Monday, December 22, 2008

My Scott International Album Wishlist from Santa (Part 2)

Christmas is rapidly approaching, so I better get the rest of my Blue International wishlist into the mail to Old Saint Nick.

5. Restore stamps dropped in later revisions

There are literally hundreds of stamps that were in the 1947 version that disappeared when Volume 1 was split into two parts. Some of these were restored in the four part version, but there are still ones missing. While many of these are Back-of-the-Book issues, some are later regular issues and commemoratives.

An example of an entire page that has gone AWOL is the one containing 33 spaces covering Austrian Military stamps from 1915-1917 (K.U.K. FELDPOST). The page was in the 1947 edition but had disappeared by 1969 and wasn't restored in the 2008 reprint.

6. Give the Indian Convention States Their Own Spaces

Scott departs from providing for specific stamps in the Convention States of India instead giving collectors a single page labeled at the top
Stamps of British India overprinted for use in the Convention States
Chama Faridkot Gwalior Jhind Nabha Patiala

The page is blank below these headings. I think Scott intended that stamps for the States be mounted in rows vertically below the appropriate headings.

By Palmer's calculation there are some 250 inexpensive Convention States that a collector might acquire that deserve to have their own pages. With some work, I bet most of these could be accommodated in just two pages front and back.

At one time Scott treated the so-called Feudatory States the same way, but by the 1947 edition, at least, the larger of these had their own identified spaces. However, there are easily acquired Feudatory States stamps that also deserve better coverage.

7. Add inexpensive stamps that have never been in the Blue International

There are well over a thousand stamps that fall within the scope of the International but, for whatever, reason never made it into the album. In a few cases, the omissions are perplexing: for example, why are there no spaces for the omnibus 1935 British Coronation issues for Ascension, Barbados, Gilbert & Ellice Islands, Mauritius, St. Helena and the Solomon Islands?

The largest concentrations of missing issues according to Palmer's study are from Austria, China, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Turkey. Some of these were originally in the 1947 edition; others have never been blessed with a space.

8. Remove stamps that are no longer in the Scott Catalog

Perhaps a few dozen stamps that were in the Scott Catalogs when the Internationals were originally published are no longer given catalog numbers. According to Palmer, this includes Armenia's 1920 pictorials, Latvia's 1919 Russian Occupation issue, Spain's 1928-1938 Postal Tax Stamps (?), Ukraine's 1920 pictorials, and the Upper Silesia 1921 Occupation issues (?). Since none of these are particularly expensive, removing them might not be worth the trouble although the process might free up space for missing issues that are in the catalog.

9. Add Scott Catalog Numbers to every cut or description

If this list were in priority order, putting a Scott number with every stamp would be right after keeping the album in print. One of the frustrations with the Internationals is that too many of the descriptions and sometimes even the cuts are inadequate to accurately identify the correct stamp. Even with the Scott catalog, you occasionally are playing a guessing game with the editors. This seems to me to be a win-win scenario for Scott because even knowing the Scott numbers, you'll still need to have their catalog.

Albums with catalog numbers has been done before. Later editions of the Minkus Master and Supreme Global albums incorporated Minkus catalog numbers for every stamps. Even Scott included numbers in their short lived Grand Award world album and in some of their Speciality Albums.

I bet Scott no longer has any record of which stamps are in the International. If the company is interested in correcting mistakes, adding or restoring missing issues, etc., they are going to need to perform this process internally, any way.

If it is too expensive to add catalog numbers to all of the International pages, what about including a notation directly in the Scott Classics Catalog? An advantage of this approach is that it would be easier to change numbers in the catalog than in the album. For example, a notation e.g. [I] could be added directly to the listings themselves:

6 A3 3s red & silver [I] 15.00 2.75

If Scott doesn't want to muddle their catalog entries, perhaps the information could be included in an Appendix. Depending upon the formatting, this would also take care of the tenth item on my wishlist. I would even forgive them if they wanted to publish the listing separately to help defray the cost.

