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:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Country Musical Chairs

I don't know why it should be so difficult for me to identify the differences in coverage between the 1947 Blue and later versions. Actually, I suppose I do know and it is a combination of factors:

1) Most vexing is that some of the early Scott "table of contents" are in the order that countries appear in the album making comparisons more difficult with those albums that are in strict alphabetical order. For example, in the 1947 through at least the 1969 editions, Cochin China falls between British Honduras and Brunei. Many times the countries that are out of order occur because Scott has saved space by placing multiple countries with only a few issues on the same page. I believe when Scott switched to 4 parts (and perhaps even earlier when the 2-part version was released), all of the pages were put in alphabetical sequence. However, the multiple countries that previously were on a single page are the most likely to have been dropped in the multi-part versions.

2) Names of countries have changed: most famously, Siam is now Thailand and Abyssinia is Ethiopia. More obscure for most of us are countries like Belgian East Africa in the 1947 edition becoming East Ruanda-Urundi by 1969.

3) There is at least one transliteration change: Corea in the 1947 version is Korea in later editions.

4) Offices, occupations, states and other political changes can be problematic. For example, Columbia in the 1947 version originally included Bolivar, Boyaca and Cundinamarca that are missing in the 1969 version. All of the Columbian States are left out of the latest 4-part version!

I recently purchased a 1947 Blue which contained the countries A-E plus US. Here are the non-US differences between that version, the 1969 edition, and part 1-A of the 4 part latest edition. (As I only have part 1-A, it is not impossible that some countries noted as missing below might be in one of the 3 other parts.)

ANJOUAN - The country is in the 1947 version, but is missing in the 1969 and 4-part versions.

BADEN - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.
BRUNSWICK - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.
BERGEDORF - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.
BREMEN - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.

All four of the above German States are on the same page in the 1947 version.

CARINTHIA - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.

CHINA - 1947 version has a page for Offices Abroad (31 stamps) that is missing in the 1969 and 4-part versions.

CILICIA - In 1947 and 1969 but not in the 4-part version.

COLUMBIA - 1947 version has pages for Bolivar, Boyaca and Cundinamarca that are missing in the 1969 version. None of the States are in the latest 4-part version which ignores Antioquia, Santander, Santander Cucuta, and Tolima in addition to Bolivar, Boyaca and Cundinamarca.

COOK ISLANDS - This really doesn't belong here because the Cook Islands are represented in all versions, but for the record, the 1969 and 4-part versions are missing an entire page (37 stamps) that is in the 1947 version.

DALMATIA - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions. In 1947 Dalmatia was on the same page as the end of Cyprus and all of Diego Suarez but before Cyrenaica.

EASTERN RUMELIA - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part. In the 1947 version, Eastern Rumelia, Elobey/Annobon/Corisco and the first part of Curacao are all on the same page.

EASTERN SILESI - in 1947, missing in 1969 and 4-part versions.

[Update 2-17-09: Although outside the A-E span, the page for Hamburg, Hanover and Heligoland in the the 1947 is missing in the 1969 version.]

So this means the current 4-part version, although reportedly more complete than the 2-part, is still missing entire countries that were in the single part versions through 1969.