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, November 29, 2019

Filling Deep Blue: 1934-35 & BOB Russia additions

1935 Scott 547 10k ultramarine
"Refugees from Burning Town"
Into the Deep Blue
The Russia 1934-35 issues are interesting indeed, and not that common. With this post, we will have a look at some of my recent 1934-35 additions to  Russia, as well as some BOB areas (Russia in Turkey, Wrangel issues).

The prior post covered...

Filling Deep Blue: 1866-1934 Russia additions

A Closer look
100 Kopecks = 1 Ruble
1934 Scott 543 10k indigo & black
"Lenin the Orator"
For the first decade without Lenin, a six stamp commemorative issue was released November 23, 1934.

1934 Scott 544 20k brown orange & ultamarine
"Demonstration before Lenin Mausoleum"
The two higher denomination stamps in the Lenin issue were bi-colored; quite possibly with the ugliest brown-orange tinge on the corners of the stamp ever seen. ;-)

1934 Scott 545 30k brown orange & carmine
"Lenin and Stalin"
Stalin gets his appearance on the 30k, alongside Lenin. CV for these obvious CTO-ed 20k and 30k is $8+ and $35 respectively. !!

1935 Scott 546 5k violet black
"Bombs Falling on City"
On January 1, 1935, a remarkable "Anti-war" propaganda five stamp photogravure set was released.
The stamps were issued 20 years after the onset of WWI.

Close-up: "Bombs falling on City"
The set is chilling in its depiction of the horrors of modern warfare. Here the bombs are raining from the clouds.

1935 Scott 549 20k dark brown
"Plowing with the Sword"
CV for the stamps in the set ranges from $3 to $30 (used).

Close-up: "Plowing with the Sword"
The illustrations clearly have a nightmare quality to them.

1935 Scott 550 35k carmine
I can't help but feel the stamps have a bit of a mixed message: Here "Comradeship".

Close-up; "Comradeship"
Stomping on your mutual enemy is entirely acceptable.

1935 Scott 553 15k rose carmine"Subway Station"
For the completion of the Moscow subway, a four stamp issue was released February 25, 1935. This stamp is the most scarce @ CV $32+.

1935 Scott 554 20k emerald "Train in Station"
The other stamps in the issue range from CV $7+ to $10. Contrast that with the U.S. commemorative 1935 issues: Today worth face value or less!

1935 Scott 557 15k dark blue
"Friedrich Engels"
For this grand experiment in communism, Friedrich Engels (and of course Marx) were the seminal authors. For the 40th year anniversary of the death of Engels, a four stamp set was released (CV $4-$14).

Air Post 1924 Scott C8 15k on 1r red brown
"Fokker F-111"
On 1923 Scott C2 Surcharged
In 1924, the air post C2-C5 stamps of 1923 (They never been placed in use) were surcharged and issued. CV is $1-$4.

Offices in the Turkish Empire

Offices in the Turkish Empire
1872 Scott 13 5k green, Perf 14 1/2 X 15
Horizontally Laid Paper
Like a lot of countries, Russia also had post offices in the Turkish Empire between 1863-1913.

Between 1872 - 1890, a typographic four denomination stamp set with Perf 14 1/2 X 15 was released with the above design on horizontally laid paper. CV is <$1-$3.

 Be aware that there is a similar 1868 four stamp set, Perf 11 1/2, in which the colors will dissolve in water. !!

1872 Scott 14a 5k blue
Vertically Laid Paper
The 1872-90 set can be found with vertically laid paper, and are given minor numbers by Scott.

1872 Scott 14a 5k blue (Reverse)
Vertically Laid Paper
This shows the vertically laid paper. CV ranges from $18 to $40+ for the minor number stamps.

1879 Scott 22 7k carmine & gray
Offices in the Turkish Empire
In 1879, three additional bi-colored numerals (1k, 2k,7k) were released. CV is $1-$3.

Wrangel Issues
The 1921 Wrangel issues (162 major numbers in Scott) consisted of surcharged issues of Russia, Russian Offices in Turkey, South Russia-Denkin & Crimea  Issues, and Trident stamps of Ukraine.

They were used by General Peter Wrangel's army, and civilian refugees from areas such as South Russia, Turkey, and Serbia. Scott has a note that very few of the original issues were actually sold to the public, and reprints are the norm. CV values are based on these reprints. Obviously, this is a highly specialized area, and one must have sophisticated knowledge if one wants to seriously delve into them. Recommended would be to follow Trevor Pateman's Philately Blog on the Russian area.

1921 Scott 241 1000r on 7k blue
This example represents Russian stamps of 1902-18, surcharged in blue, red, or black. Many are CV $1+, as this Scott 241 is, but others are in the CV $10-$90 category.

1921 Scott 295 5000r on 2pi on 25k blue & carmine
This example shows stamps of Russian Offices in Turkey being used. The Scott 295 is CV $2+.

1921 Trident Stamps of Ukraine Surcharged
Scott 320/Scott 332
This shows a grouping in Deep Blue of Trident stamps of Ukraine surcharged in blue, red, black, or brown for use as Wrangel issues. The inexpensive ones are CV <$1. One I don't have (Scott 331) is CV $70+.

1921 Scott 320 10,000r on 1k orange
Trident Stamps of Ukraine Surcharged
Here is a close-up of the 10,000r on 1k orange with blue surcharge. Adding to the interesting complications, there are several varieties of the Trident surcharge found on this set.

1921 Scott 335 10,000r on 3k red, Imperforate
Trident Stamps of Ukraine Surcharged
Six of the stamps (Scott 333-338) of the surcharged Ukraine Tridents are found imperforate. This example is CV <$1, although another (Scott 337) is CV $40.

Deep Blue
1935 Issue Scott 555-558 "Friedrich Engels"
As usual, Deep Blue (Steiner pages) provides a space for all the major numbers. One may need to add quadrilled pages if one wishes to push the boundary further.

1935 Scott 548 15k green 
"Before War and Afterwards"
Out of the Blue
Russian stamps during the classical era offer a lot! - although some are CV expensive (for the era), and knowledge is a necessity.

Comments appreciated!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Bud's Big Blue: Some Thoughts at the Midpoint

Big Blue’s exact midpoint (red dot), 1969 edition

Bud's Big Blue

Bud's Observations
A Thing or Two about Stamps

Stamps, among other things, are themselves things. That seems obvious, of course. But the thingliness of stamps, as well as stamp collectors as thingly people, merits our protective attention, especially in an age when things generally are under attack. Minimalist art, minimalist home décor, minimalist lifestyles, minimalist museums with few artifacts -- all belittle things and their importance.

So, at the mid-point of Bud’s Big Blue posts -- which will show, when completed, some 59,000 physical stamp-things -- I’ll offer some resistance to those who scorn things and defend things as being crucial for human life. I’ll also describe a thingly approach to stamp collecting -- one which, without planning to do so, I seem to be following.

Minimalist bedroom
Nice bed and bath, but where will my albums go?

Advocates of thing-free lifestyles suggest that, by ridding ourselves of things, our thinking becomes clear and we create space we didn’t know we had. Liberation from things gives peace of mind, they say, which leads to greater happiness and less fear of failure. Even our health will improve (lower blood pressure, less anxiety, fewer headaches and heart attacks) when we have fewer things. Our homes will be less chaotic and tension-filled. Sex will be better. And we’ll have more money.
Wow! Throw away my stamps, and I can have all of that.

Will you miss me when I’m gone?
Doubts about things run even deeper, though, than these presumed benefits of thing-freedom imply. Philosophers like Paul Ricœur suspect that our understanding of things may be subjective illusions, not self-evident truths. Anything you or I say about stamps might come straight from our over-active imaginations.

Wow! My stamps may only be what I alone think they are. And I can’t for sure even trust my own eyes. (Should I peek in my albums daily to make sure they’re still there?)

Worse, post-modern art and thought divorce things from their historic and cultural roots, then re-present them in hodgepodges or, as some say, in pastiches. Post-modern stamp collectors, if there could be such, might frame a stamp along with a cucumber and a feather, then pass off the result as art. I would do that too, I suppose, if there’s money in it.

Still worse, some post-millennial thinkers resurrect Marx’s ghostly observation "All that is solid melts into air…."1 Gathering things, in this view, is merely an addictive middle-class fantasy spawned by an over-abundance of wealth. Stamp collecting, like religion, is another opiate to be wiped out in a thing-diminished future.

Not being tossed out!!!
This, of course, is nonsense. Put me down as one who believes that the world is real as well as all that in there is. Doubt my stamps? Forget their backgrounds? Rubbish! I think things are great. And I comfortably cohabit with them.

I do suspect, however, that the anti-thing fever infecting much post-millennial thinking contributes to the recent declines in stamp prices. Other collecting areas -- antiques, coins, vintage toys, vinyl records, jewelry, action figures -- are suffering similar declines, except for the rarest things.

Like my party dress?
What to do? Here’s my thought….

Serious stamp collectors can be likened to archaeologists (we’re at least armchair archaeologists). Like archaeologists, we dig through piles of dirt and detritus cast off by others--in our case, in feeder albums and at stamp shows and auctions--hoping to find something that shouts “Collect me!” When that happens, we hear bells ring. Archaeologists hear them, too.

Recently, a growing number of archaeologists have gained a new respect for things as material culture2. Things, they suggest, are best understood, not as mere objects that help piece together history and culture, but as being history and culture in their own rights. In this view, things become energetic co-actors and vital partners with their human counterparts --“human-object assemblages.”3 Study things together with humans as integral units, these archaeologists urge, not as separate entities. To understand automobile pollution or accidents, for example, don’t study cars and drivers separately; study driver-car units as a form of social being4. Likewise, study stamp-train-traveler units.

Zug Zug Zug Zug
So, what does this thingly perspective suggest about how we regard our collections of stamp things? In what ways do stamps become our “energetic co-actors and vital partners?”

In fact, every stamp in our collections displays a long series of human-thing partnerships. With a little digging, we can reconstruct the stories. For any stamp, look for layers of partnerships with the human(s) who…

commissioned it
          designed it
engraved it
issued it
made its ink and paper
printed it
benefited politically from its design
made an error on it
profited from its sale
purchased and used it
cancelled it
carried it from sender to recipient
didn’t throw it away
first collected it
collected it a second time, and a third…
cherished it as being historic, beautiful, or valuable
passed it along to us
posted a picture of it on-line

Each linkage on the above list represents a different kind of “human-stamp assemblage.” All are worthy of study, even if some assemblages engaged by a particular stamp cannot be fully reconstructed. The stamp doesn’t just provide clues about history and culture. It is history and culture in its own right, many times over, through and because of its serial, co-equal partnerships with humans. Each stamp thing has its own anthology, stories of how it came to be and what’s happened to it since then. The more partnerships it has experienced, therefore, the more stories it has to tell and the more interesting it becomes. So, I try to collect stamps with several identifiable human-stamp assemblages. It’s how I specialize.

The Iwo Jima stamp (above) is the first stamp I collected, back in the 1940s. The coincidence of the soldiers struggling to raise the flag and the “pray for peace” cancel caught my eye. I began looking for stamps like that. Some I found among USA issues, some came from other countries. When I began my first album I most often selected examples with place-and-date-visible cancels -- working stamps with interesting résumés, I call them. At the time, I didn’t think of them as being a specialization, they were just intriguing. I chose the Scott International album because the stamps I wanted  came from many countries.

One might conclude that my collection, giving this interest, would be small. Not so. As my album(s) began to fill, I slowly realized that all stamps, even mint stamps, have layers of intrigue. Many layers can be identified (see above list). Only recently have I begun calling these layers human-stamp assemblages, borrowing the language from material culture archeologists.

As a specialization, this approach differs from those that focus on one country or one characteristic, such as anomalies and errors. A single stamp binds together many diverse assemblages; its multi-layered. Likewise, specializing in stamp assemblages differs from social philately which uses stamps and other artifacts to illustrate a cultural or historical point. Assemblages are not merely aids for understanding history and culture, but are themselves history and culture.

Stamps with many identifiable human-stamp assemblages, moreover, can be said to tell their own stories -- stamp autobiographies, so to speak. Some of the previous posts in Bud’s Big Blue have stamp autobiographies of this sort. Forthcoming posts will have more of them. I’ll get out of the way as much as I can and let the stamps have their say. They’ll rattle off exotic stories. Tall tales, too, no doubt. And narrow escapes.

When that happens, maybe we’ll be reminded of their importance, and the importance of things in general, for our health and happiness, and even our survival. If you can imagine to your stamps whispering, then you’re about to become a human-stamp assemblage specialist.

Comments appreciated!

Yes, I do have something to say\
1 The quote comes originally from Karl Marx, but post-millennialist have adopted it.
2 Bjørnar Olsen, In Defence of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2010). Much is this post is indebted to Olsen’s book.
3Want more information about this approach? Google “human-object assemblages” and “actor network theory.”
4Tim Dant. “The Driver-car.” Theory, Culture & Society, 21 no. 4/5 (2004). London: Sage.  pp. 61-79.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Filling Deep Blue: Russia 1866-1934 additions

1866 Scott 25 30k carmine & green
"Coat of Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
If you are like me with my Russia collection, you have many of the stamps, but still have holes. Another Russia feeder album will not do as I already have most of the stamps - the cost of the feeder album may not pencil out and may not provide the stamps I need anyway.. What to do? So I turned to the APS stamp store, and started to fill some of the spaces! I like the APS stamp store, as the sellers (all APS members) tend to be more knowledgeable ( and dare I say ethical?) compared to the 'Bay, and one can return the stamps if misdescribed.

So what have I added to my Russia Deep Blue (Steiner pages) collection?

This post will show the newly acquired  1866-1934 stamps, and the next post will continue with 1934+ and into the back-of-the-book categories.

I should mention that Russian stamps can be tricky identification-wise, but my original post on Russia (with the BB checklist) shows many of the differences. If not, I will highlight the differences among stamp issues here.

1866-1934 Russia additions
100 Kopecks = 1 Ruble
1866 Scott 22 5k black & lilac "Coat of Arms"
Scott 22a 5k black & gray"Coat of Arms'
The 5k black & gray (Scott 22a) is newly acquired. CV is higher ($30+) compared to the Scott 22 5k black & lilac ($2).

Be aware that the 1866-70 issue has horizontally laid paper, and Wmk 168 (Wavy Lines). Check my original post for examples.

1866 Scott 24 20k blue & orange "Coat of Arms"
The 1866 20k (CV $15) and 30k (CV $30 - shown in post header) were added. The major numbers for the issue (six stamps) is now complete.

1883 Scott 38 70k brown & orange 
"Imperial Eagle & Post Horns"
The 1883-88 issue (eight stamps) is now filled with the addition of the 70k brown & orange (CV $9).

Be aware that this issue shows the post horns without the thunderbolts.

1889 Scott 54 7r black & yellow
"With Thunderbolts Across Post Horns"
For 1889 and later the Russian Empire stamps add a thunderbolt to the post horns. (See the original post for a close-up example.)

This rather heavily cancelled 7r black & yellow (CV $10+) was added.

1913 Scott 103 3r dark violet "Romanov Castle"
For the Tercentenary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty, a seventeen stamp issue was released in 1913. This 3r dark violet (CV $10+) shows the Romanov Castle.

1913 Scott 104 5r black brown "Nicholas II"
Nicholas II was featured on the highest denomination for the 1913 issue (CV $10+). This Romanov Tsar cousin of the British George V would not go gently into that good night as we all know from history.

1915 Scott 109 10r carmine lake, yellow & gray 
1915 Scott 109b 10r rose red, yellow & gray
Types of 1906 Issue
In 1915, a "1906 Type Issue" was released with the 10r denomination found in carmine lake, yellow, & gray (Major Number Scott 109), and, newly acquired by me, a minor number Scott 109b rose red, yellow & gray. The 109b was issued in sheets of 25, while the 109 was in sheets of 50.

There was also an 10r color error stamp (Scott 109c) that is in carmine, yellow & gray blue (CV $2,700). !!

1922 Scott 214 27r rose & black
"Marking 5th Anniversary of October Revolution"
For the 5th anniversary of the October Revolution, a five stamp typographic issue was released.  Although not CV expensive ($5+ for unused), I added this 27r rose & black. Note there are minor number examples on Pelure paper (CV $60-$200) that exist.

I should mention that Scott has a note that the currency of 1922 was valued at 10,000 times that of the preceding years.

1923 Scott 249 7r rose & pink
"Symbolical of the Exhibition"
For the 1st Agriculture and Craftsmanship Exhibition, Moscow in 1923, an eight stamp lithographic issue was released. I picked up this stamp (CV $5) to complete the set. 

1923 Scott 258 50k dark brown "Peasant"
Lithographed; Unwmk; Imperforated
In theme with the "Worker-Peasant" revolution, rough and crude designs featuring "Workers-Peasants" began showing up in 1922. I added this stamp (CV $2+).

1924 Scott 264 40k slate gray "Soldier"
Lithographed; Perf 14 1/2 X 15
Picked up the lithographic 40k slate gray "Soldier"(CV $4). Can you tell the difference between the typographic specimens? See the original post.

1925 Scott 303 10r indigo "Lenin"
Wmk 170 "Greek Border and Rosettes"
The "A66" design "Lenin" was first introduced in 1925 for Scott 302-303.. CV for the 10r indigo is $10. The design was used for two more issues (Scott 407-408; 621-622).

1925 Scott 328 7k deep blue
"Prof. Aleksandr Popov (1859-1905), Radio Pioneer
I was missing the 7k value for the two stamp set of 1925. Rather heavily cancelled, but here it is (CV $1).

1927 Scott 399 70k gray green "Worker"
The typographic 1927-28 fifteen stamp issue was missing the 70k gray green. Now I have it (CV $2).

1930 Scott 437 3r yellow green & black brown
"Lenin Hydroelectric Station on Volkhov River"
The two stamp issue of 1930 has a CV of $10+ apiece. I needed the 3r yellow green & black brown.

1931 Scott 452 3k red "Battleship Potemkin"
For the 25th anniversary of the Revolution of 1905, a three stamp issue was produced, both perforated and imperforate. The imperforate examples have a much higher CV ($10+-$20+ unused) then their perforate brethren (CV <$1-$1+).

1933 Scott 523 40k carmine
"Worker, Peasant, and Soldier dipping Flags in salute"
In 1933, there was a five stamp issue commemorating the execution of 26 commissars at Baku. CV is $2-$10.

1934 Scott 532 15k red
"Victor Pavlovich Nogin"; Portrait Type of 1933 
Would you believe this 1934 issue stamp is CV $30+? Compared to the U.S. commemoratives of the 1930s, the Soviet ones are pricey during this era.  

Deep Blue
1923 Issue - Scott 246-49
Deep Blue (Steiner) provides a space for all the major Scott numbers. That is good news and bad news. Good news- one has a space available for new acquisitions. Bad news- the empty spaces one has are obvious. ;-)

1934 Scott 531 10k ultramarine
"Yakov M. Sverdlov"; Portrait Type of 1933
Out of the Blue
OK, some of the holes are filled. Next up: 1934+ issues and BOB!

Comments appreciated!