Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Half way there

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to fill my Scott Volume 1 to the 50% point this year or 17,500 stamps. I knew that setting such a goal was going to take me out on a limb as I was about 2000 stamps short, but an unexpected album purchase yielded an even more unexpected 1889 stamps for my collection; that put me just over the half way point when added to some smaller purchases. I intend to blog later about the purchase that made this possible because I think it has some implications for other collectors, but for the moment, I thought I would make a few observations about what a half completed Blue Volume One album "feels" like.

When I started my collection was under 10,000 stamps. In the first 200 pages there were 35 pages with no stamps on them. Now there are seven. In general, there aren't a lot of pages that feel sparse.

And some of the larger countries are approaching completion--at least aside from those pesky semi-postals and "offices." From the first part of the alphabet, Argentina, Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, and Germany are down to no more than a dozen or so missing regular issues/commems.

In spite of being at the halfway point there are still a bunch of countries for which I haven't a single stamp. I had blogged in May 2010 that out of 408 countries/political entities in the Blue, there were a surprising 76 staring back at me with only empty spaces. Now with the album half full, I am lacking stamps from 53 countries. I'm still not clear as to why there should be so many. For example, although my holdings of Italy were good, I was able to score 66 additional Italian stamps from my latest eBay purchase. But even though the original owner of this album obviously had a good collection of Italy, he or she didn't have a single example of Italian Occupation stamps from Calchi, Calino, Caso, et al, in spite of the fact that there are many of these that catalog under one dollar each. A similar story could be told for plenty of other countries. So this reinforces my impression that there are dozens of countries that elude most Blue collectors for reasons other that cost.

The next major milestone I guess will be 20,000, but who's counting :)


Loyde said...

Thanks for your blog and insights about Big Blue, and addiction we share. I, too, recently retired and have turned my collecting appetites toward Vol. 1(1969 edition), mine currently with something over 21,000 stamps in place.

I wonder if your thoughts have ever turned toward what happens when Blue gets to resembling an over satiated toad, as mine is. I’ve never liked aesthetically the idea of breaking Blue apart into separate volumes, but it’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to something. So far, I’ve taken three steps. The USA collection is in a specialty album, as are pre 1930 air mails. Also, I’m removing to a separate album all of the stamps for which Blue has no spaces provided, but I had tucked nearby on the pages where they should have appeared (another 4900 beyond the 21k). But these measures will not solve the problem for long. Further complicating matters, I’ve found it necessary to insert interleaving between filled facing pages, sliding it in and not attaching it to the posts. The result is an album that Fernando Botero would love. It can only partly be closed.

So, short of replacement with one of the ultra-expensive hingeless album sets, what’s to be done about a corpulent, aging Big Blue?

Bob said...

Thanks so much for your entertaining and informative comments. I don't see any alternative to splitting the Blue as our collections grow more Rubenesque, especially with added interleaving which I think is obligatory. My collection is currently divided between two binders and I'm certain that I will have to go to three before it is all over. I've gotten used to the bifurcation but I'm sure that moving to three will be bothersome. But I have to admit that the main inconvenience so far of using two binders has been when working with APS Circuit Books that contain countries from all over the alphabet, such as those for "British Empire" or "France & French Colonies."

I wish I could bite the bullet and remount my collection into the latest version of the International with its thicker pages. I have the feeling that another decade or so of heavy use is going to leave the 1969 looking pretty tatty. Remounting would also provide a solution for housing stamps that aren't provided for in the Blue since the latest version is more expansion friendly. But alas I know that I don't have the patience to do this. (And, if I did, I would be sorely tempted to move to the Brown reprints. But I certainly don't see coping with ten plus binders!)

actuary said...

I have enjoyed your blog. I have the 1964 edition of Volume I, which I obtained for $10 around 1980, which may be my greatest philatelic bargain. Your blog inspired me to count my stamps, which total 19,800.

To deal with the problems of no spaces for many inexpensive stamps and spaces for too expensive stamps, I have been creating my own album pages using Albumgen in blank International pages. I can match the font and layout of the printed pages, and just do not create spaces for stamps outside my price range. This works well when a county is nearly complete and not so well otherwise. I have replaced about 10 countries.

I had to expand to four binders. Buying an updated edition with better paper is tempting, but the time to remount would be about 165 hours at 2 per minute.


Bob said...

Hi Ken. Thanks for writing. I began to wonder after I posted my reply to Loyde how long it would take me to remount my collection. Having just transferred 1800 or so stamps, I know that I realistically will rarely transfer more than 150 a day what with distractions, etc. This means that 17,500 stamps would require almost four months to move between albums. Of course, if I were looking at this logically, four months would hardly seem daunting in the face of a decade or two of additional use but logic has never been my strong point.

I must admit it never occurred to me, that for countries which were particularly ill served by the album editor, one could substitute one's own pages for the entire country. I had always pictured adding a page or two at the end of each country as the only option.

Out of curiosity which font are you using to match the one used by Scott?

Loyde said...

Thanks, Ken and Bob, for your suggestions and commiseration. Using Albumgen pages seems a great idea for the supplementary album I’m starting for Big Blue’s misfits. And, when/if I break Blue apart (groan), the generated pages can be inserted. Incidentally, I go by the name Bud, not Loyde.

actuary said...

Times New Roman 14 works for country name and 10 for year of issue. This may vary by printer. I also put the reason for the issue above the stamps and describe what is depicted below. This is time-consuming, and if you don't own the stamp, it can be difficult to determine its size.


Jim said...

Bob- really enjoying the conversation here, and congratulations on crossing the half way threshold. And Bud and Ken with their 20-21,000 spaces filled-Wow! In addition, some very good "Botero" insights about the state of our albums,and possible solutions. I will have to look into the Albumgen pages idea.

But,I did switch over to the 97 edition as you know, and there is indeed a lot of empty space.
Because of that, I elected not to put additional stamps in a separate album at this time. This is what I've done so far:

1) Put clear interleaving between each page. Probably a must to prevent full stamp pages binding/catching with the facing page. Really makes Big Blue look classy. But the album is getting bigger...

2) Added a quadrille International blank page opposite the first page of many countries. Why? Because Big Blue tends to telescope its space offerings the most during the early years. I then have room to add the additional (inexpensive) classic issues close to Big Blue's classic issues. But the album is getting bigger...

3) As mentioned,the 1997 edition has many empty or near empty pages. Therefore, adding additional issue stamps to Big Blue's spaces, or adding an entirely new issue (the cheap postage dues that weren't included), or category(Semi-postals, Officials, Military stamps?)is quite feasible. But the album is growing...

4) Finally, the down-side of the 1997 edition is it will NOT fit in one binder as the pages have been expanded to "Botero" proportions.

Bottom Line: Big Blue will now require 4-5 binders. Better than the 14 binders that the Browns require, but still...