A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, January 3, 2022

Sweden - Bud's Big Blue

Bud’s complete Big Blue, but maybe not so complete
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Until now Bud’s Big Blue posts have followed the Big Blue (BB) album sequence, taking countries as they come – alphabetically, approximately. This post on Sweden’s stamps breaks with that sequence.

Why? I recently bought a large Swedish collection on Scott specialized pages. So, I refurbished my BB spaces and added stamps to the supplement pages. New scans, seen below, show the results. Having done this, I’m motivated to write about Sweden now rather than some months from now.

I’m often asked what I collect after having filled all BB spaces. Short answer: I collect what BB omits. And that’s a lot of stamps.

BB provides folks like us with a representative collection and, when we’ve filled all album spaces, we do have something that’s pleasantly representative, but it’s complete only in the sense that all spaces are filled.

Scott #2 blue and #3a gray brown, not in BB
A question arises, therefore, about what defines “complete”. Does it mean merely that the spaces are filled? Or that all Scott Catalog major numbers are represented? My recent additions do move me closer to having all Scott major numbers for Sweden. I need about 30 more and they’re very expensive. Still, even if I were somehow to get these, the collection would fall short of being complete.

Scott #s 222 gray, 223 violet brown, and 225 green, not in BB

What about Scott’s minor numbers? Stanley Gibbons catalogs commonly list more major and minor numbers than Scott does. What about them? And what about local stamps, interesting cancellations, postal stationery, covers, anomalies, and the like? How can any collection ever be described as complete? All are merely representative. Completeness is an obsession fueled nightmare.

Stockholm city locals, Scott #s LX1 black and LX2 bister brown, not in BB

Collecting all or most of a country’s major stamp varieties, nevertheless, does represent a noteworthy milestone. Completeness, even when approximate, tells a better story than blank spaces can. When some form of completion happens in my collection, I put a new header on my supplement pages, as seen atop Bud’s Big Blue Danish West Indies. And I gussy up the pages with some additional information, the beginnings of which can be seen in the Sweden supplements at the end of this post.

Bud’s BB supplement page header for Danish West Indies

Nearing completion, however defined, presents some problems and opportunities beyond the obvious question of what to do with stamps that lack spaces. Take Sweden’s three numeral series (1877 thru 1889) for example. BB provides twelve spaces for these, but each series has either ten or eleven stamps. Moreover, BB’s spaces call for examples from all three series.

Scott #s 20a dark violet, 21 gray, and 22 blue,
first series (1872-77), perf 14

I like to follow BB’s specs as nearly as I can, but I also want all stamps from a particular series placed together. My solution, admittedly less than ideal, puts the 1877-79 series in the album spaces, and the other two in the supplement pages. That arrangement will change if I get Sweden #18 or #37, two of the 30 that have eluded me.

Scott #s 30 dark green, 31 lilac, and 32 blue,
second series (1877-79), perf 13

Used Swedish numerals often have clear date and place cancellations, a compelling reason for collecting them. The three series are easily distinguished: the first is perf 14, the second is perf 13, while the third has a printed post horn on the back.

Blue post horn on reverse of third numeral series, 1886-91

My new Swedish acquisition also provided occasion for rethinking postage dues. In the 19th century, these stamps were affixed not only to internal mail that had insufficient postage, but also to incoming international letters. Recipients had to pay to receive mail arriving from beyond Sweden’s borders regardless of how much was paid by senders in their home countries. Other nations followed this practice, too. If you’re inclined to specialize in postage due stamps, Sweden is a great place to start. The elaborately illustrated catalog of the Kersti and Bertil Larsson collection of Swedish postal history has a large section about 19th century due postage. It can be accessed online at: http://59b4eb31fe0806b35bcb5ee7cdf65d4eef4f9a4b-customer-media.s3.amazonaws.com/auctions/364/kataloge/Sweden.pdf.

Scott #s j13 rose, j14 brown, and j15 yellow

Sweden issued two sets of postage due stamps, 1874 and 1877. They differ in the number of perfs (first 14, then 13) and sight color shadings. (Sometime in the mid-1870s, Sweden’s 14-perf perforating machine must have broken down, and the replacement punched holes at a rate of 13 per inch.) After both series were used up, stamp-fee tickets were attached to underpaid correspondence. Below the amount of shortage, the ticket reads “NOTE.! Upon delivery, the consignment will be stamped for the redemption amount and the stamps will be canceled.”

Stamp fee ticket, 1930s?

The 1874 series is the scarcer; most dues in my collection are of the 13-perf 1877 sort. BB permits examples drawn from both series.

Adding to my batch of the 1924 Universal Postage Convention commemoratives has been the best part of having a new influx of Swedish stamps. The fiftieth anniversary of the UPU was being celebrated in Stockholm when these were issued.

Scott #218 deep blue

I particularly like the mail rider who, clutching his post horn, looks forlornly over his shoulder at a ski equipped airplane – the minatory replacement for his mighty steed.

Census: 211 in BB spaces, 16 tip-ins, 180 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations

I have a pretty decent Sweden collection for a WW collector, as one of the stamp dealers in town was a Scandinavian specialist. Bud's new Sweden collection, is special, though, as I note he has a Sweden Scott 3 color variation 6s gray brown. Nice, indeed!

And that brings me to this point: Just because one is a WW collector doesn't mean that one can't have nice country collections also. In fact, one of the best ways to enhance a WW collection is to add a very nice country collection. 

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Comments appreciated!

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