Saturday, December 26, 2009

If you haven't read it, check out reader Zenabi's comments on why he likes the computer created album pages produced by William Steiner on his Stamp Albums Web.

While Zenabi makes a good case for using computer generated pages as opposed to traditionally printed albums, I still have to come to terms with two concerns about any type of "comprehensive" album. The first concern, which I admittedly feel less strongly about than when I first started this blog, is that, whether it is the "Brown" Internationals or the Stamp Web pages, you can never complete these comprehensive world albums. More to the point, not only would they never be complete, my original assumption was that you would be forever reminded of the futility of your collecting choice by the many hundreds of empty or scarcely filled pages. While some collectors view this as a challenge, I worry it would be a constant reminder that no matter how much time or money I spent, the albums would look empty. But after studying scans on the Internet of some comprehensive collections, I realize that there are enough "common" stamps that most of the spaces in the albums will still be the ones in the "Blue" International and that one might very well feel a certain sense of accomplishment even if the "Blue Mauritius" and similar rarities were forever beyond reach. As Lawrence Block wrote: "When you collected the whole world, your albums held spaces for many more stamps than you would ever be able to acquire...You tried to fill all the spaces, of course--that was the point--but it was the trying that brought you pleasure, not the accomplishment." And in your quest you would be following in the hallowed footsteps of Ferrary, Hind, and other renowned philatelic giants of yore.

The second concern is more difficult for me to work around. The Stamp Albums Web Classic Era pages take up over 6500 pages. (His British Commonwealth pages follow the Scott Classics Catalogue by going through the reign of George VI.) Even stuffing 600+ pages to a large binder, this would require ten binders. Subway Stamp Shop estimates that their "Brown" reprints would take 19 binders to house properly. As Subway makes money from selling the binders, this estimate may be rather liberal, but still you will end up wanting something like a stamp den (stamp nook? stamp cave?) to house your collection as shown in this recent eBay auction photo.

While this type of arrangement would make it easy to cope with a large collection, my problem is I like the freedom of housing my entire holdings in two binders which I can play with on the couch while watching TV. You could argue that realistically one is rarely working on more than a single country at any one time, and, not that you would be so rude as to say this to my face, I could use the exercise of getting up now and then to switch albums. One of Zenabi's points is that you don't have to print all of the pages at once. What I could do is to print out the album pages one country at a time, remounting the stamps from my existing "Blue" before going on to the next country.

I've been meaning for some time to take out a subscription to Stamp Album Web so this has motivated me to do so. It will be fun comparing these pages with the "Blue."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gratuitous December Post

I've been trying not to blog anything purely personal--i.e., stuff with no possible utility to anyone else. But being afraid 2009 would come and go with no posts for December, I'm breaking my rule to comment on why I haven't added more than a handful of stamps since the summer. My excuse is eBay. I'm still trying to secure one more International Volume 1 or its equivalent which is sufficiently comprehensive that I can extract at least a thousand stamps for my album, preferably more. Unfortunately, in spite of the complaints on some of the lists I read about eBay stamp sales tanking, the eBay market is hot this year for good classic era collections.

By way of comparison, for about a six month period in 2008 I kept a spreadsheet tallying the over 100 worldwide collections offered on eBay during that time frame that had significant coverage from 1840-1940. The most expensive item during that time period sold for $870.00. Just this month in 2009, there is an "Antique Stamp Collection in Scott Brown Album..." that sold earlier today for $3100. A 3 volume international (1840-1949) sold a few days ago for $1326. Two Scott browns sold at the beginning of the month for $2024 and $2950. Now admittedly these particular collections have Scott catalog values of 10 times or more the selling amount, but we're still looking at almost all of the large collections selling for over $1000 during the past few months versus none fetching above $1K for at least half of 2008. Most of the higher priced collections are being offered by NYStamps who provides an estimated catalog value (often in Euros for some reason) and generally a couple of hundred photos. This is contrast to the sellers in 2008 who usually did not give catalog values but often provided a ballpark count but not necessarily much in the way of photographs.

As I can't justify spending a couple of thousand at one time for a collection (even if I expect to recoup a fair amount of that when resold), this is motivating me to work through most of the albums I've accumulated to prepare them for sale on eBay. The reason I've been holding on to them is that these albums still hold stamps that are not in my edition of the Scott International and I've been dithering about whether to ignore stamps for which there are no spaces or save them on stock pages. I'm finally decided to go the stock page route, aided by Subway having a great sale on double sided black stock sheets (buy 5 packages at a reduced price and receive a 6th free). Hopefully, I can complete this project within the next couple of months and use the proceeds to help pay for one large collection. Then I'll switch over to bidding on single country/regional collections for awhile and see how that goes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bosnia & Herzegovina Addendum

In poking around the Amos Advantage site, I came across the following: "Scott International Album Pages: Bosnia & Herzegovina 1879-2007 (92 Pages / 45 Sheets, [Product Number 800BOH]). This addendum to the Scott International Album contains pages for Bosnia & Herzegovina. Coverage includes stamps released by the Muslim Government as well as those issued by the Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Serb Administrations." I can't find any information about this Addendum elsewhere on the web, so I don't know what is going on. The Volume 1 already has 5 pages for Bosnia & Herzegovina starting with 1879. Are these repeated in the Addendum? Has anyone seen these pages?

2010 Scott Classic Out November 9th

November is the month in which the latest edition of the Scott Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 appears. According to Scott, the 16th edition has 2300 new numbered listings, "including 58 for Castelorizzo, 240 for Cilicia, 122 for Fiume, 797 for various French colonies, 123 for Hungary, and 40 for Memel." Also appearing for the first time are French railway parcel post stamps, the Indian Feudatory States of Kotah and Tonk, and Russian postal fiscal issues. Several sections have been reworked and, of course, there are thousands of price changes and price additions (especially for covers and mint never-hinged). By the way, it looks like the Falkland Islands (Scott 74a) 5-shilling King Penguin stamp won the competition for the stamp to be featured on the catalog's cover. For more information, click here.

As far as I know, there is only one competitor to the Scott and it isn't current: Yvert &Tellier Catalogue Des Timbres Classiques Du Monde, 1840-1940 which was last published in 2005. The APS Library doesn't have a copy and I haven't seen it offered by a US distributor. (The only US library showing ownership in OCLC's WorldCat is the Library of Congress.) I can buy the catalogue from a French source at near the retail of 79 Euros, but factoring in shipping, it seems a little steep just to satisfy my curiosity. Hopefully, I'll be back in France before too long and peruse a copy there.

UPDATE 12/29/09: The February 2010 Scott Stamp Monthly contains a multi review of the 2010 Scott Classic Catalogue(pp 10-13, 69). The review is considerably more detailed than the press release linked above. One addition I found intriguing is listings for three-hole punched Hungarian stamps issued between 1921-24 which were I believe defaced by the government to curb speculation. As I have probably a hundred duplicate stamps from this era on stocksheets, I was hopeful that I could find examples of these. Alas, a cursory search didn't turn up any although they aren't always easy to spot. Here is a picture of one from the Poppe Stamps site (the company is selling this one for 49 cents).

UPDATE 1/3/2010. Turns out I had several of these stamps after all, but I did find the holes difficult to see without a magnifying glass.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

I've made a few scans to show some of the categories of differences in the various editions of the "Blue" International volume 1. I've mentioned these in previous posts, but sometimes a picture is clearer. All pages are copyright Scott/Amos Publishing Company, 1943, 1969, or 1997.

While Scott in its most recent editions has sometimes lopped off a few stamps that were in earlier editions when they occured at the end of pages, on occasion an entire page gets dropped. For example, WWI Austrian Military stamps were in editions at least through 1947, but were MIA by 1969.
Sometimes an entire country originally in the "Blue" has been dropped from the latest editions. Again, these tend to be countries that only had a row or two of stamps at the bottom of pages devoted to another country, but sometimes an entire page bites the dust. These German states were in editions at least through 1947, but were gone by 1969. Note the space taken up by the flags and coats of arms.
As with later editions of the Scott catalogs, newer versions of the International helpfully attempt to bring together sets that span multiple years. You can see this with Angola. The 1943 edition has the Ceres series that began in 1913 split between 1913, 1922 and 1925/26. By 1969, this series had been edited into one sequence. Interestingly, some stamps that were in the 1943 edition are missing from the 1969 edition and vice versa for no obvious reason.
One noteworthy feature of the latest editions is their ability to integrate with the International Volume 2 and beyond. This required Scott to split off categories of BOB stamps, such as airmails or postage dues, so they could be on their own pages. You can see this at work with Australia. The first scan is of 1943 with regular postage, airmails, and then postage dues, all on one page.By 1969, Scott had started to rearrange pages in anticipation of the wholesale changes it would make in the 1970s. Finally, the 1997 version shows the additional splits that are now typical through the album and which helps explain why it is in four parts. (I've omitted any blank backs of pages.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is There a "Best" Edition of the "Blue"?

For the past year, I have been trying to determine if there are editions of the "Blue" which are more complete and accurate than the rest. My working hypothesis has been that the 1947 version is the best candidate. Turns out my supposition may be incorrect. I originally came to believe the 1947 edition was the most complete because I knew the more recent versions of the "Blue" are missing entire countries and pages that were in pre-1950 editions. (This is largely as a consequence of a change in editorial policy starting in the 1970s that began every country and every major category of stamp within a country on the front of a page.) But when I began seriously comparing the 1965 edition with the 1947 version, it turns out it isn't just the later version that is missing stamps that are in the earlier; there are some stamps in the 1969 album that aren't in the 1947 one.

Here are a few examples from the "A" countries:

1947 album missing Scott numbers 330 and 331 that are in the 1965 album
1965 album missing Scott RA1, RA2 that are in the 1947 album

1965 album missing Scott P1, P2 that are in the 1947 album

1965 album missing Scott J16 that is in the 1947 album
1965 album missing specific spaces for Scott 28, 29 that are in the 1947 album (i.e., what had specific IDs in the 1947 version are now left blank)

The 1913-26 Ceres series is complicated: The 1947 album is missing Scott 134, 135 and 140 that are in the 1965 album while the 1965 album is missing Scott 150 that is in the 1947 album. Both albums omit Scott 138, 143, 145, 147, 152, 153 plus higher denominations. (I'm ignoring Scott 129 that is no longer in the catalog.)

1965 album missing 31-35 that are in the 1947 album

1947 album missing Scott 140-142 that are in the 1965 album

So the answer is less clear than I thought. The 1947 edition has hundreds more stamps in it than those published in 1969 and after, but nevertheless is itself missing some stamps that were added during the editing process for later editions. I suppose there is a possibility that the 1955 or the 1964 editions have everything in the 1947 plus the additions I'm seeing in the 1969 "Blue." You rarely see the 1955 or 1964 editions offered on eBay so it may be some time before that question can be answered. If you own either of these editions and would be willing to check a few pages, please let me know.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stamp Collections Online

I just stumbled across a couple of sites I should have known about before this. Bill Seymour has a webpage for "Online Stamp Collections," including his own. Countries Mr. Seymour has scanned from his own collection include Alaouites, Alexandretta, Algeria, Allenstein, Argentina Collection, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Belgium, El Salvador, Greenland, New Zealand, Niger, Turkey, Upper Volta, and Yugoslavia. What makes these especially relevant is that they fall within the Classic Era of collecting.

Mr. Seymour also lists other people's scanned collections of which the most interesting to the "Blue" International Collector is the Antonius Ra World Collection. Again, emphasis is on the Classic Era. This is still a work in progress so not all countries are represented, but those that have been scanned are well worth a look (including a very impressive US). Here's a page of Roman States from the Antonius Ra collection to give you an idea of the treat in store for the worldwide collector:

(All rights reserved, Antonius Ra.)

I've had it at the back of my mind that when my own collection reaches say 20,000-25,000 stamps, it might be interesting to start scanning my pages. At the rate I'm going that is still some years off. Alternatively, I could scan pages when an individual country is complete. I do have several of those already.

ADDITION: I just found "...Dr. Cheng Chang’s web site of world stamp collection by country. Dr. Cheng Chang intends to collect over 90% of the world’s stamps from 1840, the world’s first stamp, up to and around 1990, though collections from many countries, such as China, Canada, Germany and so on, are up to year of 2000 or even over." Although Dr. Chang appears to have some Internationals, the great majority of his collection is housed in Scott Specialty albums. Absolutely worth taking a look. I think you will be impressed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not Another Rarest Stamp in the "Blue" International!

Regular readers of Linn's Stamp News will know that at the back of most issues is the column "Stamp Market Tips." The stamp featured in the 10/19/09 issue is Colombia's 1917 Special Delivery Stamp, Scott E1 (SG E373). While the stamp currently catalogs only $25 in unused, $75 used, condition, it apparently is much scarcer than that amount suggests. According to the column's author, Henry Gitner, "this stamp is greatly undervalued and is virtually impossible to find in any condition. Many Columbian and special delivery collectors have been looking for this stamp for years and have never even seen one, let alone own[ed] an example."

Needless to say, the "Blue" International Volume One contains a space for this stamp, which, in all fairness to Scott, cataloged a mere 40 cents in 1943. Covers are extremely rare but even rarer is a used example off cover.

An interesting article with an illustration of a block of 25, since broken up, can be found at

OK, it took me three months to find Syria 106a. Let's see how long Columbia E1 takes. At least I know what I want for Christmas.

UPDATE: It only took a couple of weeks to obtain this stamp. I found an album page on eBay with it plus a few others and won the page for $13. For those of you with deep pockets, another copy is still available on eBay as part of a large Colombia collection but the seller wants $749 for the lot. Interestingly, a single copy of E1 sold on eBay not too long ago for US $4.90 from a UK dealer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lawrence Block's New Column in Linn's

I've blogged earlier on the mystery writer Lawrence Block and his famous stamp collecting hit man, John Keller. Mr. Block now has a monthly column in Linn's, "Generally Speaking," the first one of which appeared in the September 28, 2009 issue. According to Linn's, "Like his character, he collects worldwide, 1840-1940, and he'll be writing for Linn's from the special perspective of a general collector."

What I particularly like about Mr. Block's books (and what I look forward to in his columns) is how he captures the world of stamp collecting. A couple of examples from his novel Hit Parade:

"When you collected the whole world, your albums held spaces for many more stamps than you would ever be able to acquire. Keller knew he would never completely fill any of his albums, and he found this not frustrating but comforting...You tried to fill all the spaces, of course--that was the point--but it was the trying that brought you pleasure, not the accomplishment." (Page 37)

"Well, a stamp collection's like a shark...If you're not adding to it, there's not much pleasure in having it." (Page 286)

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Stamp Acts" in the NY Times

The august New York Times does run articles, even ads, relevant to stamp collecting from time to time, but I found Matthew Stevenson's recent OpEd piece especially relevant to the "Blue" International collector. You can find the entire piece at this url, but I wanted to quote a few lines to whet your appetite:

"I consider Simon my most-traveled friend. As well, I take some personal pride in having tarried in places like Okinawa, Pakistan, Bosnia and Mongolia. But both of us drew blanks as the pages of the [1925 Scott Modern] stamp album unfolded around such names as Horta, Labuan, Mayotte and Rouad...In 1925, six-year-old boys, like my father, knew more of the world than do frequent-flying travel writers today."

"In the early days of World War II, places like Memel, Marienwerder, Helgoland/Heligoland or Upper Silesia went from stamp collecting to Nazi occupation, as if Adolph Hitler was in pursuit of first issues, not simply lebensraum."

While I don't know whether Mr. Stevenson is aware of it, Sandafayre Stamp Auctions has a very helpful Stamp Atlas online. Alas the index doesn't drill down to places like Horta (which, incidentally, is part of the Azores--yes I had to look it up!). Perhaps cross-referencing the "Blue" with the Stamp Atlas would make an good future project--I might even learn something.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scott's Reference Album of Philatelic Terms

Some years ago I thought it would be fun to find an alternative way of collecting stamps that would free me from the tyranny of the printed album. One possibility that I entertained was a collection illustrating philatelic terminology and concepts--for example, different approaches to prevent the reuse of stamps. (My favorite is Afghanistan's approach to tearing pieces out of its early issues.) The project never got off the ground, but I was reminded of it when I came across an eBay auction for the 1936 Reference Album of Philatelic Terms published by Scott. This brief album was "designed so that a stamp serving as an example may be mounted opposite each term listed. When all the spaces are properly filled, the result will be a very comprehensive reference collection." To that end, the first 2 pages were devoted to "Perforations and Roulettes," and included Common, Clean Perf, Rough Perf, Hyphen Hole, Lozenge Perf, Pin Perf, Sewing Machine Perf, and Part Perf. The other sections are Printing (Engraving, Typographing, Lithographing) including such terms as Se tenant and Moire, followed by "Paper," then "Philatelic Terms," such as Double Surcharge, and finally, "Do Not's: Things which are to be avoided in forming a stamp collection." These include Thin Spot, Repaired, and Heavily Cancelled. Obviously with only 24 pages to work with, there are lots of missing terms and areas, but still, an interesting concept. I wonder how long it would take to find the 84 stamps representing each of the terms?

But who am I kidding. I love the the Procrustean bed that is the printed album as long as I can add additional stamps wherever there is empty space on the page.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Postage Stamp Quotations

"Things did not delay in becoming more curious when they came across Pierce's stamp collection, thousands of coloured windows into time and space, ex-rivals for her affections that would be broken into lots."
--Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49.

"Son, stamp collecting is like life. It stopped being fun a long time ago."
--Homer Simpson to Bart on The Simpsons TV show

"In science there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting."
--Lord Kelvin

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
--Ernest Rutherford, physicist

“Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp collecting, a sister of the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind.”
--Jeanette Winterson

"Everyone's calling me a dork now. I mean, it's just a hobby."
--Closet stamp collector and tennis star Martina Sharapova as quoted by James Barron in his book The One Cent Magenta

"The philatelist will tell you that stamps are educational, that they are valuable, that they are beautiful. This is only part of the truth. My notation is that the collection is a hedge, a comfort, a shelter into which the sorely beset mind can withdraw. It is orderly, it grows towards completion, it is something that can't be taken away from us."
--Clifton Fadiman in Any Number Can Play.

"What should I do? I think the best thing is to order a stamp with my face on it."
--Charles, Emperor of Austria 1882-1922 on learning of his accession to the throne.

"What do you call the stamp guys? Philatelists or something? Well whatever it is, it’s some Greek or Latin root meaning 'complete nerd.'”
--Chris M. Keating (

"For seventeen years, he did nothing at all but kill animals and stick in stamps."
--Harold Nicolson, the official (!) biographer of England's King George V.

..."the thrill of the quest, the desire to hunt down that really rare stamp that you read about when you were at school and there’s almost the feeling that when you’ve got it you’re not so interested any more and you move on to the next one."
--Simon ­Garfield, The Error World: An Affair With Stamps

"little nothing stamps"
--One dealer's dismissive term for common stamps found in every worldwide album. Reported in Simon ­Garfield, The Error World: An Affair With Stamps

Synonyms for collectable postage stamps: "sticky treasures," "collection of paper heads," "pretty bits of paper," and "colorful scraps."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"He was an enthusiastic stamp collector, and taught the boys to learn the history and the geography of the issuing countries, as well as to keep neat, orderly albums. And that was his downfall."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...about the pristine perfection of the things, the enchantment of engraving, the pleasures of perforations, and the glories of glue..."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...Father puttered on, mounting bits of colored paper with more fearsome relish than some men mount the heads of stags and tigers."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

"...There's a new set of stamps coming out soon...Same old picture of King George's head, God Bless 'em, but tarted up in new colors."
--Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Synonyms for a stamp collector: Stamp wallah (Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)

"A Collection...[is] an obsession organized."

"You must kiss our fair Queen, or her pictures, that's clear
Or the gummy medallion will never adhere;
You will not kiss her hand, you will readily find
But actually kiss little Vickey's behind."
--A ditty inspired by the newly issued "Penny Black" entitled "Lines on the Post Office Medallion," June 6, 1840, The Town

"A new mania has bitten the industriously idle ladies of England. To enable a large wager to be gained, they have been indefatigable in their endeavors to collect old penny stamps; in fact, they betray more anxiety to treasure up Queen's Heads than Harry the Eighth did to get rid of them."
--Punch, 1842

"Is it the intention to establish a cheap portrait-gallery of living princes and rulers?...What curiosity can any reasonable being have to possess the commonplace effigies of the most commonplace-looking people in Europe?"
--Charles Lever, Irish novelist, writing on the new stamp collecting fad in Blackwood's Magazine, 1864

"Philately starts where the catalogue ends."

“In Norway during winter, you became religious, took up drink or collected stamps.”
--Richard Ashton, Sotheby’s (as quoted in "The Once and Future Philatelist: A writer’s sentimental journey into the clubby world of stamp collecting" by Jonathan Kandell, Arts & Antiques, September 2010

"Stamps and coins are not prep. Why? Because."
--Preppies are collectors, but of things like miniature Eiffel Towers, according to True Prep by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kid.

"He was stable and sane, an avid art enthusiast with the same mutant gene as the stamp collector...--except that there were glorious buildings erected solely to house and protect his objects of interest, objects that commanded the attention of scholars, historians, and news bureaus, giving undeniable proof that they were worthy of devotion."
--An Object of Beauty, a novel by Steve Martin.

"Can you imagine Archie Bunker collecting stamps? Well, I can't."
--Earl Apflbaum in reference to the educational aspects of the hobby.

"Chris: Couldn't we just stop philateling?
"Peter: Too late.
--Family Guy "German Guy" Episode

"Look but don't touch! I paid $27,000 for that stamp."
"You paid too much. That's a red stamp. Everybody knows that red stamps only cost 2¢. The most I ever paid for a stamp was 8¢, and that was for one of those airplane ones."
--Early to Bed, a 1936 Hollywood comedy

"This year the USPS released stamps with portraits of Pixar characters, Selena and Mark Twain. Do you think that's what stamp collectors are into? Stamp collectors are into eating TV dinners alone and crying. Put out a stamp series of famous people eating TV dinners alone and crying, and there's your $10 billion [needed to get the Post Office out of debt]."
--From Joel Stein's article "Pushing the Envelope" in the September 26, 2011 issue of Time Magazine.

"Next time ask my barber to approve them before you issue stamps with my portrait."
-- King Christian X of Denmark. I found this quote on the Quotes and Sayings website which also explains the reference.

"Lay the hinge on your palm:
moving top and bottom: in love
curling sides: fickle
turns over: false
motionless: dead
curls up entirely: passionate"
 --By DRB who repurposed instructions for the Magic Fortune Fish; posted on

"The President of today is just the postage stamp of tomorrow."
--Gracie Allen

"Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste."
--William Butler Yeats

Interviewer - "Why, you're a fatalist !"
Yogi Berra - "You mean I save postage stamps? Not me."

FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT: "When I was a young man -- before my marriage of course -- I found that showing one’s stamps was a very helpful way to get a young woman’s attention."
BERTIE (King George VI of England) "Was it?"
FRANKLIN: "They have to sit close to you. Share the magnifying glass."
He ‘winks’ at Bertie. And smiles.
"But I suppose if your father’s the king... Who needs stamps?"
--From the film Hyde Park on Hudson, script by Richard Nelson

"Mrs. Roosevelt was asked if she had any hobbies to balance her husband's love of postage stamps. 'One collector in a family is enough,' she said. 'If you had ever lived with one you would realize that.'"
--Quoted on Thanks to wt1 on the Stamp Community for finding this link.

MAN: '...and my dream is to become the Bill Gross of duck stamps...New Mexico issued duck stamps only from 1991 through 1994, ending with the crown jewel of all duck stamps, Robert Steiner's supernaturally beautiful Green-Winged Teals in flight, of which I happen to own a plate block.'
WOMAN: 'Which someday,' Gladys announces chirpily, 'I am going to take out of archival plastic, compromise the gum on the back with my slobbering tongue, and use to send in the gas bill.'
MAN: 'Not valid for postage, honeybunch.'
--Thomas Pynchon. Bleeding Edge.

"In my experience most collectors and dealers have little interest in stamps that have been issued during their adulthood. Most of us concentrate on the stamps of our childhood and before. This has always been the case with collectors."
-- Apfelbaum's Corner: John Apfelbaum's blog on Philately, October 7, 2013 writing about Max Margolies

"The great collectors of stamps were all men of passion. If they did not have passion when they started collecting, they soon developed it, for there is no mistress so demanding as stamps. 'You just don't know what stamps can do to a man,' says one collector almost breathlessly. 'Stamps are an addiction for which there is no cure,' explains another. 'No real collector ever sells his stamps in his lifetime--unless it is to buy more stamps.'"
--Life Magazine, 3 May 1954, the "Rare Stamp" issue

DETECTIVE: "So how long you been a philatelist, Fred?"
CRIMINAL: "Hey, watch your mouth, pal. Fred Cana don't go that route."
DETECTIVE: "Philately is the study of stamps, Mr. Cana, which you would know if you were, in fact, a collector."
--Castle TV series, "Den of Thieves" episode

"I used to collect stamps but I gave it up when people stopped writing to me."
--Broadway Melody of 1940

"A tax upon letters is in effect a tax upon speech. It is worse. It is a fine levied upon the affections. It is an impost upon the love of kindred. It is a penalty on commerce; an amercement upon the diffusion of knowledge and a drag on the progress of civilization."
--Lord Ashburton arguing against the idea of charging for the delivery of letters, American Whig Review of 1848

"A boy of 12 was a dedicated stamp collector; until the lad next door also bought an album. 'He buys every stamp I do,' the boy complained to his father, 'and he's taken all the fun of it away.' 'Don't be a fool, my boy,' said his wise dad. 'Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of philately."
--From the Edinburgh Evening News as quoted on Don Schilling's blog, The Stamp Collector's Roundup

" reassemble the whole of the stamps issued in one country, in a certain part of the world, or if possible, of the whole universe, and not to estimate the value of stamps according to their beauty of engraving or design."
--Maurice Burrus, The Philatelic Magazine, 21 October 1922.

"I began to think furiously of the future interview with the owner at 'The [Heavenly] Gate.'"
"I crave admittance."
"Have you fed the poor, visited the sick, relieved distress?"
"No, I really hadn't time, but I have here a 1 cent British Guiana stamp, in a grease-proof envelope, for which I paid £7000. Even his Majesty the King of Great Britain personally congratulated me upon acquiring it. Would you like to see it?"
"Such tiny fragments of paper will readily burn in Hell."
--Rev. E Bruce Concord, M.A. imagining a conversation between St. Peter and Arthur Hind, owner of the unique and famous British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta stamp

"We are a nation of flower-lovers, but also a nation of stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters, coupon-snippers, darts-players, crossword-puzzle fans."
--George Orwell writing about the English in his essay "The Lion and the Unicorn" (1941)

“Rare stamp sold for record $9.5 million. Last owner was crazed killer.”
—Headline in the ‎Jun 18, 2014 Washington Post on the sale of the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta

FBI AGENT PETER BOURKE: “You have to admit. The stamp [heist] is a pretty exhilarating mission.”
CONMAN NEAL CAFFREY: “I don’t think ‘exhilarating’ and ‘stamp’ have ever been used in such quick succession.”
White Collar TV show episode “Return to Sender”

FBI AGENT PETER BOURKE: “My dad and I spent Sunday nights poring over a stock book; magnifiers, stamp tongs, hinge mounts.”
CONMAN NEAL CAFFREY: “Ah, Wally and the Beav ever stop by to join in all the fun?”
BOURKE: “You laugh. I still have my membership card in the American Philatelic Society.”
CAFFREY: “I hope you realize how lucky you are to have ever kissed a human female.”
White Collar TV show episode “Return to Sender”

"The 'collecting' of stamps is the essence of the hobby. Wasn’t there something really enjoyable about the simple act of placing a beautifully designed stamp in a printed album? And, then, wasn’t it terribly satisfying filling the last empty space on that album page?”
— Introduction by Charles F. Shreve to Robert A Siegel auction of David B. Markowitz Collection of France and Colonies, 22 January 2015

 "Not philosophers, but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society."
--Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

"Because of the money involved, once you own it, it owns you."
--Irwin Weinburg, a former owner of the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta

"Never underestimate the calming effect of filling an album or checking off numbers on a want list."
--Scott Trepel, writer, researcher and auctioneer

"He [Brown] is a man of the strictest morals, is a church member and philanthropist and is a good, sincere, honest man, but the stamp business has no use for these qualities. It is the first class liar and knave who makes the most successful stamp dealer." 
--S. Allan Taylor in letter regarding a New York Stamp Dealer. From 1935 Stamp Lover article by Melville quoted by Richard Frajola on his PhilaMercury discussion group 

"It's not that I don't still love stamps, it's just all the spaces were filled...There are limits at some point to a collector's portfolio because if pursued long enough and admittedly with enough money it's possible to fill in all the spaces in an album – in other words to get them all."  
--Bill Gross on why he is selling his complete collection of United States Stamps and giving the proceeds to charity [interview on CNBC]

"You are not interested in philately, Mr Cumming?" observed the stranger.

"I think 'at it's a cranky man's game," said the G.P. emphatically. 
--From the newspaper article "STAMP COLLECTORS, PHILATELISTS AND THE GOVERNMENT PRINTER in the Truth (Brisbane, Queensland) Sun 17 Nov 1912 as posted by Satsuma on

“Silent diplomats.”
--Meiso Mizuhara talking about stamps


Additional quotations can be found in this thread on the Postage Stamp Chat Board

Monday, July 20, 2009

1943 Scott Catalog is a Winner

Thinking that having a catalog contemporary with the "Blue" would have some advantages, I earlier had tried the 1941 edition. This didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped, so I've been on the lookout for the 1943 edition as this is the one that Scott specifically mentions on the original album title page (albeit just in conjunction with the US pages). I can now confirm that the 1943 edition does indeed do the trick--covering all of the issues in the "Blue" plus issues for 1941 and some of 1942. The only disadvantage is that the 1943 edition was published in two volumes: Volume 1 covered The Americas and the British Commonwealth of Nations; Volume II comprised the Stamps of Europe, Africa, Asia and their colonies. So the geographically challenged such as myself may have to look in two places for some of the lesser known colonies (now just who "owned" Montserrat, W.I.?), this is a small inconvenience. And, who knows, I just might learn something from the exercise.

Apropos the Brown Internationals, an advertisement in the back specifically says the series is to be "discontinued due to the recent trend towards specialization." The final volume is No. 5 through Aug., 1938. Unlike the 1941 catalog, the 1943 does not mention the "Annual Albums" which might have completed the decade if they were ever published.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Syria 106A On eBay

A copy of SYRIA #106a NH CAT $170.00, Item number 250451789564 is listed on eBay with a minimum opening bid of $40.00. End time is Wed, Jul-01 at 7:25:19 pm EST. This is reputedly the most difficult to find stamp in the "Blue," but I'm beginning to have my doubts. I found one last year on StampWants and now here's another.

Update 7-12-09: The stamp sold for US $155.63.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, Indian State Style

A stamp collecting forum I haven't mentioned before is A thread I particularly enjoyed had the great title "Banging the drum for the Uglies" and refers to the stamps of the various Indian States.

According to tonymacg who started the thread: "I don't know who coined the term 'the Uglies' for the Indian States, but it goes back a long way. Probably a Penny Black fancier. Anyway, it refers to the group of Indian princely states that, at different times between 1864 and 1953, ran their own post offices, and issued their own stamps - in most cases, valid only for postage within the borders of the particular State."

There are a number of photos of appallingly ugly stamps and information about them. Unfortunately, many of these can't be found in the "Blue" International but that doesn't make them any less interesting to the Classic Era Stamp Collector.

Jal Cooper in his Stamps of India book gives a good explanation of the difference between Convention States and Feudatory States which can be summarized as: Convention states overprinted the stamps of British India while the Feudatory States came up with their own distinctive designs. As I've commented before, Scott provides spaces for some of the Feudatory States but only a compilation page for the Convention State overprints.

The Convention states were comprised of Chamba, Faridkot, Gwalior, Jind, Nabha and Patiala and all were signatories of postal conventions with the British Government of India. According to Cooper, "these stamps were mostly used for internal postal services in the States, but they had a franking value of carrying letters outside the State limits to any part of British India."

Cooper provides a handy list of Indian States with the years they issued stamps. Two of these don't fall chronologically into the time period of the Blue: Idar and Jasdan. These full list is:

Bahawalpur (not in Pakistan)
Faridkot (both Convention and Feudatory)
Idar (1941-1950, not in the "Blue")
Jasdan (1942-1950, not in the "Blue")
Jind (both Convention and Feudatory)
Las Bela (now in Pakistan)

Friday, June 5, 2009

International Blue-per #2: Angola 129,130

I'm penciling in Scott catalog numbers for Angola and get to the 1914-26 Portuguese Colonial Ceres key-type series: 1/2c olive brown, Scott 118--check, 1/2c black, 119--check...5c deep blue--nope. What's going on? I'm staring at two spaces in the album for the 5c value, one deep blue, the other bright blue. The 2007 Scott Classic Catalogue lists only one 5c stamp and it is described simply as blue.

My 1941 Scott catalog, however, matches the album. It assigns the number 129 to the 5c deep blue from 1913. The number 130 is assigned to the 5c bright blue from 1922.

In its single listing in the 2007 catalog, confusingly, Scott has dropped #129 entirely and changes #130 from the 1922 issue to 1913.

All of this presents the "Blue" collector with a problem. Regardless of the catalog, the album has two spaces. Does the revised listing in the 2007 Catalog mean that there never were two different colors actually in circulation? That's going to be a problem if the collector wants to fill every space in the album.

My next step was to search for the stamp(s) through the usual sources (the APS Stamp Store, StampWants, et al). Guess what, it didn't take long to find the 5c stamps in two obviously different shades of blue:

As to sources other than Scott, the Yvert&Tellier Catalogue assigns numbers 148 and 207 to these stamps. Len Thompson's article, "Starred Ceres" (PPSB #111 May 1990) gives a detailed listing for 6 Portuguese colonies, but not Angola which fell out of the scope of the article. Nevertheless, these listings tend to confirm multiple colors for similar issues. His listings are based on the Simoes Ferreira catalogue.

Several collectors on the always helpful rec.collecting.stamps.discuss responded to my question about these issues.Tony Vella says that his "Eládio de Santos lists the 1914 Angola 5c as azul-escuro (dark blue) and the 1922 issue as both azul-claro (light blue) and azul-esverdeado (greenish-blue). Chris kindly provided a list from his Stanley Gibbons 1996 Part 9 catalog:

1914: blue, chalk-surfaced paper, p15x14 (SG 211)
1915-21: deep blue, unsurfaced wove paper, p15x14 (SG 284)
1918: pale blue, ditto (SG 284a)
1924: deep blue, unsurfaced paper, p12x11.5 (SG 306)
1921-26: pale blue, ditto (SG 306a)

(For an interesting thread on Ceres issues of the Portuguese Colonies click here.)

By way of background, the following colonies used the Colonial Ceres key-type: in Africa, these were Angola, Portuguese *Congo*, Cape Verde, *Guiné*, Moçambique, Inhambane, Lourenço Marques, Quelimane, *Tete*, St. Thomas & Prince. In Asia, Portuguese *India*, *Macao*, *Timor*. (Colonies are from John Cross in his article "1913-14 Colonial Ceres: Plate Varieties" (Portu-Info #112 1994).

I checked each of these colonies that used the Ceres key-type and found several still in the 2007 Scott Catalog that have the same color pairing:

Cape Verde

Scott 155 5c deep blue ('14)
Scott 156 5c brt blue ('22)

Scott 221 10a deep blue ('13')
Scott 222 10a pale blue ('23)

Thompson lists both a 10a dark blue and 10a blue from November 1913 and a 10a ultramarine and 10a blue from 1922.

Portuguese Guinea
Scott 151 5c deep blue ('14)
Scott 152 5c brt blue ('22)

Thompson lists both a 5c blue and pale blue from 1914 and a 5c greenish blue from 1921-22.

St. Thomas and Prince Islands
Scott 205 5c deep blue ('14)
Scott 206 5c brt blue ('22)

Scott 31 5c deep blue ('14)

Thompson lists a 5c blue and 5c light blue from 1914.

Why did Scott reduce the Angola 5c to a single shade? One possibility is that the colors were felt to be a consequence of the type of paper used and not the use of two different inks. Scott notes that "Two kinds of paper, chalky-surfaced paper and ordinary, were used..." Additionally, Cross states that "the values of especially the first issuance were reprinted many times to replenish depleted stocks. This resulted in a while host of paper, perforation and (where applicable) star varieties for primarily the major colonies."

Why did Scott drop the Angola pair but not the multiple colors for Cape Verde, Macao, Portuguese Guinea or St. Thomas and Prince Islands? My bet is that Scott at some point decided to simplify the Ceres listings for Angola but never got around to doing the same for the other colonies listed above. If so, the "Blue-per" is in the catalog, not the album! IMO the two shades are sufficiently distinctive and available that Scott should restore #129 to the catalog.

In any event, I now own the 5c in both shades so I can remove that roadblock in my quest to complete the "Blue" International.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

International Blue-per #1: Syria 106a

I thought it might be interesting to report periodically on bloopers in the "Blue" International as I come across them. By bloopers, I mean stamps that don't belong in the album because they fall outside its scope, stamps in the album but no longer in the Scott catalog, incorrect descriptions that don't match any stamps, and other curiosities that a collector will encounter.

I have found three bloopers so far but as I am still researching two of these, lets start with one already mentioned in this blog: Syria 106a, reputedly the scarcest stamp in volume 1. As I've already talked about why this stamp doesn't belong in the International (, I won't repeat these comments. But I would like to mention a few facts about the error and how it came to be. Most of the specialized information below is from Alexander Kaczmarczyk's book, The Postal Issues of Syria, Lebanon and the Alaouites 1919-1945.

As a younger collector, I found overprints and surcharges boring, but now recognize how often these additions are illustrative of interesting historical conditions. In the case of Syria, previous to 1918, this country used Turkish stamps. After World War 1, France assumed responsibility for the occupied territory and rather than create stamps specifically for Syria, instead overprinted existing French stamps. These overprints changed over time to reflect various revisions in the administration of Syria. For example:

  • The 1919 French stamps to be used in Syria were overprinted T.E.O. for "Occupied Enemy Territory."
  • In 1920, this changed to O.M.F. for "French Military Occupation."
  • For a few months in 1920/21, the Aleppo Province used Egyptian piastres rather than centimes, requiring the addition to the overprint of the word piastre and a "dingbat" rosette to cover up the original letter c following the denomination.
  • In 1923 following a mandate from the League of Nations to change from military to civilian administration, the O.M.F. overprint was replaced by "Syrie Grand Liban."

The First Civilian Mandate issues, valid between September 1923 and 15 February 1924, were overprinted on the then current French designs:
Scott 104/Yvert 88 10C overprinted on 2c violet French Blanc type: Liberty-Egality-Fraternity
Scott 105/Yvert 90 25C on 5c orange Sower
Scott 106/Yvert 91 50C on 10c green Sower
Scott 107/Yvert 92 75C on 15c olive-green Sower
Scott 108/Yvert 93 1P on 20c brown Sower
Scott 109/Yvert 93 1,25P on 25c blue Sower
Scott 110/Yvert 94 1,50P on 30c orange Sower
Scott 111/Yvert 95 1,50P on 30c red Sower
Scott 112/Yvert 96 2,50P on 50c blue/dark blue Sower

(In addition there were similar overprints on the Merson and Pasteur designs.)

There overprints offer collectors numerous varieties. You'll find examples where the overprint was double printed, printed off-center or inverted (sometimes just a single letter, in other cases the entire overprint). In other cases, there are noticeable variations in spacing (leading/kerning), e.g. Sy rie. There are overprints with missing commas (2 50 instead of 2,50) and, in at least one case, a missing denomination. There are misspellings (cnetiemes for centiemes). And there are a few "albino" lettering--i.e., outlines only. Here are some typical examples:
In addition, there are two examples of an overprint being applied to the wrong stamp. One is the 50C overprint which should be on the 10c green Sower but which was erroneously applied to the 5c orange. This error is listed in Kaczmarczyk but not found in the International album or Scott or Yvert catalogs. The other is the 25C overprint which should be on the 5c orange instead being erroneously applied to the 10c green. This is the infamous Scott 106a/Yvert 90a that somehow found its way into the Scott International Junior and subsequently into the "Blue" International.

One might reasonably wonder about the lack of quality control at the printers who applied these overprints but the reason for the inconsistencies is rather surprising. The overprinting was performed by the Imprimerie Jeanne-d'Arc press operated by Capuchin monks in Beruit. According to Kaczmarczyk, "a good portion of the press employees were orphans raised by the monks which may explain the number of varieties and errors that this press produced." (A picture post card survives of the press operations--see So I guess we should cut them some slack?

What else do we know via Kaczmarczyk about 106a? Approximately 630,000 10c greens with the correct 50C overprint were released beginning in October 1923 but we have no idea how many additional of these are the 25C error. The errors were applied to existing French stamps in sheets of 100 (four 5x5 panes) with a central gutter, "millésime" 3 in row 2. Here is an example of a "millésime": According to Kaczmarcyzk, "in the great majority of cases" the sheets "were overprinted in one operation by the use of 50-cliché printing plates." This suggests that at least fifty (one hundred?) of the errors were printed in 1923 and at least one stamp with the gutter and number "3" attached brought itself to the attention of a stamp collector. The stamp apparently exists in both unused and used condition. It would be interesting to learn if multiples of 106a have survived or if there are examples on cover. If anyone has any additional information, please let me know.

The 2009 Scott catalog values 106a at $170 in unused condition only, same as 2008 but up from $125 in 2007. Yvert & Tellier in 2008 valued 90a at 250 Euros in both unused and used condition. As indicated in another blog post, the error is not in Stanley Gibbons.

But regardless of how interesting, the bottom line is that this Syrian error is out of place in a volume that focuses on "the varieties ordinarily found in most collections...."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Missing countries in the 1969 edition of the "Blue" International

As threatened a few days ago, I have compared the contents of the 1969 edition of the "Blue" with the 1943/47 versions. As a reminder, I believe the 43/47 editions were the most complete of the "Blue" Internationals. While I am not certain, I believe the 1969 edition was the last single volume edition. Because of editorial changes, it is not identical with the 1943/47 versions. In fact, the 1969 album is missing 68 countries or other political entities that are in the 43/47 version, specifically:

China Offices Abroad (1911, i.e. Tibet)
China Offices Abroad (1915-20, 1929, i.e., Sinkiang)
China Offices Abroad (1925, i.e. Yunnan Province)
China Offices Abroad (1929, i.e., Manchuria)
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Silesia
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bamra*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Barwani*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bhopal*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bhore*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bijawar*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bundi*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Bussahir*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Dhar*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Duttia*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Faridkot*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Jammu and Kashmir*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Jhalawar*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Jhind*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Las Bela*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Morvi*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Nandgaon*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Nowanuggur*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Orchha*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Poonch*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Rajpeepla*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire...--Wadhwan*
India--Feudatory States of the British Empire....--Alwar*
Ionian Islands
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Albania*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Constantinople*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Durazzo*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Janina*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Jerusalem*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Salonika*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Scutari*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Smyrna*
Italy--Offices in Turkish Empire--Valona*
Mecklenburg Schwerin
Mecklenburg Strelitz
Nicaragua--Cabo Gracias a Dios
Nicaragua--Province of Zelaya
Pitcairn Islands
Turkey--Offices in Thessaly
Two Sicilies
White Russia

So is there any pattern? To begin with, White Russia is no doubt missing because Scott by the 1940s had removed these stamps from the catalog after determining they were never officially issued. (Remember that the album on which the "Blue" International is based, the Scott Junior, began in 1917 so there were a number of changes in the catalog in the intervening decades.)

The states or offices marked with an asterisk were all on three "compilation" pages which Scott dropped. Many of the remaining that were deleted were also on a single page with several other countries. For example, one deleted page eliminated the spaces for Baden, Bergedorf, Bremen, and Brunswick; another took care of Hamburg, Hanover and Heligoland.

My guess is that many of these were deleted in Scott's initial editorial attempts to 1) have as many countries as possible begin on their own pages while 2) wanting to get a better alphabetical order BUT 3) trying not to increase costs or size of the album by adding additional pages. If this is accurate, we lost Carinthia, for example, because it was out of sequence (it originally came before Cape of Good Hope). As Carinthia only occupied half a page, including it in the proper alphabetical sequence would have added an additional sheet to the album.

I think all of this is important for two reasons. First, if you are starting an International collection, you need to decide whether you are willing to sacrifice completeness for the current 1997 version's better paper and correct sort order (not only getting the countries in alphabetical order but allowing for integration with later volumes by separating out regular/commemorative issues, airmails, etc.). Unfortunately, not only is the 1997 version missing most of the countries above, it is also missing hundreds of stamps that were in earlier versions (again a victim to alphabetization which dropped "left over" stamps). Of course, you can always use the numerous blank pages in the 1997 four part edition or add your own pages to house the missing stamps/countries. Or you can pick up a used 1943/47 version (sorry, I don't have a clue about the coverage of the 1955 edition) which will give you as complete a "Blue" as was ever produced but at the cost of thinner paper and a vexing alphabetical sequence which also makes it more difficult to add blank pages or integrate with later volumes.

The other reason is that if you are like me, you are initially building your collection through the purchase of "Blues" on eBay, removing what you need as you go through the albums page by page. Knowing the differences between editions could help identify which stamps you might be sorry you didn't remove even if there aren't illustrated in your version.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Win a copy of the 2010 Scott classic catalog

Scott is sponsoring a contest where you can vote on the stamp that will be shown on the cover of the 2010 Scott classic specialized catalog and be automatically entered into a drawing to win a copy of the catalog when published. The two choices are the 1933 Falkland Islands (Scott 74a) King Penguin stamp or the 1931 Indian Native Feudatory State of Jaipur (28) Blue Peafowl. If you are wondering, the Falkland Islands stamp isn't in the "Blue" but the Jaipur issue is.

The voting period ends August 31. For more information or to vote, go to

A Rose is a Rose...

I've uploaded a pdf listing the countries in the 1943/47 editions of the "Blue" International keyed to the names used in the Scott Classics Catalogue. Most of the 500+ political entities are the same, but the following list highlights the main differences. So, by way of example, the stamps listed under Belgian Congo in the catalog are found under Congo in the 1943/47 "Blue." As you may know, while the Scott Catalogue is in alphabetical order, the same can't be said for earlier editions of the album. These "out of sorts" are indicated in parentheses. Again, by way of example, you'll find the album pages for Bavaria before those for Batum. Scott modernized some country names in later editions as well as got the alphabetizing correct starting in the 1970s. Unfortunately, a number of countries that had been in the International were dropped at that time, including many of the ones with only a few issues that had previously been combined on a single page.

Austria Lombardy-Venetia ==> Lombardy-Venetia
Belarus [not in Classic Catalog] ==> White Russia
Belgian Congo ==> Congo
China--Offices in Tibet ==> China Offices Abroad (1911)
China--Provinces--Manchuria ==> China Offices Abroad (1929)
China--Provinces--Sinkiang ==> China Offices Abroad (1915-20, 1929)
China--Provinces--Yunnan ==> China Offices Abroad (1925)
China--Shanghai ==> Shanghai
East Africa and Uganda Protectorates ==> East Africa and Uganda (after Cuba)
Ethiopia ==> Abyssinia
French Morocco ==> France--Offices in Morocco (after Offices in Zanzibar)
German States--Baden ==> Baden
German States--Bavaria ==> Bavaria (before Batum)
German States--Bergedorf ==> Bergedorf (on same page as Baden)
German States--Bremen ==> Bremen (on same page as Baden)
German States--Brunswick ==> Brunswick (on same page as Baden)
German States--Hamburg ==> Hamburg
German States--Hanover ==> Hanover (on same page as Hamburg)
German States--Lubeck ==> Lubeck
German States--Mecklenburg-Schwerin ==> Mecklenburg Schwerin (after Memel)
German States--Mecklenburg-Strelitz ==> Mecklenburg Strelitz (before Mexico)
German States--Oldenburg ==> Oldenburg (after Oltre Giuba)
German States--Prussia ==> Prussia (before Penrhyn Island)
German States--Saxony ==> Saxony
German States--Schleswig-Holstein ==> Schleswig (before Saxony)
German States--Thurn and Taxis--North German Confederation ==> Germany--Postal Service of Princes of Thurn and Taxis--North German Postal District
German States--Thurn and Taxis--Northern District ==> Germany--Postal Service of Princes of Thurn and Taxis--Northern States
German States--Thurn and Taxis--Southern District ==> Germany--Postal Service of Princes of Thurn and Taxis--Southern States
German States--Thurn and Taxis--Wurttemberg ==> Wurttemberg
Iran ==> Persia
Ireland ==> Irish Free State (before Iraq)
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands (Dodecanese) ==> Italy--Aegean Islands
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Calchi ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Karki
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Calino ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Calino
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Caso ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Caso
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Coo ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Coo
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Lero ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Lero
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Nisiro ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Nisiro
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Patmo ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Patmos
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Piscopi ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Piscopi
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Rhodes ==> Italy--Rhodes
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Scarpanto ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Scarpanto**
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Simi ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Simi**
Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Stampalia ==> Italy--Occupation Stamps--Stampalia**
Italian States--Modena ==> Modena (after Mexico)
Italian States--Parma ==> Parma
Italian States--Romagna ==> Romagna (before Queensland)
Italian States--Roman States ==> Roman States
Italian States--Sardinia ==> Sardinia
Italian States--Tuscany ==> Tuscany
Italian States--Two Sicilies ==> Two Sicilies
Jordan ==> Trans-Jordan
Korea ==> Corea
Malaya ==> Straits Settlements--Protected States--Federated Malay States
Malaya--Johore ==> Straits Settlements--Johore
Malaya--Kedah ==> Straits Settlements--Kedah
Malaya--Kelantan ==> Straits Settlements--Kelantan
Malaya--Negri Sembilan ==> Straits Settlements--Negri Sembilan
Malaya--Pahang ==> Straits Settlements--Pahang
Malaya--Perak ==> Straits Settlements--Perak
Malaya--Selangor ==> Straits Settlements--Selangor
Malaya--Sungei Ujong ==> Straits Settlements--Sungei Ujong
Malaya--Trengganu ==> Straits Settlements--Trengganu
Netherlands Antilles ==> Curacao
Netherlands Indies ==> Dutch Indies
Portuguese Guinea ==> Guinea
Puerto Rico ==> Porto Rico
Ruanda-Urundi ==> Belgian East Africa
Saudi Arabia ==> Hejaz
Saudi Arabia--Nejdi Administration of Hejaz ==> Nejd
Slovakia SEE ALSO Czech 255-256 ==> Czechoslovakia--Slovakia--German Protectorate
Solomon Islands ==> British Solomon Islands (after British East Africa)
South Africa ==> Union of South Africa
Spanish Morocco ==> Spain--Offices in Morocco
Spanish Morocco--Tangier ==> Spain--Offices in Morocco--…Tangier (after Spanish Guinea)
Spanish Sahara ==> Spanish Western Sahara
Thailand ==> Siam
Turkey--Military Stamps--For the Army in Thessaly ==> Turkey--Offices in Thessaly
Ubangi-Shari ==> Ubangi
Yugoslavia--Croatia-Slavonia ==> Jugoslavia--Slovenia-Carniola

My next task will be to prepare a similar list for the 1969 edition which is the only other complete "Blue" that I own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Countries Missing from the 1943/47 Album

Although I've mentioned in several posts that there are countries in the earlier editions of the International that got lost in later revisions, particularly when Scott split volume one into two parts. But that doesn't mean the original "Blue" was complete. I count 21 political entities in the Scott Classics Catalogue that are not in the "Blue" International. This post will look at each of these and try to determine whether the editors of the album made a wise decision to omit. And while I'm at it, I'll report whether the countries are in the Minkus Master Global (I don't have access to any of the Supreme Globals).

Great Britain issued 22 stamps for the capital of Siam between 1877 and 1885. The least expensive is $75, the most expensive is $40,000. Scott made a good call; these stamps are too costly to be included in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

British Bechuanaland is different from the Bechuanaland Protectorate that is included in the "Blue." Scott lists 42 stamps for Bechuanaland of which a number catalog between 75c and $10. I believe the inexpensive issues of Bechuanaland should be in the "Blue." Both British Bechuanaland and the Bechunaland Protectorate are under Bechuanaland in Minkus.

British Columbia & Vancouver Island
Before this colony became part of Canada, it issued 18 stamps. The stamps catalog between $80 and $1250. Scott rightly omitted these issues. Not in Minkus.

An Iranian port which according to the Classics Catalogue was occupied by British troops in 1915. These 29 stamps catalog between $32.50 and $6250: too expensive for the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

China Treaty Ports
According to Wikipedia, "Treaty ports were port cities in China, Japan and Korea opened to foreign trade by the Unequal Treaties." The catalog lists issues from Amoy, Chefoo, Chinkiang, Chungking, Foochow, Hankow, Ichang, Kewkiang, Nanking, Wei Hai Wei, and Wuhu. Scott differentiates these from the British settlement of Shanghai which is in the "Blue." While few of these stamps are terribly expensive, as a group they would probably best be served by a "compilation page," i.e., a page with the names of the treaty ports at the top but no specific illustrations or descriptions. Of course, it would be great if Scott replaced all of its "compilation pages" with regular album pages with specific spaces, but until that happens... Not in Minkus.

Columbia SCADTA-Consular Overprints
These Consular Overprints were related to airmail and the Scott Classics Catalogue devotes 4 pages to them but they are missing from the "Blue." The majority catalog more than $10 each so Scott was right to omit these pricey if interesting issues. Not in Minkus.

The Columbian states of Antioquia, Bolivar, Cundinamarca, Santander, and Tolima are in the "Blue," but not Boyaca. Most of its 34 issues from 1870-1886 catalog for under one dollar so this state belongs in the "Blue" with the others. Not in Minkus.

Costa Rica--Guanacaste
There are 67 issues for this province which are all overprints of Costa Rican stamps. Some are very expensive, but there are enough issues under $3 that at least a handful should have been included in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Faroe Islands
These Danish islands have only 6 stamps in Scott, the least expensive of which is $20. Scott is right to have left these overprints out of the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Griqualand West
Originally part of the Cape of good Hope, it later became a British Crown Colony. Griqualand West issued 102 overprints of Cape of Good Hope stamps between 1877 and 1878. While several are under $10, most are more expensive and thus the territorial division doesn't belong in the "Blue." (There is a Griqualand East but apparently it didn't have any stamps.) In Minkus under Cape of Good Hope.

India--Native Feudatory States--Idar
Idar didn't start issuing stamps until 1939 and has only one stamp in the time period covered by the "Blue." Even though it only catalogs a few dollars, the stamp appears to be difficult to find. On the other hand, similar issues are relegated to a "compilation page," so it wouldn't be a big deal to add. Not in Minkus.

Italian Offices Abroad--Offices in Africa--Bengasi
The other Office in Africa, Tripoli, is in the "Blue" but with only 2 surcharges cataloging in the $20's, Bengasi doesn't belong. Not in Minkus.

Italian Offices Abroad--Aegean Islands--Lisso
Italy overprinted its stamps for 14 islands which Scott conflates on a single "compilation page" for all but Lisso. Lisso's overprints don't appear to be any more expensive than most of the other islands and should have been included by Scott. In Minkus with the Aegean Islands.

Lithuania--South Lithuania
South Lithuania, specifically, the Grodino District, has 8 overprints, all over $40 each. South Lithuania doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Mexico--Provisional Issues
These stamps from ten Mexican states were issued during times of political unrest. Almost all are too expensive for the "Blue" album so this was a good decision by Scott. Not in Minkus.

New Britain
Originally a part of German New Guinea under the name Neu-Pommern, New Britain has 45 surcharged stamps, all of which are too expensive for the "Blue." Surprisingly, these are in Minkus.

New Republic
The New Republic became part of the Union of South Africa, but between 1886 and 1887 issued 64 stamps. Almost all are more than $10 so the republic doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Peru--Provisional Issues
Various Peruvian cities issued overprints between 1879-1882. Some of these are under $10 but enough of them are more that these provisional issues probably don't belong in the "Blue." 64 stamps. Almost all are more than $10 so the republic doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Wenden was originally part of Livonia. Scott lists 12 stamps issued between 1863 and 1901. While four are under $10, it is a toss-up as to whether Wenden belongs in the "Blue." I found a few Wenden issues on, et al, but that suggests that these aren't that easy to acquire, so I'm going with the "Blue" editors on this one. 64 stamps. Almost all are more than $10 so the republic doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.


This was a republic created by the Boers that issued 6 stamps in 1884-5, all of which are expensive. It doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

Venezuela--Local Stamps

The Port of Carupano and the State of Guayana issued local stamps between 1902 and 1903. They are too expensive for the "Blue." 64 stamps. Almost all are more than $10 so the republic doesn't belong in the "Blue." Not in Minkus.

As always, corrections or comments would be appreciated.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Album vs. The Catalogue

After 15 or so hours of comparing the 1943/47 editions of the Scott "Blue" with the Scott Classics Catalogue, I think I'm finally getting a handle on the coverage question. The next few posts will work through three areas: 1) countries/political entities in the album but not the catalog; 2) countries in the catalog but completely missing from the album; and 3) a key to the countries in both. The idea of the first two is to help the "Blue" International collector identify areas where the album might usefully be supplemented.

It is important to remember that the album being used for the comparison, the 1943/47 editions of the Scott International, is more complete than the 1997 four part version available today. But I thought it better to start with the most complete version of the album and then see how coverage changed in subsequent versions.

The easiest place to start is to ask whether there are any countries in the 1943/47 "Blue" International that aren't in the Scott Classics Catalogue. I would have thought the answer would be "no," but the correct answer is "one": White Russia. Making this a little more mysterious is that country is in the regular Scott catalog under its current name, Belaruss, just not the Classics volume. The reason is that the ten issues from 1920 in the "Blue" are no longer recognized. According to the catalog, these "five denominations, perf and imperf...were not put in use and were probably propaganda labels. They are common." However, Scott does recognize Belarus issues beginning in 1992 which is why these country is in the current annual catalog.
White Russia is unique in that it isn't anywhere in the catalog, including the index. However, there are countries that used to have their own entries and have since been subsumed. For example, the Carthinthia Plebiscite of Austria. In the album, Carintia has its own pages. In the Scott Classics Catalogue, it is split between Austria B11-B29 and Yugoslavia 4LB1-6.

In my next post I will look at the political entities in the Scott Classics Catalogue but not the "Blue" International.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

China Provinces

China could use some reediting if Scott ever revises the "Blue" International. I speak particularly about the coverage of the Provinces/Offices which are limited to a single page with only two cuts and no mention of the names of any of the political entities, just dates. So to begin, here is a list of the stamps in the "Blue" and their corresponding listing in the 2007 Catalogue. Example: what Scott identifies in the "Blue" album only as 1911 would better be described as Offices in Tibet 1911.

YEAR = Political Entity, Scott #'s
1911 = Offices in Tibet 1-2
1915-20 = Sinkiang 1-5
1929 = Sinkiang 59-62, 63-66
1925 = Yunnan Province 1-8
1929 = Manchuria 25-28, 29-32

Minkus in their Master Global was a little kinder to collectors but not much. The name of the province is included and there are more illustrations (plus in later editions, Minkus catalog numbers). But Minkus supplies neither years nor colors, so the only ID at times may be the denomination and province.

Here are two images. The first is from the "Blue" album; the second I cobbled together in Photoshop to suggest how the addition of one word and two cuts might have been an improvement. (One of these days I need to figure out what font is most similar to that Scott used in the International.)

Copyright 1943 Scott Publishing Co.

Although I haven't analyzed the actual stamps that closely, it isn't clear what the editor used as the criteria for inclusion. To stick with Manchuria, there are at least seven stamps not in the album that are as affordable as those that are included. Arthur Palmer in his study of omissions in the "Blue" volume one identified 88 stamps from Szechwan, Yunnan, Manchuria, and Sinkiang that he would recommend adding.

A couple of other observations. Shanghai is part of the China section in the Scott Catalogue but is in the S's of the "Blue" album. The "Blue" doesn't have any spaces for the China Treaty Ports but as these weren't listed by Scott at the time the International was compiled, it would be unfair to criticize on that point.

Michael Rogers publishes specialized pages for the SHANGHAI AND TREATY PORTS arranged according to the Chan China Catalogue. The Michael Rogers website says that there are "no other Shanghai & Treaty Port album pages available elsewhere," although both Scott's speciality album for China and the "Blue" International have spaces for Shanghai (I don't know about the "Browns.") But he may be talking about depth--there are 64 pages!--or perhaps these are the only pages available separately if that is all you are interested in.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Followup on Auction of Nearly Complete Scott Volume 1

The almost complete Scott "Blue" volume 1 that was lot 2225 in HR Harmer Sale G196, March 27-28, 2009, sold for $12,500, considerably below the estimate of $15-$20K. This works out to approximately 36 cents a stamp. As only a few lots sold for more, it is possible that the economy may have been a factor. However, several of the lots that sold for more ironically had much lower estimates. (For more background on the collection, click here.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The 1941 Scott Catalogue

Even though I own a recent Scott Classics Specialized catalogue, I just purchased a copy of an original 1941 Scott on the assumption that it might be useful, too. Although I haven't put the '41 through a thorough workout, my initial impression is that one of these catalogs contemporary with the album is worth acquiring. To begin with, there is a closer correspondence between the listings in the '41 and the Scott International Volume 1 album, starting with the order and name of the countries. More importantly, the years printed in the album correspond much more closely to those in the catalog making it faster to identify multi-year sets with many values. Even seemingly small things like the names of colors are more likely to match. I'm dwelling on the matching because I'm penciling in catalog numbers for every space in the album and so ease of identification is a great timesaver.

And while I'm only beginning to discover these, there are discrepancies between the album and the current Classics Specialized that earlier catalogs can help clarify. For example, the Scott International album has spaces for Angola both Scott 129 and 130. While both stamps are in the '41 catalog, only one is in the latest Classics Specialized.

The biggest problem is that the 1941 edition still isn't complete for stamps issued in 1940. While many if not most of the 1940 stamps are in the Addenda, one still has to remember to check the catalog in two places (actually three as there is a Tentative Issues section, too, for questionable stamps that might or might not make it into future editions). My guess is that the 1943 edition might be the best one for Scott International collectors to acquire (the 1943 is the edition specifically mentioned on the title pages of the Scott "Blues" published in the 1940s and 50s) and I'll be on the look out for an affordable copy of that one.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nearly Complete Scott "Blue" Up For Auction (Again)

This appears to be a re-listing by HR Harmer of the collection that didn't sell last December. I say "appears" as what was originally described as complete is now "virtually every space filled." It is still estimated at $15-$20K. The collection is part of their Sale G196, March 27-28, 2009, lot 2225. Here is the description:

"STUNNING WORLDWIDE COLLECTION 1840-1940 housed in an expanded four volume Scott International albums representing one collector's lifetime labor of love which is evident not only by the mere fact that virtually every space is filled, but also in the careful mounting and attention paid to preservation by use of interleaving. Those dealers familiar with the Scott International will remember that this album does not provide spaces for the top values of long definitive sets or rarities, however, there are literally dozens upon dozens of complete sets and singles in the $50-$100 range with some much higher. For example better mint include Austria B81-6, China 78, 276-9, Greece C5-7, Iceland 213-15 and C4-8, Malaya - Johore J1-5 and Trengganu J1-4, Mongolia 62-74, St Helena 118-27, St Pierre &: Miquelon J21-31 and Spain 611-14. Better used include 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 much, much more. Remember, virtually every space is filled making this a philatelic accomplishment that would be difficult to duplicate if not impossible. Condition is little mixed in areas, though the vast majority are useful and Fine to Very Fine. We can say without fear of contradiction that it will be a long, long time before you see another collection with this level of completion. Truly, an exceptional collection!" (From

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Scott Brown International 1939-40

This is a revised followup to airpostman's comment on the Brown Internationals (February 21, 2009 8:28 PM). I remember reading somewhere that Scott never published a Brown International for 1939-40 and it was Vintage Reproductions, the company that brought the Brown Internationals back in print, that was responsible for filling in the missing two years.

According to an email, Vintage Reproductions believes they were "the first to compile the years 1937 1/2 through the relatively ragged interface with Scott International (blue) II (1940-45). The [company] found some hints that supplements to the Brown series were published by Scott, but [being unable to locate them, built their own]."

I had forgotten I had an image off of eBay displaying the title page for 1939-1940 (click the image to enlarge):

The title page states: "Contains spaces for every major variety of Postage Stamp issued by any Government in the World during the years 1939-1940, which have been listed for the first time in the 1941 Edition of the Standard Postage Stamp Catalog."

In any event, Subway now owns the rights for these reproductions and sells the pages for 1939-1940 for $164.80.

[Update 3/23/09: The 1941 Scott catalog contains an advertisement for "Annual Albums." According to the ad, "these annual albums are complete units providing spaces for all new stamps issued during the corresponding catalogue years." The ones listed are 1934-35, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1937-38, and 1938-39. On another page is an ad for the "Brown" International series. The last volume listed was No. 5, 20th Century section, part IV, and covers September 1934 through August 1938.]

[Update 6/2011: I have a copy of the 20th Century Part Four volume, copyright 1942, which I believe was the last printing. The title page states "Contains spaces for every variety of Postage Stmp, (omitting differences of perforations) issued by any Government in the world, during the years 1934 to 1939 as listed in the 1942 Edition of the Standard Catalogue." Interestingly, even though the title page says 1939 there are no stamps later than 1938. I don't have a copy of the 1942 Scott Catalogue, but the 1941 edition does include many stamps from 1940 if not all. So there is no obvious reason why the Brown Volume Four stopped somewhere in 1938, the title page to the contrary.]

Fiji Key-Plates & other Stamp Collecting Gotchas

I realize that the emphasis of this blog so far has been on the mechanics of collecting rather than on the stamps themselves. I promise this is not from a lack of interest in philately but rather that the kinds of comments I might make are already regularly published in most every issue of Linns, Scott Monthly, the APS Journal, etc. (As an aside, subscribers to either Linns or the Scott Monthly have recently been given access to the digital editions of both publications--now there's a bargain and a good incentive for subscribing even with the current economy!)

Speaking of the Scott Monthly, the April 2009 issue has an article by APS President Janet Klug titled "Collecting challenges abound among Fiji's key-plate stamps." In two pages, she presents some handy tips on differentiating the Edward VII and George V issues (and noting that higher values were often used as revenue stamps) as well as covering the history of early Fiji issues. Inspired by the article, I decided to check my Fiji stamps and sure enough either or I or the previous owner of my International had an Edward VIIth stamp (one of "the baldies") misplaced among the George V issues. This led me to consult the Scott Classics Catalogue so I could pencil in numbers for the Fiji issues I'm missing. This in turn alerted me that a couple of the pictorials weren't right either. It seems that the 1 1/2p, Scott 119 with an empty boat, and 2p, Scott 120 with no 180 degree mark, from 1938-40 were reissued with design changes in the 1940s, Scott 132 and 133 respectively. (A small consolation is that Scott 133 is worth more than the 120 but that's still no excuse for having it in the wrong space.)

The point of this is that I'm invariably sitting on the couch, working with two open albums, transferring stamps from one to another, and juggling collecting paraphernalia such as hinges, mounts, tongs, magnifying glass, etc. Trying to keep the Scott catalog open at the same time goes beyond both my dexterity and available space. So for obviously convoluted issues (e.g., the US Washington Franklin Heads Bureau Issues or the Austrian Franz Joseph definitives 1890-1904) that often can't be identified by the cut or descriptions in the International album), I mark the page with a post-it note so I can come back catalog in hand. But my hope has been that in most cases it should be obvious in what space a stamp belongs. Even relatively simple Fiji shows that I may have been deceiving myself. But if it were easy, everybody would have a filled Blue International on their bookshelves right next to their complete State Quarter Collection. (At least I think I've got the quarters in the correct slots.)

Postscript: Austrian Stamps and their Background 1850-1937 by Marian Carne Zinsmeister is helpful on sorting out stamps of this country. By way of example, the book offers this note on distinguishing the Scott 86-105 sequence of Emperor Franz Josef regular issues: "(A-19) numerals colored in white circle, (A-20) numerals (colored in 1906 and 1907 issues, black in 1904 issue) on white square; (A-21) numerals white on colored hexagon." Fortunately the International ignores varnish bars and perforations. Zinsmeister provides similar helpful summaries for other issues.

As noted elsewhere in this blog, a great resource for sorting out the Washington Franklin issues is: