Monday, May 23, 2016

Stuffed Blue On eBay

There has been so little in the way of large Blue collections on eBay recently, I find that I am going weeks without remembering to check for anything new. Fortunately, Jim Jackson of the Big Blue blog fame, alerted me to a listing with the title "1841-1939 worldwide collection - 28,000 stamps - Scotts International Album." The sellers is asking $28K for the collection but will accept counter offers.

This is one of those albums in a single binder that is stuffed to the brim with many stamps mounted in the margins. Thus 28,000 stamps does not translate to 28,000 spaces filled. Still, I think it is worth logging on eBay to see this rather unusual Blue Volume One collection.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Adolph J. Capurro Worldwide Collection, 1840-1955

Although I am firmly into collecting the world "used," I must admit that the most visually striking worldwide collections I've seen house only unused stamps. On June 2, Daniel F. Kelleher will auction during the World Stamp Show NY 2016 the The Adolph J. Capurro Worldwide Collection, 1840-1955
of unused and mint stamps.

To quote from their auction catalog (I've underlined a few sentences I thought particularly interesting):

"The Daniel F. Kelleher family is pleased to present the formidable worldwide collection formed by the late Adolph J. Capurro. This impressive collection...was originally assembled in 14 Scott International albums, albums which often did not include spaces for the high values of the better sets.  This fact in no way deterred Mr. Capurro, as he simply mounted the premium values in the blank margins, or on the backs of other pages, wherever ample space could be found.  In other cases, he carefully cut the appropriate spaces out of Scott Specialty pages which did have spaces for all the stamps, and carefully placed these over the International pages.  In this manner Mr. Capurro was able to assemble and mount a truly massive, mint, fairly complete collection of the world through the issues of 1955. "

Unfortunately, Mr. Capurro died recently but I think all Blue Volume One collectors can agree that his is a worthy example of what can be done with the Scott International series (especially with the help of scissors and a bit of paste.)

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1 Breaking News: Amos responds to popular demand

Amos Press today announced the results of their recent poll concerning improvements collectors most want to the Scott Blue International album series. The most requested change was to offer the International binders in colors other than blue. Amos admits that the results were a pleasant surprise as they expected collectors would vote for error-free album pages and better coverage, all of which would have cost them a pretty penny.

Starting today, International binders will be available in vermilion, burnt sienna, and near mauve. To pay for these changes, the blue binders will be discontinued. Please note that all International binders are now special order as staff must spray paint existing blue binders and these will take some time to dry. Amos was asked if they were planning to offer additional colors for their Green Specialty albums, but replied that would be “crazy.”

And in a still developing story, we have been unable to reach Jim Jackson, proprietor of the popular BigBlue1840-1940, to learn whether he is changing the name of his blog to reflect the bold new color choices.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thoughts on the 94% Complete Big Blue Sold on eBay

As rarely as large Blue Volume One collections are offered these days (with my arbitrary definition of large as 20K plus), it is even rarer to know much about how the collections were formed and the details of their sale, much less to have photos of every page in the album. Nevertheless, the Big Blue gods are apparently in a good mood as we are now privy to such details about one collection recently sold on eBay. The information is on Jim Jackson’s Big Blue blog as a guest post by Bud, the collector who originally bought the album, removed the stamps he needed for his even more complete Volume One, and then enlisted eBay seller kenr2 to sell the remainder in country lots.

I have very little useful to add to Bud’s summary, Jim’s additions, and the many valuable comments, all of which make the above post a must read for Big Blue collectors. Not that this will stop me from trying to find something to say.

The pages in total brought almost $35K, considerably more than any other large Volume One that I am aware of, and twice as much as one first offered by H R Harmer as complete and then reoffered as “almost complete” in 2008 (admittedly that realization may have been low because it sold during the height of the recession). Even more extraordinary, unlike the H R Harmer lot, Bud’s album did not include US, which, if at a similar level of completion, would have surely swelled the realization by several thousand dollars.

While I too am convinced that “irrational exuberance” inflated the results this time around, it still isn’t clear by how much. One thing I tried, but only for a few countries, was to look at how many serious bidders there were. My methodology was to look at the final selling price and then count the number of bidders who bid at least half as much. I chose this approach because since the final selling prices were high, I think even 50% bids came from serious bidders as opposed to people lowballing.

Here are the countries I kept data on, the number in parentheses indicating the number of bidders making offers of at least 50% of the final selling price:

Latvia & Latakia (3)
Lebanon    (3)
Mariana & Marshall Island (2)
Mauritius (3)
Memel (3)
Persia BoB (2)
Persia     (3)
Prussia & Prince Edward Island [Penrhyn Ilands] (5)   
Paraguay (3) 
Papua New Guinea (4)
Orange River Colony (3)
Panama    (2)
Straits Settlement (3)
Surinam     (3)
Swaziland (2)
Switzerland BoB     (2)
Switzerland (5)

Thirty-one different bidders placed fifty-one bids that were at least 50% of the eventual selling price. There were only five lots where there were only two bidders above the 50% mark. All the rest had between three and five bidders.

Twelve different bidders won these lots. So even though two persons bid on at least five lots and were the high bidders on three, there was still plenty of opportunity for others.

While I admit my analysis of the above is still anecdotal,  I do believe the results suggest that even without irrational exuberance, the collection would easily have sold for $18K, still a record.

My two cents reinforced by this auction:
—selling by country or small groups of countries widens the appeal beyond worldwide collectors;
—taking the time to make quality scans of all pages pays off;
—clean collections show well and encourage higher bids (i.e., no stamps fallen off their hinges and laying in the margins, no stamps that aren’t relevant to the page, etc.);
—traditional auction houses generally do not do a good job selling large Big Blue collections: too few, if any scans, no accurate estimate of number of stamps or percentage completeness, no estimates of total catalog value, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a big auction house even indicate the edition. All Blue Internationals are the same to them. From what I've read, these houses assume that serious bidders will be present or have an agent to personally examine the album.
—$35K is probably above the cost of the original owner to build the collection. Even if a similar collection in the future only realizes half that, I imagine it doesn't change that a savy collector could still hope to regain a significant amount of the cost to complete a Blue Volume One.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Albums PLUS Albums"

I stumbled across the following in Scott’s Monthly Journal, June 1921, p.18 and thought it might give some pleasure. Incidentally, if you haven’t browsed old philatelic journals via Google Books, it is a pleasant way to spend an hour.

The author Mr. Hill writes that he has been a collector for 47 years, which means he began in 1874. About when the first International appeared!

Albums PLUS Albums
By Edwin B Hill

It is now quite the fashion to ridicule the printed album, so called, and to praise the blank receptacle for our treasures. It has remained then for the publishers to supply both styles; and, to encourage the sales the vendors assume chamaleon-like changes to suit the prospective customer.

I love the old International with its printed spaces, many of which it is impossible to fill. I adore the linen-hinged loose leaf album with its stately binding and its beautiful pages. And then I proceed to use both—the International for aid in placing my stamps for artistic arrangement, and, for general utility. I work with it and my catalogue together and the results are always correct. But my loose leaf albums are my real treasures, for I am one of those collectors who loves the blank pages and the open spaces,—so much has the free life in the southwest done to visualize the breadth and sweep of general collecting. My tastes are catholic.

I see no reason for the beginner starting without a catalogue or minus the printed album. He needs both. There is a joy in filling the blank spaces in the printed album that never comes to the elder collector who merely hinges newly acquired treasure into his protected blank page. The old thrill seem to have lost much of inspiration as the collector grows older and discards his ancient treasure house. I am for the International, and for the Ne Plus Ultra—for the Catalogue with a large “C”),—for all that makes the collector love his stamps. And most all I am for the publishers who, alas!, are held accountable for every trifle that is against the desires of the specialist, but who, it seems to me, have done their best to aid the joy of collecting as we as the science of philately.

This is the belated tribute I pay them after forty seven years a stamp collector.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Large SG Ideal Album At Auction

While my attention has been fixed on a 30K Blue Volume One being sold by country on eBay over the past few months, Somerset Stamp Auctions has slipped into their Sale 285 (5 December 2015) a 97% complete Stanley Gibbons Ideal Album covering the British Empire. Estimate is a healthy £38000. Unfortunately, there are no pictures.

