Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blue International Realizes $21,240 in Kelleher Auction

Stealing a page from Dave Barry's playbook, many thanks to alert reader Jim for alerting me to a Scott Blue 1840-1940 Collection housed in 3 volumes that realized an alert-worthy $21,240. The collection was offered as Lot 2144 by Daniel F. Kelleher in his Sale 628 held January 25-27, 2012.

What is as amazing as the stamps is how they are mounted. I like Jim's description on the Stamp Community list: "Never have I seen an album so encrusted with stamps like barnacles on a hull." While I have seen album pages completely covered in stamps, they have invariably been ones where the stamps bore no relationship to what was intended by the editor to reside on the page. You can check out the images on Kelleher's website for a fraction of what was in the albums.

Here's the description from Kelleher's auction catalog (I corrected a few typos):

"Worldwide, Absolutely Extraordinary 3 Volume International Collection, 1840-1940. Forget what you have ever thought about International collections, as this magnificent, old-time collection is absolutely astounding in its breath of coverage. If there was no space allotted the owner just went ahead and created one. Duplicates or parallel mint and used coverage? Definitely not a problem, as the owner simply overlapped premium stamps one over another, often with a better mint example buried beneath. To list the endless quantities of premium individual stamps would be fruitless, though we will provide scans on the internet to give an overall flavor of the lot...About the only slight negative we can associate with this valuable lot is the time necessary to properly evaluate it. Turn each page and add it up; we've handled scores of International collections, but few like this one! Estimate $10,000 - 15,000."

While I would never mount a collection this way, you've got to admit that is unique.


DrewM said...

$21,000 for a 3-volume Scott Junior International does seem like a lot of money, doesn't it? It's described as three volumes which leaves me a little confused as to what the other volumes were. Am I missing something here? The album shown is the one-volume. So what are the other two?

Anyway, that's a lot of stamp (though no estimate is given by the auction co., a little strangely, I thought). But none of what is shown is particularly rare. So I'm wondering who buys a nearly complete collection like that? Maybe someone with little time left to live . . . who wants to spend a couple more weeks finishing up the album? Where's the fun in buying something that complete? As for the multiple copies, I imagine you could keep the nicest and sell the others, but I'm a little unsure what the point was for the original owner in having so many dupes.

It's all a bit strange, though it sure looks like the original owner had some fun. The auction co. says it has "breath [sic] of coverage" but what else is a worldwide collection but broad? In a Scott Junior, there are no rarities or depth, so I think the auction co. was overstating this description. It's just a very complete basic worldwide collection with an awful lot of duplicates. Very impressive indeed, but would I pay $21K for a nearly complete collection of just the basics and lots of incomplete sets? Why in the world would I want to do that?

Bob said...

Whoops, sorry about missing "breadth" for "breath" when I was correcting typos. My guess is that this was bought by a dealer or eBay seller to break up. My impression is that these often go to bidders who can personally examine the albums and see something not apparent in the description or illustrations. It seems to me that the number of photos Kelleher provided is quite good for a major auction house--usually there is only the description. And, you are right, practically never a count of the stamps.

At some point I'm going to create FAQs out of my blog posts, one of which I know is going to look at the different approaches for building a Volume 1 collection. I do agree that I don't see the point in buying a collection that was largely complete. Now, if it was bought by a collector trying to fill a set of Brown Internationals, that might be a different story (although I still don't have a feel for whether $21K was a good price even here).

DrewM said...

As for guesstimating what it's worth, I suppose we could use the old reliable method of number of stamps times a modest price per stamp. How many stamps does the Scott Junior hold? I have a broken binding 1940 edition that claims 34,000 spaces. But this auction offered a 3-vol set so it's anyone's guess how many stamp spaces were in the set.

If it was, let's guess, 50,000 spaces (and I really have no idea) and many spaces had 2-3 stamps hinged in them, the three vols could conceivably hold 100,000 stamps. Or am I doing the math all wrong on this?

If that figure is even remotely correct, multiplying a very modest 10 cents times that number of stamps gives a figure of $10,000 dollars as a very, very generalized guess. It could be worth much less or much more, of course. Someone clearly thought more, and you're right they'll probably sell off sets or singles and make a decent profit -- but it might take a lot of years to see it.

Bob said...

Drew, 35 thousand spaces is the number I've seen for the most complete versions (1943/47) of the Blue although 34 thousand might be more accurate with the version sold today considering what has been "lost." I think you are probably right that the set this post was about contained 100 thousand stamps.

Your comments raise a topic that is of very much interest to me, namely what is the catalog value for all the spaces in the Blue and then, what is the percentage of catalog value that a buyer can expect to pay? I suspect that a ballpark guideline will turn out to be something like age in dog years, but in reverse: the first 10,000 stamps in the album @ 8 cents each, the next 10,000 @ 15 cents, the next 10,000 at 50 cents, and the "final" 5,000 at $1-$1.50.