Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Scott International Album Accessories

There is a current eBay auction for an older set of International Postage Stamp Album Title Labels. Scott describes them as “Pressure sensitive labels. Easily attached by hand. Made of the same handsome, durable binding material as Scott’s blank International binders. These labels will appear to be a permanent part of the album spine. Yet they permit the collector to arrange his International pages exactly as he desires. Handsome. Permanent. Convenient.”

As far as I can tell, you can no longer buy a prepackaged set of labels, but you can still purchase them individually. On the Amos Advantage site, there is a dropdown in the Search menu for “binder labels: international.” They correlate to the latest versions, so there are four separate labels for the Volume One.

This got me to wondering whether there were any accessories sold for the International series that aren’t available today. The only thing I can come up with are the Coats of Arms, Flags and Rulers of Countries. Perhaps you know of others. To get us started, here are the accessories I’m aware of:

Binder small blue (regular)
Binder large blue (jumbo)
Slipcase small blue
Slipcase large blue
Binder labels (currently sold for individual binders)
Blank pages with the International border
Blank quadrille lined pages with the International Border
Blue protector sheets for International binder
Glassine interleaving 2-round post International

No longer available:

Coats of Arms (96), 19th Century Series
Flags (88), 19th Century Series
Rulers (72), 19th Century Series
Binder labels (set for all currently available volumes)

Other accessories that can be used with the International but not specific to the series include:

Scott Filler strips

I thought I remembered that Amos sold Advantage Stocksheets (1-8 pockets) with the International Border, but I don’t find these on their website. I own some but they are packed up at the moment so I can’t check.

Subway Stamps in their G&K line sells versions of most of the above, but it is worth specifically noting:

G&K Interleaving Crystal clear film
G&K Inventory Record Pages
G&K Crystal clear page protectors (closed on 2 sides).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

If You Still Have Money Left Over From the Holidays....

The Daniel F. Kelleher Auction Sale #662 (January 23-24, 2015) features more tantalizing country and area collections than I've encountered in awhile. (There is one Blue collection, lot 857, that looks interesting but one would need to see this in person to gauge its completeness. If you look at lot 857, note what I assume are custom binders. Cool.) But I'm posting about this sale because of the range of single country and area collections, particularly Tony Pasquarello's "Impossibles" Collections.

According to the auction firm, these are "vast country collections from 1840 to 1940 where the emphasis was on obtaining stamps that were impossible to find and to complete each collection. (I'm not certain that "Impossibles" is entirely accurate, but at least they didn't called it the "Uniques" collection.) Pasquarello's collections focused primarily on Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt (see the image on the left), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany & Germany States, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Italy and Italian States & Colonies, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Colonies, Norway, Poland, Portuguese Colonies, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tripolitania, Turkey and [the always popular] worldwide balances. The collections are mint and used and complete or almost 99% complete." Not only do I like the date range that Mr. Pasquarello chose, but also that there are a surprising number of (choice) used stamps as opposed to the high percentage of unused/mint typically found in large country collections. Now all I have to do is win each of these lots and I will be well on the way to a nice Brown International Collection (or a Blue with a lot of extra pages).

In addition to Pasquarello's holdings, there are many others worth perusing, not the least of which is Michael Roger's specialized Ethiopia. But the latter falls beyond the scope even of the Brown Internationals.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Robert E. Zoellner (1932-2014)

As this blog has been happily writing itself the past few days due to all of the excellent comments being submitted, I'm going to feel free to digress a bit. Perhaps the most erudite stamp discussion group I regularly read is PhilaMercury which is largely devoted to 19th century United States, but with frequent forays into other time periods and countries. Even though the US is no longer a specific collecting interest of mine, the quality of the contributions and depth of knowledge keeps me coming back.

Recently on PhilaMercury, Scott R. Trepel wrote of the death of Robert E. Zoellner, apparently the only collector to have acquired every Scott listed United States stamp. This prompted me to go back and look at the Robert A. Siegel auction catalog for Mr. Zoellner's collection which was sold October 8-10, 1998 (the pdf of the auction catalog is available online).

Four aspects of Mr. Zoellner's collection stood out:

1) I had been curious whether it was possible to form a complete US collection but had never taken the time to research the question. One reason this interests me is a common admonition against collecting the world is that a complete collection is impossible. But we've seen that it is possible for a worldwide collection to be 99% complete, at least as regards the major numbers. Which begs the question of how many single or area country collectors ever come near that goal? That they don't presumably does not argue against country collecting.

2) Only of personal interest, looking through the catalog took me back to my childhood when I first discovered in the local library Lester G Brookman's then two volume set on 19th century US stamps. I still remember drooling over the hand lettered album pages from the Philip J. Ward collection, as well as page after page of incredible covers and multiples. The Zoellner collection offers a similar feast.

