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....


Jim said...

Good review! I wonder how much the Classic catalogue has to do with the revival of interest in classical collecting?
For myself, I doubt I would have returned to the classical field without this superb catalogue.

The editor's decision to include the British Commonwealth in the catalogue to 1952 was genius. But if one looks at the issues produced for the Commonwealth between 1941 - 1952, it clearly makes sense. First, there were no new issues produced for obvious reasons during WWII. Second, the King George VI Pictorials of 1938 actually had further stamp issues in the series up to 1952 in many cases. Third, most of the other issues were common design types - Peace issue 1946, Silver wedding anniversary 1948, UPU issue 1949, University issue 1951. So frankly, not a LOT of extra work for the editors, and the result is the King George VI era is complete. All good. :-)

Bob, looking forward to the next installment.


Bob said...

Jim, on the Mulready ("Great Britain Queen Victoria Stamps and Postal History") Yahoo site there has been an interesting thread on ways to improve catalogs. A quote in the thread that resonated with me was that dealers emphatically believe "that collectors 'follow the catalogue.' In other words, collector interest would follow if the catalogue contained more information about the later issues." I would agree that anything that increases coverage in the Classic Catalog is going to stimulate collector interest.

fredbee said...

I agree the Classic is a wonderful book with colour and detail. However for the Big Blue, wouldn't it be nice if there was an edition like the 1995/1996, paperback (so the binding lasts more than one year), less detail, so we could carry it with our lists, and priced like one of the regular volumes. Actually a reprint of the 1943 with current numbers and values would be great!

Bob said...

Fred, I agree that something more portable would be nice, although I'm willing to bet that an iPad verion or equivalent would be a good compromise. My 2007 edition is rather the worse for wear. The binding is showing signs of stress and the first few pages at the front and back are all wrinkled.