How to Use a Stamp Catalog
The most common catalog used by stamp collectors in the United States is the Scott Catalogue. This is a series of catalogs covering the history of stamps in the entire world.
Volume I contains United States issues. The other volumes cover the rest of the world, in alphabetical order. The catalog can usually be found in your local library so there is not need to buy one until you are at the stage where you have a lot of stamps and do not want to bother using the library copy.
There are catalogs printed that cover every country of the world. You can AskPhil for the name and address of the catalog in your country. Some of the most popular ones are Michel, Germany; Stanley Gibbons, Great Britain; and, Yvert et Tellier, France.
The catalog pictures all the stamps so you can usually find the ones in your collection by checking first the country name and then the denomination or value on the stamp. Then look among that group of stamp denominations for your stamp. Sometimes a country makes it easy by putting the year the stamp was issued right on the stamp.
Catalog value is NOT what a dealer would pay to buy the stamp from you. The catalog gives a price for each stamp in mint, or unused condition, and also used. These prices are only a general outline of what someone might pay when purchasing the stamp. Scott immediately increases the face value of a new stamp to make it a catalog value when they list an item. Used stamps vary greatly in catalog price. Stamp value is related to condition of the stamp and how much demand there is for it.
A lot of older U. S. stamps can be bought in packets or lots of 100 or more for a price well below the catalog value. But the catalog value is a good method for the exchange of stamps with other collectors.
Every stamp collector uses a stamp catalog. The majority of collectors in the U. S. own a Scott Catalog and may use them as a check list for what they own and need. So, it is important to learn to use the catalog.