Saturday, November 10, 2018

Czur Aura Book Scanner

UPDATE: Numerous delays but the ship containing my unit will arrive in LA by the end of May and presumably I will have the scanner in early June 2019.

Although I no longer have the need I once did, I continue to be fascinated by inexpensive, non-destructive approaches to book scanning. On paper at least (no pun intended), the Czur Aura scanner looks like a viable solution. It is still a crowd funding project, but 50x the amount needed has been raised, and shipping is projected for December 2018.

According to the website, the scanner will:

* Digitize books without unbinding them;
* Convert them to PDF, editable Word (2.5sec/page);
* Scan a wide range of documents and objects up to A3 size (i.e., what the US calls tabloid);
* Double as a versatile lamp with 4 light settings.

The company estimates that a 300 page book can be scanned in 30 minutes if saved as jpeg images. (There is foot operated button included for speeding up the process.)

You can buy the scanner at the moment for $179 (shipping extra). A battery powered version is $30 more for those wanting to take this portable device to libraries and other locations.

Lots of information can be found at

I have ordered the scanner and will report back on the results of scanning pages in the Blue Volume One as well as other philatelic materials.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2019 Scott Classic Catalogue

Right on schedule is the November release of the 2019 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue Of Stamps And Covers 1840-1940. One new thing about the Amos Website is that they are finally showing some actual examples of pages and listings. Here is a summary of what Scott thinks are the most important aspects of the 2019 edition. This is an abbreviated version of what is given on the Amos website:

    Classic Germany received a complete review this year, resulting in more than 1,900 value changes, with a mix of increases and decreases. Increases are especially notable among never-hinged and on-cover values.
    Collectors of Portugal and its colonies should pay special attention to Mozambique Company. The listings from Scott 1 through 104 have been completely reorganized by the paper on which the stamps were printed, and by perforation gauge. More than 160 value changes were made
    Almost 1,200 value changes were made to the listings of the Colombian States of Antioquia, Bolivar, Boyaca, Cundinamarca, Santander, and Tolima.
    Significant value increases are found among the listings of Transvaal.
    A complete examination of Australia resulted in more than 700 value changes, with more decreases than increases
    New never-hinged listings have been added to Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon
    Almost 770 value changes were recorded for Italian Offices Abroad in Aegean Islands.

As a reminder, you can type "Classic catalogue" in the search box in the upper left hand corner of this page to see changes in earlier editions. I had access to the actual catalogs until recently, so my comments for many of these are rather more detailed.

Friday, August 17, 2018

William H. Gross Collection Catalog

Robert A. Siegel has just published their sumptuous auction catalog United States Stamp Treasures: The William H. Gross Collection which can be downloaded as a PDF. Although collectors will focus on the mouth watering items with their thorough documentation, I did want to mention the interesting introduction by Scott A. Trepel titled "The Sixth Wave."

Mr. Trepel divides formation of the greatest stamp collections into six waves. The first wave collections were largely worldwide and put together by the titans of philately, of which Ferrary was arguably the greatest. (I particularly like Trepel's observation that "... these [first wave] collectors had to collect in Ferrary’s world, which limited the availability of many outstanding items"). Many of these collections were dispersed around the First World War in turn making possible the Second wave. Caspary and Burrus are among this group. The Third wave dates from the 1950s and these collections are almost all specialized with Lilly being a notable exception. Trepel's remaining waves are seen through the lens of United States collections, with the sale of the Gross collection making possible a sixth.

For each of these waves, in addition to the collectors, there are also associated legendary dealers and auctioneers who were instrumental in their formation, such as the Weill Brothers. (Included in the catalog are thumbnail photos of some of the most famous collectors from each of these waves.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 1st Breaking News

In a surprising move, Scott announced today that they are discontinuing the International stamp albums. According to the press release: "We have been producing the International album since 1914. And even though our expenses are negligible to sell an incomplete album with errors and omissions that have been there for decades, been there, done that."

Scott says it will concentrate on albums targeting Bitcoin collectors. But they promise to remain philatelically forward looking. "When someone issues Bitstamps, we will be ready."

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Large Big Blue on eBay

I was not going to write about this album because I suspect anyone who reads this blog will already know about it from the Stamp Community forum. But as a matter of historical record, KReleya (Ken Stamps) recently picked up a very clean Scott International Volume One from Rasdale and is selling it on eBay. There are around 32,000 stamps and 168 complete countries.

Here is a link to the thread on the forum:

The first lots are already on eBay. Try searching for Super Scott Intern Album.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

APRL Stamp Album Collection

While I was aware that the American Philatelic Society's Library (APRL) has a collection of stamp albums, I was unaware of any details as these are not listed in their online catalog. Fortunately, a recent entry in the Philatelic Literature & Research Blog gives more information. The collection, which is growing, at the moment consists of over 80 albums housed on 24 shelves. According to the blog post, "albums can be viewed in person, borrowed or pages can be copied or scanned from them as requested."

You can view the blog entry here . For future reference, the entry by Scott Tiffney appeared on 1 February 2018 with the title "Resource of the Month – Stamp Albums."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Blank Pages

A recent thread on the Stamp Community forum about shifting coverage of India's Convention and Feudatory states in Scott's albums (, prompted me to undertake a project that had been in the back of my mind for some time. Namely, identifying the stamps relegated to "blank" pages in various iterations of the Scott Brown and Blue Internationals.

I put blank in quotation marks because I think of blank pages as being ones you can put anything on where as these blank pages are intended for specific categories of stamps. As I mentioned in an early post, I swear I read that Scott at one time had a specific name for these, but I've never been able to locate the reference.

I had not realized that there is a surprising amount of inconsistency regarding which categories of stamps are given spaces and which are given blank pages. And by inconsistency I mean not only what appear to be similar types of stamps (e.g., India's Kishengarh official stamps are given a blank page but Tranvacore has dedicated spaces) but also going back and forth in different albums covering the same time period. For example, early Afghanistan has spaces and descriptions in the 1896 International, but these have been replaced by two blank pages in the 19th century edition. Same for Madagascar. Well, almost the same. The 19th century edition provides a page of outlined spaces for these oversize British Consular stamps but no descriptions. Huh?

One thing I had never noticed is that the 19th century edition published in the 20th century does a poorer job of covering a variety of areas than the Internationals published in the 1800s. I would have guessed that Scott would have used issuing a "closed" album as an opportunity to beef up coverage and correct mistakes. Obviously, I would have guessed wrong.

I've tried to come up with reasons to explain the blank pages, such as

--issues in progress or insufficient information to create dedicated spaces
--mounting issues (e.g., the oversized Chinese special delivery)
--obscure issues of minimal interest to most collectors but that would require many pages to provide dedicated spaces
--laziness, trying to keep down costs.

But these are just guesses. And, in at least in the case of US souvenir sheets, there was perhaps the laudable desire to give Big Blue collectors a place for this category without including expensive issues such as the White Plains sheet.

It is interesting that blank pages disappear for the last decade of the Browns. As long as I'm guessing, this was the time that Scott was starting its Green Specialty albums which as far as I know do not have blank pages. Perhaps the Browns were the beneficiaries of increased editorial diligence.

Colombian Republic insured letter stamps
Colombian Republic Tolima insured letter stamps
Queensland revenues used for postage
South Australia official stamps

BROWN INTERNATIONAL 19TH CENTURY Edition [and Vintage Reproductions reprint of same]
United States. Confederate States. Provisional issues.
Afghanistan [2 pages, entire country!]
China issues of the treaty ports [3 pages]
Colombian Republic insured letter stamps [2 pages]
Colombian Republic Tolima insured letter stamps
Griqualand--West. Cape of Good Hope stamps surcharged
India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Alwur, Bamra, Bhopal, Bhore
India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Bundi. Bussahir. Cochin. Dhar. Duttia. Faridkot.
India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Holkar, Hyderabad, Jhalawar, Jhind, Jummoo, Kashmir
India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Kishengarh, Las Bela, Nangaon, Nepal, Nowanuggur, Pountch.
India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Rajpeepla, Scinde, Sirmoor, Soruth, Talcher, Travancore, Wadhwan.
Madagascar. (British) [provides 6 oversized spaces but no descriptions]
Mexico. Provisional issues of various districts of Mexico
New Republic (Part of Zululand). [provides 1 cut; remainder of spaces without descriptions for 1886 issues]
Peru. Various issues of Peru used in different districts, during the Chilean war, 1881 to 1884 [1 and 1/2 pages]
South Australia. Official stamps.
Venezuela. Revenues used for postage 1867 [1/2 page]
Victoria. Revenues used for postage
Western Australia. Revenues used for postage [1/2 page]
[possible that I missed some of these half pages]

China Special delivery stamps
Colombian Republic insured letter stamps
India. Kishengarh. Official stamps

India. Protected States of the British Empire in India. Bargain, Cochin, Duttia, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kishengarh, South, Travancore [1 page]



BLUE INTERNATIONAL (1914--this was the first edition; unfortunately, my copy is incomplete)
Afghanistan (2/3 blank page)
China. Issues of the Treaty Ports
Colombian Republic insured letter stamps
Colombian Republic Tolima insured letter stamps
India. Federated States of the British Empire in India (Alwur...Wadhwan)
Italy. Offices in the Turkish Empire 1902-11
Italy. Occupation stamps 1912
Lubeck [1/4 blank page]
Oldenburg [1/4 blank page]
Parma [1/4 blank page]
Lubeck [1/4 blank page]
Philippine Islands. Special delivery stamps [1/5 blank page]
Philippine Islands. Postage due stamps [1/5 blank page]
Russia. Offices in the Turkish Empire 1909-10
Schlewsig-Holstein [1/5 blank page]
Tahiti [1/5 blank page]

US Souvenir Sheets (missing in later editions)
India Convention States
India Feudatory States (missing in later editions which provide dedicated spaces for a few of these)
Italy Offices in the Turkish Empire
Italy Aegean Islands Occupation Stamps (in the 1943/47 edition these were split between two pages; later versions have combined this into one page)