Sunday, July 24, 2011

The First Edition of the Scott International Junior

I recently purchased a copy of the first edition of the Blue for dirt cheap because it was missing around 10% of its pages. Still, I thought it would be interesting to do some comparisons to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

As a reminder, the first edition of the Blue was published in 1914. The latest stamps I saw were from the 1913 but not even through the end of that year.

First thing you notice is how much thinner the original edition was than today's Volume 1, even allowing for the missing pages in my copy. I can see that this album wouldn't have appeared terribly daunting to a beginning collector, "Hey, this is something I can fill up!"

A surprise was that the maps in the front are the same color maps with Alphonse Mucha styled titles found in the Browns. Another surprise was that many countries did not have spaces for flags, rulers or arms. I say surprise because the title page brags that these are present for all countries, and, in fact, there is a tipped in advertisement selling the labels for a buck.

Those of us with earlier editions of the Blue before 1997 regularly complain about the order the countries appear and it was interesting to note that originally the album was largely in alphabetical order. Unlike the Browns, not completely, because Scott would try to cram two or three countries on a page when there were only a few rows of stamps involved.

The illustrated cuts match up well between the 1914 and the current editions. As a general rule, I would say that there are more spaces with descriptions in the later editions and consequently more blank spaces in the 1914.

As you will see below, there are many cases where there are more stamps in the 1914 edition than on the equivalent pages in the 1943/47 editions, the most comprehensive of the Blue Volume Ones. There are a few exceptions, and these are generally for popular countries, such as Canada, where the later editions added some more expensive stamps that had originally been omitted.

Because of the pages missing from my copy of the 1914, I didn't do a lot of comparisons between the 1943/47 edition (referred to as '43 below) and the 1914, but here are some notes:
--US: my copy of the 1914 is missing most of the US pages but I see that, as in the Brown albums, Scott has placed the US envelopes, Revenues, and Telegraph stamps at the back of the album. These had moved up to the front by the '43/47 edition but the Revenues and Telegraph stamps have now been dropped from the Blue.
--US Confederate States: 8 spaces in the 1914 vs 7 in '43.
--Abyssinia: the 1914 has a row for the 1901-05 stamps missing in the '43 plus 3 additional stamps for 1909.
--Afghanistan: the 1914 allotted half a blank page (unlike the Brown which had a full blank page; early Afghanistan obviously flummoxed both the Blue and Brown editors).
--Albania: missing from the 1914 as its first stamps were't issued until December 1913.
--Angra: 13 spaces in 1914 vs 7 in '43.
--Anjoun: 8 spaces in 1914 vs 3 in '43.
--Annam & Tonkin: in 1914, missing in '43.
--Antigua: 17 spaces in 1914 vs 11 in '43.
--Austria: 41 spaces on the 1914's first page vs 38 in the '43; 1914 includes the Austrian Offices in Liechtenstein missing in the '43.
--Austria Lombardy-Venetia: 11 spaces in 1914 vs 7 in the '43.
--Azores: 1914 has 16 nineteenth century stamps that are missing the the '43. This is one of my pet peeves about the Blue: many inexpensive earlier stamps for Portuguese Colonies are missing from some colonies but not all. Also the '43 is missing Newspaper stamps present in the 1914.
--Baden: 18 spaces in the 1914 vs 7 in the '43. You may remember than in the earlier editions of the Blue, Baden, Bergdorf, Bremen and Brunswick (sounds like a law firm!) were all on the same page. In the 1914 edition, Brunswick had its own page.
--Bolivia: 59 stamps in 1914 vs 48 in '43.
--British Guiana: 35 stamps in 1914 vs 14 in the '43, the biggest percentage loss I saw between the 1914 and the '43.
--Canada: unusually, the 1914 edition only has spaces for 5 of the earliest stamps (i.e., through the Large Queens) compared to 11 in the '43.
--Cape Verde Islands: 58 spaces in 1914 vs. 35 in '43.
--China: the 1914 has a blank page for Issues of the Treaty Ports.

So, bottom line, if the state of coverage found in the first edition could have been maintained, the current Blue Volume 1 would be an improved album.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Evolution of the Scott Classic Catalogue Part 1

With the release of the 2012 Scott Classic Catalogue approaching (November), I thought it might be interesting to look at the evolution of the catalog from the 1995 first edition through the 2011 edition. As Scott has striven to improve the catalog annually, this is going to occupy some space and consequently I will be posting the overview in multiple parts. Even so, I'm leaving out smaller details and you are welcome to ask for me to check to see if there is additional information.

Unless otherwise stated, all of the information is extracted from the Editor/Publisher pages that appeared at the front of each catalog. From 1995 to 2001, the author of the "Letter" was the publisher Stuart Morrissey; from 2006 through 2011 it was the editor, James E. Kloetzel.

1995 (first edition). The Scott Classics Catalog began in 1995 and the first publisher's letter documents its genesis: Gerald Bodily, a specialist British Empire Collector, was talking to Scott Publishing Company Executive Stuart Morrisey at Philanippon, the International Stamp show held that year in Tokyo. He suggested that a catalog containing only older stamps would be very useful. My understanding is that this first edition was a repackaging of the information in the regular catalogs. Sergio and Liane Sismondo of the Classic Collector lent the stamps for the cover of the first edition and would be increasingly involved with future editions.

1996 (second edition). Even this early Scott was already planning improvements, as it would continue to make every year. To begin with, the work was renamed the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps & Covers. The improved listings for the 1996 edition centered around 19th century cover listings, a popular specialty for Classics collectors. These included coverage for the United States and Possessions; Confederate States; Canada and Provinces; France; German States; Germany, including Offices Abroad and Colonies; Great Britain, including Offices in Morocco and the Turkish Empire; Italian States; Italy and Offices Abroad; Eritrea; San Marino; and Lombardy-Venetia. If there were changes in the 1996 listings for off-cover stamps beyond price changes, they weren't indicated.

1997 (third edition). Additional listings for covers were added for the following countries: Austria, Belgian Congo, Belgium, Brazil, France, German Colonies, German States, Germany, Germany Offices Abroad, Italian Colonies, Italian States, Italy, Italian Offices Abroad, Portugal, Portuguese Colonies, Spain, and Switzerland. 1997 was also the year that Scott switched to pricing both on- and off-cover stamps in very fine condition

1998 (fourth edition). With the 1998 edition came a surprise: coverage for British Commonwealth countries extended through the end of the reign of King George VI--i.e., 1952. Coverage of covers continued to expand with 13 additional countries appearing for the first time: Argentina (Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Corrientes), Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Sweden. With this edition, we started to see listings for off-cover stamps that went beyond what was in the regular catalog and appear only here. The examples cited in the Letter were Forerunner cancellations (Antigua), Shade varieties, Paper varieties, Separate listings for die types, retouches, inverted frames, quality of impression, Expanded explanatory footnotes, Overprint and surcharge varieties, Printing varieties, and Bisect/trisect cover listings.

1999 (fifth edition). There were now nearly 100 countries with cover listings, including for the first time French Colonies, Greece, Malta, and Somalia. Speaking of covers, there were new listings for bisects and/or quadrisects (no trisects?) for five countries. With this edition, Scott adopts for the first time the concept of "full margins" developed by Edwin Mueller in his Catalog of the Imperforate Classic Postal Stamps of Europe. That is, "a measurement of one half the average distance between stamps in their settings on the plate both horizontally and vertically is given for all the countries…" For example, with France Scott #1-9, full margins equals 3/4mm. This edition added British Crowned Circle postmarks on covers for more than twenty British America colonies. New grading standards were adopted for the rouletted stamps of classic Finland and Ireland. For the first time the "Letter from the Publisher" drills down to mentioning major varieties for individual stamps. (I won't go into most of these in my posts, but if anyone is curious, please ask.) A number of stamps were added representing perforation varieties, shades, surcharge and overprint varieties.

To be continued....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pick the Cover for the 2012 Scott Classic Catalogue

It's another year and another opportunity for me not to win the "pick the cover" contest Amos has been sponsoring since 2010. According to the July 2011 special monthly issue of Linn's, the three choices this year are "the 1932 Australia 5/- Sydney Harbor Bridge stamp (Scott 132), the 1929 Canadian 12¢ Quebec Bridge stamp (156), and the 1932 French Andorra 10-centime Bridge of St. Anthony stamp (27). To enter the contest, follow this link, but with the understanding, of course, that if you win, you'll let me have your prize :). This year as an added enticement, the winner's Catalog will be autographed by the Scott Editorial Staff.

Unlike previous years, all three stamps already grace my Blue so perhaps this is a good omen!

UPDATE: The winner was announced in the 17 October 2011 Linn's, the Australia Sydney Harbor Bridge stamp.