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...

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

How I collect and add to my WW 1840-1940 (-1952 Commonwealth) collection

St. Vincent Sept 1 1881 Scott 31 1/2p on half of 6p yellow green
1880 Scott 28 6p yellow green Bisected and Surcharged in Red

Into the Deep Blue

This post is going to be a bit of "show & tell" showing some of my recently acquired St. Vincent's collection.

But more so, it will outline how I tend to collect these days. 

Currently,  I  have a 61% filled Deep Blue (51,000+) and a 90% filled Big Blue (31,000+).

Recall that I put my stamps into Deep Blue - Steiner pages that provide a space for all the major Scott numbers.  The Steiner pages, for 1840-1940 WW (-1952 Commonwealth), provide 83,000+ spaces in total. 

If I just picked up random WW lots or collections, I would probably already have 99% of the stamps. Not a good approach. 

I have two strategies.

1) The obvious strategy of creating want lists for a certain country, and finding stamps with dealers, auctions, or the internet ( APS site not uncommonly, some e-bay). One will usually pay more CV wise, but one gets the stamp one desires.

2) The second strategy is buying relatively complete or specialized country collections. Yes, there will be overlap with stamps one already has, but often the new collection yields a significant number of new stamps, or there are quality additions, and even surprises! 

This approach works especially well the last several years as there is a glut of country collections available  ( See Is the Stamp Hobby for WW collectors changing?). Often the CV for a nice country collection is in the 16%-20% range from dealers.

Ok, what I will show now is several pages from my "before" St. Vincent collection in Deep Blue; then a stock page from the recently acquired St. Vincent collection; then showing again the several pages of St. Vincent with the new stamps in place after using the stock page. What interesting stamps will we find?

The "before" St. Vincent in Deep Blue

St Vincent Deep Blue 1880-81 Before

Note: The upper section of this page is already filled with stamps from the new collection.

St Vincent Deep Blue 1883-97 Before

St Vincent Deep Blue 1885-98 Before

New collection St Vincent Stock Page 

The "after" St. Vincent in Deep Blue

St Vincent Deep Blue 1880-81 After

Sept 1 1881 Scott 31 1/2p on half of 6p yellow green
Bisected and surcharged in red

The big addition (and a surprise!) is this bisected Scott 31 - CV $190.

St Vincent Deep Blue 1883-97 After

You will note I tend to put duplicates on the same page (if possible). It is helpful to spot a minor number color shade, or show off an interesting cancel. 

1883-84 Perf 12 Scott 35, 36, 39

The new stock page yielded three stamps that were Perf 12 - 1884 1/2p green (CV $40), 1883 4p ultramarine (CV $55), 1883 1sh orange vermilion (CV $65). The perfs were checked and the wmks were checked. The collector that put together the stock page was quite accurate - but not perfect. For instance, one of his "perf 12" 1sh orange vermilion stamps turned out to be perf 14. Always recheck!

1883 Scott 40 2/12p on 1p lake
Second example (new) - a SG 40w - Wmk inverted - 10x CV $1.75 = $17.50

Another surprise! An advantage of double checking wmks is finding unusual examples - here an inverted one. This variety is only listed in SG, not in Scott.

1883 Scott 42 1p drab (new); 1885 Scott 43 1p rose red;
1886 Scott 44 1p pink (new); 1897 Scott 45 2 1/2p bright blue (new)

The Perf 14 Crown wmk 2 spaces here yielded three new stamps: 1p drab (CV $60 unused), 1p pink (CV $190), & 2 1/2p bright blue (CV $2.10).

Admittedly, the "1p pink" is a tentative  (and a bit hopeful) color identification- would need to be certified. There are three colors listed in Scott: 1885 rose red, 1886 pink, 1889 carmine red. 

1883 Scott 46 4p ultramarine (new); 1886 Scott 48 4p lake brown;
1893 Scott 49 4p yellow 

The 4p ultramarine (CV $85) is new. The 4p yellow is not, but I might have a new color variation. (see below)

Scott 49a 4p olive yellow?

Is this the much less common "olive yellow" color (CV $350), or merely some oxidizing (sulfuretting)?

1897 Scott 50 5p gray brown (new); 1888 Scott 51 6p violet (new)

The 5p gray brown (CV $8.75 unused) is new. Also new (if the color is correct) is the 6p violet (CV $225). Compare with the more common color below.

1891 Scott 52 6p red violet (new- two examples); 1888 Scott 54 5sh carmine lake;
Scott 53a 1sh red orange (new); Scott 53 1sh orange vermilion (two examples - one sulfuretted)

I have the 6p red violet (CV $3/$25), which is new. (Compare with the 6p violet above.) Also, it appears I have minor number 1sh red orange (CV $13, but fiscal).

1885 Scott 55 1p on 2 1/2p on 1p lake (new)

This resurcharged 1p is new for me (CV $37.50).

Scott 56b 2 1/2p on 1p gray blue (new); 1890 Scott 56 2 1/2p on 1p bright blue;
1893 Scott 89 5p on 6p deep lake

The 1p gray blue color variation is new (CV $ <$1).

Scott 60a 3p on 1p reddish lilac (new); 1897 Scott 60 3p on 1p lilac

The reddish lilac color is new (CV $35).

1898 Scott 67 5p lilac & black (new); Scott 68 6p lilac & black (new);
Scott 69 1sh green & carmine rose (new- fiscal)

Finally, the Victoria issue of 1898 yields three new stamps ( CV $8.25, $14.50, $16, but fiscal) respectively.

Out of the Blue

Well, that was fun. 😎


  1. Nice additions! I appreciate this post because it shows how you still had lots of work to do, even after acquiring the stamps. Getting the 'stock' is only part of the fun. Figuring out what you actually have is a whole other beast.

    When you're able to find several varieties like in this case, are you ever tempted to write up a few specialist pages with more detailed writeups? (Perhaps that's where the blog fits in. 🙂)

    1. Yes indeed Madbaker - once the stock is there, it has to be worked up. ;-) And you are right - if I come across some interesting "specialty" material, it is ripe for the blog. ;-)

  2. Interesting post & wonderful collection: 1) have you considered modifications to the Steiner pages to make room for the variations you are adding? The adds and pencil marks remind me of Big Blue album pages I have purchased from collectors. I have done some edits and it's a bit too much work but something I always wanted to do when adding extra stamps. I like the collection all in mounts. I have printed most of the pages on Speciality sized paper and put in Scott binders organized like Specialty albums but have way too many blank pages...thus your post is of interest. 2) I assume you sell of the duplicates and fund the next buy?

    1. Thanks Vectra for the interesting comments.
      1) No I just use the stock Steiner pages. Too much work otherwise. Most of the variations that are not in the Steiner pages are Scott minor numbers, so I pencil in the minor number below the variation stamp.
      2) Yes, sometimes. Usually does not fund the next buy however. ;-)

  3. Thanks, Jim! Would be great to hear your thoughts as to why you moved from the Blue to the Steiner pages (and not to the Browns)!

    1. Hi Tom. Thanks for the comment.
      I moved to the Steiner pages from the Blues as I was frustrated with how many inexpensive stamps were left out of the 1840-1940 Blue.
      i chose Steiner as it follows the modern Scott catalog (for the most part). The Browns are fossilized with previous Scott number descriptions from many years past.