10. Give Collectors a Checklist

As long as I am wishing for the moon, what about publishing a checklist that would make it a breeze to maintain our wantlists, collection inventory, etc.? Ideally, this would be online a la Stanley Gibbon's My Collection service, but I'm easy.

11. Add British Commonwealth Stamps 1940-1952

This would further bring the Blue International into parity with the Classic Specialized Catalogue, and, I would hazard, not be difficult or expensive for Scott to accomplish. After all, the required pages already exist in the International Volume 2 and 3s (although some of the pages in Volume 3 probably include post-1952 issues). One big argument against this: if Scott puts these issues in Volume 1, what do you do about collectors who have no interest in pre-1940 stamps and start with Volume 2 or 3? (And collectors with all 3 volumes would have duplicate pages.)

But I'm certain Santa can work all that out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Scott International Album Wishlist from Santa (Part 1)

I was reading the impressive list of changes in the 2009 edition of the Scott Classics Catalogue, and was reminded how far each year Scott goes beyond simply updating prices. According to the press release, the 2009 edition "boasts an additional 23 pages due to a number of important editorial enhancements. Listings for Canadian Semi-Official Air Post stamps have been added....In Puerto Rico, forerunners have been added....New major numbers have been added in Afghanistan, Queensland, Rhodesia and Tasmania....Very significant numbers of new minor listings are evident in United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, French Offices in China, Great Britain, Spain, Tasmania and Victoria."

Considering Scott's commitment to classic stamp collecting evidenced by this and previous years' enhancements, I started to think how wonderful it would be if the company devoted at least some of its expertise to improving the landmark album with equivalent coverage--yes, I'm taking about the Scott Blue International Volume One! The "Blue" will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014. So in that spirit, here are suggestions for changes that Scott might consider implementing over the next six years. Many of these would be inexpensive for Scott to make, although some would involve fairly large revisions.

Arthur Palmer Jr.'s "Study of omissions made in the last revision of Scott's Internaional Postage Stamp Album" was invaluable in preparing this wishlist.

1. Keep Volume One in Print in Perpetuity

Kudos to Scott for bringing back all four parts of Volume One which have been out-of-print for years at a time. Of course, I wish they hadn't increased the price, but at least the complete album is once again available, hopefully this time for good. Now, if they make the improvements I'm suggesting, then price increases would be easier to swallow.

2. Nuke the handful of excessively expensive stamps that are outside the album's scope

The Blue Internationals were originally aimed at aspiring collectors with the focus of providing, to quote from the title page, "for a representative collection...of the varieties ordinarily found in most collections and blank spaces for such rare stamps as may be acquired." What was once common and inexpensive is not necessarily so today, but, in my opinion we're still not talking about much that would deter a serious collector.

And Scott's reasoning for providing spaces for a few stamps that have always been comparatively expensive is understandable. Surely every collector aspires to have Great Britain's Penny Black, the first stamp issued, and every U.S. collector, at least, the 5c 1847 Franklin, our inaugural issue.

In a couple of cases, though, I believe Scott slipped in stamps that cannot be justified. One of these is the 10c 1847 Washington. This was not in the original Internationals but was added in the 1964 or 1969 revision. Although readily attainable, Scott #2 is probably the most expensive stamp in the album. Even a space filler will run you hundreds of dollars. And, if you've been reading my blog, you already know about the scarcest stamp in the album, Syria 106a, that absolutely has no business being part of the volume. It would be easy for Scott to eliminate these by removing the cut or description and leaving the existing space blank. That way should the collector obtain either stamp, he or she can still add it. But the rest of us won't feel it incumbent to fill the space.

3. Bring the scope of coverage for the United States in conformity with other countries

Scott provides spaces for U.S. Back-of-the-Book categories that it doesn't include anywhere else in the album: envelope cut squares and hunting permit stamps are the most obvious examples. (I could also have used the hunting permit stamps as examples in #2 supra--Sam Houston Duck Company charges $400 for used copies of these admittedly attractive seven pieces of paper--about the cost of the albums themselves.) Scott has previously done some pruning of its U.S. coverage over the years--the 1947 International included Revenue stamps which are no longer in the latest edition. Fortunately, this is a cheap wish: all Scott has to do is to remove the pages. Which means they can afford to...

