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.


InforaPenny said...

(typos corrected version)

Bob, thanks for tackling this interesting topic! I have some additional information to add to the mix…

I’m fortunate in having three of the early Scott International albums, each of which is the less expensive option with a printed paper (not brown cloth) cover showing a pair of schoolboys (?) holding banners with various coats of arms, etc. stating that it is illustrated with either 3000 or 4000 engravings, with the edition clearly stated on the cover. Each of these A1 (your notation) types has some very distinctive differences that shed light on the development of these early Scott albums.

The first states it is the “TENTH EDITION” on the cover and title page showing an 1891 copyright date. Near the end is a separate title page stating TENTH EDITION First Supplement with an 1893 copyright date which provides additional pages and spaces for the US Columbian issue, foreign stamps and envelope cut squares, etc. The album was published at a time when it seems that there just weren’t enough stamps for collectors, and so this slim volume included spaces for not only every major variety of postage stamp known to that time, but also for all of the world’s envelope stamps (“cut squares”) and wrappers. For US stamps, spaces were provided for all revenue and postmaster provisional stamps, 13 pages of local stamps, plus pages for telegraph stamps, etc. The measured thickness of all these double-side pages together is only about 15 mm. The US section begins with the postmaster provisionals, with seven spaces at the bottom of page one for each of the varieties of the Saint Louis “bears”, spaces I’m not likely to require anytime soon! The 1847 regular issues in fact don’t start until later on page two.

My “1899 EDITION” starts with the 1847 US issues, and has a single later page with much reduced coverage of postmaster provisional stamps and few locals, drops telegraph stamps, but retains international coverage of world envelope stamps. The album has by now swelled in size with all the added stamps, including many commemorative stamps, lengthy yearly sets of Seebeck stamps to high values, etc.

By the time of my “1901 EDITION”, the Scott International album had dropped all WW coverage of envelope stamps while again swelling in size, with the measured thickness of its pages roughly doubling compared to the 10th edition of ten years earlier to about 30 mm.

I don’t have a “NINETEENTH CENTURY” labeled album, but suspect it is quite similar to the 1901 edition. My 1906 Scott catalogue clearly shows a 19th Century album in the ads in the back, as does a Google books digital copy of the 1903 catalogue. Therefore I suspect that the stated “1901 edition”, was the last of the dated editions, and that it was followed by Scott’s newly designated “19th century” album. I haven’t seen a “1902 edition” anywhere.

Hope this helps.

Best Regards,


Bob said...

InForaPenny, thanks so much for the additional information. Vis-a-vis the 10th edition, I need to go back and see where I dreamed up 1892 for the publication date--I may have been extrapolating two year intervals from the wrong starting date.

BrownUpdatePages said...

Very interesting and useful information.

I am using a set of Vintage pages (all six volumes). Because of missing stamps, I have started making update pages. I have made almost 1000 so far, perhaps half of what will be needed to provide spaces for every "major number" stamp in the Classic catalog. I am making the page images available for free as PDF files. They can be printed on the correct size and color and punching paper by the same man who prints the Steiner pages. Anyone who's interested should contact me at philpritchard@mindspring.com for a list of available pages, some sample pages, and a write-up of my project.

Bob said...

Phil, thanks for our comment and your offer to share.