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Plentiful and Inexpensive

Welcome to my world wide stamp pages. This section deals with collecting world wide stamps in Scott International Albums. It is not a commercial for those albums, but rather a recognition that many collectors use them. So many, in fact, that dealers have a special category for "International Collections."

 Presently I have my worldwide stamps on a "previously owned" set of Scott International pages which are kept in three-ring Scott Speciality Binders. The albums span the period from 1840-1995. There are around 10,000 stamps a year being issued, and Scott is keeping up to date with at least a volume a year. It is expensive to buy these albums new, which is why I'm getting them used.

Most recently I have begun replacing some of the Scott pages for the earlier issues with the "Brown International" pages which Subway offers for sale. Scott left out so many stamps from the early years that you often end up having long sets broken up with a few on the Scott pages and the rest on a blank page, or worse yet with the better stamps stuck on the Scott page but not in the correct spaces, or perhaps not in any space at all. These pages come in sections grouped by year. I got the 1840-1900 set for a bit over $100 (I don't have the price before me). They are printed on one side, never have more than one country on a page, and usually have separate pages for semis, airs, and dues.

Most stamps are not valuable and they are not expensive to buy. Certainly most that I have are not. I see in a current ad in Scott's Stamp Monthly offering 1000 different stamps for $16, or 3000 for $52, or 5000 for $88, and 10,000 with tongs and hinges for $197.16. I have seen 40,000 different worldwide for less than 3¢ each. They came mounted in order in booklets, so most of the price probably was the cost of sorting and mounting rather than the value of the stamps. I was recently offered a collection, in Scott Albums, of about 50,000 different for $1500. Much of that price was for the albums.

What does it mean to a collector that so many stamps are so inexpensive? It means you can have a huge collection with great variety of countries, subjects, and types of stamps for very little money. If you enjoy stamps, as I do, the inexpensive stamps are just as much fun to own as the great rarities. Certainly they offer the same panorama of history and culture that any stamp collection does. Here's some thoughts on buying stamps to get the most fun and stamps for your money.

Getting started How does one get started in world wide collecting? I'd suggest buying a collection in a Scott International album from a dealer at a show, or through ads in stamp mags or on the internet. (rec.collecting.stamps is a good source). Buy a cheap one. That is, one where the more valuable stamps have all been removed for sale. Remander collections of several thousand worldwide stamps in a Vol 1 album (1840-1940) can be had for $75-$200. I have bought several of these. Be sure to get the collection in a loose leaf album if you can.  New the album to 1940 costs about $280 plus the binders which might add $100 more.

Why loose leaf? Because Scott leaves out a lot of stamps and you will get some of them. Scott and Subway make blank pages which are simple to add to loose-leaf binders and you can add whatever wonderful stamps you get that don't have printed spaces for. Another good accessory is interleaving - thin sheets of paper that go between the Scott pages to keep the stamps on facing pages from getting caught on each other as you look through the album.

 I suggest buying a collection in an album because its so much easier to deal with stamps when you have them in an album. You can keep stamps on Hagner stock pages, but this gets expensive pretty quickly. As an alternative buy country collections "on pages" as they say. This will give you the pages for that country, for the period the collection covers. Punch these for a 3 ring binder and you've got your start on an album.

How many stamps are there?  I don't think anyone knows, but Timothy P. Holls sent some interesting statistics to Stamp Collector, which published them as a letter to the editor in the Aug 13,2001 issue.  Mr. Holls did a rough count of Scott listed major number stamps by adding up the highest catalog number in each country and category (eg regular, semi-postals, airmails etc) in the 2001 Scott. His total was 410,156 different stamps.  Your total might differ, especially if you included minor varieties - many of which are listed in the Scott Classic catalog (1840-1940), or if you included locals. Still that's a good ball park figure. He did one other total which was staggering to me. He totalled the number of pages in his Minkus Supreme Global albums through the 1999 supplement. There were 22,014 pages, with spaces for 354,310 stamps (more or less).

Condition Most beginning collectors do not concern themselves greatly with condition. Collections you buy will reflect this. So too will packets, which are another great way to get stamps cheaply. The key for me has been to set myself some standards, and to try and upgrade the collection I have. In other words I take some stamps out of the collection because they are substandard. Others I replace when I can. However my basic criteria for admission to the collection are fairly low: if the stamp has its perforations, is not thin or creased, and the cancel doesn't wipe out the design, in it comes. I replace with copies that look fresher, have better centering or lighter cancels when I come across them. My collection is hinged. Hinges are cheap, and they work pretty well. The alternative is black mounts and the Scott pages, a least those I have, are too thin to hold them. The mounts gum bleeds onto the pages making them ugly and the mounts show through on the other side. I think the more recent Scott pages may be better suited to these mounts as the collecting of mint never hinged stamps is most easily done with recent stamps.

 I am in the market for used Scott International albums and the collections in them, and I'm happy to get messages from people who use these albums. E-mail me I have available now a set of Scott pages, more or less complete, from 1840-1945 or so which I'm interested in selling. There is no binder. I also have several non-looseleaf Scott Internationals for sale. Ask for details.

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Tips for buying stamps The most expensive way to buy stamps is to get them one at a time, or set at a time. The least expensive way is to buy packets, or collections which a collector created. I have bought some excellent worldwide and country collections on-line at <> and in the real world at my local stamp club, at dealers, and from dealers at stamp shows. I've paid between $5-$25 dollars for collections with hundreds of stamps from one country or another, and I've always been happy with the stamps when I got them home. The going price for a Scott International Vol 1 (1840-1940) with a lot of cheap stamps in it is about $75 to $100.

Dunes.  In the 1960s as stamp issues began to skyrocket the "Trucial States" located in the desert regions near the Arabian Gulf suddenly began to issue stamps. Quite a few stamps. And stamps usually with high topical interest. Perf, imperf, CTO and mint. Considering that these places had slight to no postal service, or even perhaps population, the stamps gained a reputation as being second rate issues. Scott refused to catalog them. Still they were popular among topical collectors and plentiful, so they show up all the time. I recently got the Trucial States Catalog (1976 Edition). Like the stamps it is suspect. The printing appears to be poor photocopies. It lists only issues by some of the Dunes countries, and only up to about 1973, but it still does contain over 10,000 stamps. Here are the countries and totals:

Trucial States    11
United Arab Emirates 35
Abu Dhabi    84
Ajman     2873
Dubai       423
Fujeira  1508
Khor Fukkan  231 (some overprints on Sharjah)
Manama 1508
Ras Al Khaima  1036
Sharjah   1247
Umm Al Qwain  1507

I got the catalog because I do have some of these stamps and wanted to be able to put them in order on blank pages in my albums.  Good hunting.

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This page's address is Last updated 15 Aug 2001