Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 21, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020




Edward Stanley Gibbons was born at 15 Treville Street, Plymouth, on June 21st 1840 and was baptised at Plymouth's Saint Andrew's Church on March 24th 1841.

His father, William Gibbons, was a chemist and druggist who had been born at Amesbury, in Wiltshire, while his mother, Elizabeth Gibbons, came from Portsea, Hampshire.  Young Edward already had two brothers and two sisters: Elizabeth was born in 1824, William in 1830, Alfred in 1832, Catherine, also known as Kate, in 1838.  Also a part of the household were Andrew Walk, a 15-years-old apprentice, and Jane Cuhn, a 20-years-old domestic servant.

After attending Halloran's Collegiate School in Plymouth, young Edward joined the Naval Bank as a junior clerk.  He was then 15 years of age and already owned a little book containing around twenty postage stamps, including the newly issued 1d Black Swan of Australia and 1d Sydney View.  No doubt it also contained the only two British postage stamps then available, the Penny Black and the Twopenny Blue.

Fate then took a hand in the story.  His older brother, William Gibbons, was naturally following in his father's footsteps by assisting him in the shop but he suddenly died in 1857  [5] and Edward was taken away from the Naval Bank to assist in the shop.  So keen must he have been about this hobby of stamp collecting that his father allowed him to use one of the counters from which to sell his stamps and the use of a side window in which to display them.  The official history of the business states that this happened in 1856, before brother William's death, so perhaps his father had already allowed this to happen even before he had left the Bank.

Within a couple of years the stamp business was moved into a room above the shop and a Miss Cumming was engaged as a clerk.  The business was then known as simply '"E S Gibbons".

Then, early one morning in 1863, two sailors walked into the shop and asked him if he was interested in buying used postage stamps.  They returned the next day with a kitbag full of triangular Cape-of-Good-Hope stamps that they had apparently won during a church bazaar.  He gave them five pounds, sorted the stamps and then sold them in packets of twelve.

He even enlisted the help of his other elder brother, Alfred, who by this time was a Commander in the Royal Navy, to bring back parcels of stamps from his travels.

In 1865, the year in which he published his first monthly price list, he changed the trading name from E S Gibbons to E Stanley Gibbons.  He even started to design stamp albums and other useful accessories for the ardent collector.  When his father died at the beginning of 1867, he sold the pharmacy business and concentrated on selling stamps.

Although he moved to larger premises at number 8 Lockyer Street in 1872 and changed the trading name yet again to Messrs Stanley Gibbons and Company.  However, Gibbons' association with Plymouth came to an end in 1874 when he moved to London.

The business continued to prosper but in 1890 Edward decided to retire in order to travel the world and visit all the places whose postage stamps he had been selling for the previous 34 years.  The firm was sold in July 1890 to Mr Charles James Phillips for 25,000, paid by means of 6% debentures in the new private limited company, Messrs Stanley Gibbons Limited.  Mr Edward Stanley Gibbons became the chairman; his brother, Mr Alfred F Gibbons became one of the directors; and Mr Charles James Phillips became the managing director.

In retirement, Stanley Gibbons circled the world three times, visited India six times and spent several months in the south of France, Algeria and Egypt.

Mr Edward Stanley Gibbons died at number 41 Portman Mansions, Baker Street, London, on February 17th 1913.  He was buried at Twickenham Cemetery, along with his second wife, formerly Miss Margaret Casey, who died in 1899 at the young age of 39.