Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Worldwide Album Shootout: Afghanistan

I've pillaged a half-a-dozen or so Worldwide collections in the past year and have repeatedly noted that Afghanistan seems to cause International collectors a lot of problems. Everyone seems to be able to identify stamps belonging to the country without difficulty; we just have problems getting the right stamp in the right space. It doesn't help that the Blue Volume One illustrates only about 10% of the stamps that were issued.

The big loser this time in the Shootout is, incredibly, the Brown International. At least, in the 1897 edition which is the only one I have access to. Scott supplied only World Almanac style information for this country--not a single dedicated space for an actual stamp. I'd like to think this was corrected in later editions but I don't have a clue if Scott made editorial changes in the Brown volumes over the years as they did with the Blue. If anyone can confirm one way or the other, please let me know.

The winner from the standpoint of comprehensiveness, not a surprise here, is the computer generated album. It takes Steiner thirty pages to cover the issues from the early 1871 Tiger's Heads through 1939. Unusual for Steiner's pages, there are actual illustrations for many issues, not just descriptions.

The Scott Green Specialty Album for Afghanistan allots about 24 pages for the pre-1940 issues. One interesting difference between the Steiner and the Green album is that the earliest Tiger's Heads are displayed on the diagonal in the Specialty series--i.e., maintaining the Tiger's Heads in the up position rather than at a 45 degree angle.

The Minkus Master Global provides spaces on a page and a half for some 40 Classic Era Afghanistan stamps out of an approximate universe of 375 (which also counts BOB). The Supreme Global has room for 100 or so stamps on four pages.

The Blue International provides spaces for 36 stamps on two pages, ignoring everything before Scott #205. In spite of this low number, Scott omits fewer than ten face different stamps cataloging under $1, although there are many missing in the $1-$5 range. Scott begins with the 1909 regulars but might have included a couple of earlier issues that catalog only a few dollars. Having said that, a check of the standard Internet retailers (, et al) showed practically no stamps before Scott 205 for sale (and the few available were the more expensive values).

The Scott Catalogue lists air post stamps, registration stamps, parcel post stamps, and postal tax stamps, none of which are in the International although the 1936 postal tax stamps were in the 1947 edition of the International. I am surprised that at least one of the stamps from the first airmail set (1939) has never been in the Blue albums.

I’ve always been intrigued that early Afghan issues were canceled by tearing or cutting so will certainly look for an example of this to add to my collection, even if the Blue provides no spaces for issues contemporary with this practice.

From Wikipedia


John said...

I have a 19th Century Brown with a copyright date of 1935, and Afghanistan still has one page that is blank except for the almanac data at the top.

Bob said...

I find that amazing. Everybody goes on about how superior the Browns are and yet there are omissions like this. Thanks so much for checking.

Peter said...

I may be able to offer some insight. I have a complete collection of Brown albums (not the stamps) and multiple copyright editions of each.

19th century
c 1900 & c 1902 two blank pages (one with header)
c 1919 one blank page (with header)

20th century

Part I 1901-1920 (20 Stamps)
c 1920 two pages
c 1932 three pages

page 1 1907-1917 (15) regular issue
page 2 1909 (4) parcel post
page 3 1909 (1) Official (was on page 2 in c 1920)

Part II 1920-1929 (40 Stamps)
c 1929 five pages
c 1934 five pages
c 1941 five pages

page 1 1920-1926 (13) regular issue
page 2 1927 (9) regular issue
page 3 1928 (7) regular issue
page 4 1920-1921 (9) parcel post
page 5 1924-1926 (2) parcel post

Part III Sep 1928-1935 (47 stamps)
c 1935 five pages
c 1936 five pages

page 1 1929 (12) regular issue
page 2 1929-1930 (13) regular issue
page 3 1932 (9) regular issue
page 4 1932-1934 (12) regular issue
page 5 1929 (1) Official

Part IV Sep 1934-1938 (25 Stamps)
c 1939 two pages
c 1942 two pages

page 1 1934 (16) regular issue
page 2 1935-1938 (9) regular issue

Part V 1938-1939 (22 Stamps)
This is a Vintage Reproduction album
four pages

page 1 1938-1939 (2) regular issues
page 2 1939 (15) regular issues
page 3 1939 (3) air mail
page 4 1938 (2) postal tax

Summary: The Brown International series illustrated a total of 154 stamps (starting with Scott # 196) from 1907-1939.

I also checked my Blue International Volume I albums and confirm 36 stamps in c 1947 and c 1955.

Let me know if you have additional questions. Bob, can you share your email address. I would like to contact you offline. Best regards, Peter

Bob said...

Peter, most helpful. You can contact me through my gmail account which is "egyptbob" (Ancient Egypt is one of my major interests).