Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Become Unhinged

A perennial problem with removing hinged stamps from old albums is that some will be stuck to the page and those that come off may well leave hinge remnants. The technique I use was described on several websites including Linns. It consists of first using tongs to hold the stamp as far off the album page as it will lift without tearing. I then lightly wet a small artists brush with water (a Q-tip would also work). I slowly move the brush back and forth between the hinge and the album page while simultaneously pulling the stamp/hinge off the page using the tongs. I like the brushes with slanted bristles. It is just like the sport of curling but without the skates. I suppose you could wear skates while you do this but I don't think it would help.

In cases where I have the stamp successfully detached but the hinge remnant refuses to separate from the album page, I brush a small amount of water directly on the remnant, wait a short amount of time, and then pick at the hinge with tongs. Generally it will come up without damaging the paper.

While this works for me most of the time, a recent thread on the Virtual Stamp Club forum suggested another approach. While the thread is devoted to separating stamps from envelopes it would appear applicable to album pages. The poster noted that a retired chemist he knows "uses and recommends common mineral spirits. Takes about 3 seconds, then slide tongs between stamp & envelope; lay stamp face down on paper towel, use Q-tip and fresh spirits to further clean back of stamp. Use talc, not talcum powder, to finish job." If I were going to try this, I probably would use oderless mineral spirits for artists.

Please let me know if you've tried mineral spirits and if it works more reliably than water.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Improved Coverage in the Later Editions

I've had a chance to make a better comparison between the 1947 edition of the International and the 1969 version. As mentioned in a previous post, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the 1969 edition had improved coverage for some issues over the 1947 edition even though many stamps and even complete countries were dropped in the later version. The most dramatic improvement in the '69 was for Libya. In all cases, I do not know whether the additional stamps were added for the first time in the 1969 edition or had previously appeared in the 1955 or 1965 versions. At some point, I want to check this list against the latest version of the Blue (of which I only own part 1 of 4) to see if the changes "stuck." Here are my notes:

BRAZIL. The '69 has better coverage of postage dues than the '47.

CAMEROONS. The 1938 semi-postals are in the '69 but not the '47.

CONGO. More spaces in the '69 than the '47 for the 1930 and 1934 airmails.

COSTA RICA. Twice as many spaces for officials in the '69 than '47.

CUBA. Twice as many spaces for postage dues in the '69 than the '47.

DENMARK. Twice as many spaces for airmails in the '69 than the '47.

FRENCH EQUATORIAL AFRICA. Twice as many spaces for airmails in the '69 than the '47.

GRAND COMORO ISLANDS. 17 spaces for this country in the '69 vs. 8 in the '47.

FRENCH GUINEA. Better coverage of pre-1913 regular issues in the '69 than the '47.

FRENCH GUIANA. Better coverage of pre-1925 regular issues in the '69 than the '47.

INDO-CHINA. The '69 edition has 45 spaces for postage dues versus 35 in the '47.

ITALIAN COLONIES. The 1947 edition is missing the 1932 Dante overprints (8 values). However, the 1969 has only 4 spaces for the Garibaldi overprints versus 8 in the the 1947.

YUGOSLAVIA. The '69 has 17 spaces for postage dues versus 11 in the '47.

KUWAIT. 1969 has spaces for 4 additional values in the 1937 overprints (Scott 45-57).

LIBERIA. There are 7 spaces in the '47 for airmails vs 10 in '69. However, the additional airmails in the '69 is because Scott deleted spaces for the 1893 postage dues and the 1903 registration stamps.

LIBYA. The '69 has almost 3 full pages of semi-postals vs. 4 spaces in the '47! Also, the '69 has twice as many spaces for airmails.

MALAYA: PERAK. The '69 has better coverage of 1938-40 than the '47.

MIDDLE CONGO. The '69 doubles the spaces for 1933 regular issues but drops 13 spaces for the 1936 surcharges.

PERU. The '69 has 7 spaces for airmails missing in the '47.

POLAND. The '47 is missing the 1933 and 1935 officials that are in the '69.

SAAR. The '69 has more spaces for the 1927-34 regular issues and the 1922-23 officials than the '47.

SAN MARINO. There are a few additional spaces in the '69 vs. the '47.

SPANISH [WESTERN] SAHARA. There are 25 spaces for this country in the '47 vs. 43 spaces in the '69.

SWEDEN. The '69 adds 10 spaces for 1918 semi-postals missing from the '47.

SYRIA. The '69 drops three spaces for the 1920 overprints (Scott 64-81) but adds 2 stamps from 1940 not in the '47.

TRIPOLITANIA. Something of a mess. The '69 is missing regular issues from 1933-34 (14 spaces), a number of semi-postals, and 2 spaces for airmail special delivery that are in the '47, but has 20 spaces for semi-postal airmails versus 6 spaces in the '47.

UGANDA. There are 4 spaces for this country in the 47 vs. 10 in the '69.

In a later blog I'll summarize where the 1947 edition is superior to the 1969 version.

Friday, January 8, 2010

International Blue-per #3: Canada 1897 Jubilee Issue

"Blue-pers" is my silly name for mistakes, errors, inconsistencies, etc. in the Scott Volume 1. My first two examples represented two categories: 1) what I can only assume was a practical joke at the expense (pun intended) of collectors; and 2) an orphan--i.e., a stamp that was in the Scott Catalog when the album was originally compiled but has been delisted. I suspect that this second category will account for most Blue-pers. But with the Canada 1897 Jubilee Issue, we have an example of a mistake by the editors.

At some point after the 1955 Blue ("Thanks John for this info") but no later than the 1969 edition, Scott revised the first page for Canada. In doing so, the editors left two spaces for the 1897 Jubilee Issue, one illustrated with a cut for the 1/2c black (Scott 50) and the other a blank. The problem is that on the next page for Canada are eight spaces for the exact same series, this time with illustrations for Scott 50, 51, 52, 53, and 54 plus 3 blank spaces for the higher values.

What probably motivated the remodeling of the front page was to remove a space for what had been Scott 35, the 2c blue green Small Queen. In later catalogs this color been demoted to a minor listing as Scott 36d. In the photo, 36 is on the left, 36d the right. Here's a link to a very informative website on the Small Queens.

You have to wonder whether no one brought this duplication of the Jubilees to Scott's attention over the past 50 years? Their editors have been rearranging other pages and surely could have corrected this Blue-per with little effort.

So what's a stamp collector to do? You can't have a complete volume 1 if you have blank spaces, no matter how legitimate the reason! So do you duplicate two of the stamps on both pages? Put the first two stamps from the set (the 1/2c black and 1c orange) on page 1 and 8 of the remaining stamps on page 2? Put something on page 1 to cover up the two erroneous spaces? A major factor is that the 1/2c is not a cheap stamp as you might expect--in 2007 it cataloged $100. And the higher values of the Jubilees are even more pricey.

I guess we should be grateful that, as far as I know, Volume 1 doesn't have the problem that occurs in one or more of the later Blue Internationals of spaces for stamps that were announced but never issued.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years Resolutions

There has been a thread on the Virtual Stamp Club devoted to resolutions relating to stamp collecting, so I might as well post mine:

1. Prepare five "duplicate" albums for sale on eBay after verifying that I've transferred all stamps of interest to my "Blue" Volume 1. I've actually completed one album, a 1947 edition of the "Blue," and used this as an opportunity to make notes on differences between the 1947 edition and my 1969. I'll post these in a couple of days.

2. As a corollary to my first resolution, buy a nice fat 1840-1940 collection with the proceeds to continue to build my Volume 1.

3. Count the number of stamps issued between 1840 and 1940 based on the Scott Classic Catalogue. While I've seen several estimates for the number of stamps issued to the present day (500K, give or take), I'm surprised I haven't been able to find numbers for the first hundred years of philately--a much simpler task. Anyway, I'm now in the "C's" with this project, but at the rate I'm going, it will probably be the Spring before this resolution is accomplished. The count will also give a rough breakdown by regular postage, airmails, semi-postals, etc.

Well, that should be enough to keep me busy. Vis-a-vis Resolution #1, below are pictures of my workspace for transferring stamps between two albums. I'm using the plastic drafting tables made by Ikea. These raise the albums enough to make them easier to browse and I like the round holders for keeping track of hinges (in the Ziplock bag), tongs, etc. My only "complaint" is that I wish the lips on the bottom of the drafting tables could be a little higher to hold albums more securely.