Monday, November 29, 2010

Latest Lawrence Block 'Generally Speaking" column in Linn's

Mr. Block's latest column, "Stamps and their Infinite Variety" in the 29 November 2010 Linn's is of even more interest than usual to the Blue collector. For one thing, he hints at some problems with the Brown Internationals. The Browns, of course, are always referred to with hush reverence as the ne plus ultra of Classic Era worldwide albums. (As opposed to one author who called the Blues their "bastardized offspring.") But I've always wondered if the Browns had their eccentricities just like the Blue Internationals but which no one has bothered to comment on.

In terms of album scope, what Scott primarily advertised for the Brown series was that each album "Contains spaces for every major variety of Postage Stamp issued by any Government." Some advertisements were a little more specific: "Containing spaces for all varieties of watermarks, inverted pictures, etc., etc." But what does every "major variety" mean? One thing we do know is that cost or scarcity isn't a criteria for inclusion or omission.

What Mr. Block says is the Brown "doesn't bother with perforation varieties…It includes major watermark varieties, and makes room for some minor varieties and omits others, recognizes a few shades, has spaces for some errors of colors." So it appears that the Brown also may be eccentric in coverage, just perhaps less so than the Blue.

The most tantalizing bit in Block's column is that there are stamps in the Brown that he can't find in the catalog. Unfortunately, he doesn't name names.

Truth be told, I'm leaving out the charm of this particular column which focuses on whether Block should feel obligated to acquire stamps that will fill spaces for minor varieties that he might otherwise happily ignore if they weren't in the albums as well as how the margins of his albums contain "in some respects, the most interesting items in [his] collection." He goes on to discuss some of his favorites in both categories. Both issues are near and dear to the heart of the Blue collector, too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Scott 2011 Classics Catalogue Published

It is November again and that means another edition of the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers. As usual, even though stamp coverage (of non-British Empire) ends with 1940, the editors have added more than 1000 new listings for varieties from 52 countries. To emphasize, these are new listings for stamps, not simply changes in value of which there are more than 10,000.

While most of the additions are minor Scott numbers, there are a handful of new major numbers for Albania, German stamps used in Austria after the Anschluss, and Cyprus. New minor numbers appear in Alaouites, Bosnia and Herzegovina (248! new varieties), French Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Martinique, Mauritania, New Caledonia, Ile Rouad, Rhodesia, Russia, Senegal, Somali Coast, and Syria.

The most costly new listing this year is Greece 47g, one of the Large Hermes Heads with its control number both inverted and on the front. The stamp is unique and valued at $210,000.

Check out the online press release which gives more detailed information about this impressive catalog.

No doubt the editors of the Scott International album series are busy revising Volume One to reflect these changes, with their highest priority to find a place to put Greece 47g.