Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The World Traveler Collection

Another day and here's another almost complete world collection, this time covering 1840-1981. Robert A. Siegel is auctioning the first part of the World Traveler Collection as its Sale 1049, June 26-27, 2013. To quote from the catalog,

    The collection has been formed over 60 years by a father and his son. Together, they started with Great Britain’s 1840 Penny Black and Two-Pence Blue and ended with stamps issued in 1981, a span of 141 years. In that time period there are approximately 260,000 major Scott Catalogue listings and another 33,000 Scott-listed varieties, such as overprint errors, color variations, imperforates, and others.

    The World Traveler collection is one of the most complete worldwide collections ever assembled for the time period covered, comprising all but about 1,600 major listings (over 99% complete) and more than 85% of the minor varieties. It is a remarkable collecting achievement...The collection fills more than 725 Scott Specialty Albums!

    ...Why is the collection dubbed the “World Traveler” sale? The owner now wishes to travel to all of the exotic countries he learned about from collecting stamps and imagined visiting. The sale of the collection will take him there.

The collection is not being sold all at once. The first auction consists of "...interesting stamps from as many different countries as possible, with an eye towards selecting stamps that are rarely offered at auction...."

While you are on the Siegel site, I urge you to take a gander at their other auctions, including the 2013 Rarities of the World sale. Mouthwatering.

UPDATE  7/22/13. By my calculation based on the Prices Realized pdf, the sale brought $1,226.255. Scott Trepel writing on the PhilaMercury discussion board says that only 51 lots estimated at $41K did not sell. He notes that "there were pockets of weakness -- Albania, for example -- but it realized about 50% more than our pre-sale expectation."

The latest Linn's carried an unexpected display advertisement: Bejjco of Florida, Inc. (Arnold H Selengut) is now the agent for the World Traveler Collection. Selections will be at the APS Stamp Show in Milwaukee and serious want lists are also accepted. I was really excited until I saw the word "serious." In any event, for additional information you may email Mr. Selengut at arnsel@verizon.net.  What I am wondering, though, is whether this means that there won't be any more Siegel auctions?

If anyone is going to the APS Show and stops by Booths 1502, 1504 & 1506, I would love to hear your impressions, serious or otherwise.


Keijo said...

The collection fills more than 725 Scott Specialty Albums!

Yikes... That makes my world collection feel so tiny. If I counted the percentages right, there should be roughly 290,000 stamps. Right?

But that would make only 400 stamps per album. That can't be right???

Bob said...

Keijo, excellent point about the number of albums. I first thought I just typed the number wrong, but the catalog does say 725. The photo Siegel uses shows approximately 230 albums. Siegel does say the photo shows only part of the collection but that means that 725 albums would take about ten bookcases!

The much larger Harmer-Schau private treaty collection (1840-2010) fit into 200 Minkus albums. Dr. Cheng Chang's online collection appears to be about 150 albums, mostly Scott Specialty, although there are some Internationals and other thinner albums (stockbooks?).

I keep on intending to go through and count the number of Scott Specialty albums, partly out of curiosity as to whether they truely covered every country (colony, etc.). Perhaps this will motivate me.

John said...

After I reading the description again, thier count refers to the number of entries in the Scott Catalog, not the collection, which must have massive duplication.

DrewM said...

Just the 725 albums alone must have cost a fortune. Even at "only" $50 per album, that's more than $35,000 just for the books themselves. Who could possibly afford that?

Assuming "only" 10,000 stamps per volume (and it's more than likely at least twice that number if not three times), that's more than 10 million stamps! Unless many albums have blank pages with only selected stamps mounted on them in which case the total number of stamps might be "only" a few million less than that.

Assuming one minute to mount each stamp (hardly enough time to consistently rely on), the 10 million "stamp mountings" works out to 166,000 hours or 21,000 eight hour "work" days. That's 57 years of mounting stamps 8 hours a day every single day.

Something's wrong here. No one could do that. These numbers must be exaggerated in some way and by a great deal. Or were these albums purchased with stamps already in them? Did the owners pay someone to mount the collection for them? That is often done by wealthy stamp collectors ( and royalty)?

In any case. it's an almost inconceivably large collection which must have taken an unbelievable amount of time just to mount. And that's not to even consider all the time required to purchase the stamps, and so on.

My ten or so Big Blue albums look so puny now. I may need to go lie down.

Houghton Grandmal said...

I'm guessing it's a combination of a typo and some false assumptions on our part.

These are said to be Scott Speciality albums. So they are not Internationals. 10,000 per album, Drew, is not a possibility.

Some countries only have a few hundred stamps. Some have thousands. If this father-son collector team consistently used Scott speciality albums, then the simple thing is to find out how many of them have been published.

