A stamp catalogue is a primary guide to the identification of a stamp, its year of issue, its subject and its value.
Values given in a stamp catalogue for a stamp in unused (mint) condition, and used, are prices accorded to the stamp by the catalogue publisher. It follows that these prices are viewed as a guide rather than a sales price, moreover many lower prices reflect a handling fee rather than a ‘value’.
Collectors say a general rule of thumb is to work around 30 per cent of catalogue value when buying, unless the item is really elusive and sought after.
The standard catalogues for the British Commonwealth realm and the United Kingdom are published by Stanley Gibbons Publications, which in 2011 published the first edition of its regional Southern and Central Africa catalogue. This provides comprehensive coverage of the region, including Moçambique since joining the Commonwealth in 1996, but excludes German South West Africa.
Stanley Gibbons periodically publishes a British Commonwealth Catalogue with stamps issued up to 1970. More recent stamps are listed in regional catalogues.
The South Africa Stamp Colour Catalogue is generally used in South Africa and has seen over 30 editions, covering South and South West Africa and their philatelic forerunners.
The major catalogue in the United States is Scott. In Germany it is Michel, France Yvert & Tellier, Switzerland Zumstein, Italy Bolaffi, etc.
A number of catalogues or parts thereof are available on internet.