Saturday, May 24, 2008
[I've updated some of the information below since this was published. I suggest using the Blog search function in the upper left hand corner to find relevant posts.]
To the person seriously interested in collecting worldwide, there are really only four possible choices for housing your collection: the Scott International "Brown" series, the Scott International "Blue" series, the Minkus Master or Supreme Global series, or computer produced album pages. (I'm going to ignore stockbooks, blank pages, etc. although these are viable options for some people.) A big problem with any of the first three approaches is that the albums go in and out-of-print. Often, only more recent supplements are available (this is especially true for Minkus).
I've gathered the following from personal knowledge as well as a variety of sources on the Internet. Also very helpful was Michael Laurence's Editor's Choice column entitled "Classic Scott album pages reproduced" which appeared in the 31 October 1994 issue of Linn's Stamp News, page 3. Nevertheless, there are many gaps and no doubt errors. If you can add or correct, please let me know.
The most comprehensive albums ever published were the Scott International "Brown" albums, so called because of the color of their covers. The Scott International series began in the 1800s, and featured spaces for all Scott listed issues ("spaces for all varieties of watermarks, inverted pictures, etc., etc."; but not all perforation varieties) during the years covered.
I don't know whether it applied throughout the history of the "Brown" albums, but at least at one point, you had your choice of a variety of versions: bound printed on both sides of the paper; bound printed on one side of heavy paper, a special bound edition on even heavier paper; and, finally, unbound with "movable leaves."
I believe Scott stopped publishing the "Brown" albums after 1938, preferring to concentrate on their specialty series in "Green" albums for individual countries and regions. Even so, the original volumes show up on eBay or in auctions with some frequency.
Some years ago the company Vintage Reproductions of Notre Dame, Indiana, reprinted, with Scott's permission, the "Big Brown" albums on one side of 70-pound acid-free 10" x 11.5" paper, one country per page. The pages were cut and drilled to fit the "Blue" International Binders making it easy to continue with subsequent volumes of the "Blue" International Series (qv). In 1971, Subway Stamp Company bought out Vintage Reproductions and sells new copies on two different sizes of paper: one matches the original International paper size and the other the size of paper used in Scott's Speciality albums. I don't know whether Vintage originally sold their albums on two different paper sizes or not.
Volume 1 as published by Vintage covers 1840-1900 (815 pages); volume 2 covers 1901-1919 (1159 pages), volume 3 covers 1920-1929 (1058 pages), volume 4, 1930-1934 (799 pages), and volume 5, 1935-1938 (709 pages). Volume 6 covers 1939-1940 (612 pages). I believe Vintage Reproductions itself, not Scott, created the final volume so collectors could expand the set with the "Blue" Internationals if they desired.
(In the original Browns as published by Scott, the company differentiated between the 19th Century Edition and the 20th century volumes, which they numbered as Volume 1 (1901-1919), volume 2(1920-1929), volume 3 (1930-1934), and volume 4 (1934-1939), the last edition of the final volume corresponding to the 1942 Scott Catalog.)
As one might expect, the "Brown" albums contain many very expensive and elusive stamps. (Michael Lawrence's article notes that the first page for British Guiana alone would cost literally millions of dollars to complete.) Interestingly, this comprehensiveness appeals to many collectors of classic issues who rightly note that the much less complete International "Blue "albums or Minkus titles omit many stamps that a collector might reasonably expect to own. I, on the other hand, am vexed by seas of empty spaces that can never be filled, a difficulty that is mitigated by another series that began life as the Junior Internationals.
I don't know exactly when, but no later than 1917 and into the 1940s, Scott published a Junior Edition which eschewed comprehensiveness in favor of offering a representative collection of the postage stamps of the world. The Junior Edition forms the basis of the "Blue" Internationals that are still being updated with annual supplements by Amos Publishing who purchased Scott Publishing in 1984. Most Junior editions were hardbound. The nickname for the new series comes from the Blue binding that was used for the last releases in the Junior line and carried over even after "Junior" was dropped from the name. I don't know precisely when that occurred but I have seen on eBay a 1941 Scott Junior and, on the other end, a 1947 Scott International without Junior in the title.
The "Blue" International volume 1 covers 1840-1940. It is printed on two sides of a page. Volume 1 was originally issued in a single album, and then, presumably to keep the cost down, was divided and sold in two parts: 1A and 1B. My original understanding was that the bifurcated version was identical in layout to the one part. But an analysis of the Scott International volume 1 by Arthur J. Palmer that is in the American Philatelic Society Library implies that the two part version "provided for the matching of pages with Part II." Today, the album is sold in 4 parts (1A-D); when in print, that is. According to several sources, this version definitely starts all countries on a new page, making it easy to keep countries together when interfiling supplements (although I don't know what happens with airmails and back of the book materials).
While I'm going to talk about the Palmer study in another post, it is worth noting here that in originally splitting volume 1 into two parts, Scott apparently deleted a number of stamps that were in the single part version. According to Palmer, in 1988 Scott was planning a major re-editing of volume 1. Perhaps this was what was accomplished with the 4 part version. If anyone reading this owns the 4 parter, I would love to hear from you.
I own a copy of the 1969 edition which has copyright dates of 1955, 1965, and 1969. My copy has 1322 pages (including blank recto pages and one repeated page). It would be interesting to know what changed in these three years from previous versions although at least the 1955 copyright may be related to changes in numbering in the US section of the Scott catalog--just a guess. (The 1955 edition still used the 1943 catalog for the US section!) Interestingly, the 1969 version still contains countries that begin on the reverse side of the page. So presumably the change to integrate with Volume II came between 1969 and the date of Palmer's initial study, 1980.
I have heard that the reason the 4 part version of volume 1 is out of print is because Scott no longer has the masters (one rumor is that they were destroyed in a fire).
The current breakdown of the Scott International series for the coverage period I'm interested in is as follows:
#1A1 1840-1940 US; Aden-Ethiopia (the latest version of Volume 1 has 48,000? spaces; ? Illustrations; 1943 edition had 1200 pages with 35,000 spaces and 8,000 illustrations; the 1955 edition also had 35,000 spaces, 8000 illustrations and still references the 1943 Scott catalog; my 1969 edition has 1322 pages)
#1A2 1840-1940 Falklands- Latvia
#1B1 1840-1940 Lebanon through Quelimane
#1B2 1840-1940 Reunion-Zululand
#2A 1940-1949 USA-Jamaica (total 1280 pages, 16,000 spaces, 6,000 illustrations both parts)
#2B 1940-1949 Japan through Zanzibar
#3A 1949-1955 USA-Jug (15,000 spaces --both parts)
#3B 1949-1955 Kenya through Zanzibar
#4A 1956-1959 USA; Aden-Kenya (15,000 spaces --both parts)
#4B 1956-1959 Korea-Zanzibar
#5 1960-1962 Afghanistan through Zanzibar plus United States for the years 1960-1963
#5A 1963-1965 (part year) Abu Dhabi through Zanzibar plus United States for the years 1963-1965
In all cases, the binders are sold separately. (According to the publisher, the regular 3" binder holds 300 pages; the jumbo 4", 400 pages.)
Unfortunately, currently you cannot purchase new copies of many of the early volumes, although they are regularly available on eBay or dealers/auction houses.