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


John said...

An interesting thing about the Vinatage Reproductions volume 6 is that it has a copyright blurb at the bottom, suggesting that it actually existed, unless Vintage just cobbled the page together to fit in with the rest of the reproductions. Perhaps Scott prepared it but never actually issued it to the public. I recently purchased volume six. I could take a look to see if it looks like two annuals cobbled together or if date ranges span the two years.

Jim said...

Thanks for the comprehensive review of the Brown Internationals in all their iterations.

Imagine if Scott had continued to support the Browns, and updated and revised them based on modern Scott Catalogue interpretations...!

Bob said...

John, that would be great if you could check your copy. I suppose one clue would be if there were excessive blank space at the bottom of some pages where the putative first Annual volume ended. If the two years flow together, then either there was a Scott version that is so far undiscovered or Vintage Reproductions did a bangup job combining two Annual Albums.

Now that I'm looking at the Vintage Reproduction's title page more closely, I see that it says spaces for stamps from 1939-1940 "which have been listed for the first time in the 1941 Edition of the Standard Postage Stamp Catalog." But the 1941 Catalog was missing many stamps from the second half of 1940. Would it be possible to check a couple of countries to see if they are complete through 1940? One possibility: Belgium stops at B263 in the 1941 Scott Catalog, but the album should cover through B278 which was issued in November 1940.

Bob said...

Jim, I've wondered that myself in unguarded moments. But I suppose Scott would say that was the purpose of the Green Specialty series.

What I do wonder, though, considering the bang-up job that Vintage Reproductions did, why they didn't rectify the lousy coverage for pre-1900 Afghanistan, since the appropriate pages were in the Browns published in the 19th century?

DrewM said...

One factor to keep in mind in considering why Scott did what it did is, I think, that the worldwide collector seemed to be a dying breed by the 1950s or so.

I remember, even as a beginning collector in the 1950s, adult collectors were always urging me to specialize. "You can't collect the whole world. It can't be done. Specialize in something." This was the litany in stamp collecting circles in that era.

From the late 19th century onward when worldwide collecting flourished, it was possible to at least imagine that you could "complete" the world, so publishers provided albums for that. But that no longer seemed possible for most adult collectors by mid-20th century, and so Scott switched to producing and selling separate country albums. They were first and foremost a business and not an archives or library of stamp issues.

Worldwide albums were sold as beginner albums for young people. The worldwide albums that were sold, even to adults, always seemed so incomplete as to be merely "representative" collections, somewhat of a negative to any collector who found he had many stamps for which no spaces were provided even in the larger Harris, Grossman, Minkus or other large world albums.

I remember receiving a "Regent Stamp Album" (Grossman, I think) which I'd asked for for Christmas in the early 1960s. It was a worldwide album in two enormous volumes, and once I started to attempt to fill it, I began to realize I could never do it in less than decades. The pages were overstuffed with spaces and the volumes were just gigantic. This, along with the encouragement of older collectors to abandon world collecting, helped push me toward single country collecting.

I imagine this same realization occurred to collectors everywhere at some point between the 1940s and 1960s. Scott saw this change, and their Big Blue must not have been selling very well, and essentially decided the best approach was to reissue the old Brown/Big Blue pages as separate country editions using somewhat more simplified listings of stamps, perhaps.

I suppose if you really wanted worldwide completion and you had unlimited funds, you could buy Scott's green Specialty albums and integrate them (up to whatever cutoff year you prefer) into a hundred or more green Speciality binders. That would be the most modern "international" Scott album extant today.

John said...

Belgium stops at B268 (and excludes B264) as numbered in the 2008 Scott Classic. Belgium regular issue ends with 321 followed by 299 (part of 1936 series issued in 1940. Spot checking other countries, I do not see gaps that would suggest two annuals put together and I see date ranges that span the years. For example Australia regular issues take up one page with the date range of 1938-40. The earliest issue is 167 and the latest 187. I noticed some cosmetic problems like page headers that weren't straight. That led me to wonder if this volume was made from a draft copy of a planned album that Scott ultimately decided not to publish.

Bob said...

John, thanks for checking. That is an interesting idea about an unpublished album.