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Exclusion And Inclusion Criteria For The Scott Intenational (Big Blue) Album

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Posted 02/27/2021   2:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add gvol21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hi all,

As I know there are a good number of folks here who collect in either the Blues or the Browns, I thought this would be a great place to post. (And I'm hoping that Jkjblue will chime in; Jim, congrats again on a decade of running a fantastic, truly exceptional resource that's spawned a community of collectors!)

Longtime Big Blue collectors will recognize the feeling of mild annoyance when they come across a stamp that's very affordable and yet still left out of the album. Why would stamps be dropped?

Space is an obvious factor. If Scott felt the need to keep things contained to a single volume, then perhaps they could more easily justify dropping issues in a given series, particularly the more expensive ones. So space constraints, and sometimes page layout and design, might be to blame.

Cost is also a factor (see appendix at the end of this post).

Many compensate for this act of editorial discretion by affixing the stamps to the margins, or including a supplement page. For most countries in BB, Jim's blog has a handy list of stamps that are deemed affordable but nevertheless deleted from BB by the editors (or perhaps never included in the first place).

My question is: does anyone know (or have they figured out) what Scott's exclusion criteria is for the International Junior Album (Big Blue)? In other words - assuming that the Blue contains a subset of stamps found in the Browns, does anyone know on what grounds Scott would cut issues in a series, or perhaps an entire series altogether?

And, if you're a BB collector out there who's put stamps into their albums that aren't technically part of the album, on what grounds do you include them? Having them in your possession? Aesthetic and/or historical appeal? A fancy cancelation? If affordability, what's the price threshold at which point you include them in the album?

Cheers
Tom

Appendix: Ethiopia

Page 1 of the 1917 edition of Big Blue contains:
1894: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
1901-07: 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23
36, 37, 43, 44, 57, 58
64, 65, 71, 72, 78, 79
80, 81, 82, 83, two blank spaces (suggest 84, 85)
1909: 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, blank (suggest 92)

Later editions of Big Blue (1941 and after) reduce the above to:
1894: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
1901-07 series: completely dropped
1909: 87, 88, 89

As I see it, there are two reasons that the stamps present in the 1917 edition could have been dropped from subsequent editions: space and price. As space considerations are more difficult to measure objectively, let's look at price.

Using a Scott Catalogue from 1916 and 1942 (1916 being the year my 1917 BB was published; 1942 being the first year that all stamps from 1840-1940 were in a catalogue, as well as the year that the 1943 BB was published), I found the nominal values for each of these and adjusted for inflation to 2017 prices, as I use a 2018 Scott Specialized.



It's not a huge sample size, and there are dangers from extrapolating from a single country. But so far as I can tell, the editors of both the 1917 and 1943 BBs weren't motivated to cut issues based on price alone.

So, bottom line - it's complicated! What considerations/criteria do you use when you decide to put additional stamps into your BB?
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Posted 02/27/2021   3:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well . . . Scott was designing and marketing its International album (the "Big Blue") not as a comprehensive album for collectors of the world which would have left entire pages of stamps unfilled by all but the wealthiest collectors. Instead, they were creating an album that the average collector could aspire to filling someday. So, as you say, they cut off sets of stamps above a certain price point. They included the lower more common values any collector could afford but not the more unaffordable higher values.

The cut-off in each group of stamps must have been based on their estimate of what was affordable and unaffordable to most collectors Remember, Scott was a catalogue company and had information no one else likely had. Their business was gathering information about the sale of stamps and prices paid for them. Probably no one knew more about which stamps were affordable (and unaffordable) to collectors than Scott. If the higher-valued stamps in a set hardly ever sold, or if they sold at only very high prices, they'd leave them out. This appears to explain the majority of omitted stamps. They were left out because an average collector would not every likely be able to afford them.

But how to account for stamps omitted which weren't unaffordable to average collectors? Honestly, no one knows. We'd need company records, memoirs, and so forth, to have nay idea. I don't think that information exists. The current publisher of Scott albums and catalogues is Amos Media. Maybe they have old records that help explain this? I have no idea. I've always chalked up those decisions to inaccurate information at the time.
Maybe those stamps rarely sold, giving the impression they were fairly rare?