4. Add/Restore missing countries

If you compare the "table of contents" of the 1947 Scott International with some subsequent editions, you'll discover whole countries have disappeared. Fortunately, many of these came back when the International was revised into four parts in 1994. The countries that were left out for several decades include Benin, Cochin China, Corfu, Moheli, Obock, Rio de Oro, and Tobago.

In addition, there are some countries that are in the Catalog but have never to my knowledge been in any edition of the album: Cilicia, Dalmatia, Eastern Rumelia, and Eastern Silesia. Plus there are a variety of Chinese Offices, former German States, Roman States, among others which are in the Scott catalog but not in the album. Admittedly, I haven't checked these out carefully--one of my projects for 2009.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Few Bits of New Info on the Scott Blue Internationals

One of these days I'm going to be at a library with a good run of Scott Monthlys, but until then, I'll take information where I find it. A recent eBay auction offered a 1955 Scott International in bound condition--the first I've seen. I had assumed that the 1947 edition was the last bound edition but obviously not. I also was mistaken in assuming that the 1955 revision of the International was published in order to revise the US section to bring the numbering into line with the current Scott catalog. As you may know, the Scott numbers for the United States underwent a major revision in the 1940s. To begin with, the main US sequence for decades began with the Postmaster Provisionals which is why the first official US stamp, the 1847 5c Franklin, was number 28 in the Brown and early Blue Internationals, not number 1 as it is today. Further, the Back-of-the-Book issues that today begin with letter prefixes originally were part of one long numeric sequence. (For more information on this and other changes in the catalog, see Albert Ewell Jr/'s article, "The Scott Catalogue 1933 and 1995" ion the Philatelic Literature Review 45:2, pp 95-101.) To get back to the point, the 1955 edition still uses the numbering as found in the 1943 catalog. (Updated 1.22.09--I just found out that the 1964 version was the first to 1) switch to the new numbering and 2) add the 1847 10c Washington, Scott #2.)

I've found out a little more on the origin of the Scott Juniors from an article by George Turner, "A Century, 1868-1968 Scott's Albums" that appeared in the March 1968 Scott's Monthly Stamp Journal. According to Turner, Scott had been acquired in 1914 by Charles E. Hatfield which issued the first Junior in April 1914. The earliest edition I've seen on eBay so far is 1916.

Here's my current working theory on the Blue Internationals. The notation "eBay" means that an album with that date was offered for auction.

