General Sweden stamp page
Swedish Stamp Catalogs and What They List
I am a collector of Swedish stamps who lives in the US. Naturally when it comes to cataloging my stamps I first turn to Scott's catalogs. Virtually all US dealers use the Scott catalog numbers, and values when they buy and sell Swedish stamps. However when I want more in depth information about varieties, and many items which Scott does not list, I turn to the Facit Special catalog. If you are a collector in the US you'll probably want to use both catalogs too.
Which Editions Are Important?
For many years it didn't mattered which edition of the catalogs you used, unless you were interested in the stamps released in the period since the book went to press. Values were not changing much, nor in fact were the listings. In 1996-97 that all changed. Both Scott and Facit changed the basis on which they price stamps, which in turn meant not only that prices changed to accomodate the new basis, but that all prices got the first through going over in years.
Scott explains right on the cover of the 1997 Standard Postage Stamp Catalog what they've changed. "New! STAMPS NOW VALUED IN THE GRADE OF VERY FINE" it says. Right under that is the other major change: VALUES NOW REFLECT WORLD MARKET. That is to say that European prices for Swedish stamps are considered now in pricing Swedish stamps in the Scott catalog, rather than simply relying on US price lists. Why? Because the market for stamps has become worldwide, Scott feels.
What is a very fine stamp? Page 6A gives Scott's understanding of that standard. "Very Fine stamps may be slightly off center on one side, but the design will be well clear of the edge. The stamp will present a nice, balanced appearance....Used stamps will have light or otherwise neat cancellations."
Facit too made a change in their valuation basis for their 1996-97 edition. They don't put it on the front cover - but it is in the Forward on page 2. "The quality norm for cancelled materials is now 'AB', that is to say we have adapted the international norm 'very fine'". The exact statement of pricing standards is found on page 7. "Mint: faultless, well centered copy (very fine). Used 1855-1909: faultless copy in as least fine to very fine centering with light, readable and dated cancellation or faultless copy in very fine centering with light part of cancellation (very fine). Used from 1910 (+postage dues): very fine copy.
I think it will be most useful to use these editions or their successors in attempting to establish values for your Swedish stamps - or for those you are contemplating making yours. But most of what you will be offered in the next few years will be valued by earlier editions. Indeed a few American auctioneers are still using the 1988 Scott. (The last edition before prices changed to "retail", which caused serious drops in catalog values. ) I haven't done a stamp for stamp examination of the changes but I suggest this approach: for single stamps and sets just compare the asking price with current Scott. For bulk lots expect a greater discount from the 1997 values.
A Comparison of Scott and Facit
- Language: Scott is in English. For English reading people like me with a very limited knowledge of written Swedish, this is important. Facit is largely in dual Swedish - English format. Some sections of explainations seem quite a bit longer in Swedish than English, suggesting a summary in English rather than a translation. However Scott contains virtually no explainatory materials at all so even a summary beats nothing. I have had no trouble using either catalog from a language viewpoint.
- What is listed?:
- Scott listings:
- Postage Stamps. They are numbered 1-2180, the last being the Summer Scenes issue of May 24, 1996. There are occasional gaps in the numbers where Scott misjudged things, and some occasional grouping up (ie 300G).
- Semi-postal stamps #B1-58. The last listing is the 1996 rerelease of the ship designs. All of the semi-postals save the last set (B53-58) show dual values on their face (ie 20 + 10 ore). The last set simply sold for a premium, as have many stamps from Sweden since. Scott gave up separating these stamps out with the 1966 issue. I think they should hang the entire concept up and return these stamps to the normal listings.
- Air Post Stamps: C1-C8.
- Postage Dues : J1-22;
- Stamps for City Postage: LX1-2 are the non-denominated stamps of 1856-62.
- Official Stamps: O1-O55
- Parcel Post Stamps: Q1-2. These are the higher value surcharged stamps from 1917.
This comes to about 2350+ "major number stamps".
- Facit listings:
- Proofs, Forgeries, etc: These are not numbered. Proofs exist for definitives thru the 1912 set, and for officials. Essays are also listed.
- Stamps: Number s 1- 1992, the last of which is the Nobel Prize issue of Nov 8, 1996.fn1. This listing includes stamps listed by Scott as Air mail, Semi-postals, Parcel Post, and City Postage.
- Tourist Postage Stamps: TU1-4 stamps, and booklets H1-3. (Released for mail from Swedish tourists visiting the Canary Islands)
- Computer Vended Postage (Frama): EA1-2
- Postage Labels: EF1-9 (reduced postage for small publishers)
- Official Stamps: TJ1-52
- Postage Due Stamps: L1-20
- Semi-Official Air Mail Stamps: HF1-2
- Newspaper Stamps: TI 1-3. These are not stamps used to mail newspapers, they are stamps printed in the newspapers and used to mail Valentines.
- Military Stamps and Stamped Envelopes: M1-13. Used for mail to and from soldiers.
- Stamp booklets: H1-477. Note Scott lists booklet panes as minor numbers, and for very recent years, prices entire booklets as well.
- Stamp Booklets sold in Vending Machines: HA1-26
- Official Yearbooks: 1987-88 to present. These are bound books picturing stamps with thematic articles, which are sold with a complete set of the stamps mint.
- Official Souvenir Booklets and Cards: MH1-27
- Official Maximum Cards: MK1-104
- Official First Day Covers: 1928-present:
- Kiloware: 1942-1988
- Yearsets: 1967-1996: Complete mint sets in folders, sold by the Sweden Post
- Booklet Year Sets:1981-1996: as above, but complete booklets
Scott's Pricing in the 1997 Edition
Prices have changed throughout, and often in surprising ways. There is no real pattern but there are enough changes, and enough serious changes, that you must use the 1997 catalog if you want to make sensible purchases. Be especially wary of mint Sweden from the 1950s on. Many prices are down 25% or more. I do wish Scott would quit listing stamp values in odd cents. Scott's bottom line is 15¢. No stamp catalogs less than that. However some Swedish stamps catalog 16¢, which is just silly. There are also a few at 38¢ or 42¢. Anyone using these prices will lose more in adding odd numbers than they would if Scott had just rounded the prices to the nearest nickle.
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Facit and Scott have very different criteria for what makes a major number stamp. In Facit each design & value combination is one number. Perforation varieties are minor. For Scott each design & value & perforation variation is a major number, but some perforation variations are not listed. This probably sounds more mysterious than it is. Here is an example:
The Nobel series for 1969 including a 45 ore stamp released as a coil and in a booklet. Facit listed this as #681 A (coil - perf 2 sides) and B (booklet - perf 3 sides). Scott lists the coil as #832, and the booklet stamp as #833. This different conception of what makes a major number accounts for the difference between the total number of regular stamps that they list.
One of the reasons that Scott's number system bunches up in some places and gets gaps in others is that Scott attempts to list the stamps in a different order than they are released. That is, they make sets of similarly designed definitives. Of course you can only tell in hindsight what values will be in the set and over what period they will be issued. Scott attempts to guess and blocks out a series of numbers for the set. If there are more stamps than Scott expected the numbers bunch up, if there are less, then there are gaps. This problem is moderated by renumbering recent issues when necessary, but renumbering causes problems for dealers and collectors by making the numbering system unreliable.
Facit by contrast simply numbers the stamps sequentially as they are released. If they want to make definitive sets they list the stamps together but they don't have consecutive numbers. There is a note in the number sequence telling you where the stamp is listed.
Facit shows every stamp which has a design different from all others. Scott will show one as representative of the release. Thus it is much simpler to find stamps in Facit.
This page last updated 18 Feb 1997. Its address is http://www.asis.com/~edenson/swecats.html.