Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paradigm shift?

There have been several threads relating to worldwide collecting on two stamp discussion groups lately. One is on Stamp Boards and is now on its fourth page. The other is on Stamp Community and related specifically to the deficiencies with the Blue Volume 1. This is something that is much on my mind, and I thought I would repost here what I wrote on that thread:

Even after having grappled with this for some years, I still blow hot and cold about the Scott Blue International Volume 1. I'm currently running on the chilly side as I just finished penciling in the last of the Scott numbers for the stamps I am missing, and this has only served to remind me of how capricious the editing of the album has been. But based on past experience, I will warm back up, if for no other reason that I doubt there will ever be anything better.

One thing that would help collectors come to terms with the Volume 1 is to embrace a different mindset. Most collectors who move beyond the beginners stage but still like to use printed albums are collecting "to the catalog." I.e., the albums they use, such as the Scott Green Specialty albums, largely mirror the general catalogs in the stamps they include. If the catalog gives it a major number, it gets a space in the album. Should the collector decide to specialize in varieties that are minor numbers or missing entirely from the general catalogs, then he or she has likely moved beyond the utility of printed albums.

The Volume One International Collector who tries to collect by the catalog, though, is in for frustration. Sixty percent of the major numbers in the Scott catalog will not be in the album. This includes literally thousands of stamps that cost under $1.

So consider this approach. What if you collect "to the album" itself, not to the catalog? Then the challenge becomes to fill the spaces that are there. And it is a challenge. Whether intentional or not, the editors have filled Volume One with thousands of stamps that are not easily found. And as your holdings grow, you will be building a "representative" collection of the world. This doesn't mean that you can't add stamps that aren't in the album, perhaps in the margins or on blank pages. But it is about embracing the chase and letting the album provide you a structure for a more or less affordable journey through the first hundred years of philately.

Now if Stanley Gibbons were to reprint their Ideal Album series in loose leaf form, then I would be seriously conflicted.