Friday, August 27, 2010

International Blue-per #5: Australia, Austria, Austria Lombardy-Venetia, etc., etc.

The Lombardy-Venetia 3 shilling 1863, Scott #16, catalogs a rather dear $100. While there are stamps in the "Blue" cataloging more than this, $100 still is rather out of keeping with the rest of the album. For that matter, it is out of line with the preceding five stamps from Lombardy-Venetia which all catalog between $6 and $20. Is there a good reason that the editors included a $100 stamp? Well, no. Lombardy-Venetia #21, the same design and colored stamp issued one year later but with a different watermark/perforation, catalogs almost two thirds less: $37.50. Similarly, while #16's sister issue from 1863, the 5s Rose, #17, catalogs a not too expensive $27.50, the even more affordable 5s Rose #22 from 1864 goes for a wallet-friendly $6. Again, the only difference is watermark and perforation gauge.

I checked and the 1863 date in the album for these two stamps goes back at least to the 1943 edition so these stamps were probably in the album from the beginning. So does the "Blue" collector cheat and change the date above these two stamps from 1863 to 1863-64 so that #21-22 work, or does he or she buck it up and pay the premium for the two more expensive stamps?

There are other stamps that raise similar issues. For example, Scott includes a space for the 1863 Austria 2kr Coat of Arms which must be Scott 17 because of the date shown in the album. Used catalog value (2007) was $95. Scott #22, the same color and design but issued in 1864 with a different perforation (and perhaps watermark), catalogs for $11.50. Again, changing Scott's date header from 1863 to 1863-64 will save a mess o' money. To be clear, this is not the case of Scott providing spaces for the 1863 stamps and the 1864 stamps. No, the less expensive 1864 stamps are not represented in the album at all.

And one last example. Scott provides spaces for six Australian postage dues from 1909, total catalog value of around $90. But if you change the dates to 1909-1936 (again, same face just differences in perfs/watermarks), the catalog drops to around $23.

But is this cheating? Nah! If I owned one of the Brown Internationals or Scott Specialties, I would expect to fill a space with the described stamp or leave it blank. If Scott calls for British Guiana #13, the 1856 1c magenta, then by golly that's what needs to go in there (if you have this stamp, may I suggest you use a nice mount rather than a hinge!). But unlike the Brown or Green albums, the Blue was intended for collectors to fill with readily acquired, face different stamps.

My thought when I first started my Volume 1 collection was that part of the fun would be the challenge of finding the exact stamps that Scott chose to include. Rather like a scavenger hunt, not that I couldn't scavenge additional stamps over and beyond those described. This is part of the appeal for the Blue collector. We know that it is possible to complete the album, something our Brown or Green colleagues can never hope to do (not that they care).

However, the more I discover about the editing of the Blue Volume 1, the more I realize there were some poor editorial decisions about what to include/omit that cry out to be ignored as they clearly violate the intended scope of the album. I do intend to pencil in notes for the stamps I substitute and I will do so with a clear conscience. OK, now that this earth-shattering decision is out of the way...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Worldwide Album Shootout: Mozambique Company

I have a real fondness for many of the Colonial African pictorials which I still remember from my childhood collection. Not surprisingly, several of the APS Circuits I receive are for such colonies.

While going through the latest circuit for Portuguese Colonies, I had the impression that the pages for the Mozambique Company in the Scott International were a real mess, i.e., a noticeable number of stamps in the circuit books didn't seem to be in the album. So many that I didn't bother to check the Scott Classics Catalogue and just made a mental note to do a thorough comparison at a convenient time in the future.

Last night was that convenient time but I can only conclude that I was under some stamp-induced hypnosis when going through the circuit books. In other words, the International's editor(s) did a good job.

While the Mozambique Company's issues are quite affordable, there still are some stamps that are more difficult to obtain than others. Scott has omitted a few high denominations--not that these are particularly expensive--as well as most of the overprints other than the "Republica" ones. Many of these overprints don't seem to be readily available from the "usual" sources I normally check so that may have been a good editorial decision.

This almost leads me to wonder if I'm remembering wrong and it was another Portuguese Colony that had so many missing stamps. But until the next Portuguese Circuit arrives and I hopefully pay more attention, it's Scott 1, Me 0.

For an overview of this country, see You can also view many of these stamps on Antonios Ra's collection website:

One interesting piece of "Blue" trivia: the Mozambique Company quit issuing stamps in 1941 so Scott decided to include them in Volume 1 even though the album's coverage normally ends at 1940.