Sunday, May 30, 2010

Aden versus Allenstein Redux

After several years of avoiding it, I have finally begun making a wantlist using the countries for which I have no stamps as a start. Motivating me out of my lethargy was a desire to investigate if there were obvious reasons why my album doesn't have a single stamp from 70+ countries: what makes them different? While I've only gotten as far as the letter C with my wantlist, I was pleased that with one (aberrant) exception, the total catalog value (2007) for the A-B countries isn't too bad. Of course, the "Blue" collector knows that low catalog value doesn't translate into low retail, or, perhaps more important, into easy availability for purchase.

Here is a summary of the A-B countries missing from my collection:

Aguera: 7 stamps in the "Blue" album, $7.70 total 2007 Scott catalog value
Alaouites: 25 stamps, $86.75
Allenstein: 28 stamps, $48.50
Anjouan: 7 stamps, $7.95
Austria Lombardy-Venetia: 7 stamps, $182.00 (or maybe under $100--I'll explain in a future post)
Barbuda: 5 stamps, $8.30
Benin: 7 stamps, $15.65
British Central Africa: 7 stamps, $19.05

Well, total catalog value obviously doesn't explain it. I mean, what's up with Aguera or Anjouan and their 7 stamps cataloging not much more than a $1 each? To see if these countries are an example of stamps more difficult to find than the catalog values suggest, I checked my nascent wantlist with three sources: the APS Stamp Store, Poppe-Stamps, and Zillions of Stamps. I was pleasantly surprised that at least 75% of my wantlist was available from one or more of these sources for all of the countries except Aguera. Stamps from La Aguera weren't available from any source I checked, including eBay.

In my earlier post I wondered why I have a country like Aden complete, for example, and what was different about it vis-a-vis Allenstein or, to choose one of the other countries for which I have no stamps, Aguera? Scott provides spaces for 19 Aden stamps at a catalog value of around $37.50 (I say around because there are several blank spaces to be filled at the collector's discretion). Aguera is represented by 7 stamps with a total catalog value of $7.70. On the surface, doesn't it seem like my collection should be the other way around? Just brainstorming, I wonder if the reasons are:

1) Popularity. Aden is a former member of the British Commonwealth and this remains a popular area with American collectors.

2) Stamp Types. Aden in the "Blue" is all pictorials and commemoratives, including the popular 1937 Coronation set. The stamps of Aguera are what some dealers derisively call "little nothing stamps."

3) Each of Aguera's stamps catalogs $1.10. While Aden has stamps cataloging more than the $1.10 there are still 7 Aden stamps that can be acquired at well under $1 each. I might imagine that the stamps most likely to make their way into Junior collector's albums were those valued at or near the base catalog (which, for many years, was 2 cents).

I'll post something in the future about the "deal" with Austria Lombardy-Venetia (hint, it involves a Blue-per).

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