I'm a tad skeptical of their count of missing issues, though. Surely, British Guiana isn't complete unless this is a more adbridged edition of the Ideal album that I haven't seen.

I've written about the Ideal Albums in the past, most recently with the hope that Gibbons will reprint both the British Empire and rest of the world volumes in looseleaf format. 

Here is the lot description:

Red Ideal album for British Empire to 1936 containing a comprehensive mint and used collection formed over the past 50 years containing over 11,000 stamps with less than 300 spaces remaining. Condition a little mixed in places but much fine. Needs careful viewing as some mis-identification in places especially of watermarks. The following larger scale countries are completely filled except for any negative numbers in brackets. Antigua, Ascension Is., Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Basutoland, Bechuanaland (-4), Bermuda, British East Africa (-2), British Guiana, British Honduras (-1), British Solomon Is., Brunei (-1), Canada (-7 earlies), Cape of Good Hope, Cayman Is., Ceylon (-3), Cook Is., Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt (-1), Falkland Is. (lacks only the 1928 2½d on 2d), F.M.S (-2), Gambia, Gibraltar (-1). Gold Coast (-1), Great Britain, Grenada (-1), Hong Kong (-5), India, Ireland, Jamaica, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Leeward Is., Malta, Mauritius (-7 earlies), Montserrat, Morocco Agencies, Nauru, Negri Sembilan, Newfoundland (-4), New Guinea (-1), New Hebrides, New South Wales, New Zealand, Niger Coast, Nigeria, Niue, North Borneo (-6), Northern Nigeria, Nyasaland (-4 earlies), Palestine, Papua, Perak (-2), Queensland (-1), Rhodesia (-2), St. Kitts, St. Helena (-2), St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Sarawak, Seychelles, South Africa, South Australia, Southern Rhodesia, South West Africa, Straits (-3), Sudan, Tanganyika, Tasmania (-2), Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Is., Virgin Is., Western Australia (1-) and Zululand (-1). Many other smaller country ranges near complete and an extensive range of Indian States. An extremely comprehensive collection overall and estimate allows for fiscal use, poor condition and mis-indentifications.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What's New in the 2016 Edition of the Scott Classic Catalogue

[Typically, I post a summary of changes to the latest edition of the Scott Classic Catalogue within a few days of the press release. This year, there seem to be mostly minor changes so I’ve been in a quandary about writing anything useful.

If you want an overview of changes in all the editions since 1995, type the words "classic catalogue" into the search field in the upper left corner of the screen.]

The 22nd edition of Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 will soon be available. According to the editors, there are more than 35,000 value changes of which 15,850 are for stamps not found in Scott’s other worldwide catalogs.

Russia has had an extensive review. Imperforate between pairs have been added to 1939 and 1940 sets. "Back-of-the-book listings have been reorganized by perforation where applicable. Dozens of never-hinged listings have been added.”

Cuba also received what Scott calls “editorial enhancements.”Other improvements “are substantially revised listings for the 1911-21 Iran Ahmad Shah First Portrait issue (Scott 481-500), along with updated values. Postal fiscal stamps for Chile (Scott AR1-AR12) are listed for the first time.

On-cover listings have been added to Afghanistan for the first time. A new Afghanistan No. 1, the 1-shahi black with the outer circle measuring 30 millimeters in diameter, was added (what originally was #1 was deleted from Scott many years ago as bogus). The new number 1 was first introduced in Vol. 1 of the 2016 Scott Standard catalog, and is a reminder that not every new variety appears in the Classic Catalogue first.

More minor changes/additions include Cape of Good Hope Vryburg under Boer Occupation, French Equatorial Africa, Traavancore officials, Southern Nigeria’s 1904-07 Edward VII set ordinary and chalky papers, and perforation varieties for Gold Coast 1938-41 George VI and Christiansborg Castle set.

New color images have been added to Armenia handstamps and surcharges that will make the stamps easier to identify.

Numerous color varieties and perforation varieties have been added to the listings for the Falkland Islands, e.g., the King George V issues and the War Tax stamps.

A much fuller list of changes can be found in the Catalogue itself.