Edward Stanley Gibbons

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Stanley Gibbons, the founder of the Gibbons catalogue and stamp dealers of the same name. Edward Stanley Gibbons.jpg
Stanley Gibbons, the founder of the Gibbons catalogue and stamp dealers of the same name.

Edward Stanley Gibbons (21 June 1840 17 February 1913) [1] was an English stamp dealer and founder of Stanley Gibbons Ltd, publishers of the famous Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogue and other stamp-related books and magazines.

Stamp dealer profession

A stamp dealer is a company or an individual who deals in stamps and philatelic products. It also includes individuals who sell postage stamps for day to day use or revenue stamps for use on court documents. Stamp dealers who sell to stamp collectors and philatelists are of many kinds and their businesses range from small home operations to large international companies.

Stanley Gibbons company which specialises in the retailing of collectable postage stamps and similar products

The Stanley Gibbons Group plc is a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange and which specialises in the retailing of collectable postage stamps and similar products. The group is incorporated in London. The company is a major stamp dealer and philatelic publisher. The company's philatelic subsidiary, Stanley Gibbons Limited, has a royal warrant of appointment from Queen Elizabeth II.


Early life

Edward Stanley Gibbons was born at his father William Gibbons' chemist shop at 15 Treville Street, Plymouth on 21 June 1840, [1] in the same year that the United Kingdom issued the Penny Black, which was the world's first postage stamp. Edward’s interest in postage stamps began whilst at Halloran’s Collegiate School. Gibbons, who was a member of The Plymouth Institution (now The Plymouth Athenaeum), [2] owned a book containing stamps for exchange. Some of these stamps included the Western Australia 1d. black and a 1d. "Sydney View" of New South Wales.

Chemist scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

Plymouth City and Unitary authority in England

Plymouth is a port city situated on the south coast of Devon, England, approximately 37 miles (60 km) south-west of Exeter and 190 miles (310 km) west-south-west of London. Enclosing the city are the mouths of the river Plym and river Tamar, which are naturally incorporated into Plymouth Sound to form a boundary with Cornwall.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Edward left school at the age of 15 and worked for a short while in the Naval Bank, Plymouth, before joining his father’s business after the death of his elder brother. William Gibbons encouraged his son's hobby and allowed him to set up a stamp desk in the chemist. [1]

Between 1861 and 1871 Gibbons was developing his own stamp business, although there is no evidence to suggest that he had advertised prices prior to 1864. In 1867, Edward’s father died and Edward took over the business. However, by this time he was heavily involved in stamp dealing and the pharmaceutical business his father had left him was sold. [1]

Stanley Gibbons & Co.

On 29 January 1872, Edward (also known as Stanley) married Matilda Woon. [3] Two years later, Gibbons decided to move to London to develop his stamp business and relocated to 25 The Chase, Clapham Common (South London). [1] He employed women to tear up sheets of stamps in the evening from this address. Neighbours became curious of the number of women entering the premises and reported it to the local Watch Committee, however they investigated and concluded that nothing unusual was happening there. [1]

Clapham Common urban park in Clapham, south London

Clapham Common is a large triangular urban park in Clapham, south London. Originally common land for the parishes of Battersea and Clapham, it was converted to parkland under the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act 1878. It is 220 acres of green space, with three ponds and a Victorian bandstand. It is overlooked by large Georgian and Victorian mansions and nearby Clapham Old Town.

Gibbons moved to Gower Street (London) in 1876. [1] Gibbon's first wife, Matilda, died on 11 August 1877 in Devon from a wasting disease, marasmus. [3] The Post Office Directory lists the main occupier of the Gower Street property as ‘Stanley Gibbons & Co publishers’ or ‘Stanley Gibbons & Co postage stamp dealers’. In 1887, Gibbons married his assistant and housemaid, Margaret Casey and in 1890, sold his business to Charles Phillips of Birmingham for £25,000 and retired. [1] [3] (It had first been offered to Theodor Buhl for £20,000. [4] ) In 1891, Phillips opened a shop at 435 The Strand, as well as keeping the office at 8 Gower Street.

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, which was formerly its common and official name, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.

Marasmus form of severe malnutrition characterized by energy deficiency

Marasmus is a form of severe malnutrition characterized by energy deficiency. It can occur in anyone with severe malnutrition but usually occurs in children. A child with marasmus looks emaciated. Body weight is reduced to less than 62% of the normal (expected) body weight for the age. Marasmus occurrence increases prior to age 1, whereas kwashiorkor occurrence increases after 18 months. It can be distinguished from kwashiorkor in that kwashiorkor is protein deficiency with adequate energy intake whereas marasmus is inadequate energy intake in all forms, including protein. This clear-cut separation of marasmus and kwashiorkor is however not always clinically evident as kwashiorkor is often seen in a context of insufficient caloric intake, and mixed clinical pictures, called marasmic kwashiorkor, are possible. Protein wasting in kwashiorkor generally leads to edema and ascites, while muscular wasting and loss of subcutaneous fat are the main clinical signs of marasmus.