Or maybe it was sometimes an aesthetic decision related to page layouts. If two or three stamps had to be omitted to make the page work best, they might have just omitted a few. As a maker of my own home-made albums at times, I'm even more extreme than that. I omit nearly all souvenir sheets (I collect "postage stamps") and I leave out stamps on what I consider silly, pointless, or repetitious topics -- sets of stamps about Elvis, Lady Diana, that sort of thing. And Scott's editors may have thought collectors wouldn't likely notice, let alone complain about not having to buy those extra stamps. Or something like that. I really don't know.

If there's information about how many common stamps Scott left out of the International album, I'd like to see it. I hear about the many stamps they should have included but didn't, but is "many" dozens of stamps, hundreds, or far more than that? I believe someone has made a list of these missing, but affordable, stamps. Were the omitted stamps left out mainly from the early years -- where most rarities are found -- or from the later years? There's some insight to be gained from knowing this.

And it's likely that when an made these decisions, the pages got laid out, sometimes with some common stamps left out, setting those pages in stone forever. Once Scott had page layouts, they didn't go back over them periodically and look for errors in order to revise them. Before the age of computers, laying out a page was laborious work you didn't want to have to redo later. I imagine over they years Scott must have heard many times from collectors frustrated by common stamps previous editors had omitted. Undoubtedly they made the decision that fixing those few errors wasn't worth it, the albums would still sell even if they didn't add those stamps and the average buyer wasn't going to notice, anyway.

As for what to do about adding missing stamps to your own album, I mostly don't bother. But that's because I use a hybrid system. All my "serious" collections go into Scott Specialty (and a few other brands) albums so I can collect those countries in detail and aim for real completion at some vague time in the future (that surely will never come). All my other stamps -- duplicates of these countries and stamps of countries I don't focus on -- go into my Scott International album. So it's my general repository of stamps, not my main focus. My specialty albums are my more complete collections with the harder-to-get stamps, and Scott didn't include those stamps in the International albums, anyway. This system works for me. But it does produce a whole lot of albums!

For collectors with more common sense, or more focus, I think most people include missing stamps in various ways, whatever seems appropriate. If there's a blank space or a margin, you might add a missing stamp there. If not, or if you're adding more than one or two stamps, you put them on a blank page.

There was someone who set out to redesign the International album -- or maybe it was supplement it -- adding all the missing stamp on new pages. These could be put into the existing International albums. But I haven't heard about his work for a long time. I have no idea if he plans to market those pages. I'm not sure I would buy them since I think a high percentage of the missing stamps are missing for good reason -- I have zero chance of ever owning them.

Plus there is already a good, if expensive, alternative, Subway Stamp Shop's "Vintage Reproduction" pages covering 1840-1940. They pretty much include every stamp issued. Omitting stamps seemed to have largely stopped by 1940 or so, which means you could combine the VR pages with 1940+ International pages (Part II on), as some collectors have done, and have an almost 100% comprehensive worldwide album. You'll need a massive amount of shelf space, though! And deep pockets to fill all those stamp spaces!

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Edited by DrewM - 02/27/2021 5:07 pm
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Posted 02/27/2021   4:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I can only imagine that there was some reverse engineering taking place on Scott's part. They knew how many issues in total were in their catalog(s). They made a decision on how large the volumes could practically be and how to logically (or not) break down the World. Some issues had to be left out for practical reasons no doubt. Space, layout and cost come to mind as drivers of decisions. As time marched on and Countries issued more and more stamps to feed collector demand it no doubt became even more difficult to make it all work.

I have often thought about contacting Scott Publishing and flat out asking them. It may be an interesting story.
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Posted 02/27/2021   5:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As for why Scott omitted stamps in later editions even though they'd been in earlier editions, I'd guess it was a cost-saving measure for them combined with their original goal of keeping the album affordable for collectors. By "affordable" I mean affordable to collect. So they later omitted more expensive stamps as they concluded most collectors would likely not be able to afford them. By "cost-saving" I mean keeping the number of pages under control so Scott could make a profit off their product.

Remember, Scott also later cut out all embossed envelope "stamps" and revenues, and so on, which they had included in earlier editions of their albums. So I see their omitting some stamps from later editions as part of this same process which was aimed at trying to keep their albums focused on affordable stamps only. If later they changed their minds and decided some stamps they had originally included now seemed less affordable, maybe that's why they cut them out -- they changed their minds. Keep in mind we're talking about a consumer item here, not an historical record. Scott was in the business of selling stamps and stamp albums. So they focused on making their albums affordable to buy (keeping the number of pages and number of volumes under control -- at least initially) and keeping those products affordable to us. Collectors who had page after empty page because those pages were for stamps they could never buy, were not going to be as pleased with their album as if they could fill those pages. Scott's editors were aiming at a moderately fill-able album most collectors would enjoy filling, not a comprehensive album that reflected the historical record of "all stamps issued". They didn't believe that kind of album would appeal to collectors. And I wouldn't want one even today. I'd probably just remove all the pages of rare stamps as impossible to find and annoying to look at.
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Edited by DrewM - 02/27/2021 5:24 pm
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Posted 02/27/2021   5:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gmot to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To DrewM's point about post-1940 Scott Intl's being more comprehensive, very true. I did a non-scientific pass through my set of 1940-50s Scott Intl albums a couple years ago, and as I recall what was missing was almost all some BOB sets - such as officials and postal tax.
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Posted 02/27/2021   5:23 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@Tom: I "graduated" in the mid-1980s from a single Harris Senior Statesman album to Parts I through V of the Big Blue International, covering 1840 through 1965 for my then worldwide collection. The remains of the former worldwide collection; the countries I really wanted to keep; now reside in 7 Big Blue jumbo binders and two regular binders. The pages are mostly a mix of printed International pages; trimmed down Scott Specialty pages; and blank quadrille International pages. As an aside, I have a "literal ton" of work to do in the remaining interest areas. As in, how to assimilate several collections each of Poland and Mexico into something resembling "coherency." Etc. and etc.

I have totally retired almost all of the Part I printed International pages; 1840-1940; due to not meeting my needs. Meaning, there aren't spaces for even all the inexpensive stamps, as mentioned above. I think the then Scott editors' approach was to not just include stamps affordable for the average collector, but also just a sampling of many of the earlies of most countries.

Drew asked about a list of common stamps left out of the Big Blue. I'm not aware of a list. But in the other one of my three primary collecting areas; Portugal & Colonies; the number is in the hundreds. As just one example, I'll use the early, pre-1940, issues of St. Thomas & Prince, since this is the only P & C country where I still have a few Part I printed pages in use (I've gone to either trimmed Specialty or blank quadrille pages for all the other colonies).

Just a quick glance shows multiple omissions from the 1898 King Carlos set; the 1902 surcharges; the 1911 Republica overprints; and the 1914 Ceres issues. The 1913 Republica overprint sets are also almost totally excluded. I don't expect Scott to have included something like #163, with a 2020 catalogue value of $900 in mint or unused condition (which I have). But leaving out so many of the cheap ones!

So, yes, I do include full sets of these early colonials.

I continue to use some of the Part II through V pages. But even with those, there are issues.

Drew also refers to what I describe as "editorial license." As an example, sometime in the late 1950s, according to my sources in the ISPP (International Society for Portuguese Philately), someone decided that many stamps in Portuguese India did not exist. Look at the numbers from 1902 through 1922; #s 223 to 407. One will find many missing numbers. Some of these exist since I have them, several with ISPP certificates. And the Mundifil catalogue for the former colonies acknowledges the existence of "clandestinos," which Scott doesn't do.

My impression of Scott is that the company moves ponderously slow in making changes, unless it involves US (which is expected), Canada, or more popular European countries. I sent a note a couple years ago about an editorial omission in the catalog listing for the 1898 King Carlos issues of Horta. Never got a response. But Scott finally gave recognition in recent years to at least the perforation and major paper differences within the 1914-1926 colonial Ceres issues.
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Edited by Climber Steve - 02/27/2021 5:35 pm
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Posted 02/27/2021   5:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It's been my experience over and over again that from "around" 1940 onward, or maybe it's 1950, Scott leaves out almost no stamps. Only once or twice have I gone to mount a stamp from that period and not found a space for it in the International album. The problem of missing stamps is mainly from before 1940, although again I don't know what percentage of missing stamps are from that era. This has also happened to me once or twice with Scott's Specialty albums when there's been no space for a very common stamp. This convinces me that some omitted stamps are more likely an accident and not an intentional policy related to the International album, in particular.

When we talk about completeness in country collecting and what Scott has left out of their International album, it reminds me that Scott also publishes far more comprehensive albums, their Specialty one-country albums. Those albums are pretty close to having every stamp issued. From Scott's point of view, they never set out to make the International album comprehensive. They set out to make that album -- in their own word -- "representative". I think that word is on the title page of the International albums. Or it's in their advertising. So their response to a collector with a deep knowledge of some country's stamps who is looking for the inclusion of more stamps in the International album is inevitably going to be "Buy our Specialty album which has those spaces, even for the rare stamps."

One of Scott's Specialty one-country albums is their well-known National album for U.S. stamps. It's so comprehensive, it even includes a space for C3a. That's the "upside-down airplane" stamp neither you nor I will ever own (although a boy can dream, can't he?) Thoughtfully, they've put C3a all alone on its own separate page . . . so I can remove that page if I ever get sick of looking at the empty space.
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Edited by DrewM - 02/27/2021 5:48 pm
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Posted 02/28/2021   12:42 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Jkjblue to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
As I know there are a good number of folks here who collect in either the Blues or the Browns, I thought this would be a great place to post. (And I'm hoping that Jkjblue will chime in; Jim, congrats again on a decade of running a fantastic, truly exceptional resource that's spawned a community of collectors!)...Tom


Appreciate the kudos Tom, glad you caught the classical era WW collecting bug.

With the initial Big Blue Blog country posts, I would often list a (usually large) group of stamps that were affordable (say CV <$5) that were not included in BB's spaces. I finally stopped, as it was like beating one's head against the wall.

What DrewM says above is largely true: I think the editorial changes with editions was a combination of eliminating the more expensive spaces, and later, simply cutting out spaces. Yes, "representative".

In my old age , I have accepted the merits and disadvantages of a WW 1840-1940 "representative" album. The fact is, it still remains a significant challenge to fill the darn thing for most WW collectors, and offers years of fun.
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Classical era collecting with the Blues
http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/
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Posted 02/28/2021   10:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gvol21 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks all for your thoughts - I'll weigh in again in a bit, but just wanted to respond to DrewM's thought here quickly:


Quote:
There was someone who set out to redesign the International album -- or maybe it was supplement it -- adding all the missing stamp on new pages. These could be put into the existing International albums. But I haven't heard about his work for a long time. I have no idea if he plans to market those pages. I'm not sure I would buy them since I think a high percentage of the missing stamps are missing for good reason -- I have zero chance of ever owning them.


Are you referring to the project that's the cover story of the Q1 2019 issue of the APRL's Philatelic Literature Review? Definitely check out his article https://stamps.org/services/library (spread over two issues) - APRL website gives free and open access until the end of February (that is, today).
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Posted 02/28/2021   12:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 1840to1940 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As a followup to gvol21, Phil Pritchard is the collector who is creating pages for stamps missing in the Brown Internationals but now included in the Scott Classics Catalogue. It is a tremendous effort and an ongoing project--i.e., just as Scott adds stamps to the latest Classics Catalogue, so does Mr. Pritchard add to his pages when a new Catalogue comes out. Even if you don't use his pages, the background material on the project makes for interesting reading.
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Posted 03/01/2021   01:00 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Are you referring to the project that's the cover story of the Q1 2019 issue of the APRL's Philatelic Literature Review?"

Well, no, I hadn't read that article. But I had read or heard somewhere about Phil Pritchard's quest to redesign hundreds of pages in the Big Brown/Vintage Reproduction albums. Maybe I heard it here? Not sure. Thanks for linking to his article which I've now read. It's titled "Album Quest" and goes into more detail about what he is doing and why. It's in two parts, by the way, one in the 1st Quarter issue of 2019 and the rest in the 2nd Q issue of 2019 in the "Philatelic Literature Review" (free for anyone to read and download up to today!). Here are some comments I jotted down as I read Phil's very interesting article:

He begins with a brief history of the Scott International albums. He notes that after many 19th century editions, Scott finally froze its 19th century volume "as is" and began publishing separate chronological (hardbound) albums each covering separate years for the period after 1900 until they had in print a set of volumes (was it four?) covering from 1840 up to 1940. These were collectively known as the "Brown albums" or the "Browns". Pritchard notes that earlier Scott International albums had rarely, if ever, been published in brown. Not sure why they chose brown? It's certainly not my favorite color.

All this is pretty well known as is the fact that these were the pages Scott used a little later to begin its series of Specialty albums focusing on separate regions of the world and later on separate countries. I suppose those could be called the "Greens".

At this time (1940s, I think), Scott also edited its old Brown albums down to a much more simplified and shorter "International" album for collectors who did not want specialize in regions or countries, publishing a representative (not complete) collection of the stamps of the world. That's the current blue album (aka "Big Blue" to parallel the earlier "Big Brown) which began as a single volume and is today, to say the least, much longer -- by virtue of the tidal wave of new stamps which began in the 1950s. It's up to either 40 volumes or 50 or maybe it's 150? I've completely lost count. Someone out there must actually own all these volumes and be plugging away on collecting nearly every stamp every issued. The mind boggles.

The International album which so often gets criticized for omitting stamps, perhaps for other awful things as well, but it often goes unsaid that it was designed to omit stamps. That's its purpose -- to omit stamps. It's supposed to be a simplified worldwide album. When someone gets all lathered up about how inadequate the Blue International album is, I have to bite my tongue. It's supposed to be incomplete, offering a "representative" collection. It's designed to omit rare and high value stamps. If you really want to collect all the stamps of India, buy the Scott Specialty album for India. The same for Japan, China, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Iceland, Sweden . . .

One problem is that this still leaves a lot of countries for which Scott does not publish International albums. I collect Tunisia, for example, but Scott does not publish a separate album for that country. They do publish one for Bangladesh, though. Go figure. Also they publish one for Namibia, but I collect Namibia, so that's fine with me. I imagine it's based on their best guess as to which countries are most popular -- or will be. And some albums get abandoned along the way. Some of the Latin American albums are no longer in print, for example. I suppose they could be criticized for being too "Eurocentric," but that seems to be where most stamp collectors have been, at least historically. Today, maybe that honor might go to China. Or Bangladesh?

(I have a solution to this lack of albums, but it takes some time and effort -- or money, whichever you have more of. For any missing country that you must have complete album pages for, you can print Bill Steiner's pages onto International or Specialty album-sized paper. That will give you a complete album for that country that matches your other albums. I've done this a few times, and it actually works our pretty well. Put them in a nice green Scott binder, and it looks a lot like a Scott Specialty album. What about Steiner's page borders that don't match the Scott borders? There are some ways to remove the Steiner page frames, if you wish, and substitute a Specialty-looking frame if you want everything to match. But I digress.)



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Edited by DrewM - 03/01/2021 03:02 am
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Pritchard goes on to note that in their early iterations, the International album had contained spaces for every stamp issued including revenues and cut squares (almost everything but the kitchen sink), then notes that sometime around 1900, Scott dropped revenues and foreign cut squares from that album. He doesn't speculate about "why" which I would have liked to hear about. There may be a simple answer. In the early years of stamp collecting, there really weren't a lot of stamps to collect. So album publishers -- who (like J.W. Scott) were often stamp dealers who sold stamps, included in their albums whatever collectors would buy. Even if they weren't "postage" stamps. So revenues, officials, etc., got included. And collectors bought them to put into their albums. Later, when there were many more strictly "postal" stamps to include in albums, non-postal issues were removed. I imagine this was mainly to save space and keep album costs down. That may be the main reason. Either that or revenues and cut squares

Pritchard notes how Scott crammed many stamps onto International album pages by leaving no spaces between stamps -- just a series of boxes connected to the stamps next to them, which they often still do. But they also had some rows of stamps connected to the rows above and below. Was there an ink shortage in the 19th century? This really crams in the number of stamps. Most likely it was to save pages. They partially stopped doing this. They now keep rows of stamps separate from rows above and below -- which adds at least a little breathing room. Albums are aesthetic presentations, so they should be appealing to look at. Cramming stamps onto every inch of a page might not be the most appealing look. Yes, the Minkus Globals do this as do the Harris worldwide albums, but those don't appeal to me, either. It's done to save on pages and keep production costs down -- not for a better appearance.

