Saturday, November 18, 2017

Scott 2018 Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps & Covers 1840-1940

This November brings the 24th edition of the 2018 Scott Classic Catalogue. There are more than 17,000 changes in catalog values. I have trouble getting excited about trying to enumerate these so I'll just point you at

It is worth noting that there are price decreases as well as increases. And there are valuations for some stamps in various conditions and formats for the first time.

In terms of editorial content, many notes and footnotes have been reviewed for accuracy. There are 3 major numbers and almost 230 minor varieties added for New Zealand. Other additions include Azerbaijan, Fiume, Hejaz, and Saudi Arabia. And there are improved scans for some stamps.

The cost is $174.99; $154.99 direct from Amos Advantage.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Just in time for the Holidays

For a limited time, Subway is selling the Vintage [Brown] Internationals for 30% off. This includes pages only as well as the pages with binders.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Michel Klassik Katalog 2017

Update: See the comments for information that the coverage is 1840 to 1900, not 1914.

In 2007, Michel published a Klassik-Katalog Europa 1840-1900 covering 33 countries. In the ensuing decade, there has not been a new edition and, frankly, I never had the impression that the company was promoting the catalog. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that a second edition will be published this November.

Even better, the new version will be in two volumes. This will allow coverage to be extended both chronologically, from 1900 to 1914, and geographically, to encompass the entire world. The titles of the volumes are Klassik Europa 1840-1914 and Klassik Übersee 1840-1914 (with the overseas volume offering specialized coverage of the US). Cost of each will be 98,00 €. Based on what happened with the first version, it may be many years before you find these on sale.

(Thanks to DJCMHOH for alerting collectors to the new editon in a post on the Stamp Community Forum.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Scott International Ne Plus Ultra edition

I've commented in the past about advertisements for the Brown Internationals that teased a wide variety of formats, including fancy binders and loose leaf pages, but are practically never seen on the market today. Richard Frajola has a set for sale of the 19th century Browns split into four springback binders. Mr. Frajola notes the "wooden stop block to keep the pages aligned" that is visible in the bottom photo.  Cool, don't you think? The dealer has scanned all the pages: here's the link:

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Limaye's Big Blue Catalog Value Project Updated

Dilip is now half way through calculating the catalog value of all the stamps in the Scott International Volume One 1943 edition. (The link is to the right of this post.) Most interesting.

I'm having a few conversion issues with the images which I will clean up when Dilip is finished.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Linns' article on stamp collecting blogs

This and Jim Jackson's Big Blue 1840-1940 blog are mentioned in William F. Sharpe's Linns Stamp News column: “A look at a few of the hundreds of stamp blogs that can be found on the Internet” (Computers and stamps, 8/7/2017, pp 18-19).

This post is intended for any Linns readers who are first time visitors because of the article. May I suggest three places for you to check out:

The "Checklist of comprehensive worldwide collections" referred to in Mr. Sharpe's article;

The listing of online albums which include the two ginormous collections of Antonious-Ra and Dr. Cheng Chang ;

and something which doesn't get much comment, but I think is fun: Postage stamp quotations which includes humorous quotes from movies, tv series, novels, and the like.

Of course, the really good stuff is over at Jim Jackson's blog.

And let me also give a shout out to Keijo's Stamp collecting blog, which isn't on Mr. Sharpe's list presumably because it is behind a paywall, but is a must for serious worldwide stamp collectors.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Beville Collection Stamps of the World 1840-1940

I was originally going to write a fairly "meh" review of this auction, but I now believe it well worth a look by 1840-1940 collectors. To get the specifics out of the way, the auctioneer is Cherrystone and the dates are July 26-27, 2017. There are four sessions, and you can view PDFs as well as other electronic versions of the catalog at

So why my initial blasé reaction?  First, Cherrystone provides no information about the collector or how the collection was formed. Second, it looked like this would turn out to be a typical auction where the more expensive or elusive stamps have been pulled out for individual listing with the dregs relegated to the end. (Big Blue collectors know that other people's dregs are what largely make up our albums.) Well, certainly, the majority of the catalog is devoted to key stamps and sets, but a couple of things are worth mentioning. First, there are images for many of the lots and many of these are reproduced with the listings. I found this much more diverting than the typical full page photos of multiple stamps, often pages removed from the descriptions. Second, all of the images are in color, and, remarkably, the images include a number of full or partial album pages. Based on these, it looks like the collector favored the Brown albums and the stamps are mostly unused.

Note that while most of the country "balance" collections can be found at the end of the fourth session, dozens more, usually "colonies," are  intermingled with the individual stamp listings.

Here are two examples of country listings:


Lot 5986. 1895-1921 collection practically complete on pages, 182 different, mostly unused, with King Carlos and Saint Anthony sets (Scott’s 1-28),  50r on 300r used (29),  other issues with perf. varieties, Republica   and Provisorio   overprints and  surcharges,   Ceres   issues,   Semi-Postals,   etc.,  occasional flaws possible, mostly fine-v.f. (webphoto) (1/162,B1/P2) $750.00.


Lot 6172. 1880-1949 extensive balance on pages, 1,360+ different, most States represented as issued, strength in Bhopal, Bundi, Bussahir, Charkhari, Cochin, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Kishangarh, Soruth, Travancore, etc., many Gibbons listed varieties throughout, generally unused, plethora of better items, fine or better condition. An unusual opportunity to obtain a comprehensive collection of this exotic and exciting philatelic area. $15,000.

(As regards the "webphoto," I believe you will see these only when you click the "Session" link, not the page flip or pdf. This will make more sense when you go the Cherrystone site.)

Oh and, for once, we have a worldwide collection that also includes the United States.

So, I'm happy to report my first impression was off base. I'm looking forward to going through the auction catalog more thoroughly.

UPDATE: Because Cherrystone includes some counts, I am able to estimate that the Beville Collection contains more than 80,000 stamps. This does not mean, though, 80K major numbers, as there are quite a few varieties included. [I missed the "official" count of 86,600.]

I've also made a couple of clarifications and additions to the original post.

UPDATE #2: Somehow I missed a press release related to this auction. "The Scott's Classic Catalogue 1840-1940 provided an inspiration for the Beville Collection, which we now present in a special 1265 lots sale on July 26-27, 2017. Starting with the United States and ending with Zululand, this collection boasts an impressive total of 86,600 different (!) stamps and multi-million-dollar catalogue value. The highlights of this splendid collection are many, with focus not on the glamorous and so-called iconic, but rather on the unsung and often undervalued rarities from the various Imperial Colonies and far reaches of the globe. If you are an advanced collector and looking to fill empty spaces in your album, you are in luck. There is strength in Asia, especially British Commonwealth, with virtually complete Indian Feudatory States, British Africa and Australasia, Europe and Colonies, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, South and Latin America and rest of the world. There are hundreds of large lots offered throughout the sale, with many intact country collections."

The Beville Collection realized $1,622,050. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jim's Big Blue Checklist

I have been out of pocket for some weeks but that is little excuse for not finding a way to acknowledge earlier Jim Jackson's completion of his checklist for the Scott International Volume One. At one time I considered doing a checklist, and I hesitate to think how inferior it would have been to Jim's. Because as all of you know, the checklist is only a small part of the historical and philatelical (is that a word?) commentary that Jim researched for each country in the Big Blue. For the record, here is a link to Jim's "completion" post which includes links to a variety of files conflating the checklist:

The completion of Zululand, fortunately, does not mean the end of his blog. I know we all look forward to what Jim will post next.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1st Breaking News: Wikileaks Reveals Rejected “Filling Spaces” Blog Posts.

The secret of the Big Blue that Scott doesn’t want you to know.

You won’t believe what happened after this collector completed her Volume One.

How to sell your Scott International, quit your day job, and retire to Tahiti.

The 35,000 stamps you need for your International album. Number 30,436 is impossible.

How the coming Zombie Apocalypse will impact the worldwide stamp collector.

Family pet drops Scott International into the toilet. Watch what happens next.

