Monday, February 22, 2010

The Worldwide Album Shootout: Great Britain, Pt 2

Click this link to read Part 1.

3) The Minkus Supreme Global

I've been anxious for some time to see if the Supreme Global bridges the gap between the "Blue" and the Scott "Brown"/"Green" series. By bridge I mean does the Supreme Global provide additional coverage without leaving the collector with perpetually blank spaces for the great rarities found in the Scott albums?

The Supreme takes not quite four pages, front and back, to cover Scott 1-173 in comparison to two in the "Blue," although the Minkus also includes several sets of Officials and Postage Dues.

The Supreme Global houses 136 regular stamps between Scott #1 and 173 or 82% of the major Scott numbered issues. This compares with 49% in the Scott "Blue." The majority of missing stamps are expensive, cataloging up to $29,000. However, there are three missing early engraved Queen Victorias cataloging under $100 which perhaps Minkus considered minor varieties.

Later editions of both the Master and Supreme Global albums include catalog numbers, although, of course, these are Minkus numbers not Scott. Minkus provides more illustrations, Scott more descriptions and blank spaces. Specifically,

"Blue" - 23% of the spaces in the entire album have illustrations
Master Global - 43% have illustrations
Supreme Global - 53% have illustrations.

I do not know the corresponding percentages for the "Brown" and "Green" series.

Surprisingly, I sometimes find myself prefering, within a set, to have text for the colors and values as the illustrations are not always as helpful as text. One place where I think the "Blue" is superior is that its cuts are larger than in the Minkus albums.

I do like how the Supreme Global typically provides the collector with more information than does the "Blue." For example, the Supreme Global describes watermarks, both with text captions and small cuts as well as sometimes as a large "stamp size" cut. The album also sometimes uses small arrows to point out identifying features between similar issues as well as gives useful descriptions, such as "Small White Letters in Corners." The Master Global doesn't offer as much help in this regard as the Supreme Global but still more than the "Blue."

Here are examples of these different approaches:

One thing I dislike is the Supreme Global gives fewer dates. For example, all of the stamps on page 1 for Great Britain in the Supreme Global are subsumed under the heading 1840-80. Similarly, page 2 is 1880-1901.

My initial impression, for Great Britain at least, is that the Supreme Global is a worthy alternative to the "Blue." What will be more telling is comparisons for other countries where the "Blue" is known to be weak with certain common issues that should have been included.

4) The Scott "Brown" International 19th Century Edition

I don't own any of the "Brown" Internationals but a scan of the 1902 version is available via Google Books and that is what I used for this comparison. As the Brown was in print until the 1940s, it is possible that Scott made revisions over the years. Can anyone verify if there were changes?

As I only looked at the 19th Century volume, the last stamp included is Scott 126. Out of the 119 major numbers in the Catalog between #1-126, the "Brown" contains 111. Actually 112, because the first space is for O1, the black Queen Victoria with V R in the upper corners. Most of the missing numbers are from the 1854-57 types of 1840 and 1841 with different perforations (e.g., a single space that can contain either #8 or 11).

The "Brown" finishes out the Great Britain pages with Offices in the Levant, Officials, and the 1p and 2p Mulready envelopes.

One of the attributes I find I like about the "Browns," the 19th Century volume at least, is the number of stamps per page. The Harris approach much too crowded for my taste and the Scott Specialty albums too generous with space. (I realize this is a consequence of logically relegating related sets to their own pages and I further suspect that most single country collectors like the uncrowded appearance of the Specialty pages to better show off their treasures.) I had expected the "Brown" pages to be sparsely populated like the Specialty series, but this is not the case at least with this album.

5) The computer generated pages from William Steiner's Stamp Albums site

This wonderful website provides affordable computer generated album pages for almost every stamp listed in the Scott Catalogs. Although his pages go up to the present day, Mr. Steiner very helpfully provides pages specifically for the Classic collector. Steiner takes 11 pages to present #1-173. Of the 166 possible stamps in this range, Steiner provides spaces for 171 of them. Now how is that possible? Because he includes some stamps like 158A and 158B that I rightly or wrongly ignored as subvarieties when doing my count.

Steiner's pages are 8.5 x 11 inches as opposed to approximately 10x11.5 inches for the "Browns" and 9 x 12 inches for the others.

Steiner doesn't include any cuts of stamps although some pages have illustrations of overprints. (He may consistently do this--I haven't checked.)

Of all the publications, Steiner's was the easiest to match spaces with the Scott catalog number. Those few items "out of sequence" are usually because the catalog conflates sets of regular issues issued at different times into one denomination sequence whereas Steiner may separate them. (For example, the 1883-84 regular series is split between two lines depending upon whether the stamps were issued in 1883 or 1884.)

So how much is the catalog value for all of the stamps on these 11 pages? Almost $120,000 compared to $3200 for the "Blue"!

6) The H.E. Harris Masterwork Deluxe Album Album (Volume II: Europe)

I picked up this album years ago at a garage sale and I still see worldwide Harris albums on eBay periodically, but the appeal of these to the worldwide collector would have to be the coverage of post-1940 issues, not the Classic Era. In the case of the stamps between Scott #1 and 173, Harris contains 30 of them or 18%. It takes about 2/3's of a page for Harris to get to Scott 172. Harris provides 5 blank spaces. With the exception of what I assume is the Penny Blank, all of the included stamps catalog under $25 and are reasonable choices for inclusion. However, there are almost as many stamps cataloging under $25 that are NOT included.

Although I will glance at the Harris pages when I look at other countries, I won't bother posting the comparison in the future unless their coverage is closer to the others.

7) The Scott Specialty Album for Great Britain

While I don't own it, you can see pages from this album on Dr. Cheng Chang's website.

The Specialty album takes 14 pages to display Scott 1-173, compared with Steiner's 11 pages, confirming my impression that the "Green" albums have fewer stamps per page than the other albums. Of the 166 possible stamps in this range, the "Green" provides spaces for 171 of them--the same as Steiner. Unlike Steiner, the "Green" includes illustrations for many of the stamps as well as Scott numbers. The "Blue" only provides Scott numbers for the U.S. Later editions of both the Minkus Master and Supreme Global albums have catalog numbers but, as noted above, these are Minkus. Harris never had numbers and Steiner can't include Scott numbers because they aren't licensed to do so.

The only other Scott worldwide album to include numbers that I am aware of was the short lived Grand Award album which I believe was intended to compete with the Master Global.

I will do more country comparisons in the coming months. If anyone has other albums they would like to scan so I can post on this site (or link to) for comparison purposes, I would be most happy to do so.

No comments: