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, May 16, 2011

Most expensive stamps in Big Blue: Aden-Burma

Bolivia 1894 "Coat of Arms" Scott 46 100c brown rose

I'm done with the 42 countries listed alphabetically from Aden to Burma 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 Most of the stamps listed now will drop down or out, having been replaced by more expensive brethren. I plan to update the ranking after each alphabet letter; next would be the C's.

A few comments first...
A) Big Blue has generally done a good job of keeping the costs down despite a "lot" of classic stamps that are represented. With a $35 cut-off to get on the list, NO stamps from Brazil,the regular issues of Belgium, or the "pricey" British Crown Colonies (Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Guiana) appear on the list. That is good news, because that means one can have a great collection of classic 1840-1940 issues without breaking the bank. Perhaps it will encourage others to take up classic collecting without worry. Of course there are no Brazil "Bull's Eyes" or British Guiana  "Magentas" either. :-)

B) 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. I probably will not include Canada either,as again, there is a North American bias for the "home" area. Finally, I will probably not 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 Country has to be on the roster of the "97 Big Blue, my reference. So Bremen and Brunswick are out.

D) 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.

E) Finally, just for fun, I will put together a separate list eventually of ALL the countries-German States, U.S., Canada, Penny Black, and any stamps from the rest of the world (which is 95% of the contents of Big Blue) that are valued over $100. Won't be pretty for " the rest of the world", but some might be interested.

The List.....

#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!

#2) $65 Andorra (Spanish administration) 1933 Scott 19a 30c olive brown
A surprise, as the rest of the 6 stamps in the series are $1-$6. Did Big Blue actually intend to put this expensive stamp in? The alternative,1929 Scott 19 is $160; and should perhaps actually have preference for inclusion as this is a 1929 series.

#3)(new) $57+ Belgium 1933 Scott B132 semi-postal 5c + 5c dull green "View of Old Abbey". Intended for the restoration of Orval Abbey. Big Blue includes four more stamps in the set (B133,B134,B135,B136) for $52+ each: $263 total! Of interest is that the '97 Big Blue cut out the 1939 "Restoration of Orval Abbey" semi-postals (B250-B253) priced at only $2+-$3+, but kept this set in. Note to self: Be careful what you wish for; you wanted the semi-postals restored. ;-)

#4) $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.

#5)  $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.

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

#7)(new) $40 Bolivia 1894 "Coat of Arms" Scott 46 100c brown rose "thin paper"
There are plenty of "thick paper" 1894 :Coat of Arms" series stamps fraudulently cancelled in Paris with heavy bars forming an oval. Value of set:$5  Unfortunately, the Bolivian 100c brown rose illustrated above is of that variety.

#8)(new) $40 Bahrain 1933-34 Scott 13 2r brown-orange & carmine-rose
( Stamps of India, 1926-32, overprinted in Black: BAHRAIN)
This is a large blank stamp space in Big Blue, and this is the least expensive choice for the space.

#9) $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

There are 12 Albanian Postage dues for $1-$4 that are NOT in Big Blue, and Big Blue puts this expensive series in. An odd choice.

#10)  $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.

For fun, here are the German States stamps that are not "eligible" for the list as they are not in the '97 Big Blue. These are their "rankings" if they were in the top ten list....

1) $125 Bremen 1866-67 Scott 15 5 sgr green
2) $110 (mint) Bremen 1866-67 Scott 12 5gr black/rose
5)$62+ Bremen 1866-67 Scott 11 2gr orange
9) $50 Brunswick 1862-63 1sgr blk/orange

Have any comments  Readers? Are you surprised that Big Blue has been successful, it appears, in providing spaces for the "classical era" without costing a fortune? Of course, we are only done with the A's and B's.....

Note: I make exception to the general price listing policy for the "most expensive stamp" list in BB, as it constitutes only a vary small part of the catalogue.

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.
<$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. Great post! I've long been fascinated about catalog values and the Blue. For example, was there an approximate catalog value cut off point that the album editors used to determine which stamps to include? And on a more general note, how do values in earlier Scott catalogs correlate with current versions?

    A couple of thoughts just looking at the examples you post. I think Scott included the Albania 1940 postage dues that now catalog $185 because these cataloged a mere 91 cents (!) in the 1943 catalog. Interestingly, the other Albanian postage dues looked to have been equally or more expensive at the time. Most of the other stamps you list that currently catalog in the $35-$60 range were $1 to $1.50 in 1943. So perhaps a $1 or so (adjusted up or down depending upon when the stamp first appeared in the Blue) might have been the working cut off point, remembering that then as now collectors wouldn't have paid full catalog.

    The anomalies in your list are Austria number 1 which cataloged $3 in 1943 and may have been included because it was the first issue of a popular country. The stamps I think you can most strongly argue do not belong are the Bremens which even then (1943) were in the $13.50-$15 range. But then perhaps they were much cheaper in the catalog that was current when the Blue first came out. I don't have anyway to check this.

    Incidentally, a 1943 dollar is worth not quite $13 today.

  2. Very nice analysis Bob! I think you hit the nail on the head about Scott probably having a ~$1 upper limit criteria for inclusion. (Classics, no doubt, because of their desirability and general collector awareness, would have had a higher cut-off.)

    Even today, many collectors will balk at spending more than $10 on a stamp for a worldwide collection in a non specialty area for them. This agrees nicely with the $1 or less that Scott would have used for possible inclusion.

    By the way, I found this site which gives inflationary yearly adjustments from 1913-2011.