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.


DrewM said...

If you use the Big Blue as your main world album, don't you 'have' to collect to the album? Yes and no. Though the lack of spaces for many stamps is certainly frustrating, it's not difficult to add blank pages where you need them. I've never much liked stamps in the margins--though I do it at times.

The Steiner worldwide pages option is comprehensive, but not cheap since you buy the right to the pages, but also have printing expenses including paper. Thousands of dollars later, you have pages with a space for every stamp. But that's also frustrating since many will always be blank spaces due to expense and rarity.

I'm currently leaning toward having Steiner pages printed onto some sort of Scott pages, an option available from albumpages (dot)net. I'd do this for some countries and eras and then perhaps add them to the existing Big Blue or Scott Specialty binders. Or I could just use blank pages and do my own layouts.

Pretty expensive, though, so I may just end up "settling" for the more limited numbers of spaces in Big Blue. There's just so much I want to spend--and just so many stamps I'm going to find which makes 100% comprehensiveness not necessarily the best option. Maybe Big Blue with some pages added, either printed to my order or blank, would be the best choice?

One more ideal option for Steiner or others to consider is "design your own pages" where you'd have access to Steiner's layouts but coudl add or delete spaces.

Big Blue is frustrating. But Minkus is much too crowded for my taste. Steiner is overly comprehensive and much too expensive for worldwide completion. So some use of Big Blue may be the best option.

Bob said...

Drew, your last paragraph summarizes my feelings exactly. I do wonder on the Blue versus Minkus if what one prefers is sort of like Pepsi versus Coke. I'm in the Scott camp but I know a couple of collectors who much prefer the look and feel of Minkus.

Jim said...

I somewhat regret not being able to take Big Blue's offerings for what they are. It certainly would have been simpler.

Now I am immersed in Steiner-but I asked for it.

Be careful what one wishes for...


Bob said...

Jim, I know how you feel. I currently believe I would be happiest with the Vintage Reproductions if only they could squeeze into 3 or maybe 4 binders. At least I can enjoy the Steiners vicariously through your blog.

trptjoe said...

Okay, the year-long Stage One is finished as of today. Two summers ago I bought the four-part 1997 Big Blue. Last summer I started collating my collection into the fresh new pages; my 1947 that I've had for years, another 1947 that I bought on Ebay (for $30 or so), and two albums that I inherited: a 1935 International Junior and a 1928 Modern. The final (starting?) totals: I have 6821 out 33746 (20%), which does not include the 729 spaces for U.S. stamps. The grand total of spaces in the '97 is 34475.
I'm happy to send an Excel sheet, with all the countries broken down, to anyone who emails me. ( Nobody else should ever have to do this again...
Count me firmly in the "collecting to the album" camp; I've used extra pages when necessary as I'm trying to be as pure as possible with regards to filling the spaces. A good example of my approach would be the 1930 Romanian stamps: the four spaces in the last row of the page should be #369-372 (Wmk. 225); I have all four of the Wmk. 230 stamps (#405-408), so they're on a blank page while the spaces remain empty.
Now the game really begins, huh?

Bob said...

Joe, great post. I've been too lazy to count the stamps in my edition of the Blue, so it is great to finally have a total.

I think you've got the best approach, using the 1997 edition which makes it easy to add extra pages for stamps not in the album. Unfortunately, won't work with my 1969 edition.

Tommy Haegin said...

Thank you Joe for sending me the Excel file! :-)

Kind greetings from Switzerland!

And Thanks to Bob for the most informative blog! I'll be following it closely from now on.

Robert Quesinberry said...

Just began reading this blog and find it wonderfully interesting.I've been trying to make sense of the Scott albums for sometime now. But why just start with internationals in 1875? why not start at the beginning with with the first SCOTT internationals - the "American" in 1868 and changing to the "Common Sense in 1873" (despite the names they were international albums) I think there were four editions of the American followed by three of the common sense. Then the "International" replaced the Common Sense" Also, in regard to the internationals, it should be mentioned that after Scott split with "Scott stamp and coin around 1890" - the internationals are no longer truly "Scott" albums. Scott continued his original line as the "Scott Best Postage stamp Album" and even assigns the first two editions as editions 11 and 12. The Scott vs the Scott Stamp and Coin company catalogs and albums of this era make for interesting collecting.

Bob said...

Hi Robert. Although I'm interested in "antique" albums, my main focus on this thread has been to help people get a feel for how the current Scott Blue Internationals came to be, as well as differentiate albums that are still encountered on eBay and other venues. You are right that I am glossing over the various companies that owned the Scott name (and that will include the stent when Esquire was in charge!).