Monday, May 15, 2017

Jim's Big Blue Checklist

I have been out of pocket for some weeks but that is little excuse for not finding a way to acknowledge earlier Jim Jackson's completion of his checklist for the Scott International Volume One. At one time I considered doing a checklist, and I hesitate to think how inferior it would have been to Jim's. Because as all of you know, the checklist is only a small part of the historical and philatelical (is that a word?) commentary that Jim researched for each country in the Big Blue. For the record, here is a link to Jim's "completion" post which includes links to a variety of files conflating the checklist:

http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-big-blue-checklist-is-completed.html

The completion of Zululand, fortunately, does not mean the end of his blog. I know we all look forward to what Jim will post next.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1st Breaking News: Wikileaks Reveals Rejected “Filling Spaces” Blog Posts.

The secret of the Big Blue that Scott doesn’t want you to know.

You won’t believe what happened after this collector completed her Volume One.

How to sell your Scott International, quit your day job, and retire to Tahiti.

The 35,000 stamps you need for your International album. Number 30,436 is impossible.

How the coming Zombie Apocalypse will impact the worldwide stamp collector.

Family pet drops Scott International into the toilet. Watch what happens next.

Is licking hinges Oprah’s weight loss secret?

L@@K!!!!! COMPLETE INT VOL 1 FOR SALE. HUNDRED OF STAMP. WON”T FIND HUGER ALBUM. MUST CHECK ALL 5 PICS. 99 CENT START. (POSTAGE $499999.)

Fifteen reasons why owning a Big Blue will change your life. #13 will shock you.

Seven costly mistakes to avoid with your 1840-1940 album.

Big Blue versus Big Foot, Lochness Monster, and the Abominable Snowman. Who would win?

Giant asteroid heading towards Earth. Here is what you need to do NOW to protect your collection.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Limaye’s Big Blue Catalog Value Project

The eagle eyed among you will notice a new category titled Projects to the right of this post. The first project involves, among other things, calculating the catalog value of all the stamps in the Big Blue Volume One.

As Dilip R. Limaye's Volume One has been almost at 100% completion (missing only one stamp - the elusive Syria Scott 106c), he has been creating Excel spreadsheets to keep track of his collection and its catalog value. This includes all stamps for which there are spaces in his 1943 version of the Scott International Volume One (Big Blue) album. For all of these, he has entered the Scott 2017 catalog values for mint and used stamps. As a service to all Big Blue collectors, Dilip is allowing me to publish summary information on the current catalog values for every country in Volume One as he has time to enter the data. So if everything goes as planned, the last major unknown about the Big Blue, the total catalog value of the 35,000 stamps therein, may finally be within grasp. And it has only taken a hundred years. (The first International album was published in 1914.)

I think this knowledge will be an important step towards countering the notion that the Volume One is really a "junior" album containing largely common stamps. It may also confirm that a collection based on the least catalog value will be considerably less expensive to build than one exclusively used or unused. I am also intrigued with trying to guess which countries will turn out to be the most expensive and which the least.

After you read the results for countries A-C, please remember to check back periodically for updates. Dilip welcomes comments.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Closet collectors

While looking for something else, I came across a blog post from 2013, "Some Advantages of Buying Important Collections Intact," on the David Feldman auction site.
"The old-fashioned 'closet' collectors were often successful in taking decades to build their collections without broadcasting their interests to the world. Buying an important collection or exhibit, and doing so anonymously at auction or by private treaty, is a way to save time, save money, and prevent premature exposure as a collector or exhibitor of the area until you decide the time is ripe!"
I rather doubt that many of the people who use the Scott International Volume One are "closet" collectors, but it does remind me of how the collectors whose comprehensive collections have recently come on the market seem to appear out of nowhere. I suppose dealers and auction houses are aware of them, but to their friends and neighbors they might seem like normal people. (Well perhaps not that normal!) I do recall someone mentioning vis-a-vis the Harmer-Schau private treaty collection that they remembered a secretive worldwide collector who regularly outbid all comers. This is in contrast to people like Bill Gross whose collecting proclivities are well known.
 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Addition to the most comprehensive worldwide collections list

Even though I am a 25+ year member of the American Philatelic Society, I missed the 2009 article in the APS journal titled "Selling Stamps Can Increase Your Collection" by Forrest H. Blanding. Fortunately, friend of the blog ChrisW was more diligent and has recently written about the article on two stamp collection discussion forums. While much of Blanding's article is devoted to how he leveraged selling stamps as a dealer to support his collecting (usually thought of as a "no no" unless you collect in an area other than what you sell), I'm going to concentrate on the details of his collection.

By the the time the author finished high school, he already had "25,000 different stamps in Scott 19th Century, 1900–1919, and 1920–1926 international albums." After a time out during college and early marriage (sound familiar?), he started purchasing in earnest, buying thousands of collections over a 50 year period which he resold largely via approvals or wantlists after removing what he needed. The end result?

"My collection included issues only to 1975, because accumulating the massive wallpaper being issued after then took too much time, cost too much money, and did not provide any real collecting challenge.  The final collection included 98 percent of all major world stamps listed up to 1975 in the Scott Catalogues — more than 200,000 different stamps, all in mint or unused condition except for some high-priced nineteenth-century issues. It filled to near completion fifty bulging volumes of the Scott International series. It included the best copies from all the collections I had purchased over the years, so the stamp condition was usually exceptional on all but some of the early values.

Two-thirds of the Scott-listed countries were complete in major varieties up to 1975, including some larger countries such as Denmark and Norway. Germany proper lacked only one stamp, France lacked two, and Canada was missing just three. I could never have owned most of these stamps with-out my collecting-selling activities."

(I'm assuming from Blanding's description that he vastly expanded the International Volume One or more likely used the original Browns.)

When Blanding decided to sell his collection in 1995, he did so through his own dealership and auction houses.

The article, by the way, appeared in the November 2009 American Philatelist on pages 1044-1048. Well worth a read if you have access.

So we now know of three collections 98+% complete for the periods 1840-1975, 1840-1981, and 1840-2012.  I have to believe there must be more. In fact, I just added a couple of more possibilities to the list (Cole and Johnson).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More statistics on worldwide stamp collecting

I have been negligent in mentioning what I think is the most detailed analysis yet of the practicality of collecting worldwide from 1840 to date. The analysis appears on Keijo Kortelainen's Stamp Collecting Blog and is titled "Is collecting a complete worldwide stamp collection possible? Take III – the final word – money and catalog values." You need to have a subscription to read it so I will just link to his Stamp Collecting Blog site. It would be a disservice for me to attempt any summary, but I hope it will be OK to tease with the questions (quoted or paraphrased from his article) that Keijo is researching:

1) How much the total catalog value of complete (but yet simplified) used world collection would be? 

2) Is collecting the classic era (in used condition) more expensive, as generally claimed?

3) What is the ratio of different catalog values for used stamps? We collectors tend to say that 99% of stamps are worth very little or nothing. Is this true or false?

4) Are some stamp types more expensive than others? 

5) Are some countries or locations more expensive / affordable than others?


Now you know you want to learn the answers! Don't forget to read the comments.

And Linn's has published its annual "Scott Worldwide Stamp Cost" for 2015. (I.e, literally all the world except for the US.) I have done a summary in the past, but I have been beat to it this year by a much more thorough analysis and critique by "madbaker" Mark on "The Stamp Forum." You can read his post and the comments by clicking here.

The original Linn's article can be found here, as well as links to earlier ones back to 2002.

Friday, January 6, 2017

"An Analysis of Worldwide Catalog Data"

I wrote about “The Most Affordable Classic Stamps to Collect” by Michel Bégin in an article I did for the International Worldwide Stamp Collector's journal some years back. As impressive as Bégin's effort was, the concept has been revisited on an even grander scale by PostmasterGS for his GermanStamps.net site. The new study includes all worldwide stamps in the 2015-2016 Michel catalogs (except for Germany which uses Michel’s 2015 Deutschland-Spezial and which means that the coverage for Germany is more detailed than for other countries).

For every issuing authority in Michel, PostmasterGS has determined the total number of issues broken down by ranges of catalog value (for example, under 10or more than 100€) separating out mint and used.  The information is presented in tables that you can filter and sort in several different ways. He has also calculated both numbers and percentages.

PostmasterGS points out that as not all stamps are given a catalog value, or are only priced either mint or used but not both, summary calculations based on this data can be unreliable. Definitely read his notes before drawing any conclusions.

A fun idea he borrowed from Bégin was the affordability of one area to another. For example, after sorting from high to low, it appears that the following are the five most difficult to complete:

Italy - Italian States - Parma (24 stamps)
United Kingdom - Officials (103)
Malay States - Straits Settlement - Bangkok (25)
Italy - Italian States - Tuscany (39)
Mauritius (1563).

But there are lots of nuances. Eighty-six percent of Mauritius catalogs under 10 euros. And those "Post Office" stamps were mistakes anyway, so surely you can leave them out.

My original interest in such projects focused on two areas. How many stamps have been issued? And what would it cost to acquire them? Based on this latest study, the answer is 1,013,620 stamps including varieties with a catalog value of 7,670,304 Euros. So now we know!

[PostmasterGS says there are 829,992 individual stamp issues in the database, with a total CV of €48,387,679 (mint) or €26,485,722 (used).]

The tables are here: http://www.germanstamps.net/ia_cost_comparison_ww/

There is an ongoing discussion on Stampboards: http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=74738