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.


DrewM said...

I'm not sure I quite understand the distinction between the "progressive" and "annual" albums, as you describe them. Were the former loose-leaf supplements covering part of a single year while the latter were bound volumes covering one "catalogue year"? Correct me if I've misunderstood this.

It's interesting that Scott thought collectors would buy annual albums to temporarily mount stamps in until the next big hardbound album was published to transfer them into. The concept is a bit mind-boggling to me since remounting a collection is synonymous with drudgery for many collectors. Loose-leaf, as I've said, should have been the approach and would have solved this problem, but hardbound albums were apparently preferred by collectors. This must have been the main reason for adopting loose-leaf pages when the modern International series of albums was first published beginning in (was it the 1950s?).

I don't think I've ever seen an annual album, but I have come across the occasional oddly-dated Brown, ending in what appeared to be a random year. I always wondered why, and now I know. The rarity of the annual albums might suggest their lack of popularity -- and that may have been another reason pushing Scott to abandon hardbound albums. The Depression must have made the purchase of such albums less appealing, too, as most collectors did not want either to wait for a new hardbound volume or remount stamps in new albums--and couldn't afford to. I can't imagine annual albums would sell well during a depression.

A question: Did Scott assume that the annual album would be discarded after stamps were remounted in the larger volume later? If they were designed to be discarded by the collector (seems strange, doesn't it?) would that help explain their rarity? It does seem a strange concept.

Bob said...

Drew, your guess is as good as mine. It is hard to imagine if the Progressives were issued 3 or 4 times a year that they were published bound. But as you say, the temporary nature of both series may explain why we aren't seeing them today.

airpostman said...


Talking about Vintage Reproductions, there WAS a set on ebay, item # 150860477772. Went fairly quickly. Missing some countries, including US, but very impressive indeed. By the way, have you investigated the Scott NE Ultra albums?? Extremely heavy!! Best regards, Tim

Bob said...

Tim, I never seen one of the Ne Plus Ultra album in person. But I can see from old Scott catalogs what you are saying about the weight: 25 pounds for the 19th Century Edition versus 6 pounds for the typical brown bound volume. Whew!