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 more 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.