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


Vince M said...

In my Scott Int part I, I have Cilicia, Eastern Rumelia and Eastern Silesia. I misplaced the title copyright page so I cant id the version. I could scan them if they would be of interest.
BTW, my count stands at: 78% filled (7461 needed out of 25831- less US). been working on it for 45 years :-)
Thanks for your blog, most helpful.
Vince Marier

Bob said...

Vince, thanks for your post and congratulations on your collection. It must be something.

Thanks for the clarification on the countries. I went back and checked and indeed the 1947 edition (which I take as canonical in terms of the countries included) does indeed have Cilicia and Eastern Silesia. I still don't find Dalmatia or Eastern Rumilia in either the '47 or '69 unless they are under a different name or part of a another country. (In the Minkus Master Global, Dalmatia follows Italy and Eastern Rumelia follows Greece.)

How are you keeping track of the number of stamps you have? I don't dare to hope that you have created a checklist? I suppose starting one is going to have to be one of my New Year's Resolutions.

Vince M said...

Thanks for the feedback. Your blog is just excellent!

I use an Excel spreadsheet/checklist (perhaps to help you get started on your new year's resolution, I could send you a copy :-)). It has evolved over the years since 1995 when I first used Quarto Pro to build it.

Some of the columns are dormant or don’t work now but here is the basic scheme.

Each country/subdivision & category (e.g. semi-postal) on a page gets a row entry along with its page number and other stuff. See example:(to post I needed to put each column in a new row :-(.)
East Africa and Uganda

Eastern Rumelia

I took out my US section with the title page and am now frantically looking for it. I know I have it since I have seen it a couple times over the past years. Thus the page numbers start with Aden vice US. Even if I find the pages I will not renumber the rest of the collection, since so many collections I have seen/bought/have don’t have the US section in them. I will number the pages something like 1US, 2US... and add them to the spreadsheet.

I used to only fill 'labeled' spaces (i.e. spaces which could be clearly identified to one or more Scott numbers) although I counted the 'unlabeled' spaces. After reading your blog, I have reconsidered this personal and arbitrary policy and will now start to fill all the spaces with stamps that fit in the appropriate series where they are found. I need to accommodate them somehow in the spreadsheet too.

The basic tracking scheme is to keep a list of all the stamps (Scott numbers) that belong to the unfilled spaces in a comma separated list in each row. They are deleted from the list when I get them. Where there are multiple entries that qualify for one space, I surround them with square brackets and separate each number within the square brackets with a semicolon. I suffix the Scott number with an 'x' if the copy of the stamp in the album (actually there are 4 parts to the album now) is damaged in some way and needs replacing at some point.

The formula in column U counts commas in column J (the list of Scott numbers needed) and adds one (unless there are no entries in the column). This represents the number of stamps needed in that row. That column in summed to give the total needed. I separately counted the total number of stamps for that row entry (column K).

That is the general idea; if you would like to know any other information about it, please do not hesitate to ask.

I also have scanned all the pages with filenames for each page image with its page number and its country name (top of page) in the file name. I have penciled in the page numbers on the bottom of each odd page. This with the spreadsheet helps enormously in finding a stamp image or its actual page quickly and without a lot of flipping of pages lessening the wear and tear.

When I put in a stamp, I update both the spreadsheet, and mark the stamp image or empty space on the page file image with a paint mark. At some arbitrary point, I rescan the page. I also pencil-in Scott numbers near the bottom left of the stamp image that identifies the stamp in the album or if blank, the one-up number from the previous space's number. Where there is a break in the numbers, a new number is penciled in. I did not identify the numbers for the spaces that I had filled before 1995.

One other note, I agree with your sentiment that there needs to be a guide to collecting these albums. I myself would like to create a spreadsheet comparing different album versions with details of what they contain. I come across a lot of albums with no title page and would be interested in identifying 'markers' (e.g. this stamp/page is or is not present means this is a 19XX version).

Thanks again,

Bob said...

Wow. Your detailed comment is going to take me awhile to digest, but I know I would certainly be interested in seeing however much of your spreadsheet you care to share.

Vis-a-vis collecting ways to identify the different editions when the title page is missing, I own the 1947 and 1969 editions, and temporarily, the first part of the latest 4 part version. My guess is that the we eventually would end up with something like: "if all countries begin on the recto of a page but if the following countries are missing, you have one of the following editions..." As you say, then it may get down to checking for specific stamps or sets. My impression is that this can be entire classes, usually BOB issues, that tend to come and go.

Randy Jenkins said...

Looking for the right spot in this blog to ask the following question, but can't quite seem just the right post to comment on. But I think I'll get the answer in this blog or nowhere.

Like many collectors, I have assembled a run of Scott International Blue albums from 1840 - 1977 from a variety of sources and publication editions and years. The coverage is comprehensive with one troubling exception: 1968-1969. I have purchased several used (comprehensive, I thought) 1965-1968 and 1968-1971 albums each and all seem to be missing spaces (worldwide, not just one or two countries) for stamps issued roughly from October, 1968 to about May or June, 1969. I realize by this time that Scott was no longer able to make truly "comprehensive" albums (a lot of BOB for instance got cut out as the years progressed), but this is a uniform chunk of time where everything is omitted. There are two possibilities: 1) they were never included in the Scott Internat'l Blues or 2) the particular edition of those volumes was printed somehow before the release of that particular date run of issues. If the right answer is #2, how can I tell which of the series (1965-1968 or 1968-1971) those missing months of 1968 and 1969 were ultimately contained in?

Like many of this blog's readers (I suspect), while I do maintain a stamp specialty, I just can't resist "filling spaces" worldwide - there is something just compelling about it. But it irks me that I have many 1968-1969 stamps in glassines which I am unable to mount.

Any thoughts from readers?

Bob said...

Randy, I'm not going to be of any help. I suggest posting your question to A number of collecters on that use the International.

A couple of comments. The supplements do in general follow the Catalog, so while I would not be surprised that 1965-1968 to be missing stamps from the end of a year, I would think that 1968-1971 would pick these up.

The articles about the first collectors I learned who had completed a set of the Internationals do not mention a problem with later volumes being that incomplete. Since they mention incomplete coverage of earlier Internationals, that does make me wonder if something is amiss with the ones you have.

Having said that, I do have an image for the title page of Supplement 36B, for 1999-2000. While this is later than your issues, I do find several items of it of interest: "Included are pages for Russia 1941-1944 that correct a printing error in the 1976 reprint of Pzrt 2B." And "Where noted, stamps issued in 2000 or previous years, are being held pending release of additional stamps that would complete an album page. These pages will appear in a future International supplement." Twenty-four countries from Laos through Monaco were impacted. I suppose it would be worth looking at the pages in your albums that are missing stamps, and see if they have a lot of room that Scott might have been reserving for future issues.