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.

No comments: