Friday, April 9, 2010

Differences between the Scott International Junior and the Current "Blue"

A reader emailed me the other day asking about the differences between the "Blue" Volume 1 that Scott currently sells in four parts and the International Junior, which I took to mean one of the earlier single part editions. This is a question that much interests me and I thought I might try to summarize what I've found out so far.

By way of introduction, the editions of the "Blue" between 1943 and 1969 were sold in one part. Beginning in the 1970s, Scott split Volume 1 into two parts and most recently into four.

Number of Countries
There are more countries in the 1943 or 1947 editions than in any of the later volumes. The two part "Blue" editions are missing the most countries. Some of those countries in the 1943/47 editions were restored in the four part version but not all. For a complete list, click here.

Number of Stamps
The 1943/47 editions have spaces for the most stamps. Hundreds of stamps were unceremoniously dropped when Scott created the two part version which offers the worst coverage. However, there are stamps in the later versions that weren't in the 1943/47 editions.

The single part volumes are the least compatible with later volumes in the International series, the four part, the most. The single part volumes will have some countries that begin on the reverse of pages as well as multiple countries on a single page, making it impossible to seamlessly integrate the pages in Volume 1 with those in Volume 2 and later. This also means that countries are in a single alphabetical sequence in the latest editions.

As in the "compatibility" category, the four part edition is the most expandable. In the four part version, all countries are their own units and the different classes of stamps (i.e., regular issues/commems, airmails, etc.) within a country are graced with their own pages. This arrangement makes it easier for collectors to create their own pages within or at the end of a country. Two byproducts of the four part arrangement are 1) there are many blank back (verso) pages in the four part version that can be used for mounting additional stamps, and 2) there also tends to be fewer stamps on many pages, leaving the collector room to make his or her own additions--perhaps those that were dropped from earlier editions--without necessarily having to add new pages.

The four part version is on thicker paper than any of the one part editions (I haven't physically examined a two part "Blue") and I suspect the paper may be of more archival quality. There is some variation in the paper thickness in the one part editions I've seen, but as albums can sometimes have collector-added replacement pages from other editions, I don't feel certain as to the state each edition was originally published.

While probably not a big deal for most collectors, the earlier editions of the "Blue" had spaces at the top of the page for a portrait of the ruler and coats of arms as well as some gazetteer information. (Actually, I wish the latter were still in there.)

The single volume versions, usually the 1943 or 1947 editions, appear weekly on eBay and you might be able to score one with few or any stamps for as little as $50 or so. New copies of the four part version will set you back $400+ from Amos Advantage or another dealer. Now whether it is worth the $400 to have some of the advantages of the four-parter is up to the individual collector. If you do buy an earlier volume, note that these may not be complete (not infrequently the US pages are missing), there may be hinge remnants, tears, etc., and you probably want to make certain the edition is loose-leaf rather than hard bound.

Have I left anything out?


ChrisW said...

How about the quality of the illustrations used? Do they appear to be “a copy of a copy” in the current 4-part version?

Bob said...

Yes, "copy of a copy" is a good way to describe it. I don't think it is a deal breaker considering what you gain in paper quality, but many images are definitely "muddier." Worst is probably Bavaria 92 and 93 which don't reproduce well at best.