Saturday, July 22, 2017

Linns' article on stamp collecting blogs

This and Jim Jackson's Big Blue 1840-1940 blog are mentioned in William F. Sharpe's Linns Stamp News column: “A look at a few of the hundreds of stamp blogs that can be found on the Internet” (Computers and stamps, 8/7/2017, pp 18-19).

This post is intended for any Linns readers who are first time visitors because of the article. May I suggest three places for you to check out:

The "Checklist of comprehensive worldwide collections" referred to in Mr. Sharpe's article;

The listing of online albums which include the two ginormous collections of Antonious-Ra and Dr. Cheng Chang ;

and something which doesn't get much comment, but I think is fun: Postage stamp quotations which includes humorous quotes from movies, tv series, novels, and the like.

Of course, the really good stuff is over at Jim Jackson's blog.

And let me also give a shout out to Keijo's Stamp collecting blog, which isn't on Mr. Sharpe's list presumably because it is behind a paywall, but is a must for serious worldwide stamp collectors.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Beville Collection Stamps of the World 1840-1940

I was originally going to write a fairly "meh" review of this auction, but I now believe it well worth a look by 1840-1940 collectors. To get the specifics out of the way, the auctioneer is Cherrystone and the dates are July 26-27, 2017. There are four sessions, and you can view PDFs as well as other electronic versions of the catalog at

So why my initial blasé reaction?  First, Cherrystone provides no information about the collector or how the collection was formed. Second, it looked like this would turn out to be a typical auction where the more expensive or elusive stamps have been pulled out for individual listing with the dregs relegated to the end. (Big Blue collectors know that other people's dregs are what largely make up our albums.) Well, certainly, the majority of the catalog is devoted to key stamps and sets, but a couple of things are worth mentioning. First, there are images for many of the lots and many of these are reproduced with the listings. I found this much more diverting than the typical full page photos of multiple stamps, often pages removed from the descriptions. Second, all of the images are in color, and, remarkably, the images include a number of full or partial album pages. Based on these, it looks like the collector favored the Brown albums and the stamps are mostly unused.

Note that while most of the country "balance" collections can be found at the end of the fourth session, dozens more, usually "colonies," are  intermingled with the individual stamp listings.

Here are two examples of country listings:


Lot 5986. 1895-1921 collection practically complete on pages, 182 different, mostly unused, with King Carlos and Saint Anthony sets (Scott’s 1-28),  50r on 300r used (29),  other issues with perf. varieties, Republica   and Provisorio   overprints and  surcharges,   Ceres   issues,   Semi-Postals,   etc.,  occasional flaws possible, mostly fine-v.f. (webphoto) (1/162,B1/P2) $750.00.


Lot 6172. 1880-1949 extensive balance on pages, 1,360+ different, most States represented as issued, strength in Bhopal, Bundi, Bussahir, Charkhari, Cochin, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Kishangarh, Soruth, Travancore, etc., many Gibbons listed varieties throughout, generally unused, plethora of better items, fine or better condition. An unusual opportunity to obtain a comprehensive collection of this exotic and exciting philatelic area. $15,000.

(As regards the "webphoto," I believe you will see these only when you click the "Session" link, not the page flip or pdf. This will make more sense when you go the Cherrystone site.)

Oh and, for once, we have a worldwide collection that also includes the United States.

So, I'm happy to report my first impression was off base. I'm looking forward to going through the auction catalog more thoroughly.

UPDATE: Because Cherrystone includes some counts, I am able to estimate that the Beville Collection contains more than 80,000 stamps. This does not mean, though, 80K major numbers, as there are quite a few varieties included.

I've also made a couple of clarifications and additions to the original post.

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:

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?


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).