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...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Most expensive stamps in Big Blue

Big Blue's "Mascot" stamp: Austria Offices in Turkey
1908 1pi Deep Blue on Blue 

...so far!   :-)

I'm just about through the A's in Big Blue, and it might be of some interest to rank the most expensive stamps. Obviously, the ranking will change significantly as I get further along in the countries. Most of the stamps listed now will drop out, having been replaced by more expensive brethren.

Beginning at $35......

#8)  $35 Argentina 1939 Scott 472  1.50p dark brown  "record and winged letter"
Somehow issuing stamps for the mailing of phonograph records turned out not to be very popular. ;-)  So Argentina has a comparatively "rare" stamp instead.

#7) $35 Australia 1913 Scott 6 4p orange "Kangaroo"
#5) $44 Australia 1913 Scott 7 5p orange brown "Kangaroo"
The classic first issues of Australia, I love 'em!

#6) $37 X 5= $185 Albania 1940 Postage Dues Scott J40- J44 (Issued under Italian Dominion)
$37 Scott J40 4q red orange
$37 Scott J41 10q bright violet
$37 Scott J42 20q brown
$37 Scott J43 30q dark blue
$37 Scott J44 50q carmine rose
A mistake for inclusion in my view. My note from the Albanian blog: The 1940 Italian occupation postage dues are  expensive - $37+- why?, And why are they included?  Recall, there are 12 Postage dues that are NOT in Big Blue that are $1-$4!  Checking their cost in the 1947 Scott standard catalog, they would have prices in today's dollars of about $5-$25. So they WERE fairly expensive even then; and now they have increased in price even more.  

#4)  $50 Alaouites 1929-30 Air Post Scott C21 Syrian stamp 15p on 25p (Bk & R) surcharged and overprinted, with additional overprint of plane.
Actually an attractive collectible stamp with the airplane overprint. Not too surprised, as all nine of the Alaouites Air Post stamps in Big Blue are not cheap.

#3) $52 Austria: Lombardy-Venetia 1864-65 Scott 21 3s green
A classic issue, the other choice for the space is the 1863 Scott 16 3s green for $125.

#2) $65 Andorra (Spanish administration) 1933 Scott 19a 30c olive brown
The rest of the 6 stamps in the series are $1-$6, so this appears to be another mistake by Big Blue. The alternative,1929 Scott 19 is $160; and should perhaps actually have preference for inclusion as this is a 1929 series.

My note about this in the Andorra blog: 
Now the big blunder- Why did Scott include a $65, or even a better fit, a $160 stamp for an album that originally was meant for "Juniors"? Yes the Scott 19 30c olive brown IS included in the 1941 Junior album I have.

Let's take a look at the valuation for the 30c olive brown in my 1947 Scott standard catalog: 75 cents.
Well perhaps Scott may be forgiven a little, as that would be a valuation of about $25 today. Still expensive, but clearly there has been an escalation in the price.

So what are the choices for the Big Blue collector?
1) Bite the bullet and put Scott 19 into the album where it belongs ($160)-since this actually fits the "intention" best.
1a) Put the 19a issue in-only $65, but a 1933 issue.
2) Substitute another stamp from the 1929 series into the space: suggest Scott 21 ($4.50)
3) Substitute the 1936 series same denomination Scott 30c carmine into the space. ($3.25)
4) Leave blank and point out the folly to fellow collectors. ;-)

#1) $105 Austria 1854 Scott 1d  1kr yellow "Coat of Arms" Imperf
The other choice is 1850 Scott 1 for $115. A nice classic; and I'm glad that my #1 stamp so far is a Scott 1!

A few comments and ground rules...

A) I'm not going to include the United States, as we all know that Big Blue was more comprehensive with the "home" country, and there are a lot of costly 19th century stamps listed. Certainly, not least would be the  Scott 2, the 10c black George Washington valued at $1200. Also some (many?) collectors keep their United States collection in other albums. Perhaps I will put together a "super list" sometime where the expensive USA stamps can duke it out with the expensive worldwide stamps.

B) I'm also not going to include the Penny Black, Scott 1 1p valued at $325. Any album that claims stamp listings from "1840-1940" will necessarily  include the Penny Black, but not for reasons of appropriateness.

C) The stamp will need to be actually the least expensive choice that works for the space provided by Big Blue. Yes there are quite expensive stamps that can be put in Big Blue, but if a cheaper stamp definitely works within the "intentions" of the space, the more expensive stamp doesn't count.

D) "Expensive' does not necessarily mean "difficult to acquire"- but sometimes it does. ;-) The Syria 106 50c overprint on 10c green is valued at a trivial 85 cents. But the Syria Scott 106c 25c overprint on 10c green, an "error" stamp, is also inexplicably listed in Big Blue. The cost now? $240! But beyond the cost, the stamp has even more of a reputation as being quite difficult to find. Bob Skinner in his "Filling Spaces" blog, discusses how he managed to obtain this rarity.

 The point is "expensive" stamps may be easy to acquire if one has the cash.  Other stamps may be comparatively inexpensive, but difficult to acquire. And finally one may be faced with both!

E) Finally, the list I have put together, modest though it is with only the A's included, is not quite what  I expected. Sure there are some  classic "rarities" , but also inclusions by Big Blue that appear to be mistakes .

Note: You will need to consult a Scott catalogue for specific pricing. I only give a very "ball park" price, and never the actual catalogue value. ( The only exception are these "Most expensive" lists, which constitute a very small amount of the catalogue's listings.)

<$1= less than a Dollar
$1+= more than a Dollar
$2+= more than two Dollars
$5+= more than five Dollars
$10+= more than ten Dollars
$20+..and so on.


  1. I have been looking at the stamps for Switzerland, and the very first one, Scott# 35 2 Rp. gray is definitively an expensive one. It's presently listed in the Swiss catalogues at an equivalent of about USD 750. I wonder if the editors really intended to include the gray 2 Rp. or made an error and actually meant to include the much more reasonable Scott# 36 5 Rp. brown which costs about as much as the second stamp, Scott# 37 10 Rp. blue (in the cheapest variation; there are many print/paper variations in this series)

    I'm torn which one to put in my BB: The 2 Rp. gray is the literally correct one I guess, but the 5 Rp. is much more in the "representative" spirit of the album. Besides the brown one is more pretty to look at because of the stronger color.

    Your thoughts?

  2. Hi Tommy

    I haven't yet reviewed Switzerland, as I am going alphabetically, and and only up to the "G"'s at the present time. ;-)

    But taking a quick look, the 2 Rappen is definitely illustrated, and therefore, going by strict criteria, the Scott 35 2r gray @ $250 mint is indicated. I see no other choice.

    My '69 has the 2r (Scott 35), the 10r dark brown (Scott 25 $25), and the 10r pale blue (Scott 37b $27.50).

    My '47 omits the 10r dark brown space, but still has the 2r illustration.

    So, I doubt if it is an error, even if it seems to not be in the spirit of affordable stamps.

    Having said that, the BB album is YOURS, and only you can decide ultimately what should go in.

    Put the 5r brown in- a nice choice and a fine stamp!

  3. Hi Jim!

    yeah it's mine :-) Well actually the Scott 35 is less expensive in unused condition. Scott 35 in used condition is quite expensive indeed, this was my quote from the Swiss catalogue. I would think the $250 you cite is for the unused.

    Sidenote: I don't have a current Scott Classical catalogue. I work with a 2007 regular edition, plus Michel and Zumstein. But I need to obtain a Scott Classical eventually, the regular is not detailed enough.

    Interesting... :-) so in the '69 edition BB, they inserted a third stamp of this early Swiss series. As in yours, my '47 BB has only the 2 Rappen gray and the 10 Rappen pale blue.

    P.S. I think you may have made a slight typo error when you mention the "10 Rappen dark brown" of your BB: Scott 25 is for the (dark brown) 5 Rappen :-) The 10 Rappen's never came in a brown color, I think they are all in shades of blue.

    Cheers and Thanks for your comments!

  4. Yes, the Scott 25 dark brown is the 5r Rappen, not the 10 Rappen. :-)

    One point I should make about the checklist....

    If a minor number matches the color description in BB, the major number (and other minor numbers) is also "allowed" in the space.

    The 10r pale blue (Scott 37b) space can also admit the Scott 37 blue, the Scott 37c dark blue, and the Scott 37d greenish blue.

    Of course ultimately, the owner can put any choice they want in a space. ;-)