Monday, June 30, 2008

Do you remember your first?

Stamp album, that is. Mine was published by Minkus and titled, appropriately enough, My First Stamp Album. My father gave me the album as part of a kit, My First Stamp Outfit. The kit included the album which had spaces for 4300 stamps, a packet of 100 all different stamps (one hopes all in the album), a plastic pocket magnifier, 1000 stamp hinges, stamp tongs, and adhesive flags and coats of arms of the world. Cost for the kit was $2.95 (1959). Although my album and kit probably disappeared before I was in high school, I remember distinctly some of the stamps that came with it, such as Scott # SD7, the 20 cent Special Delivery stamp featuring a 1920s postal truck which was decades before my time, as well as some 3 cent US commemoratives which were only a year or two old. It's interesting how some things stick with you.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Filling one volume? Try Eleven!

Thanks to Ron Mitchell via the Virtual Stamp Club, I've learned that "Stan Cornyn and Murray Geller filled all the International albums that existed at the time (eleven) over about six years in the 1970s. Their story was reported by Cynthia Gorney in the Washington Post in an article called "They Collected the World." ...[It] was reprinted in Scott's Monthly Stamp Journal, July 1978, pp. 16-17 and 20-21."

The original Washington Post citation is "They Collected the World: The Herculean Effort for a Grand Total of 195,219 Stamps. In a Herculean Effort, They Collected the World." By Cynthia Gorney, Special to The Washington Post. Apr 26, 1978, B1-[B2?] (in the "STYLE Entertainment People Comics" section).

The collection was sold by Collectors Auction Service in four sales under the title "Cornyn - Geller All - World Collection": Part One, Countries A-F : March 1, 1978 ; Part Two, Countries G-M : August 1, 1978 ; Part Three, Countries M-R : November 1, 1978; and Part Four, Countries S-Z : March 15, 1979.

I've requested a copy of the Scott's Monthly reprint from the APS Library as well as the auction catalogs and will post more information later. If anyone knows of others who have completed a volume 1 (or more), please let me know.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Scott International Volume I Coverage

Several years ago I came across the citation to an item in the American Philatelic Society's library titled "Study of omissions made in the last revision of Scott's International Postage Stamp Album. Part 1 1840-1940" by Arthur J. Palmer, Jr. I finally got around to borrowing a copy and it is a very interesting document.

What Mr. Palmer did was to give the APS a copy of his 1982 study which "systematically reviewed the 1840-1940 volume and identified what has been left out which would frustrate the average collector." His purpose was to bring the omissions to the attention of the Scott Publishing Company in the hopes that they would address the issues in the next revision of the volume. In 1988, Scott Publishing indicated to him that the then "Part 1-A and Part 1-B" [were to be] extensively re-edited when they have completed reprinting the Specialty Series that was ignored for so many years before sale of the company to Amos Press..."

Mr. Palmer indicated that the "lack of provision of very common issues...[was] mainly the result of the last revision when an attempt was made to provide for the matching of pages with Part II." Cognizant that Scott could not economically be expected to make wholesale revisions, his suggested corrections tried to minimize "re-editing of existing pages."

His minimum recommendation would require 39 new pages, 12 of which would replace blank pages in the album. This would restore 75% of the missing issues. To achieve 89% coverage would require an additional 15 additional pages. One hundred percent coverage would require 40 additional pages.

Mr. Palmer developed a precise and objective set of rules for determining which stamps would belong, the gist of which was to identify missing low value stamps rather than make decisions based on popularity, aesthetics, or similar subjective criteria.

One interesting part of Mr. Palmer's report is his opinions on what had happened in the revision that I assume occurred in the 1970s. He believed that in order to provide continuity between volume 1 and volume 2 that the editors "left out much material," with "back of the book" material, regional and occupation issues, and even regular/commemorative stamps of the 1930s bearing the brunt--i.e., pre-1930 regular and commemorative issues remained largely untouched. Also, he felt that the Scott catalog then current was more fragmented than it is now, particularly regarding definitive issues that were frequently reissued in different colors and denominations...sometimes covering two or more decades." This results in issues that appear together in recent versions of the catalog but are split over multiple pages in the International. Finally, he noted that there were problems with inaccuracies, some of which were natural consequences of changes in the underlying Scott catalog. Others could have been avoided such as correct use of terms like "overprinted" and "surcharged." Finally, he noted that chronological order tends to suffer more in the later editions.

One comment he made I wish I better understood: If Scott were to follow his suggestions, "the added pages will cover a very high percentage of the material that was left out from the last major revision in the 1950's." My 1969 version has copyright dates of 1955, 1965 and 1969 but I currently have no way of determining what changed with each of these revisions except that the countries below identified as left out of the last revision are still in the 1969 edition, albeit out of strict alphabetical order. So, again, I think he is talking about a revision that occurred in the seventies.

The majority of Mr. Palmer's's study is concerned with identifying specific stamps to put into the new version. Here is a summary of the largest lacuna (there are many less numerous omissions not included below):

Argentina--missing 207 official stamps for departments
Austria--missing 30 WW I Military stamps
Benin--entire country left out at last revision
China--missing 88 stamps from Sechwan and other provinces
Cilicia--entire country missing (I assume that Cilicia and similarly designated countries below were never in any Scott International "Blue" edition although they are listed in Scott's catalog)
Cochin China--entire country left out at last revision
Corfu--entire country left out at last revision
Czechoslovakia--many regular issues missing; no newspaper or special delivery stamps; "poor coverage of Bohemia, Morvia, and Slovakia"
Dalmatia--entire country missing
Eastern Rumelia--entire country missing
Eastern Silesia--entire country missing
France--missing 24+ Offices in China - Kwangchowan
Hungary--missing 73 Occupation stamps
India--Mr. Parker would like to see "real" spaces for Convention and Feudatory states (several hundred stamps)
Iraq--missing 49 official stamps 1923-
Moheli--entire country left out at last revision
Obock--entire country left out at last revision
Paraguay--missing 44 regular issues between 1910 and 1938
Persia--missing 67 regular issues 1917-
Philippines--missing 24 official stamp
Poland--missing many common values
Rio de Oro--entire country left out at last revision
Romania--"substantial number of color changes and values missing for the regular issues"; 50 missing postage due and official stamps
Russia--43 stamps from offices in the Turkish empire
South Russia--entire country missing
Tobago--entire country left out at last revision
Turkey--missing 92 regular issues; 39 newspaper stamps

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How many stamps do you have?

Seems like a perfectly reasonable question but a pain both to begin and keep current. I started with a quick and dirty count on the Scott International Volume 1 I purchased, but am now going back through and doing a more thorough job. I'm using an Excel spreadsheet keyed to country and page. (Pages in the Scott International aren't numbered--I've added numbers in pencil.) Once done I will copy and paste to as many columns as will fit on a page and then print the inventory. As I add new stamps, I will pencil these in on the printout. Then I will periodically update the spreadsheet and print out a new copy. At least that's the plan.

Addendum: I've completed the spreadsheet. I decided it would be easier to print if I copied the data from Excel and pasted it into Microsoft Word using a 3 column format. With margins at .75 inches and using Arial 9 point as the font, I was able to fit everything into 8 pages. In order to get each page count from the album to fit on one line, I truncated the listings to 25 spaces [=left(A1,25]. The resultant entries after pasting into MS Word look something like this:

343/345 Egypt 25
344/346 Egypt 30
345/347 Egypt 30
346/348 Egypt 18
347/349 Egypt 22
348/350 Egypt 9
349/351 Eritrea 2
350/352 Eritrea 0

The first column is the page number. Why the slash? Because I can't count. In retrospect, I should have done a more methodical numbering of pages. While I only made 3 mistakes, the worst was to misread my handwriting and skip 40 pages about one third of the way through! So in the example above, the 343 indicates my penciled in page number; the 345 is what the actual page number should be. Next is the country followed by the number of stamps mounted on that page (counting only those stamps matching the illustrations or that can legitimately be placed in one of the blank spaces). In my Excel spreadsheet I have an additional column for the actual number of spaces on the page, but I haven't done any count of these yet.

If anyone would like a copy of the Excel spreadsheet to use for your own collection, just let me know. Again, I have the 1969 edition although I'm not yet clear on what difference the copyright date makes.