Monday, September 29, 2008

Even Hit Men Love Collecting the Classics

I've been reading reviews of Hit and Run, the latest novel by Lawrence Block in his Keller series. The main protagonist is a paid assassin who happens to be a stamp collector. Although I'm not into mysteries, our local public library had a copy which I had to, um, checkout. While I knew Keller was a stamp collector, I just assumed that hit man types would be into something like the Brazilian Bullseyes or maybe guns on stamps topicals. It is with some chagrin that I must report that Keller collects the world, 1840-1940 (plus the British empire through 1952--i.e., the range covered by the Scott Classics catalog). Do I need to worry that collectors of the first 100 years of philately may have latent homicidal tendencies? Fortunately, we are told that he owns ten albums and and it would taken millions of dollars to fill them, so that eliminates Keller as a "Blue" International collector. That's a relief. Now if you are a "Brown" International or Specialty Album collector...

While on the topic of books, I'm halfway through Helen Morgan's most entertaining Blue Mauritius and am looking forward to the US release of The Error World: An Affair with Stamps by Simon Garfield. At some point, I also need to read Nicholas Courtney’s The Queen’s Stamps — The Authorized History of the Royal Philatelic Collection.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dr. Meng's Stamp Collection and the Scott Catalogs

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Dr. Hsien-ming Meng stamp collection is being auctioned by H R Harmer as part of its Sale 194: Collections of the World (October 10-11, 2008). What caught my attention was that Dr. Meng's collection formed the nucleus of the image-scanning project for the Scott Catalogs that began in 2001 and with the help of many other collectors is now 99% complete. Dr. Meng (I don't know if he is still alive) is a worldwide collector who, according to a letter to Scott, has accumulated a collection of more than 250,000 different in more than 400 albums." Dr. Meng says that "With most countries I am nearly complete in issues to about 1985. A few favored countries such as China, Hong Kong, Macao and some European countries are complete to date..."

Rather than printed albums, Dr. Meng preferred Hagner or Hagner-style black-backed stock sheets kept in Lighthouse albums. The albums were housed in a specially built stamp den with overflow into another room. According to an article by James E. Kloetzel in the Scott Stamp Monthly (January/February 2004, p. 8), "Dr. Meng's wife has put her foot down and has prohibited further expansion."

Here is a sample listing of one of the more comprehensive albums:

"MAGNIFICENT SAUDI ARABIA COLLECTION, 1916-85, MINT Here is a rare opportunity to obtain a truly educational experience as built by an advance collector, as MOST sets are here, lightly hinged, starting w/ #L115 of the first 19 sets are complete, then, there's L108-15 cplt, L116-17, L119-22, L125-29, L133-41 cplt, L142-59 cplt, L160-84 cplt NEJD Adm. #1-2, 22-29 cplt. Amongst others are #35-45, #48-54, #59-74, #92-115 (3 cplt sets), #159-284; 23 cplt sets, all commemoratives are here including the Faisal S/S #674, on through 1985 (#960). First, second , third and fourth airmail sets cplt, many of C33 // C77, B-O-B #LJ1-12, #LJ26-34 cplt, #LJ37, then #LJ40-55 cplt, #J1-3, #J7-23 cplt, Officials cplt through #O28, Postal Taxes cplt (#RA2 used). Amazing and satisfying! Fine-VF. From the "Meng" collection. Est. $5000-6000."

Some of what I assume to be the best parts of the collection, such as China and Hong Kong, don't appear to be part of this auction. Nor did I spot a "Blue" International Volume 1 although he did have a set of Minkus Supreme Globals with stamps from 1855-1970.

UPDATE 3/7/2011: Dr. Meng died 11 February 2011. There was a nice article about his contributions to the Scott catalog in the 21 March 2011 Linn's.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A COMPLETE Scott International Volume 1 Offered at Auction

HR Harmer is offering a completed Scott International Volume 1 as Lot 2507 of its Sale 194: Collections of the World (October 10-11, 2008). Here is the description from Harmer's online catalog:

"ASTOUNDING CLASSIC WORLDWIDE REPRESENTATIVE COLLECTION A wondrous assemblage of tens of thousands of different mint OG, used, and unused stamps to 1940, each identified by Scott, carefully mounted, and filling every space on both sides of every single page in 4 pristine Scott International albums, with a loose, thin, plastic interleaf protecting the stamps on each page; although very costly stamps may be absent, each album contains many issues with $50-$100+ Scott values, incl. mint Austria B81-6, China 78, 276-9, Greece C5-7, Iceland 213-15, Mongolia 62-74; used Austria 1, Canada 4, 14, 17, 27, 28, 46, 47, Cape of Good Hope 13, Ceylon 1, China 80, Denmark 3, Great Britain 1, 96, 126, Hong Kong 24, Italy 22, 72, Japan 229, Korea 6-9, Netherlands 18, Newfoundland C8, Philippines 213-19, Russia 551-4, 559-68, C53-7, Switzerland 38, United States 1 (red grid cancel), 2 (faint pen cancel), 69, 71, 72 SE, 76, 78, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 119, 240, 242, 291, 294-9, C1-6, C18, Q1-12, and so much more; occasional fault amongst the earliest issues, average through VF centering throughout, generally clean with plenty of fresh mint stamps; a lot of love and decades of time went into assembling this collection, a rare and enviable achievement, the likes of which may not be offered again for many years; Viewing is certain to impress and inspire covetous bidding ![v] Est. $15000-20000"

I'm assuming that the phrase "although very costly stamps may be absent" does not mean that there are empty spaces but rather that the Blue Internationals don't provide spaces for the most expensive stamps.

I'll report back on what the Lot brings.

Also in this auction is the 1500+ volume Meng stamp collection which was used for many of the color images in the Scott catalogs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

eBay Notes

I suspect most of us monitor eBay, but I thought I would highlight a couple of recent listings. Just posted is


with a $7500 minimum bid (Item number: 290258788288; expires 9/13/08). This is the most complete Scott International Volume I Collection I've seen on eBay in the year or so I've been monitoring the collections section seriously. If you are curious to see what an 85% complete International Volume I looks like, it's well worth the time to scroll through the photos. It will be interesting to see if it sells. (UPDATE 9/15/08: The collection didn't sell and has been relisted at $6995. The seller is also soliciting best offers. UPDATE 10/26/2008: I finally remembered to check back on the status. The seller accepted a best offer of $4750.)

Recently, a "Scott International Collection 1840-1940 3 Volumes" (Item number: 260269681312) sold for $1,264.00. The seller didn't do an item count but from the photos I would imagine that the collection could have numbered 20K, athough there did appear to be many extra pages that were added for varieties.

There have also been several Supreme Globals with complete sets of pages on eBay recently--these don't appear that often. An unused set through 1966 sold for $296 (Item number: 200248280784) at the end of August. My memory is that the last time the Master Global base volume was in print from Amos Advantage that it retailed for three hundred and some odd dollars.