1914 - Scott Junior--1st edition
1916 - Scott Junior (seen on eBay)
1917 - Scott Junior (seen on eBay) 
           18K spaces, "several thousand" engravings
1920 - Scott Junior. 522 pages.
1921 - Scott Junior (seen on eBay)
1924 - Scott Junior
18K spaces. (eBay)
1927 - Scott Junior. 18K spaces. (eBay)
1928 - Scott Junior (eBay)
1930 - Scott Junior (eBay)
1933 - Scott Junior (eBay)
1935 - Scott Junior (eBay)
this was a Scott Junior. 31K spaces. No mention of number of illustrations. Bound. US Section corresponds to 1936 Scott catalog. (eBay)
1936 - Scott Junior
this was a Scott Junior. 31K spaces. Bound. (eBay)
1938 - Scott Junior (eBay)
32,600 spaces. Bound.
1939 - Scott Junior.
34K spaces, 7800 illustrations. Used the 1940 Scott catalog. Available bound and looseleaf. (eBay)
1940 - Scott Junior
- this was a Scott Junior and used the 1940 Scott catalog. 35K spaces, 8K illustrations. Came both bound and looseleaf. (eBay)
1941 - Scott Junior
- this was a Scott Junior and used the 1941 Scott catalog. 35K spaces, 8K illustrations. Came both bound and looseleaf. (eBay)
1943 Scott Junior (eBay)
This was still a Scott Junior (eBay) and used the 1943 Scott catalog. The '43 was available both bound and looseleaf. According to the 1943 catalog this edition came in three versions. No. 1, "Bound in boards, blue cover with red cloth reinforced back." No.2, "Bound in dark blue cloth, gilt lettering and stubbed to prevent bulging." The looseleaf edition is described as "Loose Leaf in a heavy blue Fabrikoid hinged post binder with round posts." The original costs were $4, $5 and $7 respectively.
1947 Scott International
- this was the first International without the word "Junior"; there may also have been a 1947 edition with Junior still in the title; at least one of these was available both bound and loose leaf. Based on the 1943 catalog. While I have checked only the first couple of hundred pages, I believe the 1947 to be identical to the 1943 edition with just a change in copyright date. As late as the early 50s, Scott was still referring in its ads to "Scott's International (Formerly the Junior)...."
1955 Scott International
- still using 1943 catalog, US still has 5c 1847 as Scott #28 and no 10c 1847; still has spaces for US revenues. 1955 is first copyright date listed on title page (i.e, no 1947). The 1955 edition was available bound as well as looseleaf. Still has spaces for flags and coats of arms. However, there are a number of differences in coverage between it and the 1943/47 edition.
1964 Scott International
Still one part but no longer using the 1943 catalog (title page doesn't indicate the catalog version). This is the first edition to use the revised numbering system (i.e., the 5c 1847 is now Scott #1, not #28). It also adds the 10c 1847, Scott #2 plus, presumably, other changes. Title page has two copyright dates: 1955, 1964.
1969 Scott International
- Definitely one part. 1969 edition title page has copyright dates of 1955, 1964, 1969. No mention on title page of which catalog the 1969 version is based on. Doesn't have spaces for flags or coats of arms.
1979 Scott International
- Definitely 2 parts. First edition of the 2 part Scotts?
1985 Scott International
- Definitely 2 parts. Has copyright dates of 1955, 1964, 1969, 1979, 1985.
1991 Scott International
- Definitely 2 parts. I've seen part IA which includes United States, and Afghanistan through Latvia. Has copyright dates of 1955, 1964, 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991. Still contains countries out of alphabetical sequence including some countries still starting on the verso of pages and some multiple countries on a single page.
1994 - Have not seen
First of the 4 part Scotts? The revision into 4 parts rectified many of the problems with the 2 part version although there are still hundreds of stamps missing that were in the 1947 and even the 1969 editions. Every country and almost all subgroups of issues (e.g., Semipostals and airmails) begin on the front of a page to allow easy integration with International volumes 2+.
1997 Scott International
- Definitely 4 parts; parts from last printings were allowed to go out-of-print as stock ran out; reprinted ("on demand") in 2008 with 1997 copyright date. This printing has the following copyright notice: Copyright 1955, 1964, 1969, 1979, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1997.

Update 5/2010: Truth be told, I've been updating the above every month or two as I find bits and pieces of information. But this update is to show the image of the 1964 edition with dust jacket. You don't see these dust jackets very often:

Update 6/2010: Interestingly, two copies of the first Junior Album appeared on eBay within a few weeks of each other. While I would have liked to have had a copy, these each contained enough stamps to take them out of the realm of an impulse purchase. Also, I've seen a copy of the copyright registrations for 1914 and this is what confirms that the Junior album was copyrighted 1 April 1914 with two copies deposited on 9 April 1914. Here is what the title page looked like:
Note that the official title of the album is the International Junior Postage Stamp Album: Junior Edition!

Update 11/2010: I don't usually say anything about Volume 2 (because it isn't, well, Volume 1, but an eBay seller recently posted copyright dates for a Volume 2 of 1953, 1965, 1977. I assume more recent versions would have some additional dates. Now the question is: do the dates represent revisions or just renewals to protect Scott's intellectual property?