Cilicia 1919 Scott 24 20 pa carmine rose
Turkish stamps, handstampedBig Blue Picture
Open any Big Blue album reasonably filled, and what will you see? No doubt plenty of Hungarian Czechoslovakian, and Austrian stamps, to name a few.
And some of the lesser known countries such as Inini and the overprinted French Guiana "Carib Archer" design might be well represented, as they were apparently a common part of the packet trade.
But the Big Blue collector will also find countries with few or no stamps on the pages.
Who are they?
Since I am about half way through Big Blue, this might be an appropriate time to pause and view- not the filled pages- but the empty ones. ;-)
And I suspect my empty country pages and your empty pages might be quite similar.
Without doing a statistical or scientific survey, here are a few of my mostly "empty" countries.....
La Aguera 1922 Scott 24 1p rose
This is a genuinely obscure stamp issuing entity- La Aguera.
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 7
A Spanish possession, La Aguera was an administrative district in Rio de Oro on the northwest coast of Africa. It issued stamps between 1920-22.
I've found that Spanish possession stamps are not usually abundant in most Big Blue's.
Then, when one has a truly obscure Spanish possession, one has....nothing!
And, it is not the case that the stamps are expensive, for they usually in the CV $1-$2+ range.
But try to find them. ;-)
After several years, I managed to acquire the one illustrated example from the "Zillions of Stamps" website.
Annam & Tonkin 1888 Scott 3 5c on 10c black, lavender
Annam & Tonkin
Actually, some stamp entities never even made it into Big Blue. Annam & Tonkin is one of them.
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 0
However, one can argue that this French Protectorate, with Hue and Hanoi as capitals respectively, was an important part of French Indochina, and should have had spaces in Big Blue.
As Cochin China, another part of French Indochina, has four spaces!
Perhaps the cost (CV $30+) of the least expensive stamp is the reason for the snub.
Barbuda 1922 Scott 2 1p rose red
Overprinted on 1912-22 Leeward island stamps
With a population of 1,000, and only one issue in 1922, Barbuda stamps tend not to be found in Big Blue.
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 5
British colony stamps in Big Blue can usually be found- often abundant. Other British colonies may perhaps have only a few, but still there. With Barbuda- not so much. ;-)
I finally managed to track down the illustrated specimen.
Cape Juby 1935-36 Scott 54 2c green, red overprint
On stamps of Spanish Morocco, 1933-35
Cape Juby, another Spanish possession on the northwest coast of Africa, will sometimes have a few stamps found in Big Blue. But there are 68 spaces in Big Blue, most of them usually empty. ;-)
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 68
Coverage by Big Blue is a generous 50%, rather more than enough, in my opinion, for this obscure place. ;-)
And stamps can be CV $2-$5, with five stamps @ $10-$30+, and two more @ $50-$85.
Castellorizo 1922 Scott 53 15c slate
Overprinted on Italian stamps of 1906-20
First occupied by the French in 1920 (French occupation stamps not included in BB), then by the Italians beginning in 1922, Castellorizo has an out sized representation in the album with 20 spaces.
And bonus points if you know that Castellorizo is an island in the Dodecanese Mediterranean.
And we are talking about an island 2 miles by 4 miles, with a population of 2,500 in 1936.
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 20
It is not that one can't find Castellorizo. It is just that it is going to cost you: generally CV $2+-$30+. This is the case, it seems, for all Italian possession countries.
Result: Expensive CV plus generous coverage equals empty spaces.
Cilicia 1919 Scott 5 1 3/4pi slate & red brown
Overprinted handstamped on stamps of Turkey, 1913-19
Part of the French Mandated Territory of Syria in 1919, it was eventually absorbed by Turkey in 1923. In the meantime, while a French Mandate, lots (145!) of interesting overprinted or handstamped Turkish and French stamps were issued.
Empty spaces in '47 Big Blue: 16
Unfortunately, the BB '69 editors removed this territory.
I don't have many of these stamps in my '47 or earlier edition Big Blues- mostly empty spaces. But I am fascinated with Cilician stamps with their crude handstamping, and would like to acquire more.
Cyrenaica 1926 Scott 23 1.25l dark blue
Overprinted in red on stamps of Italy, 1926
Cyrenaica was part of the Italian possessions on the north African coast that existed between 1923-34, before they were united as Libya.
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 93
The problem with Cyrenaica is the problem with all the Italian possessions in Big Blue: fairly expensive CV and overly generous coverage.
Here Big Blue provides coverage @ 68%, and the CV is in the $1+-$10 category.
Result: a sea of empty spaces.
Elobey, Annobon & Corisco
1903 Scott 8 10c rose lake
Elobey, Annobon & Corisco
Another obscure Spanish possession, Elobey, Annobon & Corisco are islands of the coast of western Africa.
My blog post is here
Empty spaces in Big Blue: 7
It's not like one can't find stamps for this little known colony (Fernando Po is another one), but that it is unlikely one has any in the usual Big Blues one acquires. One will have to hunt for them.
Castellorizo 1924 Scott 71 50c violet
Out of the Blue
So, in summary, what are the factors that lead to empty spaces in Big Blue?
• Truly obscure places with not much popularity, and with a CV that is not high (La Aquera).
• Spanish colonies, especially the "out of the way" kind, are generally not found in most Big Blues
(Elobey, Annobon & Corisco).
• Italian possessions, because of overly generous coverage in BB, and fairly expensive CV, have usually many empty spaces ( Castellorizo, Cyrenaica). One can add the Spanish possession - Cape Juby- to this category too.
• Quite obscure British colonies with few issues (Barbuda).
• Interesting, but not common French Mandate stamps (Cilicia).
• Finally, an admittedly expensive CV, but important territory that never made it into Big Blue- but probably should have (Annam & Tonkin).
One other area which I have not mentioned before are the "Offices Abroad" stamps of various countries. As a general rule, it seems few stamps populate these spaces. Sometimes, the CV is rather expensive, but in other cases they simply aren't there. I suspect the "Offices Abroad" category appeals more to the specialist country collector, and the general collector places a lower priority on acquiring them.
So Big Blue or WW classical collectors, which countries are your empty "White Whales"? ;-)