If the picture shows 230 albums, that sounds a lot closer to the number of Scott speciality albums available.

Or, perhaps the core of the collection is in Scott speciality albums but for some minor countries they have small binders containing a few hundred stamps???

280,000 divided by 230 is 1230 per album. And that's about right for major country Scott speciality albums.

The 725 clearly strains credulity but speciality albums do not contain spaces for 10,0000 stamps either.

If all but 1600 stamps of the Scott main numbers from 1840-1980 are there plus about 28,000 (85% of the 33,000 minor varieties), we are talking 280,000-290,000 total.

That's the real number the description yields. If it's accurate, it's very impressive. And a father-son team could, conceivably, collect and mount that many over a period of decades.

Yeah, it would take a lot of their time and a humongous pile of money (especially if you look at the quality of the cream of the crop they are selling in this auction).

But it's doable if you have money to burn.

Bob said...

As I am reading all the comments, I got to thinking of several other collections I have seen which consisted of two parts: the "real" collection, for want of a better term, and all of the albums and stock books that were purchased to build the "real" collection. That is, The "Travelers" could house their "real" collection in 230 albums but also have an additional 500 albums purchased over the years from which needed stamps were removed but, for whatever reason, were never sold.

This actually was the method used by the Stan Cornyn and Murray Geller who completed the first eleven Blue Scott Internationals. The collection itself was housed in twenty or so binders (with interleaving) but Cornyn and Geller ended up with two closets filled with the albums they had to buy fill the Blues.

Or the 725 could be a typo! Hopefully, this will become clear when we see future auctions of the collection.

Bob said...

From Dilip R. Limaye

The biggest challenge in working with the Master Global is the Minkus numbering scheme. It does not align well with Scott or Gibbons. when I first started my India (and Ceylon) collection back in the early 1980s, the only specialized album fo India was made by Minkus. So I started with that album and had to struggle with the numbering issue whenever I was looking at auction catalogs or dealer offerings. So as soon as Scott came up India album pages, I moved my entire collection from Minkus to Scott pages, (Later I had to change from the Scott pages the recently available Gibbons pages from Palo Albums, because for India and other British Asia, Gibbons is far superior to Scott).

So my opinion is that collectors should stay away from Minkus and stay with Scott- because the Scott Classic catalog (1840-940) is arguably the best source to use as the master catalog for the "first 100 years" collection.

James said...

Dilip Limaye's comment is obviously based on experience, but Scott isn't always the standard for large areas of the world even if you live in the US (the Gibbons example he cites for the British empire is a good example, and its not clear that its any closer to Scott than Minkus is. Really depends how much you are tied to a single catalog's numbers. I use different ones depending on the need; but then I do live in Europe. In the end, it's a matter of personal preference, but overall I suppose I prefer to work from the album and use different catalogues as needed for identifying and purchasing.

Keijo said...

I concur with James. Catalog should be treated as a tool, not as a bible.

Houghton Grandmal said...

Keijo, I think Dr. Limaye's point was actually the same as yours: as a tool, the catalogue affects one's operation. He found it, in tool terms, clumsy to use a Minkus-based system when the auctions and dealers in the US are using Scott. For you, in tool terms, Scott is clumsy and Michel or Gibbons more tool-efficient. For someone in England, clearly Gibbons.

It's true that catalogues are tools and not Bibles, but that's why for someone based in the US, there's a disadvantage to Minkus Supremes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Minkus numbers are the least used of all the above-mentioned. Most of us are more accustomed to moving in and out of Michel or Gibbons or Scott than Minkus??

Houghton Grandmal said...

One more point. The, in tool terms, most efficient solution would be for sellers to list items under more than one catalogue number. But that would require sellers to maintain sets of three different catalogues. For small sellers, a real burden.

But Dr. Limaye's point, if I understand correctly, is that Minkus lags way behind the other three in useability. Even if sellers consistently listed under more than one system, Minkus is the last one they are going to add???? Wouldn't Yvert be 4th in line? And then even Sassone ahead of Minkus???

Just ruminating.

James said...

In terms of catalogues alone, I'd certainly not start from the Minkus--to begin with, the prices aren't up to date and it hasn't been revised according to new research. The question is whether using albums with Minkus numbers is a disadvantage. But since so few albums (including 'Big Blue') have numbers anyway, that seems a moot point. A lot presumably depends on how you make purchases: at present I haven't bought that many individual stamps for this collection, and mostly get country selections or part-albums. The single items I do buy tend to be purchased from many different places (UK, US, France, etc) so reference to different catalogues is essential anyway. If I was in the US (might be called 'Scottland'), it could look different: though I still like the idea of an album that doesn't subdivide different categories of stamps issued at the same time. So its really a matter of personal preference and what works in different circumstances.

DrewM said...

My mistake on jumping to the conclusion that these were Scott International albums when they were clearly Scott Specialty albums. My misconception knocked my math problem well off the mark. Still, 725 albums with whatever number of stamps in each of them is an enormous number of stamps.

It's also more than likely, as a number of commenters have noted, that a large collections of hundreds of albums is a mixture of key albums and supplementary albums, some for mounting stamps, some for removing stamps after being bought just for that purpose. I'm sure most of us have a key group of albums we mount stamps in while still holding onto others we bought for the stamps in them or just because we liked them. If our collection were auctioned, wouldn't the listing describe it as being composed of X number of albums even though we had never considered many of those albums to be key parts of our collections?

It would be more useful to know the number of albums this collection contains with stamps being added to them. That number has to be far less than 725. As a practical matter, any collection over 100 or so albums almost cannot be managed by one collector. Perhaps if you devote many hours a day to collecting (assuming you're either rich or retired or both), you might be able to manage more than that. But who really knows?

The other discussion that developed about catalogue numbering systems seems to have gone off in a particular direction -- discussion of the numbering systems themselves. But, that seems a little off the point here. Do owners of Minkus albums really collect using Minkus numbers? I imagine some may, but Minkus catalogs just aren't used by stamp sellers, nor are they updated, and I'm pretty sure that users of Minkus albums pay little attention to the actual Minkus numbers but just mount stamps in their albums. It hardly requires use of Minkus numbers to use a Minkus album. The stamps are chronological with image shown in the albums, so easy enough to use. Even a Scott catalog would work with a little effort.

Use of Minkus Global or other albums does not have to be connected to use of Minkus catalogs. Were I to use a Minkus worldwide album (and I do like their inclusiveness more than Scott), I would not bother with Minkus numbering. I'd need Scott numbers to buy stamps and to value them. What good would Minkus catalog numbers be for that? I see the fairly dead Minkus numbering system as having little to no connection with use of Minkus albums whose owners most likely don't even use that numbering system.

And use of the larger Minkus Global albums has become almost theoretical since they are no longer commonly available. Are there any current sellers of Minkus worldwide pages? Scott pages are widely available and still in print. So, perhaps, the whole Minkus vs. Scott issue is a little theoretical since just getting Minkus albums is hard enough as they'd have to be purchased used.

Let me throw an only-tangentally related question into this discussion as it wanders around: Has anyone decided to collect using the Scott International pages but combined the Subway Stamp Co. "Vintage" pages that copy the original Scott International's inclusiveness for 1840-1940 with the post 1940 Scott International supplements?

The main negative I can see is that the Big Brown or Vintage pages reissued by Subway are printed only on one side of the page. So you'd be combining one-sided pages (needing many binders) for the first 100 years with two-sided pages from then on. This question obviously applies to collectors who don't stop at 1940, and that includes me. Any thoughts pro or con?

Jim said...

The Minkus albums are alive and well at Amosadvantage..


I agree that Minkus numbers are as dead as a doornail, and there is no reason why Scott/Stanley Gibbons/Minkus numbers couldn't be used instead with the albums.

No doubt there were and are collectors that use the Browns/Vintage pages for <1940, and then use the Scott Internationals for >1940. Personally, I would keep them separate, and not combine.

Keijo said...


As a practical matter, any collection over 100 or so albums almost cannot be managed by one collector. Perhaps if you devote many hours a day to collecting (assuming you're either rich or retired or both), you might be able to manage more than that. But who really knows?

Huh.. ??? Got to confess my w/w-collection spans 120+ stock books; and I don't match any of the above classifications.

Jim said...


There is no reason Scott/ Stanley Gibbons / Michel numbers couldn't be used with the Minkus albums, as Minkus numbers are moribund. ;-)

James said...

yes, there really are two different discussions going on here, one really belongs with Bob's previous post about Minkus. On that tack, the Minkus numbers are certainly moribund, though I do use them very occasionally to make sure which stamp is supposed to go in which space...though usually this is clear from the album alone.
It will be interesting to see where Scott/Amos goes from here in making the range of Minkus albums available. In many ways its too bad the whole lot (including their speciality series) isn't just scanned and made available for printing out directly by end-users, either with a reasonable per-page charge or some other arrangement (though a bargain like that offered by Bill Steiner is hard to imagine from Amos). I suspect they're not selling many Supreme Globals with their current marketing and lack of detail...which is sort of a missed opportunity. It would be a nice addition to the range of available album options.