalog values.

You will note that all are listed and even though some are quite commonly available on the market the catalog values remain high. This is why I believe guilt plays a role in their valuation. Hundreds if not thousands were sold to collectors all over the world over the years based on the listed prices and thus if the prices dropped dramatically (which they should) or they got delisted, it will prove that a major dealer in stamps did indeed knowingly promote and sell these issues along with "made for collector" varieties and "errors" at overinflated prices.

I note that if you look at Stanley Gibbons items for sale on Bidstart and, well anywhere you will find virtually nothing related to the 1981 Royal Wedding stamps. Now why is that? My personal opinion is they are trying to disassociate themselves from the whole thing. The reason being it is a tarnishment on their reputation which is an absolute fact.

I would like to show them all but indeed it would make this page a mile long so I will selectively choose some in a few groups. You then will get the idea.

All of the groups purchased were by a single collector of Royal Wedding memorabilia. Her name was Ms. Elizabeth S. Niemyer. Her estate was sold a few years ago and the dealer I purchased them from had purchased around 6 boxes from the estate. According to dates on the invoices she purchased this material over the years 1981 through 1985.

In going through the material I wrote on the glassines and various forms of containment the Stanley gibbons numbers and value given in their specialized catalogs. Some I could not find listed, I don't own every single catalog, and gave them a Scott Catalog number with an "x" for variety.
So lets see some!

This one is invoiced as XE-03 dated October 16, 1981.
It contains Anguilla SG# 468ab valued at £7. It is the "error" of double print of the black color and is the booklet pane of 4 stamps. The "error" is common.
It contains Dominica SG# 747a-749a valued together at less than £1. They are perf 12 instead of perf 14.
Finally it contains Montserrat SG# 512aw, the $3 "Yacht Stamp" valued at £5.5. The inverted watermark variety.
Total value based on 2007 catalogs.....£13.5.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £37.31 for this!!

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-03
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-03

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-03
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-03

Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order XE-04
Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order XE-04

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-03 Stamps
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-03 Stamps

A bit much for these yes? The Montserrat and Dominica stamps printed by none other than The House of Questa. The Montserrat issue as shown by the packs imaged above was massively produced.

This one is invoiced as XE-04 dated November 27, 1981.
It contains Barbuda SG# 573a valued at £25. It is the "error" of double overprint.
It also contains Montserrat SG# 514aw, the $4 "Yacht Stamp" valued at £8. The inverted watermark variety.
Total value based on 2007 catalogs.....£33.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £29.80 for this!! Must have been a deal!

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-04
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-04

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-04
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-04

Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order XE-05
Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order XE-05

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-04 Stamps
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-04 Stamps

The Montserrat and Barbuda stamps printed by none other than The House of Questa. According to one ad at the time the catalog value was £75 for the Barbuda double overprint. Singles and blocks were offered at less than half the catalog value by SG. So you can see with the big drop in catalog value now that the "investment" was not so good after all.

This one is invoiced as XE-05 dated January 15, 1982.
The description and promotion slip were missing. You can tell from the previous one what is here.
It contains Anguilla SG# 469ab valued at £7. It is the "error" of double print of the black color and is the booklet pane of 4 stamps. The "error" is common.
it contains Montserrat SG# 513aw, the $3 "Loving Stamp" valued at £20. The inverted watermark variety.
It also contains Saint Helena SG# 379w valued at £2.25. The inverted watermark variety.
Total value based on 2007 catalogs.....£29.25.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £39.61 for this!!

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-05
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions XE-05

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-05 Stamps
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice XE-05 Stamps

The Montserrat and Saint Helena stamps printed by none other than The House of Questa. Knowing now how the inverted watermark issues for Montserrat and others were so massively produced the maintaining of the these higher catalog values is really not ethical. Thus we can see poor Ms. Niemyer was ripped off! Along with hundreds of other collectors.

So let us move a bit further up on her purchases. The XE numbers were for early varieties and errors. The following MU numbers were for normal issues and normal overprint issues. Supposedly many are very rare. Let's see what some are!

This one is invoiced as MU-13 dated July 14, 1982.
The promotion slip was missing.
It contains all the souvenir sheets for the "Loving" stamp series valued at £8.20 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs.
It also contains all the booklet panes of the "Loving" stamp series valued at £20.30 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs.
Total value based on 2007 catalogs.....£28.50. Scott 2005 Catalogs valued the total group at $40.05.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £30.01 for this in 1982! Not a very good "investment" I would say.

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-13
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-13

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-13
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-13

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice MU-13 Stamps
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice MU-13 Stamps

This one is invoiced as MU-14 dated August 4, 1982.
The single stamps were missing but the souvenir sheets were there.
The stamps that were missing are Kenya SG# 207-10 valued at £.70 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs.
Barbuda SG# 572-4 valued at £1.10 in 2007
Caicos SC# 8-10 valued at $4.70 in 2005
Cocos Island SC# 73-4 valued at $1.25 in 2005
The souvenir sheets that were there and are imaged are:
Barbuda SG# MS575 valued at £.90 in 2007
Caicos SC# 11 valued at $17.50 in 2005
Lesotho SG# 337A the imperforate variety valued at £25.00 in 2007
Guernsey SC# 226a valued at $3.00 in 2005
Total value based on the catalogs around.....£45.00.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £35.62 for this in 1982. Looking at the higher valued items, namely the Lesotho and the Caicos souvenir sheets I found the Lesotho sheet quite common as imperforate and not selling at even $6.00! Limited yes but apparently to say 5-10,000! I did find one sale of this souvenir sheet on eBay for $3.00!
For the Caicos sheet there were two printings. One is the London printing with small letter overprints and the New York printing with all capital letter overprints. For years these were valued highly until it was discovered that large quantities were produced. Thus the $17.50 value in Scott catalog in 2005 for the small letter overprint. The one in this group has the all capital letter overprint and according to Scott catalog at the time was worth five times the $17.50 value!! So now...either set including the singles and the souvenir sheet are not even selling at a few dollars!
Looks like this group went belly up also!

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-14
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-14

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-14
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions MU-14

Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order MU-15
Stanley Gibbons Promotions for Next Order MU-15

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice MU-14 Stamps
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice MU-14 Stamps

This one is invoiced as MU-15 dated August 13, 1982.
The format was changed at this point with the invoice, description of contents and the "promotion" all on one big slip. The number system changed to RWMU.
This invoice contains Aitutaki SG# 394-6 valued at £1.60 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs. Valued at $2.50 in Scott 2005 Catalog. I would not consider them "scarce" at all!
Ghana SG# MS951 souvenir sheet noted as imperforate and valued at £6.00 in 2007.
Jamaica SC# 503a valued at $1.00 in 2005 catalog.
Tuvalu SG# 187a the sheetlet with Tonga Cyclone Relief overprint valued at £.90 in 2007! So common an issue I just got a lot on eBay from a seller of 100 singles MNH for $1.00!
Total value based on the catalogs around.....£9.00.

Ms. Niemeyer paid £38.83 for this in 1982! A prime example of a complete rip-off by a trusted stamp vendor. All issues other than the Aitutaki issue, which I have quite a stock of information on that countries printing habits namely by Fournier, printed by none other than The House of Questa.