Is licking hinges Oprah’s weight loss secret?


Fifteen reasons why owning a Big Blue will change your life. #13 will shock you.

Seven costly mistakes to avoid with your 1840-1940 album.

Big Blue versus Big Foot, Lochness Monster, and the Abominable Snowman. Who would win?

Giant asteroid heading towards Earth. Here is what you need to do NOW to protect your collection.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Limaye’s Big Blue Catalog Value Project

The eagle eyed among you will notice a new category titled Projects to the right of this post. The first project involves, among other things, calculating the catalog value of all the stamps in the Big Blue Volume One.

As Dilip R. Limaye's Volume One has been almost at 100% completion (missing only one stamp - the elusive Syria Scott 106c), he has been creating Excel spreadsheets to keep track of his collection and its catalog value. This includes all stamps for which there are spaces in his 1943 version of the Scott International Volume One (Big Blue) album. For all of these, he has entered the Scott 2017 catalog values for mint and used stamps. As a service to all Big Blue collectors, Dilip is allowing me to publish summary information on the current catalog values for every country in Volume One as he has time to enter the data. So if everything goes as planned, the last major unknown about the Big Blue, the total catalog value of the 35,000 stamps therein, may finally be within grasp. And it has only taken a hundred years. (The first International album was published in 1914.)

I think this knowledge will be an important step towards countering the notion that the Volume One is really a "junior" album containing largely common stamps. It may also confirm that a collection based on the least catalog value will be considerably less expensive to build than one exclusively used or unused. I am also intrigued with trying to guess which countries will turn out to be the most expensive and which the least.

After you read the results for countries A-C, please remember to check back periodically for updates. Dilip welcomes comments.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Closet collectors

While looking for something else, I came across a blog post from 2013, "Some Advantages of Buying Important Collections Intact," on the David Feldman auction site.
"The old-fashioned 'closet' collectors were often successful in taking decades to build their collections without broadcasting their interests to the world. Buying an important collection or exhibit, and doing so anonymously at auction or by private treaty, is a way to save time, save money, and prevent premature exposure as a collector or exhibitor of the area until you decide the time is ripe!"
I rather doubt that many of the people who use the Scott International Volume One are "closet" collectors, but it does remind me of how the collectors whose comprehensive collections have recently come on the market seem to appear out of nowhere. I suppose dealers and auction houses are aware of them, but to their friends and neighbors they might seem like normal people. (Well perhaps not that normal!) I do recall someone mentioning vis-a-vis the Harmer-Schau private treaty collection that they remembered a secretive worldwide collector who regularly outbid all comers. This is in contrast to people like Bill Gross whose collecting proclivities are well known.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Addition to the most comprehensive worldwide collections list

Even though I am a 25+ year member of the American Philatelic Society, I missed the 2009 article in the APS journal titled "Selling Stamps Can Increase Your Collection" by Forrest H. Blanding. Fortunately, friend of the blog ChrisW was more diligent and has recently written about the article on two stamp collection discussion forums. While much of Blanding's article is devoted to how he leveraged selling stamps as a dealer to support his collecting (usually thought of as a "no no" unless you collect in an area other than what you sell), I'm going to concentrate on the details of his collection.

By the the time the author finished high school, he already had "25,000 different stamps in Scott 19th Century, 1900–1919, and 1920–1926 international albums." After a time out during college and early marriage (sound familiar?), he started purchasing in earnest, buying thousands of collections over a 50 year period which he resold largely via approvals or wantlists after removing what he needed. The end result?

"My collection included issues only to 1975, because accumulating the massive wallpaper being issued after then took too much time, cost too much money, and did not provide any real collecting challenge.  The final collection included 98 percent of all major world stamps listed up to 1975 in the Scott Catalogues — more than 200,000 different stamps, all in mint or unused condition except for some high-priced nineteenth-century issues. It filled to near completion fifty bulging volumes of the Scott International series. It included the best copies from all the collections I had purchased over the years, so the stamp condition was usually exceptional on all but some of the early values.

Two-thirds of the Scott-listed countries were complete in major varieties up to 1975, including some larger countries such as Denmark and Norway. Germany proper lacked only one stamp, France lacked two, and Canada was missing just three. I could never have owned most of these stamps with-out my collecting-selling activities."

(I'm assuming from Blanding's description that he vastly expanded the International Volume One or more likely used the original Browns.)

When Blanding decided to sell his collection in 1995, he did so through his own dealership and auction houses.

The article, by the way, appeared in the November 2009 American Philatelist on pages 1044-1048. Well worth a read if you have access.

So we now know of three collections 98+% complete for the periods 1840-1975, 1840-1981, and 1840-2012.  I have to believe there must be more. In fact, I just added a couple of additional possibilities to the list (Cole and Johnson).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More statistics on worldwide stamp collecting

I have been negligent in mentioning what I think is the most detailed analysis yet of the practicality of collecting worldwide from 1840 to date. The analysis appears on Keijo Kortelainen's Stamp Collecting Blog and is titled "Is collecting a complete worldwide stamp collection possible? Take III – the final word – money and catalog values." You need to have a subscription to read it so I will just link to his Stamp Collecting Blog site. It would be a disservice for me to attempt any summary, but I hope it will be OK to tease with the questions (quoted or paraphrased from his article) that Keijo is researching:

1) How much the total catalog value of complete (but yet simplified) used world collection would be? 

2) Is collecting the classic era (in used condition) more expensive, as generally claimed?

3) What is the ratio of different catalog values for used stamps? We collectors tend to say that 99% of stamps are worth very little or nothing. Is this true or false?

4) Are some stamp types more expensive than others? 

5) Are some countries or locations more expensive / affordable than others?

Now you know you want to learn the answers! Don't forget to read the comments.

And Linn's has published its annual "Scott Worldwide Stamp Cost" for 2015. (I.e, literally all the world except for the US.) I have done a summary in the past, but I have been beat to it this year by a much more thorough analysis and critique by "madbaker" Mark on "The Stamp Forum." You can read his post and the comments by clicking here.

The original Linn's article can be found here, as well as links to earlier ones back to 2002.

Friday, January 6, 2017

"An Analysis of Worldwide Catalog Data"

I wrote about “The Most Affordable Classic Stamps to Collect” by Michel Bégin in an article I did for the International Worldwide Stamp Collector's journal some years back. As impressive as Bégin's effort was, the concept has been revisited on an even grander scale by PostmasterGS for his site. The new study includes all worldwide stamps in the 2015-2016 Michel catalogs (except for Germany which uses Michel’s 2015 Deutschland-Spezial and which means that the coverage for Germany is more detailed than for other countries).

For every issuing authority in Michel, PostmasterGS has determined the total number of issues broken down by ranges of catalog value (for example, under 10or more than 100€) separating out mint and used.  The information is presented in tables that you can filter and sort in several different ways. He has also calculated both numbers and percentages.

PostmasterGS points out that as not all stamps are given a catalog value, or are only priced either mint or used but not both, summary calculations based on this data can be unreliable. Definitely read his notes before drawing any conclusions.

A fun idea he borrowed from Bégin was the affordability of one area to another. For example, after sorting from high to low, it appears that the following are the five most difficult to complete:

Italy - Italian States - Parma (24 stamps)
United Kingdom - Officials (103)
Malay States - Straits Settlement - Bangkok (25)
Italy - Italian States - Tuscany (39)
Mauritius (1563).

But there are lots of nuances. Eighty-six percent of Mauritius catalogs under 10 euros. And those "Post Office" stamps were mistakes anyway, so surely you can leave them out.

My original interest in such projects focused on two areas. How many stamps have been issued? And what would it cost to acquire them? Based on this latest study, the answer is 1,013,620 stamps including varieties with a catalog value of 7,670,304 Euros. So now we know!

[PostmasterGS says there are 829,992 individual stamp issues in the database, with a total CV of €48,387,679 (mint) or €26,485,722 (used).]

The tables are here:

There is an ongoing discussion on Stampboards: