Thursday, October 21, 2010

International Album Article in October 2010 American Philatelist

The latest issue of the American Philatelic Society's journal contains an interesting and nicely illustrated article by Rick Thompson titled "Judging an Album by Its Cover" (pages 915-918). Mr. Thompson rightly notes that the type of International being offered for sale on eBay, etc. can provide clues as to the value of the collection when other details are missing.

Mr. Thompson's information largely comes from the advertisements in the back of contemporaneous Scott Catalogs. He concentrates on the period between 1939 and 1956 during which Scott transitioned the albums from the Brown Internationals to the Junior Internationals to the Blue Internationals. While he has researched a lot of interesting information, I found particularly intriguing that Scott sold the Brown Internationals through circa 1941, after which they offered them on close-out until around 1945 when only three out of five volumes were still for sale.

Mr. Thompson provides a handy dandy chart of the various bindings available for purchase between 1939 and 1956. Interestingly, the 1955 edition was still offered bound with blue cloth although by 1956 it looks like the only version available was "Loose Leaf with dark blue Fabrikoid cover," the same binders available to this day.

One characteristic I never thought to consider was heft. Mr. Thompson indicates that the full 5 volumes Brown Internationals weighed in at 43 pounds (shipping weight) versus 11 pounds for the Blue. As the author points out, even ignoring the extra bindings of five volumes versus one, the Brown appears four times more comprehensive than the Blue even though the Brown only goes through mid-1938. (I find it interesting that no one, including Scott, has estimated the number of stamps in the Brown. The Blue, of course, contains approximately 35,000 spaces.)

While the author does not specifically address this point, it appears the catalogs confirm that the Brown Internationals as published by Scott stopped their coverage with August 1938. As I have suggested in an earlier post, it is possible that collectors could have supplemented their Browns for the stamps between September 1938 and December 1939 by purchasing one of the annual albums but I have never seen one of these for sale and cannot confirm that they ever existed except in advertisements.

Kudos to Mr. Thompson for writing this fascinating article.

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