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWMU-15
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWMU-15

Invoice Description and Promotion for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWMU-15
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWMU-15

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWMU-15 Stamps (Part A)
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWMU-15 Stamps Part A

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWMU-15 Stamps (Part B)
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWMU-15 Stamps Part B

So here we have seen that even "investing" in the normal issues that were promoted by this company an investor, collector or dealer would indeed have lost a majority of their investment over the years. Of course at the time there was really no way for a person to research the validity of many of the statements made as to scarcity, rarity and such of a given issue. The problem here as with so many large stamp companies is that they knowingly use the terms to lure people into giving them their money even though through their network of connections they know that the stamps in the majority of cases will never increase in the investment potential they tend to advertise at.
It is therefore of the utmost importance for a smart investor or collector to research into the history and background of the company that they are dealing with before giving them money. I have found in most cases that buying newly issued stamps promoted by these large dealers ends up in a loss. Without full documentation and disclosure straight from the country of issue and from the printer proving quantities produced and proving the plates are destroyed for limited editions, investing in modern issues at higher than face value because someone "says" they are going to become more valuable is simply not a good investment technique.

This page is a primary example of why you need to be very careful when intending to invest for future gains in the stamp market.

Now I will show you three more examples from this company a bit farther in the future. In a way it is quite humorous to me because of the proven massive quantities of this issue that were produced by The House of Questa for this little country. The proven fact that these overprint "errors" indeed were produced for collectors in large quantities ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 or more. The statements made about The House of Questa's quality control system, namely that they used twenty inspectors that would not allow even a flyspeck error to get through cannot be believed because the evidence which are the stamps themselves proves the statements to be lies.

The little countries name is Montserrat. They had a population at the time of around 12,900 according to the censuses at the time. You can view my page on the ties between the House of Questa and The Format Printers to view the proof that my statements are truth and not fiction.

This one is invoiced as RWXE-17 dated June 26, 1984.
This invoice contains Montserrat SG# 584f valued at £5.50 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs. I would not consider it a major "error" at all considering a ton of them exist!
It is a "made for collector error" unless you can prove that thousands got by the inspectors without even one noticing it.
Ms. Niemeyer paid £19.11 for this in 1984! Another prime example of a complete rip-off by a trusted stamp vendor. Today as I look on the market I see some sellers trying to sell it at $30.00! No sales. I see one seller offering it on eBay at $1.32. Wonder if it will sell....
Ahhh...it sold for $2.48 with three bids! Quite a good investment yes?

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-17
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-17

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-17
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-17

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-17 Stamp
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-17 Stamp

This one is invoiced as RWXE-18 dated August 2, 1984.
This invoice contains Montserrat SG# O58aw valued at £32.00 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs.
Ms. Niemeyer paid £28.89 for this in 1984. Today as I look on the market I see a couple sellers trying to sell it at $24.00 range. No sales for a month!

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-18
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-18

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-18
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-18

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-18 Stamp
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-18 Stamp

This one is invoiced as RWXE-19 dated August 28, 1984.
This invoice contains Montserrat SG# O56aw valued at £30.00 in 2007 Specialized SG Catalogs.
Ms. Niemeyer paid £30.84 for this in 1984. Today as I look on the market I see a couple sellers trying to sell it at $24.00 range. No sales and now it looks like they....gave up. As you can see the price paid is not a good investment.

Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-19
Invoice for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-19

Invoice Description for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-19
Invoice Description of Contents for Stanley Gibbons Promotions RWXE-19

Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-19 Stamp
Stanley Gibbons Promotions Invoice RWXE-19 Stamp

There are many more of these I got in the collection but as I said earlier it would make this page a mile long. Hopefully investors, collectors young and old and even dealers will see this page and at least be a little more careful when placing money on stamps. Especially being more aware of promotional programs like this one. I am sorry to say that Ms. Niemeyer's collection of these was purchased at pennies on the dollar. For around $50.00 I acquired what she spent over £1,000's for!

Large stamp companies did not get so large because they sell stamps that are going to make you a lot of money. They are in the business to make themselves a lot of money and will advertise and use any means they can in a legal sense even though unethical, to convince you that you are getting an incredible deal when in fact....you only will become one of the thousands that have been duped into their selling scheme.

Don't get ripped off!! Do the research!! If there is no information on it then don't buy it!

Your friend and fellow collector and researcher,
JLowe RETURN TO TOPRETURN TO TOP

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UPDATED LAST ON: 22-Nov-2015 12:06 PM