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 7, 2016

How did my collection grow this past 2015 year?

United States 1847 Scott 2 10c black/bluish 
"George Washington"
Into the Deep Blue
Part of the fun of collecting for us obsessive types is doing an accounting at the end of the year. ;-)

The time era limit of my "serious" (Ha! ;-) WW collection is 1840-1940, with the exception that British Commonwealth are collected to 1952. The ultimate collection, 100% filled, would have 83,541 (Scott major number) stamps.!!!... and cost $$$$$$ !!!! ;-)

( But the secret of WW collecting is that the majority of stamps are < $. And the journey is the true joy. )

I put the stamps into "Deep Blue", my affectionate name for the 6,500 Steiner album pages housed in some 44 binders. But I also keep track (and actively collect as realistic do-able goal) all the stamps that will fit into Big Blue, the Scott International Part I 1840-1940 album - some 34,872 spaces. My "virtual" Big Blue collection, housed within Deep Blue, is based on the checklist I have created for all the stamp spaces in BB.

How did I do?

The 2015 year started with 39,632 major Scott number stamps, and ended with 42,734 - a 3,102 stamp increase. I only initiated the WW collection in 2011, so, not too bad.

My virtual Big Blue collection grew from 26,087 to 28,134 stamps, a 2,047 stamp increase. As my general objective was ~100 stamps/month (~1200/year) addition into the virtual Big Blue, I am pleased. Note that ~50% of the new stamps accumulated for the year only have a space in Deep Blue.

Countries/ Stamps added 2015
1) Italy/ 265
2) Yugoslavia/ 132
3) Belgium/ 120
4) United States/ 113
5) Austria/ 94
6) Gabon/ 88
6) Surinam/ 88
8) China/ 82
9) Colombia States/ 78
9) Luxembourg/ 78

This is the list of the top ten countries for the 2015 year. Let's review a little more about them, plus a few more countries I selected. (As the Surinam post will soon be published, I will say no more about that country here.)

For an overview of all the countries in Big Blue/ Deep Blue, see the ......

Status of my Deep Blue & Big Blue Collections post. (Updated monthly.)

Italy Offices in China 1917-18 Scott 15 10c claret
Italian Stamps of 1901-16 Overprinted
Italy has 1554 spaces in Deep Blue, and, as I began the 2015 year with only 460 spaces filled, it should perhaps be not too surprising that I added 265 stamps.

The stamps came from an Italy country collection I picked up this past year.

Of those, 75 stamps had spaces in Big Blue.

Yugoslavia 1932 Scott B30 4d + 1d red orange & light blue
"Zagreb Cathedral"
The Yugoslavia collection increased by 132 stamps in Deep Blue, 74 stamps in Big Blue.

I have 319 stamps in Big Blue, and need 22 stamps.

Belgium 1918 Scott B41 35c + 35c light violet & black
"Cloth Hall of Ypres"
Types of Regular Issue of 1915 Surcharged in Red
Belgium is one of my favorite countries, and with a Belgium collection coming my way, I added 120 stamps into Deep Blue. Currently I am 17 stamps shy for the 549 spaces in Big Blue.

United States 1909 Scott 341 50c violet "Washington"
Wmk "Double Lined "USPS" in Capitals; Perf 12
United States was a pleasant surprise this past year, as I added 113 stamps, most of them from a U.S. collection obtained at a local Stamp Club auction that was well represented for the Washington-Franklin era.

And the Pipex stamp show in Portland, Oregon yielded the most expensive stamp in Big Blue: the USA 1847 Scott 2 10c black/bluish "George Washington" (Illustrated post header).  I've always wanted one. What a lovely stamp!

Austria 1850 Scott 1 1kr yellow "Coat of Arms"
Austria added 94 stamps, 87 of them which had spaces in Big Blue. I grabbed an 1850 Scott 1 1kr yellow, which here (illustration scan) is rather muddy in appearance.

Austria 1850 Scott 1
As shown by retroReveal
A retroReveal scan shows much more hidden detail.

Gabon 1904 Scott 19 5c yellow green
"Navigation and Commerce"
The Gabon additions (88 for Deep Blue, 65 for Big Blue) was from a 90%+  filled Big Blue offered on e-Bay by country lots. The next post by a guest author (Bud), at my invitation, will have much more to say about this 90%+ filled Big Blue- stay tuned!

China 1912 Scott 182 8c deep brown
"Dr. Sun Yat-sen"
China is a country where I would like to increase my holdings significantly. In fact, I've joined the China Stamp Society. As everyone knows, it is a "hot" country, and I don't find much China offered in general collections. Rather, using my China want list, I visited Asian specialty dealers at PIPEX. I added 82 stamps to my collection.

(BTW, Portland, Oregon will be hosting the Summer  APS StampShow August 4-7, 2016. !!)

Colombia States Bolivar 1880 Scott 27 20c red
"Bolivar"; Bluish Laid Paper
Colombia States is an interesting area, and I added 78 stamps to Deep Blue. The '69 BB editors dropped the Colombia States, but I am using the 40s BB editions checklist to add back the 155 spaces.

Luxembourg 1893 Scott 67 1fr deep violet
"Grand Duke Adolphe"
Luxembourg is another favorite country, and I utilized dealers at local stamp shows to add 78 stamps.

Guatemala 1894 Scott 56 1c on 2c yellow brown
Surcharged in Black
One of goals for this past year was to increase the Latin American country collections. I did use a national dealer who specializes in Latin America for that end. For Guatemala, I added 56 stamps.

Belgium Congo 1910 Scott 54 1fr carmine & black
"Hunting Elephants"
Who doesn't like Belgium Congo stamps? I managed to add 25 stamps to the collection.

British Central Africa 1895 Scott 21 1p black 
"Coat of Arms of the Protectorate"
British Central Africa is one of those countries, that being obscure, is particularly fun to find for the overall collection. I added six stamps, and lack only one for Big Blue.

United States 1913 Scott Q11 75c carmine rose
Out of the Blue
If you read the notes and looked at the scans for this blog post, and still don't understand the attraction of WW classical era collecting, then I cannot help you. ;-)

Comments Appreciated!


  1. Nice work Jim! You have definitely come a long way in a short amount of time.

    So, if my calculations are correct, you have almost 8,000 beyond the capacity of your BigBlue? And, I assume most of those are still in the 'inexpensive' category? Makes a good case for moving beyond BigBlue for the WW classic collector (or using a lot of blank pages!).

    Interesting to know...

    1. Thanks for the comments Chris. Yes, it is true that about 50% of the stamps accumulated are beyond the boundaries of BB. And, although somewhat more CV value, they are generally still in the inexpensive category.

    2. Jim, you mentioned getting more into the stamps of China. How much of an impediment is it collecting China without knowing the Chinese language (assuming you don't, of course; I certainly don't!)

    3. Chris- not too much- the China Stamp Society catalogue and materials help a lot. And I do have a secret weapon if I get stuck- my daughter-in-law is Chinese. :-)

  2. Very interesting, Jim. I was shocked that Steiner offers so many more spaces. Or, I guess I'm shocked that BB offers so few. I always assumed the Scott albums were more extensive.

    Your copy of U.S. 2 is beautiful.

    I always enjoy reading your posts.

    1. Hello Ed

      That #2 is nice, I agree. :-)

      The Steiner (Deep Blue) and Big Blue are two different "animals". The Steiner offers a space for all Scott major numbers- as do the Scott Specialized albums for countries. Big Blue (Scott International part I 1840-1940) is a "representative" album, and only offers a selection of all the major Scott numbers- some 34,000" spaces, which is still a major challenge for the WW collector. It is a bit like if one would rather swim in the ocean (Deep Blue) or a lake (Big Blue). Each have their attractions. One is less likely to "drown" (get overwhelmed) with BB. OTOH, if one would like for certain to have a space for all major Scott numbers, then Deep Blue (Steiner) is the one. Decisions, decisions....none of them perfect for the WW collector.

  3. Your comments bring to the fore a most important but often neglected task...cataloging and documenting your own collection.
    Recently I realized that when I finally kick the bucket nobody will have any idea what my collection is all about or what to do with it. I needed a plan.
    In 2015 I scanned my entire collection and any certificates (36 volumes, 3711 pages, 42000 stamps). I added descriptive notes to each volume with links and detailed notes to the prime material. I put all this on a thumb drive and gave one to my son and one to my wife. Neither of them ever had a great interest in my stamps, but at least this will help them to understand what I've built these last 55 years.
    Unfortunately, I've seen very little mention of proper documentation in the philatelic press, but as I get older this is becoming very important to me.

    Good article, important topic.

    1. Good point Bob- many collectors never get around to letting their loved ones know what is important in the collection, and what to do with it.

      I have an "analog" method of inventory- I keep track in the Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue what I have.

      I haven't scanned the collection pages yet- perhaps someday.

  4. What do you do about varieties? Do you customize Steiner's pages? Stick the variety in a corner of the page? Chris Whitehouse (ChrisW, who commented above me) has found a way to modify Steiner's pages.

    I have quite a few varieties, but they're easily accommodated because I make my own pages. Of course, making pages for your collection would be overwhelming.

    What Steiner has accomplished is simply incredible. I certainly don't mean to be critical of his work.

    1. Ed-
      I don't do any custom work on the Steiner pages. I would consider that another hobby. ;-) If I have a variety, I may put it on the same page as the main Scott number stamp. Steiner pages tend to have enough empty space, so it can be done without looking too cluttered. Or I will put the variety on a separate quadrilled page, especially if there is a group of them.

  5. Hi Jim. What a wonderful read your blog is !
    Would you be able to share some insight into how you maintain your running excel/word document for your collection? I wanted to have something that I can pull out relatively quickly when I need to find whether I have a particular item or not.
    - aragon01

    1. Hi aragon01

      My stamp inventory data information is more analog than digital, I'm afraid. ;-)

      For one thing, I don't use excel.

      I do keep track of 1840-1940 stamp inventory by marking my collection holdings in the Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue. This is the main source for knowing quickly what I have or don't have in my collection.

      I keep a want list for BB stamp spaces- and use a word document to list what I have added for the past year by country and Scott number to BB. I use that as a basis for an update blog post, such as this one.

      I update my Deep Blue/Big Blue status page every month which keeps track of overall stats.

  6. Ah. Thank you. I collect to the minkus supreme globals and as ou know matching the minkus numbers to the scott numbers is a project by itself

    1. And a large project too. Good luck and all the best!

  7. Do you use Steiner's quadriiled blank pages or others?

    1. Yes, quadrilled Steiner pages.

      But if there is only an extra variety or two, I often just add it to the relevant Steiner page.