Tuesday, September 28, 2010

International Blue-per #6 : Armenia [Scott 268-277]

From Wikimedia

Several stamps in the Blue fall into the category of stamps that were once in the catalog but have been delisted. I think one can argue that if they were in the catalog at the time the album was issued, then, of course, they belong there and the compulsive Blue collector needs to fill those spaces. (In every case I've discovered so far, delisted stamps like these are still readily available.) But does it become a "Blue-per" for those editions of the album that Scott has made other changes to, but "neglected" to remove stamps it no longer recognizes as officially issued?

The first case in point are the Armenian stamps printed in 1920 that are still in the International and occupy the entire second line for that country. According to my 1943 Scott Catalog, the stamps "were printed in Paris. A large quantity was lost on the way to Armenia. Before the balance was delivered the National Government had been driven out by the Bolsheviki and the use of the stamps was prohibited." The Scott Classics Catalogue prices the set at $5 and notes that you can find some of the stamps fiscally used and with specimen overprints and imperforate. Adding to the fun, the set of ten has been reprinted. Scott says that the colors of the reprints are brighter. Interestingly, these stamps are also in Yvert&Tellier (I don't know about other catalogs) as numbers 94-101 without any notes questioning their authenticity and valued at 5.50 Euro.

There is a little more information on the Web about these stamps that you can find through Google. You can also see them in the Antonius Ra Collection with a notation that they weren't issued.

So should Scott have just dropped these stamps and left a blank at row at the bottom of the page? Well no, they could have given collectors spaces for Scott 300-309, the set of ten stamps from 1922 that catalogs a whopping $6.95. Now there's something that even I can afford.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Minkus Supreme Global Back in Print!

I was minding my own business, looking at the latest Linn's, when I saw a full page Amos Advantage advertisement for their Minkus and International worldwide albums. I've seen this advert often and so I wasn't prepared to pay much intention to it until, lo and behold, I noticed a price by the base version of the Minkus "Global" album which has been out-of-print for a number of years. In addition, there is a new sentence in the description, "...on-demand printing has brought some parts back."

The relevant parts of the ad are:
Item Retail AA*
MGLV1A 1840-1952 $224.99 $199.99
MGLV1B 1840-1952 $224.99 $199.99
MGLV2A 1953-1963 $150.00 $120.00
MGLV2B 1953-1963 $150.00 $120.00

I immediately emailed Customer Service at Amos Publishing to find out more details. According to their answer, the 1840-1952 parts are for the more comprehensive Supreme Global, not the Master Global. And they will be printed on 80-lb stock (as opposed to 60-lb for the Scott International and who knows what lesser weight for the originals).

If these are indeed the Supreme Global pages (see below), this is great news for worldwide collectors. I don't know how long the complete Supreme Global has been out of print, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was sometime in the 1980s. The Supreme Global represents what IMO is a reasonable compromise between the coverage in the Blue Internationals and the Browns. You have most of the stamps that a collector will acquire without unfillable spaces for the great rarities. You also have the convenience of the pages fitting in 2-3 binders versus 8-10 for the Vintage Reproductions of the Browns.

Now why do I qualify my enthusiasm as to whether these are indeed the Supreme Global pages when Amos has told me as much. Well, the problem is that I am reasonably certain that the Supreme Global wasn't published until the year 1954 when it appears in the US Copyright Register for that year (the Supreme Global is not in the Register for 1952; unfortunately, I don't have access to 1953). The Master Global on the other hand does indeed date from 1952. But there certainly is confusion about the history of these albums, so I could easily be wrong.

One thing the reprinting has encouraged me to do is to deduce how many stamps are in the Supreme Global versus the equivalent Blue Internationals. This is easiest to estimate for 1955 editions of these two albums. The 1955 Supreme Global contains spaces for 76,000 stamps where the equivalent albums in the Blue International contains 66,000 spaces.

I must say I'm somewhat surprised that there is only a difference of 10,000 stamps between Scott and Minkus for this year range--about 15%. Is ten thousand sufficient spaces to cover the more common stamps that the Scott is missing and do these mostly fall between 1840 and 1940?

Then again, Timothy P. Holls "totaled the number of pages in his Minkus Supreme Global albums through the 1999 supplement. There were 22,014 pages, with spaces for 354,310 stamps (more or less)." (Quoted from http://www.asis.com/users/edenson/wwhome.html). As of 2008, Scott says that the Blue Internationals only number some 16,000 pages and 220,000 stamps. That is a difference of a whopping 48%.

As I own a copy of a "real" Supreme Global from 1840-1955 for countries A-J, I need to make some more detailed comparisons of the coverage in the Minkus. In the meantime, if anyone finds anything more about these pages, please let me know.

Regardless, thank you Scott/Amos Publishing. First you bring back the Scott Part 1, now (what I hope is) the Minkus Supreme Global. Together with your excellent Classics Catalogue, this shows a real commitment to the hobby.

UPDATE 2/2/2011: There is a Buy-It-Now on eBay for a 2 Volume Set 1952 Minkus SUPREME GLOBAL STAMP ALBUM. The seller says that there are "Spaces for 93,255 Stamps. 2,688 pages." So this proves that the Supreme Global was indeed first published in 1952 (as was the Master Global). What is especially interesting is that the number of spaces and pages is greater than that of the later 1955 edition. Is it possible that Minkus cut back after the initial edition? The seller doesn't reproduce the title page so we can only assume they've gotten the details right.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

O' Canada

As you may know, the American Philatelic Society frequently offers its members "one-time direct circuits" of a particular country or area during a specific month. I decided to take advantage of September's offer of Canada. Most of the circuits I regularly receive contain multiple countries (e.g., France and Colonies) so it was nice for a change to be able to sit down with my album opened to a single place instead of constantly having to thumb through the books, especially fun for those countries that Scott helpfully didn't put where they belong in the alphabet.

Since an APS circuit contains well over 1000 stamps, some of which exist in multiple copies mounted in several different books, I modified the wantlist worksheet I keep in Excel to help me track which books contained the stamps I needed with the best price.

You can see the top part of my tracking sheet below. The left column is the Scott catalog number ("1/4/12" indicates that there are three different Scott numbers that would work in the space provided). I use the second column to compare the price of more expensive stamps in the circuit books, usually $20+, with the same stamps in the APS Stampstore. The third and subsequent columns correspond to individual circuit books.

On several occasions I've thought that a stamp in a circuit was a good value only to find a better price elsewhere. Of course, if we're only talking about a small difference in price, I would rather purchase a stamp that I can examine in person. But as you can see from the second item, the StampStore has a acceptable copy of Canada #17 for almost half of the one in the circuit book.

Before this circuit, I lacked 54 Canadian stamps. I now need 33. Unfortunately, that includes most of the Large Queens and some other pricey stamps, including that perennial favorite, the "Blue Nose." Actually, Canada has several lovely 1840-1940 ship stamps of which I have two: