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...

Friday, January 20, 2017

How did my collection grow this past 2016 year?

New Zealand 1898 Scott 78 6p green "Kiwi"
Into the Deep Blue
Part of the fun of collecting, at least for us obsessive-compulsive types, is checking on the growth of the collection.

The time era limit of my WW collection is 1840-1940, with an extension for British Commonwealth through 1952. The ultimate collection, 100% filled, would have 83,507 (Scott major number) stamps. Needless to say, that, as a goal, will never be reached. And that is not where the gratification is anyway, the "Journey" is. !!!

"Deep Blue" in Vario F, G and Avery Binders
The stamps are kept in "Deep Blue", the name for my 6,500 Steiner album pages, presently in 10 Vario G, 19 Vario F, and 21 Avery binders. (I'm converting gradually to an all Vario G and F binder collection.)

But additionally, I keep track of (and actively collect as a realistic goal) all the stamps that will fit into Big Blue, the Scott International Part I 1840-1940 album - some 34,876 spaces. My "virtual" Big Blue collection, housed within Deep Blue, is based on the checklist  I have developed for the stamp spaces in BB.

Well, how did I do?

To recall, the 2015 year started with 39,632 major Scott number stamps, and ended with 42,734 - a 3,102 stamp increase. 

Now, this past 2016 year, I have added 4,133 stamps to Deep Blue, for a year end total of 46,867 stamps.

This amounts to a 9.6% increase in Deep Blue for the 2016 year. Impressive.

My Deep Blue currently has 56% of the spaces filled with stamps.

What about the virtual Big Blue?

My virtual Big Blue collection increased in 2015 from 26,087 to 28,134 stamps, a 2,047 stamp increase. 

And this 2016 year, the virtual Big Blue ended with 29,657 stamps, a 1,523 stamp increase.

In total, Big Blue is now 85% full.

My general objective is ~100 stamps/month (~1200/year) addition into the virtual Big Blue.  I met the objective, although note the increase was about ~500 stamps less than in 2015.

The difference may be because my stamps came from a different mix this year. For 2016, I was breaking down a lot of feeder collections.  In contrast, in 2015, I was accumulating more from virtual Big Blue want lists.

To review, here is the list of countries with significant stamp increases during 2015....

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

And here, for 2016, is the list of the top countries with >100+ stamp increase...

Countries/ Stamps added 2016
1) Turkey/249
2) Uruguay/181
3) Angola/166
3) Portuguese Guinea/166
5) Portuguese India/149
6) St. Thomas and Prince/148
7) New Zealand/147
8) Azores/146
9) Italy/119
10) Mozambique/114
11) Macao/107

Seven countries from the Portuguese colonies contributed a significant increase, as I acquired a large general Portuguese colony collection.

The others on the list (Turkey, Uruguay, New Zealand, Italy) were likewise from feeder collections for those countries.

For a closer look, I will present some of the countries on the 100+ stamp list, as well as selected other countries that have an interesting story to tell.

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.)

Turkey 1936 Scott 780 50k on 500k chocolate & black
"Mustafa Kemel Pasha"
I bought from a dealer a large KA-BE Album 1863-1980 Turkey collection. This was a quality collection, and had recently been sold in January, 1915 at a Regency-Superior auction.

It yielded 249 stamps, the largest amount for any country for 2016.

I think a fine way for the intrepid WW collector to obtain stamps is by buying country collections. Besides the holes I filled, I upgraded many more spaces.

Uruguay 1925 Scott 304 12c blue & black
"Legislative Palace"
Same story with Uruguay, I bought from a dealer a collection housed in Scott International Big Brown pages.

The collection yielded 181 stamps.

In fact, this year was "the year of dealer acquired collections". I bought very little from the APS stamp store or from e-Bay.

Angola 1870 Scott 4 25r red "Portuguese Crown"
Actually, the largest purchase for the year was a well filled Portuguese colonies collection on Scott Specialty album pages.

For Angola, the collection yielded 166 stamps, but looking at the top seven Portuguese colonies on my list, the collection was good for 996 stamps!

I was relatively weak in Portuguese colonies, so this collection helped a lot.

As an example, my Angola collection went from 120 to 286 stamps, and my virtual Big Blue has 112 out of 113 spaces filled.

New Zealand 1858 Scott 8 2p blue "Victoria"
New Zealand
Do not forget other collectors as a source for stamps!

Our local stamp club has a club auction several times a year, and we have many collectors getting on in years who are quite willing to off-load parts of their collections.

Not uncommonly, the stamp accumulations are auctioned off for virtual give-away prices. !!

And, as a WW collector, one is positioned to find worth with many of the lots.

Long story short, I obtained an accumulation in a bankers box of Australian and New Zealand stamps. In this case, there was spirited bidding (There was clearly a number of New Zealand Chalon-head "Victorias" in the accumulation), but it was still a bargain.

The accumulation yielded 147 stamps for New Zealand, and 45 stamps for Australia that were new for me.

Somalia 1906-07 Scott 16 1 l on 10a lilac "Lion"
A  general collection of Italy and Italian Colonies in a Scott Specialty album was obtained. This collection was not as impressive as the similar Portuguese colony collection, but, since my Italian sphere is fairly weak, still yielded many stamps.

A few results: 58 stamps for Somalia, 33 stamps for Cyrenaica, 119 stamps for Italy, 82 stamps for Eritrea, and 89 stamps for Libya.

1931 Scott 176 3fr emerald
"General Joseph Simon Gallieni"
The French stamp world always has interesting designs, and. although I had no major increase in this area, I found 38 stamps for Madagascar, 21 stamps for Cameroun, 27 stamps for Guadeloupe, and 25 stamps for the Ivory Coast.

Many of these stamps were obtained via my virtual Big Blue want list.

Iceland 1882 Scott 18 40a red violet
The WW collector will want to take advantage of an unexpected buying opportunity.

A local well respected Scandinavian dealer decided this year to quit. I was sorry for this, but, since he was selling his stock @ 50% off, I took advantage to buy stamps from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland that I still needed for the virtual Big Blue album.

.I added 34 stamps for Iceland, and only lack 2 for BB completeness.

Western Australia 1865 Scott 34 1sh bright green "Swan"
Western Australia
When traveling, it sometimes pays to see if there are stamp stores, or, more likely, stamp shows in the area.

We spent the month of March of this past year enjoying the Netherlands; specifically The Hague, where my daughter is stationed for her work.

Not far from a tram stop in town was a real brick and mortar stamp store!

They did most of their business through the internet, but had hundreds of country albums and collections for sale there.

The owner welcomed me with perfect English (as do most of the Dutch), sat me down at a sorting table, and gave me a cup of coffee. 

Well, how could I resist? I walked out with a nice Western Australia collection that yielded 31 stamps.

Switzerland 1935 Scott 2O33 1.50fr blue & red/blue
For the League of Nations
I have a decent collection of "usual" Switzerland, but do not have many of the peripheral category stamps. Sure enough, a "Central Europe" album yielded some 31 stamps.

Tannu Tuva 1936 Scott C15 75k emerald green & pale yellow
"Horseman and Zeppelin"
Tannu Tuva
Who doesn't have a soft spot for Tannu Tuva, even if the stamps were blatantly intended for the stamp market?

Like wild bears on stamps? check.
Like triangles and odd shaped stamps? check.
Like images of herdsmen lassoing reindeer? check.

I picked up 22 stamps from a fellow local WW collector.

Canal Zone 1914 Scott J2 2c rose carmine
Overprinted in Black
Canal Zone
There was a Minkus Global Master Album at the local club auction that was essentially empty.

Except I noticed a cache of Canal Zone stamps.

I was the only one who bid on it.

I picked up 14 Canal Zone stamps for my collection.

Canada 1930 Scott E4 20c henna brown
Sometimes one has the odd stamp, that for no apparent reason, is missing from the collection.

The Scott E4 20c henna brown was that stamp for me.

It was on my want list for several years.

Eventually, the only stamp from Canada missing in my virtual Big Blue was the Scott E4 20c henna brown.

Then, in September, at a local Saturday stamp bourse, a dealer specializing in the U.S., with very little Canada, had displayed on his table...yes!, the 20c henna brown!

Luxembourg 1859 Scott 10 30c rose lilac
"Coat of Arms"
Remember that feeder Uruguay collection I had earlier? I have a stamp buddy in town, where we attempt to trade our extra stamps based on a fixed percentage Scott CV. He was interested in my extra Uruguay, and I obtained two very nice Luxembourg stamps from him.

New Zealand 1906 Scott 124 3p blue & brown
"Landing of Captain Cook"
Out of the Blue
I fully expect not to do as well this coming year with my classical era collection. I think another 4000 stamp increase is unrealistic.  The "low hanging fruit" from feeder collections will not be as available, because I am no longer significantly weak in any major regional category, except perhaps for the Spanish colonies.

But part of the reason I expect not to do as "well" this year is my goal for 2017 is a bit different.

I have, left over, from pillaging the 1840-1940 era, many feeder albums/collections that have a significant amount of stamps from 1940-1967. They are perfectly wonderful specimens of " Les Semi-Modernes" era, as the Yvert catalogue like to put it, and I would like to place them into my new thick paper Minkus Global Supreme pages I've acquired from Amos Advantage/Scott this past year. 

Comments appreciated!


  1. Great progress Jim!

    Just wondering if there's any difference in what you put in Vario G vs. your Vario F binders? Or just random? Also, noticed none of your binders are labeled. Does that bother you or cause you any problems? Are you like the "clean" look instead?

    You've built a great collection in a short period of time, great job!


    1. Thanks Chris.

      My collection is ordered by alphabet, for the most part, so it is relatively easy to pick up the right binder after a short learning curve. ;-) And I am still moving the pages around into different binders, so I don't want to label them as yet. And perhaps I won't. The clean look does have its attractions.

      There is not a great deal of difference between what is put in a Vario G or a Vario F binder - as said, the alphabet rules. The Vario F is more elegant (padded sides) and smaller (90 page capacity), and shows off a country or two in a most charming way. The Vario G (~200+ pages) works better for the larger countries with more than 90 Steiner pages for the classical era.

  2. Sounds like your collecting interests are moving forward in time, now that you have picked up collections that take you to 1967.

    While it would be a massive task, doing web blogs for the period 1940-1967 by postal administration in a vein similar to what you have achieved for Big Blue would be an absolutely wonderful treat for your audience :)

    1. Hi Gene

      Thanks for the suggestion and encouragement.

      But realistically, I already have enough on my plate. ;-)

      I do have a passive interest in 1940-1967 stamps, enough so that I will collect them.

      And I won't rule out occasionally straying into that time era for a blog or two. ;-)

  3. Hi, Jim, liked to read this! I admire you for your passion, and I have a question: how much time you give your beautiful collection daily? ;) Catalin

    1. Hi Catalin

      I spend several hours daily on the collection - but about half of that is preparing the blog posts. ;-)

  4. Great progress Jim! I'm grateful that you shared a picture of your bookshelf. I'm inspired. :)

    Good luck with the 1940-1967 expansion, even if you keep it to yourself. I get more of a kick from the 1900-75 range than the very early classics. The earliest stamps seem way better on a blog when they are blown up to a larger size than they do in real life, in my opinion!

    I re-read James Mackay's Encyclopedia of Postage Stamps 1945-1975 and was amazed by how interesting those eras were, even accounting for the rise of the philatelic agencies and the huge increase in volume. So I think you're in for a treat.

    I find all eras fascinating, which means I need to rationalize how many stamps make up a 'representative' collection for an area or era. It'll be fewer than BB that's for sure, but there's still lots of interesting stories in the modern era.

    With gratitude,


    1. Hi Mark
      Interesting and encouraging words about the 1940-1967 era..I do find it refreshing after six years of only focusing on 1840-1940.

      I agree that early classical stamps are amazing when scanned @ 1200 and displayed on a monitor...perhaps less so when viewed in real life size on an album page. ;-)

  5. Jim, your diligence is amazing. Thanks yet again for all you do to promote worldwide collecting.

    1. Bob- Thanks for the kind words, and I especially appreciate a note from my mentor and fellow WW blogger.

  6. Jim,
    I enjoyed reading the detailed chronicle of your acquisitions this past year as I have profited from your posts over the years, which constitute an indispensable reference tool for the 1840-1940 collector. Impressive accomplishment! I do agree that acquiring country collections is a convenient way to build a collection in depth and in quality, but I sometimes hesitate before the responsibility of needing to dispose of the unused remainder so that it all makes financial sense. (I am trying not to become a hoarder.) You refer to “low hanging fruit” in your post. Have you found it more difficult to add stamps to your Steiner collection after you have reached a high level of completion: 40%, 50%, 60% ...? I believe that you may have already answered the question when you state that your goal is to add 100 stamps per month.

    1. Frank - glad you found the post enjoyable.

      In general, the lower the country completion, the more rewarding a country collection acquisition will be.

      The higher a country completion, the more likely a targeted want list will be more useful. I hope this generality makes sense.

      In actuality, both techniques can be used for the same country, depending on opportunity.

      As mentioned, my general target is about 100 new stamps per month. I've been way over that the past several years, but expect the acquisition will slow down a bit now.