Monday, January 6, 2020

Generally Speaking by Lawrence Block

I waxed enthusiastic some time ago about the columns on worldwide stamps that writer Lawrence Block wrote for Linn's. Mr. Block has aggregated said columns in the recently published Generally speaking: All 33 columns, plus a few philatelic words from Keller.

Who is this Keller you newcomers may ask? To quote the author: "And the time came when the combination of advancing age and declining interest led me to sell my stamps. Keller, my fictional hitman, still collects with undiminished enthusiasm, but he's younger than I am, and has quite a bit more in the way of discretionary income."

The ebook and paperback (hardback to follow) are available from a variety of sources, including Amazon. I'm looking forward to receiving my copy.

You can read Mr. Block's witty promo for Generally Speaking as well as several of his other recent works by clicking here.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Les Classiques du Monde 2020

GeoffHa on the Stamp Community discussion group alerts us that Yvert is publishing the third edition of its Les Classiques du Monde 2020. Cost is 89.00€. Dedicated classic era collectors will remember that Scott, Yvert, and Michel all have relevant catalogs, which suggests to me the continuing interest of collectors in this field. I think Scott could take a cue from how Yvert ends their list of improvements in this edition: "Et bien d'autres surprises!" You can find detailed spoilers on the Yvert website.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

What's New in the 2020 Edition of the Scott Classic Catalogue

Even though I rarely have anything useful to say these days, you can always count on me for at least two posts per year: April Fools and the release of the latest Scott Classics catalog.

The publication of the latter has been delayed this year from early to mid-November 2019. Here is a summary of the notable changes for 2020 according to the Linn's website:

There are new sections for perforated Official stamps from Switzerland and Venezuela.

BOB listing for Switzerland have been expanded and reorganized by type and frame varieties.

There are new listings for the Danube Steam Navigation Company which are found under Austrian Offices Abroad.

Special attention has been made this year to helping collectors identify the 1892 Thailand surcharged high-denomination stamps with low denominations.

Many minor varieties are included for the 1931-32 wet and dry printings of China.

Notes and new varieties were added to Western Ukraine.

According to the editors, "overall value changes in this year’s catalog reflect a mix of increases and decreases." Countries with many changes include stamps of India used in Aden, Austrian offices for Lombardy-Venetia, Heligoland, classic issues of Eritrea, and the Italian states of Modena and Parma, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar, Fiume, Western Ukraine, Egypt, British Offices Abroad, Iraq, Madagascar, and Somaliland Protectorate, among others.

[If you want an overview of changes in all the editions since 1995, type the words "classic catalogue" into the search field in the upper left corner of the screen.]

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Scott Annual and Progressive Albums

I've written about these albums several times. They were intended as supplements to the Brown Internationals between release of the latest bound volumes. For those interested, a recent thread on the Stamp Community Forum contains some interesting photos and scans.

As a reminder, the last volume of the Browns issued by Scott stops with issues from 1938/39. But the Vintage Reproductions edition of the Browns takes the albums through 1940. So how was Vintage Reproductions able to bring the Browns up to date? (I asked and "they" don't remember.) The possibilities would seem to be:

1) there was an Annual Album published for 1939/1940 which has eluded the Internet (almost certainly not the case);

2) an Annual Album for 1939/1940 was prepared but never published once Scott decided to discontinue the Browns--Vintage Reproductions somehow got hold of one;

3) Scott actually prepared the pages to bring the Browns up to 1940 but decided to cut their costs and remainder the existing set rather than releasing an album for the latest issues--again, Vintage Reproductions somehow got hold of one;

4) Vintage Reproductions used Scott Specialty albums to reconstruct 1939/1940.

I lean towards the latter explanation but honestly do not know. I wonder if someone had the Specialty Albums from this era whether they would faithfully match the Vintage Reproductions pages for these years?

Here is a link to the thread on Stamp Community Forum.

To see my previous posts on these albums, type 'annual album' or 'progressive album' in the search engine box at the top left of this page.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Guest Post: On Completing a Big Blue Volume One

Last April Fools' Day, I did a silly post on completing a Big Blue Volume One. Long time reader Bud was inspired by my post to ponder more seriously the implications of just what completion means in the context of the Intentional. With his permission, I am posting his thoughts which I hope you will enjoy as much as I have.

Congrats to the as yet unnamed 1000 collectors who this year completed a Scott International Volume One (Big Blue, or BB for short), and especially to Philip Tellick. It’s a milestone, and a cause for deep reflection.

Imagine 1000 completed BB V1s! Each would have to be housed in at least six binders, and the binders are exactly one foot long. That means, if the 1000 collectors were to lay their albums end to end. the blue streak would be over a mile long. What’s more, each album has 34,706 stamps (+ or -, depending on the edition) and the average size of a stamp is about 1.25 inches. So, if the stamps were laid end to end, they would stretch Montgomery AL to Baltimore MD. Still further, if the 1000 collectors have an average age of 70 (I guess they would probably be older), and if the years of their lives were in sequence or, so to speak, laid end to end, they would go back 70,000 years to the time of the Toba volcanic catastrophe when humans almost vanished from the earth. Maybe they had stamps back then, too, but all of those who collected them perished in the conflagration and their collections with them. Enough statistical nonsense.

Your news does, however, make me wonder under what conditions we can judge a Scott International Volume One as being “complete.” Did the album publishers give us the gold standard for what “complete” means? (Obviously not. You have repeatedly pointed out BB’s glitches and mistakes in your blog.) Does “complete” mean there is some stamp or other in every space provided? (That’s complete, yes, but not a very satisfying notion.) Does “complete” mean a collector, having done the best she can, is finished with collecting and declares that, in so far as she’s concerned, "it’s complete”? (Well. maybe. Many of the collections sold on ebay are said to be “complete” in this way.)

What we need, before judging any particular album as being “complete”, is not some precisely given definition of completeness for all BBs, but is a notion of what constitutes sufficient grounds for judging any particular album as being complete. I’m helped in making such a claim by a new philosophy book I just finished reading. I’ve listed the book’s title at the end of this post in case you’re of a philosophical bent and want to burn some brain dust. It’s short, but may take you weeks to read.
So then, what constitutes sufficient grounds for judging when a BB V1 becomes “complete”? Jim is providing the best notion of what this might look like in his blog (http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/). His sufficient grounds are uncomplicated, and in summary are (my wording):

•    Each stamp should be placed in the album space that corresponds to the Scott Catalog number for that stamp. The album provides color, value, and date clues for this task, but they’re not always reliable.
•    In many instances, multiple stamps are eligible candidates for single space. Any one of them will do. Likewise, both mint and used stamps will do.
•    Blank spaces should be filled, in so far as possible, with any stamps, of any value/variation, selected from the same series that do not already have a designated album space.
•    When the above guidelines cannot be followed because of album inconsistencies, select stamps that approximate the date specifications.
•    Damaged stamps qualify. Condition is not a consideration for determining completeness of the album.
•    Avoid fakes and forgeries.
•    Fill all spaces.

That’s about it. These are the sufficient grounds for judging an album as being “complete”. And there’s nothing more authoritative out there. The idea that Scott editors defined, once and for all, what makes the album “complete” is a myth. They didn’t do that, nor could they if they had tried.

I’ve been putting the word “complete” in quotation marks because any particular album that conforms to the above criteria is still in many ways incomplete. The notion “completeness” has embedded within it the reality of incompleteness. Take my own album as an example (it’s being serialized in Jim’s blog). When I had filled all spaces, friends ask me what I was going to collect next. I said that I was going to continue completing my “completed” album. And that’s what I’m doing and will continue doing.

If someday there actually are 1000 “complete” BBs, all qualifying on sufficient grounds as being “complete”, no two of them will be alike. That’s 1000 different definitions of what “complete” means. And they all -- at one and the same time -- are not perfectly final definitions and are final definitions that are perfectly good. That’s the charm of stamp albums. Confusing? Ask Sebastian.

The above-mentioned book: Sebastian Rödl, Self-Consciousness and Objectivity: An Introduction to Absolute Idealism, Harvard University Press, 2018. It’s not about judging album completeness, exactly. It’s about all judgments.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Everybody complains about the ...

...Browns but no one does anything about it. No wait, that can't be the case. I surely mean the Blue International Volume One that only houses a subset of stamps released between 1840 and 1940, with numerous missing common stamps and mistakes galore. The Browns, and more specifically the Vintage Reproduction reprints of the Browns, are legendary among serious worldwide collectors who surely have few if any complaints about coverage or editing.

Just kidding. We have known in broad outline issues with the Browns for some years. But until now, no one has documented the depth of the problem, much less provided a solution. Enter Phil Pritchard who has painstakingly identified what needs to be done and is in the midst of a three year project to create additional or replacement pages for the Vintage Reproduction version that will rectify deficiencies in coverage. 

Mr. Pritchard will be going into great depth about his project in two articles that are slated to appear in The Philatelic Literature Review (American Philatelic Research Library). Because you need to read these, I won't go into details about even the basic categories of problems he is trying to address (many of which are similar to those plaguing the Blue Volume One). But to give you a flavor of the breadth of his project, here is an example of changes he proposes to the pages for Japan that are in Volume 5 of the Vintage Reproductions reprint:

Japan 171-252 – Vintage page 369, part 1; add #171 and #175a which are 1937 stamps although listed with the start of those designs in 1922; Scott lists the “a” stamps as minor varieties but they should be majors as they represent different dies and all designs appeared first in 1922 but you would see only 2 of these then going by what is a major number, add #247 which for some unknown reason Scott left off the page although it is a part of the 1937 set, rearrange the #239- 252 set by design, remove the coils that are repeated on Vintage page 312 for 1939-40 although 3 of them are 1938 and thus belong in volume 5 (see related pages).

If you are interested in more information about this unique project, you may contact Mr. Pritchard at 
philpritchard AT mindspring.com  
(to make this a working email address you will need to change the 'AT' to '@' and eliminate the extra spaces).

LINKS

For some examples in this blog about problems with the Brown, see my 2015 post: https://globalstamps.blogspot.com/2015/04/brown-versus-brown.html

For a similar study prepared by Arthur Palmer done for the Blue, see https://globalstamps.blogspot.com/2008/06/scott-international-volume-i-coverage.html


If you need a refresher on the various flavors of worldwide albums including the Browns and Blues, see https://globalstamps.blogspot.com/2014/10/quick-overview-of-pros-and-cons-of.html

Monday, April 8, 2019

Interesting catalog announcement from Michel

On 5 April 2019 Michel published a new catalog titled MICHEL Raritäten: Marken, die Sie kennen sollten! Cost is around 30 Euros. To quote from their English prospectus:

So you can join the debate: MICHEL introduces issues that are either world-famous, extremely pricey or extraordinary in other aspects.
First edition!
    History, development of the value in the past decades and things worth knowing regarding significant stamps from around the world
    A “must-know“ for anyone interested in “social philately“: issues that have been well-known or famous for a long time as well as those that are currently “hot“
    All chapters are illustrated with high-resolution colour pictures, diagrammes and other graphs
    Extensive background stories and further details
    Perfect for collectors and everyone who wants to become a collector.
Presumably there will be few stamps in this catalog that are in the Big Blue (perhaps US #1 and 2) so why mention it here? Well, for one, I think it is an interesting concept which would, of course, be relevant to those working on the Brown Internationals.

But, second, is the intriguing end of the prospectus:

"The exciting launch of the new MICHEL Rarities series that focuses on highlights of philately. The second volume, featuring first issues worldwide, will follow in December [2019]." Now number ones of the world is surely a topic that would be interesting to many of us.