3) Mr. Zoellner kept his collection in a Scott Platinum album, with custom pages designed to interface with the published ones.

4) Finally, Mr. Trepel's introduction to the Siegel sale  details how the collection was built. Here are a couple of quotes that I particularly enjoyed:

"…my thoughts go back to an observation once made by Raymond H. Weill… He told me that above all, the collector must have both the means and the inclination. The concept is so simple that my reaction upon hearing it was to look for other requirements. What about knowledge? Or time? Was it not important to join collector groups? Surely there must be other essentials.

Experience has taught me the simple truth of Raymond Weill's observation. Truly great collections begin with the inclination to collect and grow through the dedication of financial resources necessary to acquire significant items. Knowledge may come to the collector. Membership in societies may add sociability to the process. The time spent collecting may be long or short (the key is being there at the right time). However, means and, inclination are the fundamentals that determine how events in a collector's life will unfold."

"Collectors are motivated for many reasons, but the seeds of inclination are often planted in childhood, when many of us were introduced to stamp collecting by our parents or teachers. Robert Zoellner started as a child and tried to fill the spaces of a United States stamp album with the best copies he could afford. When his interest was rekindled in 1984, Mr. Zoellner pulled out that old album and became reacquainted with the Columbian, Trans-Mississippi and Overrun Nations issues. This time he could afford to complete those sets with examples in choice condition."

"When Mr. Zoellner told me he was considering selling the collection that he calls 'our' collection, I actually felt myself resisting the idea, despite the obvious benefits to me and this firm. Then I thought about Raymond Weill's words again-means and inclination-and I realized that for a dozen years Robert Zoellner was the most determined collector I have ever met, who had the means to achieve his goal. He did it, he enjoyed it, he learned from it, and now he no longer has the inclination to go beyond his original goal or to keep stamps locked away from other collectors."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Apfelbaum’s Corner

I know there is some disagreement about the Apfelbaum organization as the most affordable way for purchasing stamps, but I hope there is no disagreement about the value of John Apfelbaum's informative and entertaining blog. Just a couple of examples from my most recent perusal:

--as of 2009, "there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands";

--Hermann Herst Jr's Nassau Street "was on the New York Times’ bestseller list";

--How it came about that "collectors all around the world use the same types of perforation gauges and count perfs."

I have a permanent link to Mr. Apfelbaum's latest blog entry on the right of this screen, and I encourage you to check out his posts at least a couple of times a month.

there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands - See more at:
there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands - See more at:
there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands - See more at:
there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands - See more at:
there was slightly over $2 billion of unused postage stamps in collectors’ hands - See more at:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Has the Internet Made It Easier to Complete a Blue Volume One?

The article that did the most to make me take the worldwide plunge was “They Collected the World” that appeared in the 26 April 1978 Washington Post. As I have written on this blog before, the article detailed how two collectors completed the first 29 volumes of the Scott International series. I was particularly fascinated by the details of how they acquired their stamps and which were the hardest to find. 

“’The hunt becomes more important than the object of the hunt,’ [one of the collectors] muses. A Syrian misprint, a nondescript green portrait of the goddess Ceres that says 25 centimes where it ought to say 50, eluded them for two years; [one of them] tramped all over Paris looking for it, pored through every catalog he could find, sent letters off to Damascus. One of the letters was forwarded to a Syrian dealer who had moved to Dubai, a minuscule Arab state on the Persian gulf, and who responded with a nice little note conveying his respect and enclosing the stamp.”

And for many stamps the story was similar. Countless wantlists and letters mailed to dealers around the world. Obsessive perusal of printed auction catalogs. It took them six years to complete their task of filling all 29 volumes.

And all done before eBay, Delcampe, online auction catalogs, and email. But today?

Cases in point: There are three stamps in the Blue that I have at one time or another seen identified as difficult to find:

—Syria Scott 106a (the Syrian misprint described above)
—Colombia E1, the country’s first special delivery stamp
—Cabe Juby 48-50 (high values from an overprinted series; the Blue has spaces for any two of the three).

Syria 106a took a year to find a copy. When I did find it, the stamp only cost me $25 on Delcampe, about 10% of catalog. Not long after I saw another copy on eBay. Unfortunately I didn’t record the details, but I remember the purchaser paid closer to the catalog value. Most recently, there was an auction with multiple copies, each of which sold for high prices.

I learned about the Colombia E1 special delivery stamp from a stamp market column by Henry Gitner in Linn’s. He said something to the effect that, in spite of not being particularly expensive, most collectors of Colombia have never seen this stamp. Nevertheless, this was the easiest of the three to acquire. The search took only about a month, but I had to obtain it as part of set of album pages which cost about $13. I just checked and there is a copy for sale on eBay. In spite of the scarcity of single stamps, Antonius Ra found a complete sheet. (Check out his comments here:

Cape Juby 48-50 took a year and a half of searching. The entire country is something of a challenge but I was first alerted to the difficulty of this particular series by a collector who needed the high values to complete (literally) his Volume One. Since I have been searching, I have not seen a set for sale until one appeared on eBay a couple of weeks ago which I acquired for $71 (the entire set, not just the top denominations).

Now, I must say that I wasn’t diligent in looking for any of the above but the Syria error. For the Cape Juby, in particular, weeks would go buy where I would forget to check. But when I did remember, there was nothing on eBay, Delcampe, or any of the usual suspects. Until now.

Is there any stamp, then, in the Blue Volume One which cannot be found online with reasonable persistance? So far, none that I know of. But still, in spite of the feeling by some specialist collectors that there is no thought needed to collect the world, only a big bank account, I do like the idea that there are thousands of stamps required for the Blue that you cannot find on any given day, even for ready money. The quest to fill the Blue will take you on a journey lasting years and the final stamp you hinge in your album is just as likely to cost 50 cents as it is $500. Probably more likely.

Addendum. The 29 volume set of completed Scott Internationals mentioned above were eventually sold at auction. One of the ironies is that most of the individual auction lots were for stamps not in the Blue but in country collections purchased entire for cheaper but elusive stamps the collectors needed. Here are my notes from the auction for some individual stamps that I believe are in the International series and that were identified by the collectors or auctioneers as “hard to get.” An asterisk indicates those in the Volume One.

Belgium 717-727A Scarce
*Dominican Republic 209-232 Hard to find
*France Offices in China, difficult
*Germany 242A scarce
*Great Britain 33 Plt 225 scarce
Iran 1058A-72 scarce
Iran O58-71 Scarce
Italy QY5-11 scare
Lebanon RA1-7, 9 Elusive
*Mayotte 1-20 scarce high values
Mexico C285 NH scarce
Nepal 51-9 scarce
Nepal O15 scarce
Nigeria 258-67 scarce
*Norway 67-9 scarce
*Norway 132-5 underpriced
*Norway 154-7 underpriced
Pakistan 258-9 scarce
Pakistan O73 cat. $1.56
Paraguay C382-8 Very difficult issues
Saudi Arabia 302/449 gas and oil series, difficult
Saudi Arabia 459-597 scarce definitives
*Syria 106c The toughest stamp in the Intl's (Scott has subsequently renumbered 106c to 106a)
*Upper Sileisa Four unlisted Scott shown in Intl's
Yemen Following 58: Three unissued values which appear in Intl. Very scarce.
Yugoslavia 393 scarce

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's New in the 2015 Edition of the Scott Classic Catalogue

I've done a similar post every November since beginning this blog. The past couple of years this has been easier because it was possible to look at the editor's page in the online version of the catalog. This year, Scott is using a different online delivery system and this is no longer an option. So what appears here is taken from an article that was published in Linn's.

There are 30,000 value changes from the 2014 edition. Half of these changes are for entries that are only in the Classic Catalogue, a handy way of quantifying how the Classic differs from Scott's "regular" worldwide catalog.

The cover of the 2015 edition features the famous One Cent British Guiana which is also valued: $9.5 million.

The most important newly added listings are the Cubiertas stamps of Colombia (missing from all Scott catalogs since 1941). Also notable is the addition of Hong Kong to the coverage of Chinese Treaty Ports. The Linn's article also notes: "The reorganization of the Ceres issues of Portugal and Portuguese colonies that began in the 2013 Scott Classic catalog is now complete," with "revised listings for Portuguese Congo, Portuguese Guinea, Portuguese India, St. Thomas and Prince Islands, Tete and Timor."

If I have a chance to see the editor's page for the 2015 edition, I will come back and make additions to this post.

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quick Overview of Pros and Cons of Worldwide Albums

Before doing the comparison, here are the albums we are talking about:

The Scott Brown Internationals had a space for every major number in the Scott catalog through mid-1939, but the originals are out-of-print. The pages have been reprinted by Vintage Reproductions which you can still buy.

The Scott Blue Internationals were originally a companion "junior" album to the more comprehensive Browns. When the Browns were discontinued the Blue line dropped  "junior" from the title. The Blue Internationals are still being sold.

The Minkus Master and Supreme Global albums were competitors to the Scott Blue Internationals. The Master was less comprehensive than the Blues; the Supreme Globals more comprehensive, but less so than the Browns. The Supreme Global has been reprinted.

William Steiner through his website sells Acrobat pdf files for you to print your own worldwide pages. These are as comprehensive as the Browns if not more so, including a set specifically for 1840-1940.

Got that? So how do these compare against each other?

Scott International originals (Browns) - 5 vols

—Comprehensive for major numbers in Scott Catalog (at the time each volume was published)
—Can purchase for bargain prices from eBay et al

—Originals are out-of-print and most offered for sale are in less than pristine condition
—Hardbound so you can't interleave volumes or add your own pages (there were looseleaf versions but these are practically never encountered)
—Thinner, non-archival paper printed on both sides of the page
—No catalog numbers in spaces
—Most countries missing the stamps for mid-1939 through 1940

Scott International reprints by Vintage Reproductions (Browns) - 6 vols

—Heavy archival paper printed on one side only
—Easy to add your own pages or even integrate with the current Scott Internationals Volume 2 on
—Includes stamps through end of 1940

—No catalog numbers in spaces
—Takes many binders and lots of shelf space

Scott International Volume One, 1 and 2-part versions (originally called the Junior, now commonly referred to as the Blues to differentiate them from the more comprehensive Browns)

—Possible to house representative worldwide collection in a single volume (although as you add more stamps or interleaving, you'll will be hard pressed to keep it in even a jumbo binder)
—Can purchase earlier editions for bargain prices from eBay et al
—Used by many collectors so a lot of information is available on the Internet, including a wonderful checklist in progress by Jim (

—35K spaces represents no more than 50-60% of face different 1840-1940 stamps
—Unevenly edited; all editions are missing thousands of common stamps; some stamps are in some editions but not others
—Some countries that are in earlier versions are missing in later
—Pre-1947 editions usually hardbound
—Printed on non-archival paper on both sides of the page
—Some editions are on thin paper which is prone to tearing
—Difficult to integrate looseleaf version with later volumes or to add your own pages (impossible, obviously, if you have the hardbound version)
—No catalog numbers in spaces

Scott International Volume One, 4-part version (current version of what was originally called the Junior, now commonly referred to as the Blues to differentiate them from the more comprehensive Browns)

—As above plus the 4-parts edition is on heavy archival paper and has been redesigned so you can integrate with later volumes as well as add you own pages

—As above as regards scope and editing
—Better paper but still printed on both sides of the page (although there are a lot more blank backs of pages)
—More expensive to buy new than to purchase "used" earlier editions
—Missing hundreds of stamps and a few countries that were in some earlier editions

Minkus Supreme Global originals

—Even the first edition went to 1952 which will be appealing to collectors who would like to go beyond a 1940 cutoff without buying any supplements
—Possible to house representative worldwide collection in a single volume (although as you add more stamps or interleaving, you'll will be hard pressed to keep it in even a jumbo binder)
—Most countries are noticeably more comprehensive than the Scott Blue Internationals
—Later editions include Minkus catalog numbers for every space which greatly simplifies matching the correct stamp to the space (as long as you acquire the out-of-print Minkus catalogs)
—Can purchase for bargain prices on eBay et al

—Contains more stamps per page than other albums listed here (form versus function)

—Thinner, non-archival paper (but not as thin as some earlier Blue Internationals)
—Minkus catalog numbers are no longer used by sellers
—Some pages display more than one country making these sections somewhat difficult to integrate or expand (although better in this respect than earlier Scott Blue Internationals)

Minkus Supreme Global reprint of 1952 edition by Amos Publishing

Pros/cons: Same as the above but with the added advantage of being on thicker, archival paper
—Somewhat cheaper than the equivalent Scott Blue Internationals

Steiner (

—Comprehensive coverage
—Collector friendly policy of fixing mistakes
—Inexpensive compared to some of the other albums if you print your own pages
—Can use 8.5x11 inch paper which allows cheaper binding options
—Extremely easy to expand/integrate with your own pages

—Contains fewest stamps per page of any albums listed here (form versus function)

—Almost no images of stamps, only descriptions
—No catalog numbers (but spaces correlate easily with the Scott catalog)
—Either must print your own pages or purchase preprinted pages from third parties (expensive); many collectors would disagree and rate the print yourself feature as neutral or even a plus!
—Requires a lot of shelf space

Not included in the above:

Scott Speciality or Minkus Regional/Country albums could be used to house an 1840-1940 collection if you can find the ones that are out-of-print. Several very large worldwide collections that go beyond 1940 have used these albums.

The Gibbons Ideal Album covering 1840-1935 has virtues but I don't think is a practical option today unless SG reprints on one side of a page. You can read more here :