Monday, July 23, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blue (and Brown), Part 3

TYPE B: The Vintage Reproductions reprints of the Brown albums

[Previous parts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Interlude]

By the mid-1940s Scott had sold all remaining stock of the Type A2 Brown albums. As there was no satisfactory substitute for the Browns on the market, out-of-print volumes remained sought after in auctions and other venues. In 1994 the now defunct company Vintage Reproductions of Notre Dame, Indiana, reprinted, with Scott's permission, the albums through mid-1938 on one side of 70-pound acid-free 10" x 11.5" paper. The pages were cut and drilled to fit the "Blue" International Binders making it easy to integrate with subsequent volumes of the "Blue" International Series (Type C).

1994 Volume 1 1840-1900 (815 pages);
1994 Volume 2 covers 1901-1919 (1159 pages);
1994 Volume 3 covers 1920-1929 (1058 pages);
1994 Volume 4, 1930-1934 (799 pages);
1994 Volume 5, 1935-1938 (709 pages);
1996? Volume 6 covers 1939-1940 (612 pages).

I have seen but apparently lost the press release which says when Subway Stamp Company acquired the rights to the albums. They originally sold copies in three versions: one matched the original International paper size punched for two post binders; the second was punched for #3 2-post Scott Speciality album binders, and the third for #3 3-Ring Binders.

While it is possible that the 1939-1940 volume was reproduced from an album edited by Scott, it was never advertised or published as part of its International series. Although it isn't proven, I believe Vintage Reproductions used the last two Scott Annual Albums to cobble together their Volume 6 so collectors could expand the set past 1940 with the "Blue" Internationals. However, I have never seen the annual volume that would have covered stamps through 1940, so I can't be certain that this is what Vintage Reproductions used.

You can purchase the Vintage Reproduction reprints from Subway Stamp Company. You will see examples very rarely on eBay, both with and without stamps.

The easiest way to tell loose pages of the Vintage Reproductions from original Browns is that "Vintage Reproductions Page" is printed in the left hand margin of every page.


(1) Example of the left margin of the Vintage Reproductions

(2) The mysterious Volume 6

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blue (and Brown), Interlude

[Previous parts in this series: Part 1, Part 2]

The Scott Provisional and Annual Albums

I'm going to take a detour before talking about the Vintage Reproductions reprinting of the Brown albums to discuss Scott's Annual Albums and the mysterious Progressive Albums. Today's printed albums are largely loose-leaf and therefore amenable to updating through annual supplements. But updating bound albums, like the Browns, was more convoluted. As mentioned in the earlier posts, many of these albums could be purchased loose-leaf but at a much higher cost than the hardbound versions. Although I have no hard data on this, I assume that the paucity of loose-leaf Browns on eBay demonstrates how few were sold.

In any event, in addition to interim editions of the Twentieth Century Browns published every few years, Scott also started a series of single year albums that could be used in conjunction with the Browns or other albums or on their own. The earliest of these were called the Provisional Albums. I only know about the Provisionals from one source, George Turner's article in Scott's Monthly cited earlier. Mr. Turner writes: "Returning to 1926, Provisional Albums were started. In the late 1930s the title was changed to Scott's Annual Album and were issued quarterly, later to only three times a year. These were simply temporary space providers for all new issues chronicled in the Scott Monthly Journal each year."

I suspect that Turner's comment about multiple issues in a year applies only to the Provisional Albums. As far as I know the Annual albums were published once a year.

1926-193?, Progressive albums
Loose-leaf pages published first quarterly and then three times a year
1936, Annual album 1934-35
1937, Annual album 1935-36
1938, 1 June, International annual postage stamp album, 1936-1937 ed
1939, 14 March, International annual postage stamp album. 1937-1938 ed
1940, 14 June, International annual postage stamp album. 1938-1939 ed
[1941?, Annual album 1939-40?]
I have never seen a copy of the 1939-40 album or found a reliable citation to it. It is possible that it was prepared but never released.

The dates for the stamps in the annual albums match the corresponding catalog coverage and thus are not complete years. One of Scott's ads mentions the "annual albums which provide spaces for stamps issued between publications of the Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue."

I have previously blogged about the Annual Albums. If you follow this link, definitely check out the comments as these have much additional information.

If you can shed any more light on the Progressive Albums, please let me know. Otherwise, the next time I'm in a philatelic library, I'll try to see what I can find. I will also dig a little deeper in search of the last Annual album.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blue (and Brown), Part 2

Type A2: The Brown Internationals [Previous Posts: Part 1]

Oh, I thought Part 2 of this post was going to be so simple, the Browns occupying five volumes as follows:

19th Century Edition
20th Century Edition 1901-1919
20th Century Edition 1920-1929
20th Century Edition Part 3
20th Century Edition Part 4

Straightforward, right? Except that the first version for 19th century stamps was named something different, there were multiple interim versions for all but Part 4, and Scott may even have used different titles for some printings of the albums. And I wasn't even planning to talk in this post about whether Scott published a Part 5 for 1939-1940. Whew!

So the prudent reader will take note of the simplified listing above, quit reading, and head to their drawing room for a beer or nice sherry. Still here? Don't say I didn't warn you.

It starts simply enough. Scott realized around the turn of the last century that it would soon be impractical to confine the Type A1 International album to a single volume much past 1900. They decided to freeze the initial volume's coverage through the end of 1900, and used this opportunity to make some major revisions including printing the non-US sections from "entirely new plates."

Apparently Scott wasn't initially certain when they wanted to terminate the Type A1 album they had been publishing since 1875/76. Consequently the earliest edition published in the twentieth century was still called the International Postage Stamp Album 1901 (following the Type A1 naming convention). After 1901, Scott renamed the volume covering 1840-1900 the 19th Century Edition, a title that stayed the same for as long as the Brown albums were published.

I assume that the decision to have the album include stamps from 1900 is based on their interpretation of when the 19th century ended and the 20th century began (which we all revisited awhile back with the debate about whether the 21st century started in 2000 or 2001).

As indicated in my first post, there are differences in coverage between Version A1 and A2. The most substantial is that Version A1 includes spaces for cut squares for the world. Scott indicated that the decision to drop cut squares was due to postal stationary losing popularity with collectors. I have read that when philately was in its infancy, collectors naturally wanted to own anything that smelled like a stamp, including all manner of locals and what now would be considered cinderellas. As the number of legitimate stamps grew, collectors began to focus.

In 1903, the first "20th Century" Part was published which covered 1901-1902. What seems strange to us now is the approach to handling new issues. Was the idea that a collector should buy the 1901-1902 album and when say the 1901-1906 volume came out, he or she should remount their collection? In any event, Scott continued to publish what I call "interim" editions before deciding to freeze the first 20th Century volume with stamps from 1901 to the end of 1919. Similarly, this was was followed by interim editions starting in 1920 with the second volume eventually being frozen at 1920-1929, the third at 1930-1938 with at least one interim edition, and the fourth with 1934 to mid-1938.

So a more accurate summary of the Brown Internationals as published by Scott in the twentieth century is:

1901 edition, published 1901?
[covered 1840-1900?];
19th Century Edition
[1840-31 December 1900];
20th Century Edition 1901-1919
[Part 1] (interim editions include 1901-1902, 1901-1908, 1901-1910, 1901-1912, 1901-1916, 1901-1917, 1901-1918)
20th Century Edition 1920-1929
[Part 2] (interim editions include 1920-22, 1920-1927)
20th Century Edition Part 3
[interim editions include 1928-1934, Sep 1929-1933, 1928?-1935 (c1938)]
20th Century Edition Part 4

(You'll note that the later volumes are really partial years that match up with the respective catalog--i.e., the 1939 catalog only covers through mid-1938 which is why Volume 4 only has spaces for stamps through mid-1938.)

To my knowledge, the covers for the 19th Century Edition and the last two parts of the 20th Century Edition do not specify years. So if you see a year range on the other two bindings rather than volume numbers, e.g., 20th Century Edition 1920-1927, this is a clue that you have an interim edition, not the complete one. But this isn't foolproof. I have a Part 3 that doesn't have a year range on the binder but the title page indicates that it isn't the final version.

The earlier volumes, at least, were reprinted multiple times. I have seen a citation to a 19th Century Edition printed as late as 1941, for example. I have heard rumors that Scott made some revisions over the years when reprinting the Browns, but have no concrete evidence of this.

As with Version A1, the Browns were available in a surprisingly wide variety of bindings and paper qualities, most of which are not encountered today. Almost all of the Browns you see for sale are hardbound, although Scott did sell loose-leaf versions. There are also hardbound versions printed on one side only.

Scott decided in the early 1940s to discontinue the Brown series in favor of their Green Specialty albums although they continued to advertise the Browns for as long as they had copies to sell.

The original Brown volumes show up on eBay and other venues with some frequency. The earlier ones are more common than the last two. The Twentieth Century Volume 3 is the hardest to find.

If you are new to the history of the Brown Internationals you may wonder why there is no 20th Century Edition Volume 5 [1939-1940]. For information on that, see the discussion in the next post concerning what I call Version B. This post will also reveal something never before mentioned in my blog: the Scott Provisional Albums.

I realize that this is convoluted, but I believe it is worth knowing that interim editions exist so you won't think you are automatically buying the complete volume without first checking.


(1) The first Type A2 album that in later printings became the 19th Century Edition (the number of engravings, 4000 rather than 6000, is the giveaway that this not the Type A1)

(2) A 19th Century Edition bound in boards

(3) The 19th Century Edition printed in two volumes on one side of the page

(4) The first Twentieth Century album covering 1901-1902 only

(5) An Interim album for the Twentieth Century Part 2 that covered 1920-1926 (versus 1920-1929 in the final version) and the Part 3, both bound in the typical brown

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blue (and Brown), Part 1

I've been blogging about the Internationals for four years now and am the first to admit that a lot of what I've published is buried and not easily accessible--even by me! It has always been my intention at some point to create webpages devoted to specific topics. To that end, here is a go at a summary of the publishing history of Scott's International albums. This is intended to be an orientation to the various types of Internationals that Scott sold and how to tell them apart; choosing a worldwide album to use for a collection today will be the subject of a future post.

Much of what follows on the earliest Internationals is from George T. Turner's article in Scott's Monthly Stamp Journal, March 1968, titled "A Century, 1868-1968 Scott's Albums." As always, corrections and additions are welcome.

I find it useful to think of the Scott International albums as falling into three main types, with the first part split into two subtypes:

Type A1) The original Scott Internationals published in the 19th century. The Types A1 and A2 are commonly referred to as the "Brown" or "Big Brown" International Albums (so called because of the way they were usually bound in the twentieth century; Scott never advertised them as such);

Type A2) The successor to Type A1. These include a revision of the Type A1 album for 19th century stamps and four additional volumes covering issues through mid-1938. The Browns went out-of-print during the early 1940s;

Type B) An authorized reprint of the Type A2 Brown Internationals by another company, Vintage Reproductions, which added a sixth volume to provide pages through 31 December 1940. These are still being sold today by Subway Stamp Company;

Type C) the so-called Blue Internationals (again, unofficially named "Blue" because of their usual binding) which began as an abbreviated single volume aimed at beginning to intermediate collectors and is still current and published to this day.

TYPE A: The original Scott International Postage Stamp Album

Type A1 is comprised of ten numbered editions followed by a series of unnumbered editions/printings:

  • 1875/76, First Edition
  • January 1877, Second Edition
  • November 1877, Third Edition
  • 1878, Supplementary pages to the Third Edition appeared in ten monthly issues of the American Journal of Philately. (I don't know whether these were incorporated into a Fourth Edition or whether these serve in lieu of a Fourth Edition.)
  • 1880, Fifth Edition
  • 1882, Sixth Edition
  • 1884, Seventh Edition
  • 1886, Eighth Edition (available in English, Spanish, French, German or Portuguese)
  • 1890, Ninth Edition
  • 1891, Tenth Edition [thanks to InForaPenny for the corrected date]
  • 1894, no edition number
  • 1896, no edition number
  • 1897, no edition number
  • 1898, no edition number
  • 1899, no edition number

There may be other editions/printings after the Tenth that I have not come across. Scott revised the album in the early 1900s and renamed it the Scott International Album 19th Century Edition (and thus the first volume of of what I'm calling Type A2).

The Type A1 albums have spaces for more stamps than the Type A2 version published in the 20th century. Scott claimed 6000 illustrations in the last editions of Type A. I don't know that the albums ever indicated the number of stamps, but one contemporary source says that the 1894 edition had spaces for about 15,000 stamps. The primary reason the Type A1 albums had more spaces is that they included postal stationary cut squares. But there were also 6 pages for Afghanistan versus 1 page in Type A2, 2 1/2 pages for Confederate States Provisionals versus 1 page, etc.

The Type A1 volume was available (or at least advertised) in a surprisingly wide variety of bindings and paper qualities, most of which are rarely encountered today.

In my experience, the most commonly found of the earliest Internationals on eBay is the 8th and the albums with no edition numbers,. I don't know that any of the Type A's are of particular value as collectables except perhaps the First Edition. I suppose though that if you found one of the special editions, such as the 1894 which was "printed on the finest linen paper in three full morocco bound volumes," these would have some antiquarian value. But, in general, the value of the Scott International albums is in the stamps they hold.

Part 2 of this post will cover the Type A2s.

(1) Example of a "board" bound Type A1. Interestingly, this has the name of one of Scott's competitors on the cover.

(2) A more sumptuously bound example from 1888.

(3) The 1896 edition bound in the way typically associated with the Brown Internationals published in the twentieth century.