Pritchard says he is a "trained historian" to help explain his preference for including stamps strictly chronologically. It's a nit I have to pick.

First, he remarks that the price of the basic version of the 1901 International album was $1.50 which is interesting. But then he can't resist saying that "prices have gone up a bit since 1901!". That's a little too cute since it assumes people are ignorant about inflation. Adjusted just for inflation, with no other reason for a price increase, the price of that album would be about $42 today, a pretty decent bargain, but not as cheap as he suggests. $1.50 back then is not the same as today, and most of us know that.

He also says "My own preference (as a trained historian) is for strict chronological order". As a nearly 50-year teacher of history, this seems like an odd remark to me. I don't know any teacher of history who teaches in "strict chronological order". History is really not taught that way most of the time. Yes, it is taught broadly chronologically. The 20th century comes after the 19th century. But within eras ("Postwar America," for example, or "Ancient Rome") it's most often taught thematically. That means things related to each other are grouped together. Economic changes might get discussed before social changes (or vice versa), then political changes, and so on. Certainly, you couldn't teach one year at a time -- the way stamps are issued. So this argument made me shake my head a little.

He uses the "historian" label to justify that all stamps must be in "strict" chronological order, not as sets about similar topics or because of similar appearance. I have a different view.

According to his strict chronology rule, all stamps in the U.S. Prexie issue of the 1930s must be in an album in the year each was issued. Fortunately, they were all issued in 1938. All the Prexies would go neatly and appropriately on the same page (or two). But a few years later, how about the "Liberty Issue"? Those stamps were issued over a period of 14 years from the 1950s into the 1960s. By "strict chronology," that entire set would have to be broken up over a very large number of pages -- even though they were designed to be part of the same series of stamps with very similar appearances.

The same can be said worldwide for many long series of stamps not issued in the same year. I taught history, but that doesn't make me insist that stamps be separated from other stamps in the same set. Historians actually don't teach (or write) that way most of the time, and sometimes stamps separated out of their set of stamps don't make sense or look right. I'd just be more flexible. A stamp album is not a time line. It's also an aesthetic presentation, something to look at and enjoy. Some sets, even issued over many years, belong together, not scattered onto other pages.

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Edited by DrewM - 03/01/2021 03:11 am
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In his interesting article, Pritchard also says he's surprised that the 61st edition (1901) of the Scott catalogue came out exactly 61 years after the first stamp was issued, so maybe the first edition of the catalogue contained only two stamps! Well, no, it didn't. Was this a joke? If so, it went over my head. He did say this assumes the Scott catalogues were issued annually -- which they weren't sometimes. Like his comment about the "cheap" price of the 1901 album, I imagine he knew this. In its early years, Scott published catalogues more than once a year at times. After all, they were the price lists for his business. So that explains it. The 61st edition exactly 61 years after the first stamp is just a coincidence. This would be really easy to find out.

A "trained historian" should inquire into the facts. Not doing so makes me uncomfortable. Or you could just write: "In some years, Scott may have published more than one edition of his catalogues". Even better, find out. Ask someone at the APRL. He says he did some research there, so it would be easy to do that. They'll tell you. Pretending a stamp catalogue might have had only two stamps is a little odd. As a history teacher, I wouldn't accept this sort of writing from my own students. In history, you need to get your facts straight -- or admit you're not sure. Don't guess. That's not history. If this sounds harsh, history has rules, and his approach is based on being "trained" in history.

He writes that Scott catalogues have a "publication date in advance of the years on its [their] cover." The date on the cover is ahead of the publication date, not the other way around. The 2020 catalogue (cover date) was issued the previous year in 2019 (publication date). How do editors miss things like this? Were other statements similarly missed? Maybe this article just got lousy proofreading.

Here's one you might want to pay attention to: "Amos Media (Scott) announced on April 1, 2018 that it would discontinue the Big Blue (Scott International) albums." No, this isn't introduced by "This isn't true". Or "This was probably an April Fool's joke". Did I miss something? Have the International albums now gone out of print?

He's on much firmer ground when he gets past the "history of the Scott International albums" into his description of why he's making replacement pages. It's very interesting stuff.

"As far as I know," Pritchard writes, "no one has attempted to produce a comprehensive set of high-quality update pages for the Vintage version of these albums in the style of the original albums." I like this. It's "put a man on the moon" stuff. Why not redesign the International album? Unfortunately, his reasoning is not so great: "Many of the additions to the catalogue since these volumes were issued [when exactly was that?] are long ranges of different perforations or paper types . . . so I decided to start making my own."

If Pritchard's new International album pages focus heavily on "long ranges of different perforations or paper types" and not on adding all those missing stamps -- the main problem with the International -- why would I want them? Do I really want to buy long lists of perf varieties and paper types? For that, I'd buy a Scott Specialty album. Or a Steiner album. Or add some blank pages to my International album.

He also says, "If you combine the pages for all the [Vintage] volumes (as I have done), this makes it impossible to put everything in the same order as the Scott catalogs." My brain froze here. I assume the first part means combining all of a country's pages together, not leaving them separated in different time periods. That might be explained. But what does "this makes it impossible to put everything in the same order as the Scott catalogs" mean? Scott catalogue order is chronological -- and by country. That's the same order as pages when they're "combined". Am I missing something?

Some albums do have stamps in purely chronological order, the way Pritchard insists is best. They include different types of stamps -- semis, airs, and so on - on the same pages as other postal stamps, not in different sections of the album. If it's a postage stamp issued in 1970, it goes with all other postage stamps issued in 1970. Davo does this. Minkus did this. Pritchard says very forcefully that chronological order is best. He calls pages which combine different types of stamps "multi-type" pages presumably because they have spaces for multiple types of stamps. But, oddly, it turns out he actually doesn't like them. In the International album, Scott sometimes put some official stamps on pages with other stamps (maybe to fill up the page?), but he says "When I figured this out, I pulled out all the multi-type pages . . . [and] I was astounded to find that I had to pull out more than 500 pages of this type!" Now I'm really confused. He just said that "as a trained historian" his "preference is for strict chronological order." Apparently not so "strict" as to keep all the 1970 stamps on the 1970 pages. I think Pritchard hasn't thought this through very well.

My own preference is to include semi-postals and airs with all the other postal stamps issued each year. Why doesn't Pritchard do this if he's so focused on "strict chronology" He says he breaks up long sets designed to be coherent sets, putting them in whatever year they wers issued. But, on the other hand, he'll remove stamps issued in the same year as others just because they're a slightly different type of "postal" stamp. And for this, he's willing to dump 500 pages of album layouts? I don't understand.

I like Pritchard's tremendous enthusiasm. And I like his intent to fix problems in the International album. If he did this without rigidly insisting on "strict chronology" -- or actually doing what he says about strict chronology -- especially if combined all postal stamps together instead of separating them by types -- and if he also added back stamps left out for no good reason, he'd really be on to something. But he's not doing that.

So I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be. Besides, for this sort of depth in varieties of stamps, why wouldn't I just use Scott's Specialty albums instead of trying to make the International album into something it was never designed to be?

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Edited by DrewM - 03/01/2021 03:31 am
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Posted 03/01/2021   07:07 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Something of a sense of humour failure there. Not exactly Tristram Shandy, but raises a smile.
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Posted 03/01/2021   08:16 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There are a number of 1920's to 1940's definitive stamps that are part of the same design series sprinkled separately throughout my Scott Russia/Soviet Specialty album and it makes me crazy. In the same time period there are commemorative sets that were also issued individually over a period of years and they are grouped as one. And then there is the issue of "year grouping" wherein you see pages for 1940 and then 1941-3 and then 1942 and then the "real" 1943. Yikes

It also makes no sense to include spaces for rare stamps. There are spaces in my Russia album for stamps of which perhaps ten exist. That means no more than ten Russia albums could in theory ever be completed and the other 49,873 will just have that empty space that drives every collector insane.
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Posted 03/01/2021   09:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think Ferrary was the only man who could have completed a Gibbons Imperial album. I don't think I even have anything on the first British Guiana page.
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