For a stamp collector, a visit to London is never complete until you reach the 399, Strand - the Stanley Gibbons shop. Located in one of the high streets in London, Stanley Gibbons is one of the few stamps shops that remain in central London. As the world's biggest stamp shop, Stanley Gibbons is certainly the collector's paradise offering anything philatelic from the basic hinges material to rare stamps and collections.
Stanley Gibbons shop, famed for its comprehensive stamps catalogue especially for the British stamps and Commonwealth stamps, is not hard to find. From the famous Big Ben, you can walk pass the Trafalgar square towards the strand street. Ths may take a mere 10 minutes or so. Other alternative is to take the underground tube to Embankment or the Charing Cross which are very close to the shop.
Completely refurbished in 2010 providing a multi-level retail space, stamp collectors now enjoy a fully interactive service, with dedicated display areas, the world renowned specialist stamp counter, internet pod, and multi-purpose meeting room for the bi-annual public auctions and investment consultations. The display area places some of most interesting collections, divided into British section and the Commonwealth section.
On my visit, there are several materials from British Borneo being displayed such as the Brunei Japanese occupation stamp, a complete sheet of Labuan overprinted with 2 cents, Sabah stamps and some Sarawak stamps. There are also many stamps from the Malaya and states, and of course other British Commonwealth countries. Because many of the collections are sold for a high price (as usual), I didn't buy anything from the shop. Visiting the shop is like visiting a philatelic museum for British stamps and British Commonwealth. With a stock ammounting to more than 3 million stamps from mixed packets and kiloware, Stanley Gibbons is definetely a place to go for a serious stamp hunting.
There is also a team of dedicated staffs at the counter for specialist stamps collections. I didn't bother to ask them to show me the British Borneo collections as they were occupied with many enthusiastic serious collectors. I know I wouldn't buy any of the collections as they reach a multi thousand pound sterling. I would rather spend my little pocket money to go for a ride in London eye or to eat a nice buffet in the Chinatown, London. :)
Overall a visit to the shop is rewarding. Stanley Gibbons shop is like an institution for stamps, unlike many of the traditional stamps shops elsewhere. For serious stamp collectors, this is certainly the best place to be. You always get something from the shop. For me, I would rather go to a more less well known stamp shop, the one usually located at the back alley with floors literally flooded with boxes of stamps.
Next Feature: A Visit to Vatican Philatelic Museum!