Stanley Gibbons has been the respectable face of the highbrow world of philately – stamp collecting to you and me – since it was founded back in 1856, but its trustworthy reputation has come into question this week.

On Tuesday the AIM-listed company confirmed its postage stamp investment business had gone into administration, leaving hundreds of investors who bought rare stamps with the promise of a ‘buyback guarantee’ in limbo.

The Guernsey-based subsidiary is in possession of £12.6million worth of rare stamps but has about £54million of liabilities relating to the buyback guarantees, plus a further £11million in undefined liabilities and another £6.5million which it owes to the parent company.

The scheme – which guaranteed customers at least 75 per cent of the book value of their stamps at the end of a given period – was stopped last year amid concerns about just how safe the guarantees were.

With Stanley Gibbons revealing last month that it was in default on its bank facilities, investors will be hoping this isn’t the sign of things to come. Shares took a licking, down 26.7 per cent to 5.12p.