Stamp catalog

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A stamp catalog records, rates, numbers and describes all stamps issued in a particular country or in several areas.

Historical development

Cover of the first Scott catalog from 1868

The first stamp catalogs were created in 1861. In France , the Strasbourg bookseller Oscar Berger-Levrault published a stamp and postal stationery directory on September 17, 1861 under the title Description of the stamps known up to now . This first stamp catalog in the world had no illustrations, but recorded 973 postage stamps in the world that had been published by then and were known to the bookseller. Berger-Levrault's stamp catalog was not intended for the public and was only produced in an edition of 40 to 50 for his circle of friends. One copy has been in the possession of the British Museum in London since 2012 .

The French state official Alfred Potiquet came into possession of a stamp catalog from Berger-Levrault and revised it. Potiquet added missing stamp issues and pictures, thereby improving Berger-Levrault's catalog. This revised version was published in Paris in December 1861 as the catalog des timbres-poste crées dans les divers états du globe. It contained 1080 postage stamps and 132 postal stationery .

In 1862 several other catalogs appeared, including in England and Belgium . One of the first illustrated catalogs dates from April 1862: The Englishman Frederick W. Booty showed 200 illustrations as simple lithographs . The zoologist John Edward Gray also published a Hand Catalog of Postage Stamps in 1862 . Similar to Berger-Levrault, this was a list of all postage stamps in the world without images. In the further course of the 1860s, it was rapidly distributed and numerous new catalogs were issued.

By the end of the 19th century, it was no longer possible to catalog all the world's postage stamps in a single work: there was a division into several collection areas, which were often again divided into individual volumes. This enabled publishers to specialize in one or more countries and to catalog them more precisely. The first special catalogs were created .

In addition to traditional printed matter, electronic (CD-ROM) and online catalogs have also existed since the end of the 20th century, most of which are offered for a fee. In the sense of Web 2.0 , various portals are also trying to establish themselves as free online catalogs.

Types of postage stamp catalogs

Many publishers of stamp catalogs publish both youth, standard and specialty catalogs. Some publishers, such as Scott, Stanley Gibbons, Yvert-et-Tellier or Schwaneberger (Michel), publish standard catalogs around the world.

Standard catalog

A standard catalog is a stamp catalog that lists and evaluates the stamps of individual (or several) countries in a simplified form sorted by date of issue. It gives the national collector and the philatelic beginner a useful first overview of his collecting area. Many peculiarities and varieties of the stamp issues are hardly mentioned - this is reserved for the special catalogs. Due to the simplification and wider distribution, standard catalogs are usually offered more cheaply than the much more extensive special catalogs. A cheaper type of the standard catalog is the much more simplified youth catalog .

Special catalog

In contrast to the standard catalog, a special catalog deals much more intensively with the stamp issues of a certain collection area. Here, particular consideration will varieties , print defects , color differences , retouching , type differences and the like taken. Due to the resulting large volume of such catalogs, individual collection areas are subdivided (often by time).

Special catalogs do not only deal with postage stamp issues of individual countries: There are also catalogs for the postmarks of a certain area or other special areas, such as airmail, zeppelin mail or machine stamps .

Special catalogs are not offered by all publishers and (in contrast to the version of the standard catalog) mostly only for a small number of popular collecting areas. Particularly detailed special catalogs with extensive background information are called philatelic manuals .

Motif catalog

The motif catalog lists all postage stamps with a specific motif or on a topic, for example railways , birds , sports or insects . Such catalogs also include other philatelic objects, such as stamps or postal stationery with the respective motifs.

The structure of a stamp catalog

In postage stamp catalogs, all the postage stamps issued by a state or region are listed and numbered in chronological order. Many catalog creators use their own, sometimes very complex numbering systems for this purpose. The stamps are mostly depicted and (depending on the detail of the catalog) in certain levels of preservation (mint, folded, canceled, first day canceled, deliberately canceled, on letter, on letter) according to catalog prices. With some stamps there is an additional classification according to other possible differences such as color nuance, type of paper, perforation, watermark, type of separation, printing or plate defects.

Prices in catalogs

For most postage stamp catalogs, the prices quoted are an estimate of the maximum price a postage will cost when purchased in retail. The average selling or buying prices are - depending on the popularity and characteristics of the collecting area and its trade - often well below the prices stated in the stamp catalog. This has led to criticism of the catalog prices, which are perceived as remote from the market, and thus to doubts about the usefulness of the catalogs in general. In contrast, so-called net catalogs try to give prices that are as real as possible without a trading margin.

The preservation of the stamps, for example the quality of the centering, the completeness and originality of the gumming in the case of mint never hinged stamps and the quality, position and type of the stamp in the case of stamped stamps, influences the real retail prices. In any case, using the catalog value is not suitable for evaluating special cancellations, such as requirement stamps from smaller Berlin post offices in the Berlin collection area, since this usually only evaluates the stamp as canceled in general. Some stamp catalogs, especially philatelic manuals, therefore do not give a direct price rating. They sometimes use a point system with which the rarity of different collectibles can be compared with each other.

There is currently no transparency in any catalog as to the system according to which prices are set.

Effects of the quotation

The indication of prices also has an impact on collecting behavior and availability on the market. For example, the higher valuation of specially canceled blocks led to the reaction of collectors to buy specially canceled blocks at the post office counters, so that blocks from younger decades that are canceled with the day are less common today than those with special cancellations.

The sometimes high price catalog valuation of older stamps and miniature sheets, especially in mint condition, is often out of proportion to the wide range of these goods. On the other hand, certain, neatly canceled stamps are often rarely found; Here, a catalog price that is set too low prevents an offer on the market, since potential buyers can be deterred by the real retail price, which can be several times the catalog price.

List of stamp catalogs and catalog publishers

German-language stamp catalogs

English language stamp catalogs

French language stamp catalogs

Italian language stamp catalogs

Postage stamp catalogs in other languages


  • Peter Fischer: net catalog. In: Deutsche Briefmarken-Zeitung / Collector Express (DBZ / se) issue no. 26/2008; from the article series / category: Basic Knowledge - Philately from A to Z
  • Wolfgang Maassen : From first albums and catalogs to world-class publishers , publisher: Phil Creativ, Schwalmtal 2010, ISBN 978-3-932198-87-8

Web links

Commons : Stamp catalogs  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Wolfgang Maassen : The first philatelic literature appeared 150 years ago. In: philatelie - the magazine of the Association of German Philatelists. Issue No. 416, February 2012, pp. 42–45.
  2. a b Wolfgang Maassen: Philately and associations in the 19th century. Publisher: Phil Creativ, Schwalmtal 2006, ISBN 978-3-932198-69-4 , p. 178 f.
  3. a b c d Wolfgang Maassen: Philately and associations in the 19th century. Publisher: Phil Creativ, Schwalmtal 2006, ISBN 978-3-932198-69-4 , pp. 179-181.
  4. ^ Wolfgang Maassen: Philately and associations in the 19th century. Publisher: Phil Creativ, Schwalmtal 2006, ISBN 978-3-932198-69-4 , p. 183 ff.
  5. ^ Wolfgang Maassen: Philately and associations in the 19th century. Publisher: Phil Creativ, Schwalmtal 2006, ISBN 978-3-932198-69-4 , pp. 191-193.
  6. Wolfram Grallert: Lexikon der Philatelie , 2nd edition, Phil * Creativ GmbH, Schwalmtal 2007, ISBN 3-932198-38-7 , p. 372
  7. Wolfram Grallert: Lexikon der Philatelie , 2nd edition, Phil * Creativ GmbH, Schwalmtal 2007, ISBN 3-932198-38-7 , p. 252
  9. The term net catalog. At, accessed on December 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Stamp catalog DNK "Germany since 1849", edition 2019. Verlag Leuchtturm, December 1, 2018, ISBN 978-3-947701-05-6 . From, accessed on December 30, 2018.