Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Combining Scott Blue Volumes I and II

I have been threatening for some time to expand my worldwide collection beyond 1940. This finally came to pass after I recently purchased a 30% full Blue Volume II covering 1940-1949. One of the reasons I had been delaying is the assumption that my 1969 edition of the Volume One would not play nice with a Volume Two — I would need the current four part Volume One to put them together seamlessly.

But having thrown caution to the wind, I proceeded to try integrating the two albums. I am pleased to report that while the result was not perfect by any means, it was better than expected. How much better? You can see below via a 4-point scale that I used keep track of how well each country combined.

(Before getting to the results, I should note that Scott incorporated some changes into my 1969 edition that facilitates combining with later volumes. Which is another way of saying, if you have an earlier edition, your mileage may vary. I also want to recognize reader Keith and his index to the countries in Volumes I-III. His work made my tabulation a whole lot easier.)

My 4-point scale yielded the following groups of countries:

Group 1 - countries combine perfectly, i.e., all regulars/commems for 1840-1949 come together in chronological order as do all back of the book stamps (if any);

Group 2 - regulars/commems remain together, but one or more categories of back of the book stamps are separated (for example, you might have 1840-1940 semi-postals followed by 1840-1940 airmails followed by 1940-1949 semi-postals);

Group 3 - 1940-1949 regulars/commems are separated from 1840-1940 regulars/commems by one or more pages of BOB issues; however the entire country remains together;

Group 4 - a page from an adjacent country in Volume One is getting in the way of adding the Volume Two pages. This is invariably caused when Volume One starts a new country on the reverse side of a page;

Not applicable - these are Volume I countries that are not in Volume II or, much less often, vice-versa.

So specifically, here is the count of how many countries fell into each group:

Group 1 - 99 countries;
Group 2 - 72 countries;
Group 3 - 29 countries;
Group 4 - 10 countries.

The Group 4 countries in my album are:  Brunei, Czechoslovakia Bohemia & Moravia, Czechoslovakia Slovakia, French Colonies, India Convention States, India Feudatory States, Karelia, Malaysian States, Mongolia, and Serbia. (Remember, earlier editions may combine differently.)

I have to confess that Group 4 could look worse than I have it, depending upon how you want to rank the Indian and Malyasian States. The problem is that in Volume I Scott has crammed as many as half-a-dozen Indian Feudatory States and Malyasian/Straits Settlements States on a page. The Indian Convention States also don’t fit well into the ranking because they are on “blank” pages. If I did a literal ranking of the States then you would have 14 more Group 4s. I felt it was a little unfair to skew the results this way, since the States do stay together even if out of order. So I only added three 4’s to the above tabulation rather than 14. You may feel differently. Or maybe you are a true-Blue optimist and think there are only seven countries in Group 4!

Back to the big picture: Not unexpectedly, my two stuffed jumbo binders are now three stuffed jumbo binders. It took six packages plus part of a seventh of glassine interleaving (i.e., 600+ sheets) to accommodate the new pages.

Ideally I would have liked everything to be Group 1, but I can live with BOB stamps being split. Regular/commems intermingled with postage due stamps or whatever are more irritating (for those of us used to the Scott way of separating out BOB stamps.) But the real stinkers are the Group 4’s. I’ve thought about three approaches for these:

1) put in a duplicate page from another Volume I that I leave blank and cross through or disuse somehow;

2) make my own pages to substitute for the offending ones;

3) put the Volume II page(s) out of chronological sequence. I.e., Begin with 1940-1949 and then 1840-1940.

Solution 3 is the easiest but causes the most cognitive dissonance. Solution 2 is the most elegant solution but involves the most work. Solution 1 requires a second album that can be dismembered (admittedly something most Blue collectors will accumulate) and is the least attractive visually.

To make this clearer, lets look at Brunei. The first image shows Brunei as it would be if I didn’t try to improve the integration. Brunei 1840-1940 is on the front of a page and Bulgaria begins on the back. That would be followed by Brunei 1940-1949 on the front, a blank reverse, and then the rest of Bulgaria. Nice, no? No.

Solution 3 is shown in the second image. Brunei 1940-1949 on the front, a blank on the reverse, Brunei 1840-1940 on the front, and Bulgaria starting on the reverse. Better? Maybe. I think if there were more Group 4's this would less acceptable.

I have glossed over a few issues that I consider to be minor but you may not. For example, I ignored the blank reverses that now appear within many countries, say dividing the 1940 issues from the 1941. (You could argue this is a feature—i.e., more places to put stamps that Scott omitted.) I also did not assess demerits if the names of countries did not match (e.g., Abyssinia/Ethiopia). Finally, should I ever add Volume Three (1950-55) some of my current Group 1’s in particular may become 2’s.

Purists out there will no doubt be bothered by some or all of these, but I can’t imagine purists ever being happy with the Blues in the first place.

P.S. I should mention that I still plan to keep statistics as to how much of Volume One I have completed, but I won't be doing the same for Volume Two.