Charles James Phillips of London, England, and New York City, was a philatelist highly regarded in both England where he started his philatelic career and in the United States, where he emigrated to in 1922.

In 1892, two years after he had retired from business, Stanley bought the property “Cambridge Villa” in Cambridge Park, East Twickenham. It was an impressive residence in a fashionable area of suburban London, near the banks of the Thames, alongside Marble Hill House (built by George II for one of his mistresses). Gibbons lived there until 1911. The house was demolished in 1960.

Overseas trips

During Gibbons' retirement he made numerous trips overseas, mostly for pleasure, but also for business, buying stamps for his old company. A scrapbook was discovered belonging to either him or someone close to him; it contained photographs and memorabilia. It related mostly to his travels. The scrapbook became divided, half of it is kept in the Society of Genealogists archive and the other half is in private hands.

In 1894, Gibbons witnessed the crash of the Orient Express at Tirnove in Bulgaria. A pencil drawing of the crash appears in his scrap book. A newspaper cutting headed "Honolulu, January" was also found in the scrapbook, referring to a resolution to burn stocks of obsolete Hawaiian stamps. Gibbons was present at the fire and described the experience as "sad". During this time, he was on his second world tour and was en route to Japan.

Margaret died on 23 November 1899 of cirrhosis [3] and a few years after her death, Gibbons was in Calcutta and Rangoon. The scrapbook contains a duplicate passport issued at Rangoon on December 1901 for a Mrs Gibbons, his third wife, Georgina. [3] In 1903, Gibbons was in Ceylon. The Society of Genealogists archive contains a newspaper article titled Reminiscences of a Stamp Collector - Mr Stanley Gibbons (sic) in Colombo. The cutting is not dated, but is presumably from 1903 as it refers to the recent issue of stamps with King Edward VII’s portrait.

When asked around this time if he still collected stamps, Gibbons replied that he had specialised collections in six countries, but rarely bought any stamps because they were too expensive. Further visits seem to have been made to Ceylon judging by the existence in the scrapbook of souvenirs for Colombo Empire Day Celebrations and Edward VII’s Birthday Celebration Dinner in Colombo (November 1906).


Grave of Gibbons in Twickenham Cemetery in 2014 Grave of Edward Stanley Gibbons in Twickenham Cemetery.JPG
Grave of Gibbons in Twickenham Cemetery in 2014

By 1905, Georgina Gibbons had died, and Stanley married again in October 1905. His fourth wife was Bertha Barth. [3] In 1908, Gibbons was back in Ceylon and in the archives there is a newspaper cutting headed "Death of Lady Visitor to Ceylon: Wife of famous collector". This refers to Bertha, who had died in the General Hospital there from cancer of the liver at 35 years old. [3]

Gibbons returned to England shortly after the death of his fourth wife. On 16 January 1909, he married Sophia Crofts. [3] However, it is possible that he and Sophia separated before his death in 1913 as his will makes no mention of her. Made in July 1912, from his address, ‘Selsey’, 63 Stanhope Road, Streatham, his estate is left to 'a dear friend', Mabel Hedgecoe. [3]

Gibbons' death was recorded on 17 February 1913 at his nephew's apartment at Portman Mansions, just off Baker Street, although it was rumoured he had died in the arms of a lover at the Savoy Hotel and was subsequently transported to his nephew's house. [3] His death certificate gives his occupation as "A retired Stamp Collector" and the cause was stated as "Coma, Haemorrhage of the Brain, secondary to Extensive Valvular Disease of the Heart with Atheroma of Endocardium and the Blood Vessels accelerated by enlarged prostate". He is buried in Twickenham cemetery. [1]

Gibbons' string of wives, all but one of whom died relatively young, his swift remarriages and his background in pharmacy has given rise to suspicions of ill-doing on his part, however there is no evidence for this. [3]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "The Story of Stanley Gibbons". Gibbons Stamp Monthly . Stanley Gibbons Ltd. July 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  2. "Historic People". Plymouth Athenaeum. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Stanley Gibbons". Inside Out - South West. www.bbc.co.uk. March 2, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  4. "2422. Western Australia Convict Stamps" by Brian J. Birch in The Bulletin, British Society of Australian Philately, Vol. 66, No. 5, October 2011, p. 103.